Dia dhuit- Hello!
My name is Jenna Haley, and I’m a second year Communication Sciences and Disorders major studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland, with AIFS (the American Institute for Foreign Study) for the semester. I’ve been here for a few weeks now, and there have already been so many new experiences!
Before arriving here at the University of Limerick (UL), my program hosted a two-night trip to London so that everyone here could get to know each other before the semester. While this was super exciting, there was a little anxiety, too- before this trip, I’d only ever been on three airplanes in my entire life, and I’d never been out of the Southern U.S. So, the concept of flying from Orlando to Philadelphia to London to Shannon was a little difficult to wrap my head around.
After making it to London in one piece (I did get a little bit lost during my layover in Philly, but shh it’s okay) at almost 7 a.m. U.K. time (that’s about 2 a.m. in Florida) I was absolutely exhausted, but also so excited I couldn’t have slept if I wanted to. People from my program were arriving at the University of London (where we stayed for our short time in London) throughout the day, so once the few others and I made it to campus, we were given maps of the city and set loose for the day; the next day we had a sightseeing tour and then were free that afternoon.
After all that fun in London, we were off Tuesday morning to catch our plane to Shannon, which is a little ways west of University of Limerick. The rest of that week was spent being talked at in orientation sessions and getting acclimated to how different things are here.
Different how, you ask?
Well, first of all, taking a shower here is an adventure in and of itself. Not only do you have to turn on the hot water tank in the closet first (if you don’t, you get to enjoy very cold water about halfway in), but there’s not very good water pressure. There’s one dial for water pressure and another for temperature, which took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out.
There are obvious differences, too, like Irish accents that are occasionally difficult to understand, and the fact that people drive on the opposite side of the road here.
Some sort of potato product is used in lieu of preservatives in cheese- when making cheese sauce recently, it looked (and kind of tasted) suspiciously like mashed potatoes until more milk was added. Milk and ice cream aren’t nearly as sweet here, but ketchup tastes like it’s made with way too much sugar.
Plus, there are actual seasons here! I’ve lived in Florida for about 12 years now, and you have no idea how nice it is to have autumn again- actual boots-and-sweater-weather autumn! The high is only 61 degrees today and it’s been wonderful to go outside and not feel as if I’m melting on my way to class.
Despite having to adjust to so many differences, though, I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far! For my first time leaving the country, it’s been a fantastic experience so far, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester will bring!