I can’t believe it has already been a month since I flew from the U.S. to Ireland. I will be honest and say that the first two weeks went by very slowly to me due to acclimating to a new routine here. Ever since classes and activities started, I have been going non-stop. Although there have been many fun experiences in the past month, I will sum everything up in categories.
Here are three things I’ve done in Limerick, Ireland that have made my study abroad experience great so far:
1. Traveling Locally
I was able to go on a 2-day trip to the Aran Islands with my AIFS group here and many memories were made. I had a full day of taking in the beautiful sites of Inis Oírr, eating amazing food at a hotel located on the island, going to a pub that had live Irish music, waking up for the sunrise (this was my favorite part of the weekend), and eating a traditional Irish breakfast at the bed and breakfast we stayed at.
The next weekend I had the opportunity to travel around the towns of Nenagh and Killoe. There is a castle watchtower located in Nenagh which I was able tour. Also, I was able to walk around the town of Nenagh, which is full of cafes and shops. I found a small thrift shop and bought a sweater there. While in the town of Killoe, I took a boat tour of the beautiful River Shannon.
My most recent trip in Ireland was also with my AIFS group. We went to the western past of Ireland and visited sites such as Poulnabrone, Aillwee Caves, Cliffs of Moher, and Lahinch. I think my favorite part of that day was buying a “99” ice cream cone (a name for a vanilla soft serve ice cream cone with a stick of chocolate in the cone) in the seaside town of Lahinch.
2. Joining a Rugby Team
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve joked with some of my friends from back in the U.S. about joining a rugby team. Now, here I am on the University of Limerick Ladies Rugby team. I was very hesitant about signing up, but some of the girls who were there for the clubs and societies sign ups convinced me. Honestly, I am beyond happy that I made the decision to join.
We have had practices throughout the weeks and we just had our first match the other day. The coach put me in for the last 7 minutes — I thought he was joking when he told me to get warmed up to play. We ended up winning the match and were all very excited about that. Furthermore, my friends and I had the opportunity to go to a Munster Rugby (the professional rugby team located here in Limerick) game recently. This was a great way to experience the culture here in Limerick.
3. Finding a Community
Ever since arriving in Ireland, my goal has been able to feel a sense of community here in a place over 3,000 miles away from my hometown. I have been able to develop this sense of community by becoming involved with a small group here on campus called Students for Christ and attending a church called Abundant Life. Through attending the small group and church, I have been able to develop friendships with other students, as well as other people in the Limerick area. This involvement has helped with feelings of homesickness because I know I have a group of people here who care about me and support me when I am missing home.
Overall, my first month here in Limerick, Ireland has been extremely exciting and full of fun. I look forward to he next two and a half months of my experience here as I study abroad at the University of Limerick.