A Wind of Welcome

I was reassured, prior to my study abroad trip, that on the other side of “the pond” I would be greeted by friendly faces, lots of rain, and many many sheep. In my first month here, I have found all of these things to be true. As it turns out, both the sheep and cattle here actually hold a higher population than humans do. There’s truly nothing like an Irish welcome, which was comforting beyond words, especially being so far away from home. Among Ireland’s beauty and indecisive weather, I also experienced an unexpected wind of welcome from Storm Isha. 

My first day in Ireland, I recall like it was yesterday. It is astounding to think that it wasn’t. I took an overnight flight into Shannon Airport, so I arrived before the sun was up. Little did I know, I touched down just in time, because in the following days hundreds of flights were canceled and power outages were seen across the counties. Once I landed, even the darkness of the early morning sky couldn’t take away the surreal feeling that I had. For the first time in my life, I stepped foot in another country which I had always dreamed to visit. I have always had a special place in my heart for the stars, and as I stepped out of the airport I couldn’t help but notice that they seemed to shine bigger and brighter than I’ve ever seen. My roommate who arrived a couple nights after me, was also able to avoid flight cancellations, and it was nice to have company for those stormy nights. 

My first sunset in Limerick, overlooking St. John’s Castle

In just the first month of studying abroad, I have experienced so much culture and exposure to the elements. Between the kind people, and breathtaking scenery, It’s hard not to feel at home here. Upon our arrival, International Students went through a few days of Orientation, allowing us to settle in and learn the functionings of the college. One of the tips we got was to always carry an umbrella and sunglasses with us. We have found this to be very helpful, and we are always prepared. Another note of advice I’ve found to be very important is to never trust the weather app. Just because it says there will be no rain, does not mean you can leave the house without your raincoat. My roommate and I may, or may not have, learned that lesson the hard way. On the final day, we all went on a trip to the Cliffs of Moher. We all kept an eye on the forecast leading up to it, hoping that the rainy week we were having would clear up by then. The universe must have been on our side, because it ended up being our first sunny day in Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher exposed me to the elements of nature in a way I had never experienced before. We had a fair warning about the wind from our guides before we set off on our adventure, as it would be much stronger by the cliffs. The energy radiating from the cliffs and water around me was one of the most freeing feelings. There are a couple sections at the cliff, where water sprays up and creates a section of rain showers to walk through. Feeling and being fully immersed in the elements was a humbling reminder of how small we are on this earth, and how powerful nature is. It made it even more special that I could share this moment with my newfound friends from all over the world. Since this day, I have continued to explore the beautiful counties of Ireland, making memories with friends I know will last a lifetime.

Once we got settled in Limerick, we started exploring using the public transportation systems. Student leap cards allow us to take buses in Ireland at a much lower cost than normal, and it is a great resource for our weekend trips. So far, we have traveled to Galway, Killarney, and Dublin. It has definitely been an adjustment to drive on the opposite side of the road and of the car. Not to mention, how casual it is to pass ruins, cattle, and castles along the highway. Each location brings its own charm, and most notably when arriving in Galway, we were greeted by traditional Irish dancing in the city square. This theme was carried throughout the rest of the trip, as the streets are full of live music and indescribable energy. 

Eyre Square, Galway

One of the most unique things I have done was in Killarney, which was a horse drawn carriage tour that took us through Killarney National Park. Everywhere I looked, my eyes were met with the most vibrant shades of green I have ever seen in my life. We came across Muckross Abbey, the house and gardens, as well as a hidden waterfall within the trails of the park. Every place we’ve traveled to is unique, and I have grown so close to the people I am exploring with. During our long weekend in Dublin, we were able to see Niall Horan perform at 3Arena Dublin. This artist is originally from Mullingar, Ireland so it was very cool to attend a concert so close to his home. I cannot wait to continue these adventures, and discover more of the hidden gems within this beautiful Island I now call home.

A rainy walk into town on Saturday morning to visit the Milk Market!

Erin O’Sullivan is studying Early Childhood and Special Education at Salve Regina University. In Limerick, Ireland she is continuing her studies at Mary Immaculate College.


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