What It’s Like to Study Abroad in Ireland

The Ladies' View in the Ring of Kerry. Photo Courtesy of Jenna Gibson.

Jenna Gibson 

Contributing Writer 

 

Dear Millsaps, 

Time has seemed to fly by so quickly since I’ve been abroad in Ireland. We’re in Week 11 of classes here, and we just got back from our Spring Break. I also just took my midterms, and since \most of them were the first exams I’ve taken all semester, I’m terrified to know how I did. Also, even though I’ve been in Ireland for almost three months, it still doesn’t seem real to me.  

People often say that when you’re away from your home for four months, you start to feel homesick, mainly because of the culture shock. Luckily, being here in Ireland, I haven’t felt homesick at all (sorry, Mom and Dad!). Nevertheless, I do miss a lot of people back home, but it’s safe to say that being in The Emerald Isle makes up for it.  

With that said, there are quite a few things about Ireland that I’m still trying to get used to. The biggest difference from the U.S. and here (other than the obvious accents) would probably have to be the weather. Before going abroad, I studied up on Irish weather by watching “P.S. I Love you” and “Leap Year,” but none of that prepared me for the always-changing weather of this country. One second, it can be nice and sunny, and before you know you have to use your backpack to protect yourself from hail. It’s also very windy here; when I went to the Cliffs of Moher, it’s a surprise that I didn’t fly off the cliff itself, because the wind was quite literally pushing us around.  

I wouldn’t trade this experience for any other one, though. Ireland is so beautiful. Even just the view out my dorm window is absolutely incredible. I still haven’t gotten used to walking down the street and passing by remains of old castles. My parents would be so proud if they knew how many mountains and cliffs I’ve hiked, even if I also fell about twelve hundred times climbing them.  

College life itself is also a completely new experience for me here. The University of Limerick has thirteen thousand undergraduate students. Every day when I go to class it’s still unsettling to me that I don’t recognize any person I pass, because at Millsaps you literally know every single person you pass by. The course structure here is also odd to me. Basically, every class is like Heritage, in that you have a lecture two days of the week and a discussion once a week. Luckily, though, classes here don’t start till 9 a.m., so it’s still better than waking up for 8 a.m. discussion freshmen year.  

People also dress very differently here for class, and that’s not just because the weather is so unpredictable. Women dress up very nicely, often wearing tights and skirts or nice coats to class. Men also wear extremely tight clothes here; 90 percent of the men I’ve seen have been wearing skinny jeans or skintight joggers, and I still haven’t gotten used to it.  

Even though I still have three months in this beautiful country, I already know that I’m going to miss Ireland as soon as I board that plane back to Mississippi.  

If you’re thinking about whether you should study abroad, go for it. It could either be rough at times or absolutely incredible, but I promise that in the end you won’t regret it at all.

Best,

Jenna

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