At this point, I have surpassed two weeks of calling Ireland home and am well on the way to becoming acclimated to life in Galway. The rose-tinted glasses though, are still perfectly situated atop my nose, giving me an unobstructed view of my surroundings. Around town I still wander wide-eyed and bushy tailed about even the most minuscule of instances.
Eventually, the rose-tinted glasses will come off, but for now I am working hard to protect my worldview from behind the frames just a wee bit longer. That does not go to say though that culture shock has not been prevalent, for it most definitely has been. Besides the time difference, adjusting to the facets of life here has been no simple feat. Despite all this normal acclimation to living in a foreign country, I would not trade my time here for anything in the world.
Orientation was held for all the international students upon arrival and included a guided tour of the university and information about this specific exchange program. There are two other Johnson & Wales University students here, along with a few other students from the United States and France. From there, I met with some of the Head of Departments and opted to take a majority of my classes from the Heritage Studies program, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Heritage Studies is a program primarily focused on Irish culture, history and languages.Now that I have almost finalized my schedule, I officially registered as a student and received all my given rights such as my Student ID and a massive sigh of relief. The classes I opted for are Irish Folklore, Irish Studies for International Students, Event Management 2 and another one that is to be determined. Thus far, classes have been discussing the topics that will be covered during the semester and have just begun delving into them. The professors and students have been grand, the material enthralling and I am looking forward to what the remainder of the semester has to offer.
Miriam Beard once stated, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” One part of studying abroad in another country is about experiencing their culture first-hand and immersing oneself in it, something I hope to fully embody during my time in Ireland.
Eyre Square, Galway City
The first weekend here, my friend and I wandered around Eyre Square in the center of Galway City, a buzzing hub of civilization, taking in all the sights. She and I then made our inevitable return the next morning in time for the farmer’s market, full of fresh produce and artisan products. From there, we broke past the center of town, weaving our way through puddles and side streets. We soon found ourselves in the Latin Quarter where adorable shops painted in vibrant colors adorned the sides of the uneven cobblestone pathways.
Once we had our fill of Galway, we opted for a change of scenery, heading a short distance away to the seaside town of Salthill. We devoured a delicious dinner at a local restaurant and discovered a walkway running parallel to the ocean. We meandered down the path, savoring the beginning moments of this experience we were both blessed to receive. The sun setting into luminous clouds, shades of pastels, made for a beautiful backdrop and with the sound of the waves meeting the shore, we were soon lulled into a state of serenity. I could not have thought of a better way to begin this experience.