Hello, friends! My journey in Ireland has just started, and I’m so excited about all the fun to come. I appreciate you taking the time to follow my adventures this semester. I hope to share some great stories and beautiful pictures with you over the next four months. Since arriving at Maynooth University last Tuesday, a lot has happened. I’m starting my blog off with a recap of my first seven days in Maynooth. Happy reading!
My parents took me to the Memphis airport last Monday around lunchtime. We checked my bags (both under 50 lbs. thanks to Dad’s packing), took a picture (see below), and said our goodbyes (no tears!). Another student from Ole Miss, Dion, was on the same flight, and we ended up spending the next 30 or so hours together. At our stop at the Chicago airport, we ate a burger and fries – why not spend our last hours in the U.S. like true Americans? We left on our flight to Dublin around 7:45 p.m. This was my first flight out of the country and by far my longest. I tried to sleep, but instead I ended up watching Ocean’s 11, The Devil Wears Prada, a documentary on Paris, and a short Irish video about handball (apparently a big sport over here). All of this was followed by lots of games of Solitaire and the sunrise over Dublin. Once we landed, we had to find the bus stop that would take us to Maynooth. Long story short, this ended up being a two-hour wait in the cold, but we met other students along the way. Once checked in at Maynooth, we went shopping at a popular store called Dunnes that is half grocery store, half department store. Dion and I grabbed pizza for dinner (Americans in Ireland, right?) and I came home and met two of my roommates, Erin and Kimmy. After being awake for 30 hours, I gladly fell into bed a little while later.
Day “2,” Wednesday (only day two because Monday and Tuesday were rolled into one), was a very short day. After falling asleep the night before, I slept for 14 hours and woke up around 1:00. I woke up to find another roommate, Shal, and we went to Aldi to do a little grocery shopping. That night, I went to the welcome event/dinner for international students. On the way, I noticed two girls up ahead going in the same direction, so I decided to follow them, hoping they knew where they were going. I caught up to them, and before I had the chance to ask for directions, one of the girls turned around and asked me if I knew how to find Pugin Hall. She later told me she thought I was an Irish student (so happy to know I already look like a local). Together, we all found our way and ended up sitting together at dinner, along with a group of friendly students from Spain. We ate burgers that tasted like meatloaf, which made me thankful for the one I ate in Chicago. Miriam (the girl who asked me for directions) and I made plans to meet up the next day at orientation. When I got back to my apartment, there was no Wi-Fi, and for the first time since leaving Memphis, I felt really alone. Lots of people seemed to (amazingly) have groups of friends already, but I told myself that everything would get better.
I’ll spare you all the exciting details about orientation/campus tours and skip to Thursday’s highlights. During orientation, I sat with Miriam and Allie, another girl from Ole Miss who enjoys “The Bachelor” as much as I do. After a long day, Miriam and I went into town for dinner. We walked into a place we’d heard about called Brady’s, but we quickly learned we went at the wrong time. We were greeted by the stares of about 20 men, all over the age of 50. After awkwardly looking around for a few minutes and laughing at our experience, we went to the most popular place in town, The Roost. There I bought my first legal drink, a Long Island Iced Tea, and had shepherd’s pie for the first time. We saw one of our Spanish friends from the welcome dinner and she invited us over to chat with her and her friends for a while, which was a fun way to end the night.
During a session of orientation on Friday, a girl named Dominique sat down next to Miriam and me. After talking with her for a bit, I discovered that she was my fourth roommate! On Friday night, we went to the student’s union for a Ceili, where people get together for traditional Irish dancing. We waited an hour, but the people in charge never showed up. We’re still confused about what happened. While we waited, Dominique and I talked to a nice guy from Germany, who ended up eating dinner with us at The Roost (yep, there again). I ordered a hard cider, which is delicious and popular around here. Also, I found out that a “bap” is what the Irish call buns. Learning something new every day!
During orientation, Miriam, Dominique, and I decided to do a three-hour tour of Dublin. On Saturday morning, we took the bus to Dublin and met our awesome tour guide, Garvan. We learned lots of tips, history, and Irish words during our tour around the city. I talked to a local guy who said the only thing he knows about Mississippi is “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…” and that it’s really hot. My reaction so far when I tell an Irish person that I’m from Mississippi leads to a double-take and an “oh, really?” I’m the first person from Mississippi that some of them have met. After the tour, the three of us went to the Guinness Storehouse. The place is huge and is definitely worth the trip. At the top, I drank my complimentary pint while enjoying 360-degree views of Dublin. The Guinness wasn’t bad, but let’s just say I won’t be buying myself one anytime soon.
On Sunday, I did real grocery shopping for the first time. Miriam and I went to Tesco, which is a wonderful place. It’s about the size of a Sam’s or Costco, but the items aren’t in bulk. I loaded up on food and a couple household items and packed it all into my backpack and a reusable shopping bag. Ireland is very eco-friendly – you have to ask or pay for a bag at grocery stores. The not-so-fun part of the trip was carrying everything back to our apartments. That night, Miriam, Erin, and I watched “The Bachelor,” which made us very happy! We are now having watch-parties on Tuesday nights, and I’m glad I have them to watch with since my mom isn’t here.
Monday was our first day of class. I went to the Philosophy of God and Business and Academic Writing. I’ve been surrounded by Americans and other international students this whole time, so it’s nice to finally be around Irish students. This week is a trial week of classes, so we can go to whichever ones we want before registering fully next Monday. So far, classes are set up differently than at home but seem interesting. I’m ready to finalize my schedule and get into a routine.
Well, that’s week one! If you made it through all that (I don’t even know how I did), thank you! I will post again soon, and until then, watch for pictures on Facebook and Instagram. I really appreciate all the sweet comments I’ve gotten from y’all. I hope this has given you some insight into my time so far. Talk to you soon!