The Soothing Power Of Ireland

Joni Leffelaer, University of Limerick International Student Ambassador

Nerve-racking. There’s no better description of the days leading up to my departure than absolutely nerve-racking.

I won’t lie to you guys, leaving home is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. In the weeks leading up to it, I was extremely nervous. I was going to a country I didn’t know; with people I had never met, visiting places I never even knew existed before. After my parents dropped me off at the airport I felt so alone, for the next 4 months I was going to be all by myself, and that thought terrified me.

A two-hour flight later I took my first Irish steps at Dublin International Airport. Two enormous bags in hand, I went looking for my bus to Limerick, and surprisingly enough found it pretty easily.

The first thing I noticed during this two and a half-hour bus ride was that Ireland is extremely beautiful. And, that Irish people have a thing for sheep. Like, seriously, up until that point I had never seen so many sheep in my whole life. When we arrived in Limerick I discovered that, not so surprisingly, I was on the wrong bus and was dropped off somewhere in (for me that is) the middle of nowhere. It’s probably needless to say that I panicked. Big time. And that’s when it happened. Standing there, in this suddenly enormous unknown country, I fell in love.

Caislean Ui Bhriain (Aran Islands) - Lough Leane & Torc Waterfall (Killarney National Park)

Caislean Ui Bhriain (Aran Islands) – Lough Leane  & Torc Waterfall (Killarney National Park)

I’d been standing there for about 5 minutes when I suddenly heard someone yelling. When I turned around I saw an old lady looking at me. Her name was Joan, she had been watching me for a couple of minutes and decided she couldn’t endure it any longer. So instead of giving me directions, she picked up my bags and threw them in her car. “Hop in dear, I’m giving you a ride to school.”

Caislean Ui Bhriain (Aran Islands) – Lough Leane  & Torc Waterfall (Killarney National Park)

For those of you who wonder, no, not everyone in Ireland randomly asks you to step into their vehicle. That would be pretty weird, so let’s just agree on the fact that that is actually a good thing. But yes, everyone I’ve met so far is extremely nice. If you need something, anything really, all you need to do is ask. The University of Limerick is no exception. The campus looks terrifyingly huge on the Internet, I know. In real life, it’s actually pretty easy to get around.

The University has various services that try their best to make everything as easy and unforgettable as possible. The Students Union and International Office are two examples of these services. By the way, the Students Union arranges really cool trips to a variety of places here in Ireland. I myself have been on a few, and loved each and every one of them. The photos in this blog post were all taken on these trips actually. Thanks to these trips you get to see a lot of the country, and believe me, you’ll love it just as much as I do. Ireland is great Craic.

That first day when I had to leave home I was terrified. But from the first day I arrived, I learned that this country has a soothing power. Is it the people? The beautiful scenery maybe? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that after being here for one month, this country, this university, feels like home. And the only terrifying thing about it is knowing that at one point, I’ll have to leave this incredible place.

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