Munster Rugby, Ocean Cliffs, a Drunk Prophet, and Jumping!

Rugby: The match was great! Actually, the first half was pretty slow as far as rugby goes, but it was the first match I had ever been to, so the excitement of that made up for it. Rugby’s wonderful though. I’m typically not much of a sports person, but I’m starting to think that’s just because none of our sports back home are all that exciting to watch. Sorry America, but rugby beats your football hands down! Football involves way too many time outs and too much standing around. Rugby never stops. If there’s a tackle, they keep fighting through it and pass the ball to someone outside of the tackle so it all keeps going. I had a great time, and I’m hoping to go see another match before I leave.

Kelsey and me at Tholmond Park cheering for Munster

Ocean Cliffs: Sunday I went on a trip with the outdoor pursuits club. We were supposed to go rock climbing at the burren. We bussed all the way there, but it was raining and the rocks were too slick to climb, so we went to Kilkee instead, which is a really cute little town on the Atlantic Ocean. There are amazing ocean cliffs just outside the town, so we went on a hike up those and then went back to the town to hang out in the pubs and watch a Gaelic football match (also an amazing sport).

Which brings me to…

The Drunk Prophet: My friend Kelsey and I found a pub and settled in to watch the match. The two teams were Cork and Down, and we were cheering for Cork because that’s where her roommate was from. The pub was really friendly, and they gave everyone free appetizer plate of sausages and fries. A man at the bar had stepped outside to smoke when the appetizers came around, so we shared ours with him and migrated to the bar to talk to him. My guess of his age is that he was in his 60’s, just to give you some context. He was really friendly and thanked us for the appetizers. Then he started telling us all about our lives. Apparently, he can tell by Kelsey’s face that she belongs in Ireland, and that she’ll wind up here someday. I, on the other hand am an “American girl” (his words), and I’ll have a great trip, but then I’ll go back home. Kelsey’s “unhappy” and needs to travel the world to find her happiness, whereas I’m satisfied and will get married and settle down and have a family. Apparently Kelsey’s not the family type, because she’d be much better off traveling and singing (and winding up in Ireland of course). We had a lot of fun talking to our “prophet” and probably even more fun telling stories about him later!

Jumping: Out at the barn on Monday I jumped higher than I ever have before. It was terrifying at first, but by the end of it I was feeling a bit more confident, and it was actually really fun. I might get addicted by the end of this trip… My horse, Tough Guy, is really good for me, because even though I don’t have a lot of jumping experience, he most certainly does, and he got me through it.

Until next time,

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Starting to Feel Like School…

In some ways, the exciting adventure feeling is… I wouldn’t say wearing off, because it still is an exciting adventure, but it’s being joined by the realization that this still is school, and in a lot of ways (other than having more interesting classes) it’s not that different from school at home. This change has a lot to do with the fact that I actually have homework, and I’ve been sitting in lectures taking notes all week. I’m not complaining though. Like I said, my classes are much more interesting than anything I could have taken back home, and I really enjoy them. It’s just a bit weird to get used to studying and doing work here because in a lot of ways it feels so much like a vacation.

Last night I went out with the outdoor pursuits club. They scheduled a bus to take us to the city center, where we went to a pub called the Old Quarter. They had a live band there, so we drank and danced for a couple hours. Then we migrated to the Trinity Rooms which is more of a club than a pub, and we danced the night away. It was really fun! Prior to the outing I went shopping for it and got my first Irish party outfit, because none of the girls here go out in jeans. It’s something I would never have picked out for myself at home, but it’s fun to go with the flow and join in with the trends here.

(Taken in a mirror in case you're wondering why I have the camera...)

Tomorrow I’m going to a rugby match. I can’t wait!

Until next time,

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Wow… Haven’t Posted in a Long Time!

Sorry guys, guess I just got busy and wrapped up in everything… didn’t realize it had been a week! Classes all went well last week, and as of today, it looks like I’ve got everything sorted out as far as classes go *knock on wood*… Still won’t have them finalized until this Friday, but it looks promising. On that note, I absolutely LOVE my schedule. As it stands now, I have three horse-related classes (two at the barn and one on campus) and two Irish culture classes (folklore and traditional music).

This weekend I went on a homestay, which was lots of fun. I stayed with another girl from Arcadia (Margaret) with a retired farmer and his wife. They run a part-time bed and breakfast, so we had our own room and bathroom and such… nice set up 🙂

The family was great. We met the woman and man who live here, two of their grandsons, and another relation, but I’m not quite sure how exactly he’s related. The older grandson is my age, also in his fourth year of college, and he was really nice. He gave us some tips on where to go out in Limerick 🙂

Friday night we had pizza, tea, and scones, and watched a rugby match. Then the relatives left, and John (the man here) went to bed, so we stayed up with Liz watching the Late Show to get some Irish news. Saturday Margaret and I took a walk and explored the original entrance to a 300 year old castle that was up the road from where we were staying. It had a watchtower and a couple of rooms in it that the guard and his family probably would have lived in. There was a ladder to the tower, so we had lots of fun exploring!

Then that night, we met up with another homestay family and the four of us students went to a small-town pub across the street and played pool.Today I went to Clonshire Equestrian Center all day for two of my equine classes and had a great time! It felt SO nice to be on a horse again!! The horse I rode was named Tough Guy, but he was a sweetheart and we got along well. There are three American students in the classes and three Irish students, so it’s a nice balance. In the morning we work on our own riding, and in the afternoon we learn about how to become trainers ourselves. I’m so excited!!

