Ireland | Semester Exchanges Blog

My semester abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland was nothing short of amazing. I made so many wonderful memories and friends from around the world and went on exciting adventures throughout the 4 months. I am extremely grateful I had the opportunity to do a semester abroad. I grew both personally and professionally in several ways. My confidence grew and I became more independent and surer of myself. By going out of my comfort zone to make new friends, learning how to use public transportation, navigating airports and unfamiliar places by myself, and more, I developed valuable life skills and boosted my confidence.

At first, being away from my home, family, and friends in a foreign country was a bit daunting and overwhelming, but I was able to adapt to my new environment and become increasingly self-reliant and mature. I felt challenged and empowered by overcoming new experiences. I discovered a ton of things about myself and realized just how capable I am. I worked on group projects with people from different countries and backgrounds as my own which allowed me to learn about new perspectives and develop cross-cultural awareness. I also improved my communication skills when engaging with individuals from Ireland and other international students.

One of my goals was to truly immerse myself in the culture and traditions of Ireland, and I achieved that. I interacted with the locals including my 5 Irish housemates, ate traditional cuisine, watched Gaelic sports, listened to Irish music, participated in Irish traditions and customs like making a St. Brigid’s cross on Saint Brigid’s Day (Imbolc), and traveled all around Ireland. My favorite and most interesting class I took this semester was Irish Folklore, where I learned about the customs and folklore of Ireland. For anyone going abroad, I recommend taking a class like this to learn firsthand about the history and customs of your host country! Additional tips I have for students going abroad include: try not to overpack (plan in advance), dress in layers, do not buy a new phone right before you go so you can get a local SIM card (you can only unlock your phone for a local SIM if your phone is paid off), join clubs and societies, go to campus and city events, eat and buy local, and above all else enjoy your time and live in the moment (your time abroad goes by so fast)!

The University of Limerick is an incredible school to study at. The campus is beautiful, accommodating, and an oasis of nature. The professors and students are friendly and welcoming, and since it is an internationally focused university, you can meet and work with people from all around the world. There are various clubs and societies to get involved and meet new people with shared interests. UL Global is extremely supportive and helps international students during the entire semester to be successful. There is an International Buddy Program that matches incoming international students with a student volunteer from UL based on similar interests. I loved my buddy/mentor and buddy group because we got along so well and hung out a bunch. My mentor helped me settle in and gave me useful tips and advice.

Among other events and activities, UL Global also set up seven Saturday day trips for students to easily tour Ireland. The trips were to the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle and Cork City, Killarney and Torc Waterfall, Dingle, Dublin, Galway, and the Aran Islands. I had such a wonderful time on these trips with friends and was grateful to go to 6 out of the 7 trips, only missing the Dublin one because I was going there later when my family visited. In addition to exploring Ireland, I traveled to other countries in Europe, including England, Italy, Spain, and Greece. I experienced incredible new foods, customs, people, landmarks, and other wonders while traveling and had some of the best times of my life.

Ireland and the University of Limerick surpassed my expectations and initial impressions. The weather was pleasant the majority of the time, the food was amazing, and the people were so kind and helpful. It was a nice change of pace with more free time and less demanding than school at Texas A&M, but still worthwhile and I learned valuable lessons. While abroad, I gained a new perspective on the world and a better understanding and appreciation of other cultures. I expanded my worldview and became a better global citizen. I will use the skills I developed while abroad in work and school to become a well-rounded leader able to engage with diverse individuals.

The memories and friendships I created made for an unforgettable and rewarding 4 months. My time in Ireland was exciting, fulfilling, and life-changing. I experienced new cultures and grew as an individual. This experience changed me in more ways than I could have imagined. I knew studying in a foreign place was going to be fun, but I did not foresee the extent to which I would enjoy it and thrive. I am a strong advocate for studying abroad and could not recommend it enough. My time abroad expanded my outlook on life and led me to want to pursue an internship and/or a job abroad. It is bittersweet going home because as excited I am to see my family and friends (and eat Tex-Mex), I will miss Ireland and the new friends I made. I love Ireland dearly and hope to come back soon!

The pictures attached below are of me at the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle (where I kissed the Blarney stone and received the gift of the gab).

Categories: Ireland

I am currently studying abroad at the University of Limerick (UL) in Ireland for my Spring 2022 semester. While it has only been a short two weeks, I already learned and experienced so many new things and started to go beyond what I am typically exposed to! The first week here was orientation week where I attended online sessions to learn more about my time here, the university, and Ireland. School began the second week, and during this week I got to “tour my classes” to pinpoint which classes (modules) I wanted to take. Along with two core business courses and an MIS elective, I’m excited to be taking Irish Folklore while here. The classes are structured and presented differently at UL than at A&M, and the grades are largely based on a final exam. For each class, I either attend two 50-minute or one 1-hour and 50-minute-long lectures along with a 1- or 2-hour lab or tutorial for the module each week. My biggest lecture is online for COVID safety reasons, but the rest are on campus.

