Monday, 27 February 2012

My time in Cork, Ireland 3

So far everything in Ireland has been great. I cant believe its been two months already!
I have been try to plan something for each of my weekends here because I am learning that my time here is going to fly by so I am trying to take advantage of being in Ireland (Europe) as much as possible.
This past weekend I got the chance to go to Galway which was a beautiful city. They offer a bunch of day tours from Galway- the Aran Islands, tour of Connemara and tour to the Cliffs of Moher (those are just some of the ones I saw, I am sure there a probably more.) I went on the Connemara tour that brought us to this place called Kylemore Abbey which is this huge castle, it was beautiful and the entire property is really nice.
Two weeks ago I went on a trip to the Ring of Kerry and we really got lucky because it was great weather on both days so everything we got to see (beaches, mountains, caves, etc.) during the trip was beautiful.
As I spend more and more time here around Irish people I am learning a lot about the Irish culture. I didn't think there would be that many differences but it has been fun picking up on little differences I notice, like words and phrases Irish people say and well known Irish movies and songs.
I also had my first paper due a couple weeks ago.  The essay topic was pretty straight forward but the teacher was also very helpful with any questions I had and he even made some time during class before the paper was due to answer any last minute questions.  The librarians in the library were also very helpful with showing me where any books I needed that I couldn't find.
On the week February 6-10 the University has a week called 'RAG week' which stands for raise and give which is dedicated to raising money for a bunch of different charities. They had a bunch of events throughout the week, music playing in the center of campus and several tents on the campus with activities that would raise money for the school.  It was a lot of fun and the campus was extra lively that week and it was for a good cause which was great.
I have also booked my trip for the month of April because they give us off that month. I am going on a tour of Europe that goes to Barcelona, Monaco, Swiss Alps, French Riviera and Rome in 9 days. It was a tour that was all planned out that my roommates and I found on a travel website so I didn't have to do the planning on my own and it was for a good price so I am really looking forward to that. I also know a lot of people that are planning trips around Europe on their own and not from a preplanned travel site so there is always that option too!

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Farm on Valentia Island during Ring of Kerry Trip

Ring of Kerry

Picture of beach on Ballinskelligs Bay

Ring of Kerry

Trinity College- Dublin

Kylemore Abbey- Connemara

Inside Kylemore Abbey

Friday, 27 January 2012

Studying Abroad in Cork! 2

The first of my five months in Ireland is sadly almost over but so far it has been great! I have met a ton of people, both Irish students and other international students and feel like I have already done so much in my time here.
View from Cobh
I went on an organized day tour that brought me to three cities in Ireland; Kinsale (which is well known for having great night life in the summer time, but it was still very pretty to see in the winter), Cobh (which is the last place the Titanic docked before it sank) and Blarney (where the Blarney castle is and the famous Blarney stone.) It was great to go to those places and get a ton of pictures and the tour bus driver told us all about each city's history and played traditional Irish music while we drove.

Blarney Castle with the Blarney Stone!

Blarney House in Blarney

I also was able to go to Dublin for a weekend and was lucky enough to stay with family I had there and they showed me a lot of great places in Dublin but there is still so much to see so I am already planning to go back for another weekend. It was really easy to travel too, I could just walk to the bus station in Cork and it brings you right to the other city, and the bus company has discounted tickets for students! (Many other places have discounts for students as well, like restaurants and even clothing stores.)
So far my classes have been going well. I am taking 5 different courses, three of which are made just for international students.  Those classes are good because everyone in the class is in the same situation as I am and they are all Irish courses (Irish History, Irish folklore, and Irish Literature) so it is teaching a lot about the country I am staying in.  My other two courses are with mainly Irish students so those are great because it gives me more of a Irish experience, and allows me to meet some Irish students.  The teachers have all been very great, and fortunately none of their accents are hard to understand (which was one of my concerns at first!) UCC has about 20,000 students so they have SO many different courses available which work for almost any major for international students which was a big plus.
Although I am here to learn things at the University, living in another country has also taught me so many things that I could not learn in my own country.  I have learned so many different words that Irish people use that I had never heard of (I started an Irish vocabulary list so I could keep up with it all), and am learning a lot of the Irish culture and customs from the Irish people I have become friends with. I am also learning things about other cultures as well because there are international students from over 100 different countries so I am meeting people from those countries too (like Finland, France and Austria so far!) Being here has also given me a new sense of independence because being so far away from my family for so many months at a time was a big deal for me but as I am here I can tell it is learning experience that I am grateful for because it will help me mature a lot and make me a more independent person.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Studying Abroad in Cork!

One of the Main Buildings on Campus and the Quad

After waiting many weeks, and traveling many miles for many hours I have finally arrived in Cork, Ireland! When I first got to Ireland on January 2nd, I landed in Shannon which is about an hour and a half from Cork where I would be living and studying for the next five months at University College Cork. On the first day I moved into my apartment, got settled in, went shopping for essentials that I would be needing and started to meet the people that I would be going to school with.

On the second day I had orientation with all of the other international students which, to be honest, was pretty overwhelming at first because I was in a different country and did not know what to expect with the courses I would be taking and how the school and everything worked in Ireland.  Although I was nervous, everyone at this school is extremely helpful and understands that we are from a different country and that things may seem a bit stressful but they do their very best to make things easy for us and are always available to help with any questions we may have, which was very comforting. They have an International Education Office which is open every day during the week which is great because we can stop in there whenever we have a question or confusion about anything at all!
During the first week of classes they told us that we should be trying to go to as many of the classes we are interested in as possible to get a feel for the classes and see whether we like them and still want to take the class and then on the Monday of the second week we register for the classes we need to take. They also had tours given by students at UCC which was great so I could learn things like where my classes would be, where the library is and places to get a bite to eat inbetween classes.

One of the Wings of the Main building on campus

The University's Crest
My Apartment Building- Farranlea Hall

On the weekend my friends that I met and I walked into City Centre, which is where all of the stores and restaurants were.  It is a beautiful city and there are ton of people just walking around and it is a really great atmosphere to just walk around in and browse through the hundreds of shops they have.  I have been taking a ton of pictures and look like such a tourist but I don't mind because in a few years having all of these pictures as memories will be worth it!

Ireland is such a great country filled with so much history and beautiful cities so I plan to really take advantage of my time here. I have already booked a weekend trip to the Ring of Kerry in February, which was set up through the school so I didn't need to deal with the hassel of planning a trip on my own so I am really looking forward to that.  There is bus station right in town which goes to a lot of other cities around Ireland, like Dublin, Galway and Limerick, which makes it really convenient to travel to other places and see different parts of the country even if you only want to go for a quick day trip (and get some great pictures!) UCC also gives you off for the entire month of April which is when most of the International students take that time to travel to other parts of Europe which I am really looking forward to!

Some entertainment that they had going on in the city!

City Centre
I have only been in Cork for 6 days but I can tell that I am really going to love it here! I am going to cherish every moment because it is an opportunity of a lifetime and I am not going to let it go to waste!