Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Update on the Past Few Weeks!

Hello everyone! Apologies for not blogging sooner - I have had an extremely busy few weeks! The day after I arrived home to New Hampshire after finals week in December, my family went on vacation to Hawaii. We came back just in time for Christmas, then headed to New York to visit some family. Just over a week later, I left good old America to study abroad in Ireland.  Between deciding on a country to study in, picking a school, applying, booking flights, and packing, my preparation for going abroad was extensive to say the least.  I arrived in Ireland very early on January 8.  I can't believe I've been here for three weeks already!  Time is going by so quickly.
One of my favorite pictures from Hawaii.
So lucky to be able to go from one beautiful
place to another!
Many people have asked me while I decided to study in Ireland, and I always give the typical answer: because I am part Irish and wanted to see the beautiful country my family came from.  However, that's only part of the story.  When I was thinking about where to study, Ireland just happened to pop into my head and I decided to go with it.  After attending a study abroad fair at Saint Mike's, I decided to go through a program called API, which stands for Academic Programs International.  An API representative gave me the name of a girl who also goes to SMC and studied in Ireland last year.  After getting in contact with the girl (named Katie), I asked her some questions specifically about Galway because that's where she had gone and I was seriously considering it.  Katie had nothing but good things to say about Galway, which made me feel very comfortable that I was considering it.
As great as Katie said Galway (and specifically National University of Ireland in Galway, which is where I go now) was, what drew me to the school was the opportunity to take a class called Learning and Literacy in the Community.  This class is specifically for students from the US and is centered around service learning at a primary/secondary school homework club in Galway.  The course description reminded me of my first year seminar, called Horses & Healing, where a huge part of the course involved traveling to a horse farm each week to volunteer.  I love working with kids, so being able to do that while abroad seemed like it would be especially rewarding.
The school where homework club takes place!
I have now been to homework club twice and I absolutely love it.  Even better, I love my professor, which makes Learning and Literacy my favorite class here.  In addition, I'm taking: Ireland in a Global Context, Family in Modern Ireland (which combine to fulfill my Historical Studies LSR - Liberal Studies Requirement), Forenic, Abnormal, and Clinical Psychology as well as Applied Organizational Psychology (which together count as an elective towards my psychology major), and Social Issues & Policy Responses, which goes towards my sociology minor.
While I am technically here to study, I'm also planning on traveling in and around Ireland as much as possible.  Fortunately, I've met some great people who are just as excited to travel as I am.  My friend and fellow blogger Alex, who is studying in Dublin, came to visit me this past weekend.  We will have the opportunity to travel together as well, which I'm super excited about!  We'll also be meeting up with our friend and blogger Lauren, who's studying in Coleraine, Ireland.  It'll be like a mini Saint Mike's reunion across the world!  So far, I have trips planned to Copenhagen, Paris, and London, with my friends Sara and Kiersten, who are both American but met here.
Alex, Sara, and me. It may be rainy here, but it's never
too cold to enjoy some delicious milkshakes!
Kiersten and me enjoying a night out on the town!
When I was thinking about what to include in this first post about being abroad, something from freshman year orientation at Saint Mike's came to me: "You are not alone."  I don't want to give away the context that this message was presented in, but the point is that, especially during the first few days here, I was taking my time to adjust and I definitely missed my family (both nuclear and Saint Mike's).  However, even being here for a short time has shown me that although most of what I refer to as "my people" are across the ocean, they're always with me in my heart. I have become immensely grateful for technology and the ability it provides me with to communicate with the people I love (while also doing my best to live in the moment and make strong connections here in Ireland).  I can feel myself growing and learning every day, and knowing that I have a huge support system back at Saint Mike's allows me to feel confident in what I'm doing - whether that be academics or joining clubs (or "societies" as they refer to them here) in order to make new friends.  I know my journey here is just beginning, but I'm sure that everything that being at college has taught me will help me to make my study abroad experience one I'll never forget.
I will be sure to post again soon with more details on what I've been up to for the past few weeks.  Now it's time to go get ready for bed so I'm well rested for class tomorrow!
As always, thanks for reading my blog!

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