Oh, and I joined the archery club and the outdoor pursuits club… which is why I can’t talk too long now. I have to go practice rock climbing on the climbing wall in a bit and eat dinner first! Promise I’ll update sooner next time though!

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Classes started yesterday, so I’m starting to shift into school mode. As study abroad students we have two weeks to check out whatever classes we want and decide what seems interesting before we have to declare our schedules. Yesterday I went to a class called “Applied Studies in Outdoor Adventure Education” which I swear someone told me involved kayaking and hiking and such, but it turned out to be part of a degree teaching people how to be PE teachers for kids… You do some activities like basic orienteering and climbing on a climbing wall, but it’s all geared towards learning how to teach those things to kids… not quite what I was going for, so I’m glad I got to see it first.

Today I went to a class called “Equine Feeding and Behavior” which was much more of my type of subject. It was really fun actually… There’s a lecture from 9-10, a lecture from 2-3, and a lab from 3-5 every Tuesday, so it pretty much takes up the whole day. That sounds like a lot, but if you think about it, it’s about the same amount of time we’d spend at home (actually a little less for most science classes). It’s just that at home it would be spread out over the week. It’ll be interesting just focusing the whole day on one class. Based on today I think I’m going to like it, but I haven’t really done it enough to say. Definitely going to like the material though! It’s amazing how much more interesting hay becomes when you’re talking about feeding it to a horse instead of a cow…

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Wow! It’s already been a week…

Today I went to King John’s castle, which was a long walk (probably should have taken the bus at least part of the way, but I didn’t really have anything else to do, so there was no need to save time). It was a pretty cool museum. It’s amazing to be somewhere where so much history went on… We just don’t have places like that back home. I wonder what the people who used to live there would have thought of it being opened to tourists and common folk at some point in the future if they could have known… they probably would have demolished it as soon as they were done with it just to prevent that! I’m certainly glad we can tour it though!

Original main entrance

Me with one of the statues inside

View from the castle wall

My roommates arrived today (three of them so far at least), and we’re going out somewhere tonight to kick off the school year. Gotta go get ready!

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Settling Into Campus

Wow! In some ways it feels like the time is just flying by, but at the same time it feels like I’ve been here a lot more than two days… not in a bad way at all, but just because I feel so comfortable here. The campus makes a lot of sense, and it’s laid out really well. I’ve figured out where things are for the most part and haven’t gotten lost yet, which is a big difference from my freshman year at WSU! I got lost all the time for weeks there!

Yesterday was orientation, and we listened to presentations about classes (“modules” over here), clubs, campus life, etc. Then we got to go on campus tours, and my student tour guide was awesome! He was really funny and friendly and he invited me and a bunch of guys we sat with at dinner to go out with him and his friend that night. We went to a house party and then migrated to the Lodge (a local off-campus club). Met a bunch of people, danced a lot, and had a great time!

Today was much more relaxed. I slept in late, which was amazing. Then I laid in bed and finished a book I’ve been reading, worked on my thesis project for a couple of hours, figured out when at least some of my classes are going to be (we don’t actually have to register for classes for two weeks so that we can check out a bunch of them and see what we want to take, but I picked some that I definitely want to look at), and went into town to go shopping. I got an Irish SIM card for my cell phone, so I’ve got an Irish number now, but I probably won’t start really using it until Sunday when my free texts kick in. After my shopping adventures, I walked back to campus with a couple other American students, had dinner, and watched an Irish TV show. I still haven’t met any of my roommates yet, so the place is starting to feel a bit lonely. It’s been nice having it to myself to settle in, but I’m ready for some company. Classes start Monday though, so they should be coming this weekend.

Campus is beautiful! I love it! Technically, the campus village that I’m living in is actually in another county, as it’s on the other side of the Shannon River. To walk to the main campus everyday I walk over a really long bridge that takes me over the river. Seeing trees, water, and swans on my way to school is a nice change from the wheat fields at WSU!

The "Living Bridge"

There are fountains all over campus

And the buildings are really cool!

Well, there’s a party at the Stables (pub on campus) for International students starting in fifteen minutes, so I think I’m going to head that way. Bye for now!

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Day 3 Dublin and Day 1 Limerick

Last day in Dublin: We went to see a play called The Plough and the Stars about an Irish couple during the conflict with England. It was really good, but really sad. Between the story being depressing and the couple reminding me a lot of my boyfriend and I and making me homesick for him, I was feeling pretty down after it. We went back to our hostel room and were all on our computers for a while and then everybody decided to go out somewhere to celebrate our last night together. I wasn’t feeling up to much and said no at first, planning to continue my depressed surfing of the web, but then changed my mind and went along. Best idea ever! We went out to a bar with live music, sat and talked for a while and then danced. We met some Scottish guys who were in Dublin on a bachelor party and they danced with us, teaching us (and I quote) the “European style of dancing”. It was a blast!

Lesson learned and note to future study abroad students: If you ever find yourself feeling homesick, go out and do something! Makes the time fly by and gives you something else to think about.

Out with my hostel roomies!

Limerick!! This morning everyone at the hostel dispersed to our separate programs, and the eleven of us going to Limerick took a two and a half hour bus ride through the countryside (which was pretty much all the way across the country… It’s pretty small). It was a really pretty drive, and I enjoyed seeing more of Ireland. Once I got here I unpacked and settled in. I’m living in university housing which is something between a dorm and an apartment setup. There are six students in my “flat”, and each of us has our own room (complete with bathroom!!). There’s a common area too that has a TV, couches, and kitchen. So far I haven’t met any of my roommates, but when I do I’ll be sure to tell you all about them!

Irish countryside

My awesome room with its DOUBLE BED!

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