Friday, January 21, 2011


Yesterday and today were orientation days. The super boring actual orientation lecture-like stuff was yesterday morning, and, as I said, it was mega boring. After that we got a tour around campus after which I became slightly less lost. We then got a complimentary dinner at a restaurant on campus called The Stable Club or Stables for short. Later that evening, a welcome party for the international students was held at Stables which is also the campus pub. I got to meet a lot of new and interesting people, some Irish and some international, and they played a lot of good music (I requested Don't Stop Believin'" and the DJ seemed unsure if he should since he thought it was a slower song. I convinced him it would be a hit with the Americans, and I was SO right.) It was an overall  really good time.  

Today we had some orientation stuff in the morning again, and then we took a Paddywagon tour of Limerick. We went all over while the driver showed us all of the big landmarks in Limerick like, Thomond Park rugby stadium, and he also showed us where all the good stores were downtown. We stopped at King John's castle and got to walk around for a while. That was really interesting; I only wish we could have taken a tour through the inside of the castle (another day perhaps). Our tour guide was a riot. He even sang "Limerick, You're A Lady" to us (he wasn't bad either). Check Facebook for more pictures I took on the tour.

Gra, Dilseacht, Cairdeas

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Journey Over and Settling In

Hello all

To begin my journey, I left the Minneapolis airport heading for New York a little after 3pm on January 17th. Henceforth in this post, by we I am probably referring to the girls from EC that I'm travelling with. It was a smaller plane with only two seats on each side of the isle. I actually enjoyed that ride a lot mostly due to the man sitting next to me. He was really interesting, and we talked for over half the flight. His name was Tom and he lives in New York right on the East River. He was in business so we talked all about his career in management in the health care field and about my future plans with accounting. He was fairly high tech with his ipad and iphone. He showed me a bunch of his apps on his ipad and showed how it worked a bit. He also pointed out different landmarks and boundaries as we were flying over the lights of New York before we landed.

After 2 1/2 hours, the plane landed in JFK at 7. We deplaned by walking down a flight of stairs right out of the plane (like you see important people in movies doing). We were literally outside and walked through a covered, but unfortunately not heated, corridor leading back inside to the airport. The corridor branched off in different directions toward other docked planes. After we got back inside, we got some dinner at this nice bar and grill and waited til 9:40 for our plane to take off for Ireland.

This plane was much bigger with 3 seats on each side of the isle and TVs in the back of every headrest. On those TVs you could watch movies or TV shows or play music or games that they had programmed into it. It was pretty great except for the fact that I was getting really tired and my eyes were starting to hurt giving me a headache. On this flight I sat next to an Irish woman and her daughter. She was an interesting lady from a little way outside of Shannon. I told her about where I was going and she was thrilled for me and said so many times how I'm just going to love it. After chatting with her for a bit, I messed around with the TV until the flight attendants served us dinner. I ate (savoring the cookies and cream brownie for dessert) then decided I should get some sleep on this trip. I slept for probably three hours (I didn't have much sense of time) and woke up for breakfast service. After the muffin and banana, I went back to playing with the TV since I couldn't sleep anymore even though I was still tired.

An hour or so later, around 8:30 am local time, we landed in the Shannon airport. Everyone always tells you how green Ireland is, but you don't really believe it until you see it. The airport is in a rural area so there was grass everywhere. I've never seen an airport with ANY grass let alone any grass near the runways. Honestly the grass edge was so close to the runway you couldn't see any pavement from the windows when landing even though there obviously had to be. After getting off the plane, going through a checkpoint, and getting our luggage, we met up with the study abroad staff who were going to give us a ride to campus. It turned out that there were a whole bunch of people on the same plane that were studying abroad at UL this semester. We all got on a bus which took us to campus and dropped us off at our respective villages.

After getting dropped off at Plassey Village, we went to the Reception Office to get our room assignments and keys. I soon made my way to house 58 room 1 and started to unpack. 3 of my roommates were already there. Leah and Ilean are from Canada and Liza is from upstate New York. The 4 roommates that live upstairs aren't here yet so I'm assuming (and hoping) they're Irish.

After unpacking for a while I met up with the girls from EC that also got placed in Plassey (Cassie, Whitney, and Megan) and we took the bus downtown to do some shopping. Naturally we had no idea where we were going, but we ended up getting off at the right stop and wandering around until we found Pennys which is a cheap department store. We got a few things and wandered around again looking for Dunnes, a bigger department store that also has groceries. Before we found Dunnes though, we found the Shannon River. So, of course, we took some time to enjoy it and all the swans, ducks, and sea gulls that were in it. After taking some pictures, we walked back up the way and stopped at Cafe on the Row for dinner. It was a quaint little place with some good sandwiches. After a bite, we went to Dunnes. We got a couple things after a lot of looking around then made our way back to the bus stop which took us back to campus. By this time it was about 6 pm so I wasn't in the mood for a whole lot after this long of a day. I spent the rest of the night chatting with the roommates, watching TV, and chilling in my new room until I went to bed.

Today I got up around 11:30, got ready quick and met up with the EC girls, this time with my roommates in tow. We had planned on walking around campus just to get a feel for things (check Facebook for more photos). It is a really beautiful campus and very similar to UWEC in many respects including the river through campus. I can't wait to start classes so I can be there every day. After that we split up and my roommates and I went for a walk toward the city to find some stores. We found a little mall that we spent some time in, grabbed lunch at a cafe there and then we hit Aldi for groceries on our way back. I, then, had some down time which I used to put my room together a bit more, start writing this post which is taking a surprisingly long time, and had a Skype session with Megan, my best friend from EC, which I greatly enjoyed even though her microphone didn't work. I then got invited over to Cassie's house to hang out. The other EC girls were there too and we were joined by Cassie's Finnish roommate Amy. We spent a lot of time talking about everything new and exciting here in Ireland and what we want to do before we leave (like travelling). It was a good time. After returning to my house, I got back on my laptop determined to finish this post before I have another day to write about too. I'm glad to say I completed this task and now I must bid you all good night because it is 2:30 am and I must be up at 8 for an all-day orientation tomorrow. I apologize for the obnoxiously long and detailed description of only 2 1/2 days. I promise to be a bit more to the point from now on. For now I'll leave you with this Irish phrase I stand by that I'll tell you the meaning of one day.

Gra, Dilseacht, Cairdeas