My initial impression of the university, the city of Limerick, and Ireland is that everything here is so green and beautiful. There is so much nature, culture, and history everywhere you look, and I love it! While a lot is different than it is in Texas, I did not experience too much culture shock. However, I did have to adjust to a few cultural differences such as the 6-hour time difference, driving/walking on the left side, using 24-hour military time, Celsius and the Metric system, and relying on public transportation like the bus and train.

Irish people are extremely friendly, laid back, cheerful, and welcoming to all, and the majority speak English which is helpful. I love the fun and lively culture of Ireland, and there are even a couple of pubs right on campus for the students to enjoy after a long day of classes and studying! Additionally, music is big here and I really enjoy listening to live music and watching Irish dancing (fun fact: the rock band The Cranberries were formed in Limerick, Ireland)! Sports are also a huge thing at UL, and I can’t wait to watch a traditional Irish sport such as hurling (the world’s fastest field sport) and Gaelic Football.

The climate in Ireland is cool, damp, windy, and cloudy but the weather has been pretty pleasant so far. It has mostly stayed around 35-50°F and while light rain showers are common, the sun still comes out plenty. I have gone out to the city center and to the weekend Milk Market, and I feel safe walking and using public transportation. COVID-19 is taken more seriously in Ireland and there are stricter restrictions, however, there has been a national easing of restrictions recently. For instance, Ireland had an 8 PM curfew when I first arrived, but the curfew was lifted a week ago. The use of masks is still required in indoor settings and public transport.

The stores and restaurants may be different and sell different products, but there are some familiar places such as Aldi, TK Maxx, Starbucks, Subway, and even KFC. I’ve enjoyed Irish food, but I still have to try a lot of the traditional meals. Along with their drinks, the Irish love potatoes and chips, or as we like to call them: French fries. Standard chips are commonly served with meals (even pizza), but you can also get different flavors and toppings with chips for a snack or meal! Spice bags are a popular fast food dish found at Chinese takeaways in Ireland. Typically, a spice bag consists of chips, chicken, peppers, onions, a variety of spices, and curry sauce and they’re so tasty!

UL’s campus is stunning, and each building is unique. Compared to Texas A&M, the campus and student population is a lot smaller at the University of Limerick. The student body at UL is close to 16,500 students, including more than 2,000 international students which is amazing because I’ve gotten to meet people from all over the world. Conversely, A&M has more than 70,000 students. It is definitely a big difference population and size-wise, but I’m enjoying the smaller campus vibe and seeing more familiar faces while walking around campus. The entire campus is walkable and there is a short 10-minute break between classes since it only takes about 10 minutes to walk from one side of campus to the other. The Kemmy Business School is smaller compared to Mays with about 3,000 students, but KBS is still one of the largest business schools in Ireland and is in the top 1% of business schools in the world.

Many locals also occupy the campus to walk, bike, exercise, and eat because it is such a wonderful campus to be at. Personally, I love walking around campus, especially on the Living Bridge over the Shannon River. The study abroad and exchange program at UL is remarkable. They offer tons of support, fun and educational events, and weekend day trips around Ireland. This past Saturday I went on the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren tour, and all the sites were truly breathtaking. I’m looking forward to the Blarney Castle and Cork City tour this Saturday, and can’t wait for the experiences and trips to come! So far, I have fallen in love with Ireland and the University of Limerick in all its beauty. During the upcoming weeks, I hope to travel more around Ireland, become increasingly globally aware, challenge myself, and truly immerse myself in the culture and customs of Ireland!

Me at the Cliffs of Moher

Categories: 2022, Ireland, Reciprocal Exchange

Howdy from the land of green flowing hills and medieval castles!!

I arrived in Dublin about two weeks ago and hopped on a bus to the other side of the country: a cozy little city called Luimneach, known to us English speakers as Limerick.  All of the Covid regulations and paperwork may have been a headache but WOW was it worth it. I am super optimistic about how this semester will unfold and the new sites and experiences that are yet to be discovered!

Categories: 2021, Ireland, Reciprocal Exchange

There is something to be said about travelling abroad. When you live in a new country for an extended period of time, there is a sense of magic that cannot be explained, only experienced. Your world is open to a whole new set of opportunities when going abroad. I have learned countless things and grown in ways that I could have ever imagined. 

Even though I unfortunately had to come home a month and a half earlier than expected, I still made forever friends and unforgettable memories. I was able to travel all around Ireland to see the different beauty each place had to offer and immerse myself in the culture. From having tea and biscuits to taking the bus everywhere I went, I adjusted my routine to match the people around me. Things that people in Ireland take for granted I will miss dearly. I miss the daffodils, the rolling hills and rivers and the excitement of getting on a bus to whisk me away on a new adventure. 

