First of all I’d just like to state for the record that I got here and I’m safe! As the folks in Galway would say, “Everything’s grand.” Important to note: they also say this when everything’s not so grand but we’ll let that slide for now.
Where to begin? In all honesty, my first few hours in Ireland were a green blur, (pictured for emphasis). Post fourteen hours of flying and an abridged account of Irish history which ended on a strangely reverential chapter about Bono, all bets were off—but after hearing some travel horror stories of other Whitman students who are studying abroad elsewhere I’m feeling mightily grateful for my uneventful journey. Still, I can now report that being awake for thirty hours straight can make a person hallucinatory.
I got off the airplane in Shannon and found my group of IFSA students (for future reference, IFSA or Institute for Study Abroad is a private organization which helps people like me through the interim period of getting settled and that sort of thing) and we were transported to our living quarters for the next few months.
That bus ride—although blurry—was quite beautiful. We passed verdant green fields and soggy horses and sheep. Each time I saw livestock or a tiny fence made from stones, my heart started fluttering uncontrollably. ‘Twas probably a mixture of sleep deprivation, adrenaline, and the feeling of finally making it to the place I’ve only read about in books, but everything looked magical in the rain.
As far as living spaces go, I’m housed in Menlo Park Apartments, which is a quaint little building with an inner garden and many cats which make themselves known at night when they want to manipulate you into letting them inside your warm residence. Apparently the spiders like it in here as well, but they do not ask so nicely. It’s suite style so I’m living with one other American and two Irish women, both of whom are very sweet and patient when they have to explain Irish pronunciations to the local idiot abroad. But in all fairness, how would you go about saying Tig Coílí?
I’ve been here for a week and so far I’ve walked about thirty miles, been misidentified as an Irish person three times, forgotten my umbrella once and deeply regretted it, stumbled into a rollicking trad session at a local pub, and spent far too many euros on produce which will probably go bad before I can eat it. Ah yes, the trials of being an adult. And a student on top of that! I should probably speak to the institution where I will be studying the next few months.
Readers, meet NUI Galway—3rd ranking in the nation, 1st ranking in craic! (Pronounced ‘crack,’ means fun—this joke would land better if I were there to share it with you in person, but oh well.)
Although I don’t start classes until tomorrow, the stress of registration definitely made up for lost time. As of now, I’m signed up for a couple of history courses, an archeology course about Irish mythology, and (hopefully) a course on Irish theatre. On top of that, Galway is a theatre town with a thriving arts scene which I am itching to investigate… so once I get my bearings and fall into an academic routine, I’ll feel more exploratory.
For now, I’m going to sign off and brave the washing machine—wish me luck!