Journals from 2008 Semester Abroad in Galway, Ireland
2008-02-18 A bit of craic.
The Giant's Causeway
We have been in Galway for almost six weeks. The time has flown by. The weather is slowly improving as spring emerges. The days are getting longer and the sun is peeking out more frequently. However, I am told that we cannot completely escape from the rain because it rains consistently year round.
School is going well. I thought it would be harder to adjust to a school that is 7.5 times larger than Linfield, but we are all doing just fine. There are a few key differences. For starters, most courses have between 100 to 180 students enrolled in them. Because the courses are so large they are lecture courses, which means that the professors do the talking. Having five lecture courses has greatly increased my appreciation for the discussion courses that I have taken in the past at Linfield, primarily because they add variety to your day. In addition, there is a bar in the center of campus, which is open during the middle of the day. This is still a difficult concept to grasp. Additionally, I feel as though the Irish students dress more formally than Americans do for a day of classes. So you will not find an Irish student in sweats; it is a crazy thought, I know. Also, most Irish students do not get cars until they are in their final year of college. This means that they walk, ride their bikes, or use public transportation. I found this interesting because most Americans get a car during high school. Lastly, the Irish do drink COFFEE. I was shocked to discover this because everyone told me, prior to leaving, that I would not find coffee in Ireland. Now, you will not find a Starbucks on every corner because there are only 2 in the entire country, but you can find coffee, even on campus!
As the days pass, I am slowly picking up on words that are widely used by the Irish:
1. Craic " This word is used to refer to things that are funny or to ask someone what is going on.
2. Cheers " This word is used to say bye or thank you.
3. Brilliant " Often used when describing a good idea.
4. Love " People often call people "love"--for example, "Hi, love" or "What can I get you, love?" (when ordering from a restaurant).
5. Lovely " Like brilliant, often used to refer to a good idea or to something one likes.
It took a while to familiarize ourselves with the food over here, but I think we are doing just fine. In the beginning, we were all shocked by the size portions of food found in the grocery stores. You cannot buy in large quantities because the food here has fewer preservatives and doesnt keep as long. Also, we have a mini-fridge in a four-person apartment, so that doesnt help. So, we all find ourselves grocery shopping at least twice a week. Additionally, they dont sell salty crackers like Wheat Thins, Cheez It and Gold Fish. A few people havent been able to find a sufficient substitute and have had family ship crackers overit is comical. Despite not being able to buy crackers or in quantity, there are some positives. For instance, the Irish have AMAZING chocolate, bread and pastries available. It is interesting because Cadbury chocolate is extremely popular here, unlike in the States. However, it also tastes much better because it doesnt contain the preservatives that Cadbury chocolate in the States does.
Over the past three weeks, since I last wrote, we have all begun traveling. We have done a one-day tour as a whole group. We went and saw the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. Both were breathtaking. The other trips that have been taken havent been done as a whole group. This is because we all have different schedules and it is difficult to do trips in large groups. A group of five has taken one three-day trip to Dublin and another to Prague. The other four, including me, have done a three-day trip to Belfast and have a four-day trip booked to Edinburgh, Scotland at the beginning of March. Belfast was amazing. The culture was completely different from Galway and I believe that has to do with the fact that Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain. The city is full of historical buildings and the people were so friendly. I think my favorite part of the trip was our day tour to the Giants Causeway. It is one of the most spectacular natural formations I have ever seen; I recommend that everyone who travels to Northern Ireland go and see it.
Well, I need to get off to class. The sun is shining today and I cant wait to go soak up some vitamin D!