Business is quite different in Ireland than in the States. It is significantly more laid back and casual. You are expected to arrive late to meetings and address professors and administration by their first name. Conversations with your professors are like you are speaking with your peers. Even when you email them you are on a first name basis. Don’t expect a response right away though, because chances are you won’t receive one for a week. This behavior stressed me out but also helped me be more patient and realize their value of relationships over promptness. 

Living with 7 other girls from all different places and creating friendships with people from all over the world has changed my perspective. I had roommates from different places in the States, France and China. I also made friends from Germany, Poland, Ireland and Holland. All their experiences and world views challenged me to see the world differently. Their lifestyles caused me to adjust my own and incorporate new habits.

Even though a lot of my plans got cancelled I still was able to travel and try new things. Austria and Holland were places I was able to travel to, but unfortunately my plans for Italy, France and a lot of other countries on my list were cancelled. In Ireland I took parachute packing classes to skydive and tried new foods like pigs blood and rashers. These were far outside my comfort zone, but I knew they would force me to grow so I challenged myself to try them.

Even though I am back I still think about my study abroad almost everyday. This week especially as my online classes end I think about how this experience has made me more adaptable and made me realize that we all are more similar than we think. 

Out of my entire experience, I think the waitress we had said it best. “Half the world is Irish and the other half is jealous.” I miss the Emerald Isle dearly and part of me will forever consider Ireland home.

 

Inch Beach, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Vienna, Austria

Salzburg, Austria

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

All 7 of my roommates

Categories: 2020, Ireland, Reciprocal Exchange

There is a certain charm to Ireland. People are always willing to stop to have a conversation and will joke about everything with you. There’s something about living in a place with beautiful landscape even when it rains half the time. Even though the weather can be dreary people’s chipper nature makes up for it. Because of the crazy amounts of rain, it is still a good idea to bring a rain jacket, a backup rain jacket and a poncho. Ireland has certain quirks that takes getting used to and there are always new things to try. Instead of bacon they have what they call rashers which is some place in between Canadian bacon and American bacon. Also baked beans and roasted tomatoes are staples for breakfast.

University of Limerick while nowhere near the size of A&M is in no way small. The campus spreads over both sides of the Shannon River and has 16,000 students. There are so many different perspectives and types of people and it makes every conversation different. Even in my roommates one is from Beijing, and the others are from all different parts of the United States. I’ve been able to meet people from all over the world including Italy, Germany and Japan and it is so fascinating hearing how unique their college experiences are. One thing I’ve learned is in Japan you start each school year in the Spring and have a four-month break after December! I love having the opportunity to meet people who under no other circumstance would I have met.

I’ve been able to do some travelling around Ireland and has been so special. From Dublin all the way to southern Ireland in Cork back to the west coast of Limerick, each place has its own rich history and unique stories to tell. I am excited to spend the rest of my semester in such a diverse landscape and explore the Irish culture more.

Categories: 2020, Ireland, Reciprocal Exchange

Howdy all,

The semester has finally come to a close and while all feel relieved to be done with finals, the handful of us on exchange are struck with the realization that we are about to go home. It’s such an odd feeling of excitement and sadness all at once. I am thrilled to be going home but I know I am also going to quickly miss being in Ireland not too long after my return. Luckily, however, I will be taking back with me many memories, souvenirs and more importantly new knowledge gained from my time studying at the University of Limerick.

Business in Ireland is a bit different than what we are used to in the United States. Things are much more relaxed and informal than what we typically expect in a professional setting back home. Correspondence with superiors and colleagues is much like how you would address a friend or close work acquaintance. Language towards one another is always quite unique in terms of the informality, slang, and even profanity used when addressing one another. I had previously mentioned the concept of Irish time in my first post, the idea that typically things run a few minutes behind schedule. This lax take on time schedule applies to even the most professional of entities in Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish people are fairly focused on social issues such as the status of workers’ rights or income inequality. The society as a whole favors more welfare based governmental systems in order to provide a more equal system of living for its citizens. In classes over organizational behavior and business statistics, examples and concepts were often looked at from a more progressive and social aspect such as emotional work, inequality statistics, and other similar ideas. These instances reinforced the social ideology that I had been exposed to all semester long. To some, I suppose, that can be seen as a good thing but from what I noticed, this definitely comes at a fairly high cost for the quality of life of Ireland as a whole. Relatively high prices for everyday items and poor infrastructure are two of the biggest things that come to my mind. Regardless of this fact, however, the Irish are still quite positive people who are proud of their heritage and live a comfortable life style. I, personally, do not think I could work in Ireland simply because of their interpretation of how things are supposed to be run, but I do appreciate the exposure and experience to life in a system like the one in Ireland. If anyone reading this does appreciate a more relaxed and unstructured form of business, maybe Ireland is a place for you!

