Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making Friends/Budgeting Money

Making friends with the locals was much harder than I had imagined. Since the house is full of just the international students, there isn’t too much cultural diversity within our group. So we made Irish friends through class, going out to pubs, etc. Once an Irish friend is made, they typically introduce you to their other friends at parties or other get togethers. The main point I expressed to my Irish friends is that I wanted to have a true Irish experience. They really appreciated this. My friends not only explain things to me from a cultural perspective, but they also introduce me to new experiences. Although making Irish friends was difficult in the beginning, the Irish are extremely kind people. Once they found out that we are a group of Americans, conversation typically starts.
The currency thing is getting much easier. However, I find myself with a lot of change being stored in my dresser. I have a rule that I save my 1 euro coins for laundry, 10, 20 and 50 cents for post, and the 1, 2, and 5 cents for tips. I never really had a budget when coming over to Ireland. Instead, I buy cheap groceries and inexpensive drinks at the pubs. One thing to understand is that this is a college town. We’re all poor college students. So no one is going out of their way to buy the fancy drinks or get take out every night.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What is your most interesting class and why?

My most interesting class is called Communication and Social Skills. Sounds like a public speaking course doesn’t it? It is actually a course on how to counsel children. The professor is a man who has worked with children with attachment disorders for many years. I find this course to be extremely interesting because he actually shows the class how he counsels. Also, we have groups that stay after class in order to learn group counseling skills. I really enjoy this because this is not how we are taught counseling skills at Carlow University. Instead, we are learning hands on skills, which I truly enjoy.

Where is your favorite place to study and why?

My favorite place to study is still my room. However, the house can get a bit loud. There are also coffee shops near by that are actually quite peaceful. Unlike Starbucks, people do not chat as loudly at the cafes and coffee shops. There are also places all over campus to study like the library and common rooms. The quietest place to study is the common room on the first floor. Students do not live down there so I get a chance to concentrate on my essays.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Language Barriers

The Irish may speak English, but do they speak your English? Probably not...

There have been many miscommunications between myself and the Irish throughout the semester. For one, sarcasm is a language not understood by all. The Irish have their own forms of sarcasm that are not compatible with American sarcasm. They tend to take what you say as very literal if you’re not using their sarcasm, so watch out. In fact everything they say is very literal. This is one aspect I have to watch out for when writing essays because they may apear to be too broad to the Irish. Second, the Irish use a lot more slang terms that I initially expected. The term ‘crack’ is a term that means good. So if you enjoyed watching a movie you could say ‘that’s a good crack.’ When I do not understand a slang term that is being used, I typically ask them what it means.

Another interesting aspect of the Irish language is that they do not pronounce the ‘th’ in words. Instead, they pronounce ‘th’ as just ‘t’. This is because the celtic language does not use the ‘th’ when pronouncing words. As the Irish were learning English, it just kind of stuck. If you were to ask an Irish person what time it was, and it’s three o’clock, he or she would pronounce it as tree o’clock. It sounds odd at first, but once you get used to it you’ll be better at understanding the them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


My favorite field trip that we have been on was definitely Glendalough. It was very different from the museums that we typically go to. Glendalough is a valley in Ireland with many beautiful sights. It begins with a tour through the monastery where the monks used to live and continues through the woods on a beautiful trail. We even got to see three different waterfalls. This was the most amazing experience. Ireland is known for its beautiful natural landscapes, and Glendalough is the perfect example.

Irish Dining

Just like the States, there are three meals a day. However, they tend to be a little further spread out in Ireland. I think this is because the Irish have tea time twice a day from 11am-12pm and 5pm-7pm. There are pretty good portion sizes here  like back home. One major difference is when dining out, you have to order your entire meal all at once. That means if you’re planning on eating dessert with your dinner, you order that at the beginning of the meal. There is also no such thing as refills unless you ask, which typically costs more money. The best part about dining out is that the servers do not constantly come over to check on you every ten minutes like the do in America.

Although dining out is quick and easy, making meals allows us to save money. We make most of our meals in the dormitory but there are many places to eat in the town of Carlow. Many fast food places are open pretty late. Also, since this is a college town there are a lot of student deals at many of the restaurants. My favorite restaurant is the Roadhouse. This is where you’re able to get fast service for a cheap price. A definite meal to have while in Ireland is the traditional Irish Breakfast. This typically consists of eggs, sausage, beans, toast, haggis, and hash browns. Don't think about the haggis, just try it. Its a pretty large breakfast, but its amazing!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Support Staff & Teachers

The college set us up with some really amazing support staff while studying abroad.

Sister Mary is here to help us with personal affairs like dorm life and homesickness. She checks in with us on a regular basis to make sure all of our needs are able to be met and she helps us with her input as well.
When the airport lost my luggage they were giving me the runaround when I would call them. However, Sister Mary made it a point to call the airline on a regular basis until they tracked my luggage. She is a wonderful support and the main person that we go to for any of our questions about traveling or anything that we are unsure about. It’s comforting knowing that she will make sure that she gets the correct answer or points you in the right direction.

Eric is the contact person who supports us academically. He is not only the academic adviser for the international students, but also the ‘essay doctor’ for the entire college. Eric is the person who helps us pick classes for the semester and obtain our visas while abroad.

Both Sister Mary and Eric are very approachable and encourage us to email or text them with any questions we may have. They have made the transition process a lot easier than it would be without their support.

The teachers at Carlow College are very helpful as well. It is nice to know that if I have any question that they are welcome at any time.

My most interesting teacher is my Communication and Social Skills professor. Despite the title of the course, Damien teaches a counseling course. I love that he gives us approaches on how to counsel and makes us practice different techniques each class. What I like that most is how he tells us how not to approach a situation when counseling due to whatever end result. Damien has been working as a counselor for many years and is very personable with the class. He is able to relate to his students and our difficulties as college students.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Since I am currently living in Lennon House (the dormitory on campus) my walk to class is literally two minutes long. However, I do have a class that is on the very top of a huge staircase so I tend to leave a few minutes earlier on those days. Unlike my home institution, classes at Carlow College start a little after the hour and end right at the hour. This makes getting to class a little more stressful for me because I have some classes right after each other. It is not like this for the Irish students because their class schedules are not put back to back like international students.

Mt Leinster in Wexford Ireland

Getting around Ireland is extremely simple, or at least I’ve heard it to be…

I will be the first one to admit that I have no idea how to read a bus schedule. However, when you’re with someone who knows how to read a schedule, getting around is extremely easy. Buses in Ireland are not like the buses in Pittsburgh where you hop on and off to get to a certain destination. Instead, there are buses that head to one point but have stops along the way. Just like a Greyhound bus. These buses are nicer and some actually have wifi. The buses run from very early in the morning until very late at night so if you miss one, you just have to wait a half hour in order to catch the next one. Its also cheaper to buy a round trip ticket with your student ID. Cost changes from company to company but its a pretty good price for how far they take you.