Anyways, today is my last day in Europe. I am currently in London where I await my morning flight tomorrow out of London Gatwick airport flying into Austin. I left Ireland this past Saturday right after my final and I can honestly say I already miss it. Maybe that has to do with my distaste for London but I think it’s because, to me, Ireland truly became my home away from home and now I’m moving away for good. The people and culture there is so inviting and fun. Though hard to meet with Irish students who tended to stick with just their Irish friends, I made plenty of international friends who I will miss dearly. The last picture is a group photo of a Gaelic Games class I took with all international students where we were taught how to play Hurling and Gaelic football. I hope to stay in contact with the lot of them and perhaps even run into them again somewhere down the road. I will not soon forget my amazing experience at UL and I will always cherish the memories and life lessons learned on the Emerald Isle!

Categories: 2019, Ireland, Reciprocal Exchange

Howdy all who are reading!

Today marks the first day of classes as well as my 7th day in County Limerick, Ireland. I have settled in quite well into my accommodation where I have become familiar with my six roommates who are from all over such as Germany, Taiwan, France, and the various states back in the U.S. It is so fascinating learning about the differing environmental and cultural upbringings of my roommates, especially the ones from outside the States. Meeting people from so many parts of the world throughout this first week of orientation for the international students has been an incredible experience that has helped me get extremely excited for the impending semester.

As for The University of Limerick, it is a beautiful campus with friendliness that gives Texas southern hospitality a run for its money. With campus grounds on both sides of the River Shannon, one is exposed to many gorgeous natural sites about the place. In one of the pictures below, there is the iconic “Living Bridge” that is architecturally designed to move and sway as pedestrians walk about it. This is one of the things that makes the campus quite unique. I hope to be able to post even more pictures of the campus as these two do not even remotely justify how incredible this campus truly is.

The weather here, though not much colder than back home temperature wise, is bitterly frigid as the constantly damp and windy days seemingly pierce through any warm clothing I put on. However, on the days that the sun decides to make an appearance (which I am told is only about 50% of the time all year in Ireland), it is quite tolerable and even comfortable in the correct clothes. Though overcast is a consistent sight here, it does not seem to dim the chipper moods of the locals who alone can brighten up ones day. Another fun fact about life in Ireland, I have had to adjust to the things here being run according to “Irish Time” which basically means 5-15 minutes behind schedule. This concept may be a tough one to tackle for someone as time oriented as me, but I guess it will just be part of the adventure!

I am absolutely thrilled to be studying here and I cannot wait to see how the educational methods here differ from TAMU. From what it seems, it appears to be quite different structural wise but I am confident that I will be able to adapt without too much of an issue. I hope to keep an updated blog on my experience and I cannot wait to write more about my time here at UL and share with everyone my incredible experience!

Categories: 2019, Ireland, Reciprocal Exchange

13718036_1052537171468741_439966456_oSo Dublin is pretty neat. It is such a beautiful city with so many neat sights to explore (and food to eat). I initially took this trip to experience a different culture and Dublin was such a great introductory to that. Ireland has a lot of similarities to America, and yet the way the country functions and how people perceive their local environment is very different than what I am used to or expected.

There are a lot of wonderful cultural differences though, for example they say certain phrases a lot. Phrases such as: thanks a mil, that’s grand, and what’s the crack (crack means fun). People in my office tend to say cheers to everything and I have yet to figure out if it is a thank you or just an acknowledgement.

Additionally, Irish office culture is very different than ours. While everyone is still very professional, the people focus less on formalities than Americans do. Emails are addressed more casually, starting with a ‘Hi’ rather than ‘Dear’. Intros to emails often start with ‘I hope you are well’.

 

 

 

 

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This past weekend I got to go to the botanical gardens. There were several greenhouses and they were filled with plants from all over the world. Most plants were labeled with their country of origin and their names. The insides of the greenhouses had a diversity of rooms that ranged from rooms that made you feel like you were in a jungle to rooms filled with cacti and succulents. Outside of the greenhouses there were rose gardens and really beautiful trees. Honestly, the botanical gardens are seriously underrated and if you ever happen to be in Dublin, you should check them out.

 

 

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13621884_1052536548135470_1257793467_oWalking around the city you find random art everywhere. That space fox was all the way down a random street in Dublin City Centre. I don’t understand it, but it is very aesthetically pleasing.

 

 

 

 

 

13717914_1052536664802125_243273048_o13709610_1052536824802109_90216659_oThis serves no purpose, but this is the best ice cream (gelato) I’ve had all summer. I asked to try 3 flavors. I tried three flavors. I got all three because they were too good. (In case you were wondering: white chocolate, cheesecake, mint chocolate-chip, and yes I ate it fast enough that the flavors didn’t mix.)

Categories: 2016, Ireland, Reciprocal Exchange