University of Limerick Student Ambassador Emily Marzofka on Study Abroad in Ireland
“Sorry, I won’t be able to compete in the gymnastics competition, I’ll be in Rome that week.”
Excuse me, come again? You’ll be where now?
One year ago, if someone had predicted that a phrase such as, “Oh we’re flying to Rome next weekend” could so readily fall from my very own mouth, I would have put down $50 against, and not even considered it a gamble. Italy, France, London, Hungary – a few from a whole slew of unobtainable travel destinations that, for a poor college kid like me, existed solely in edited photographs on a Pinterest board unimaginatively called ‘Someday Travels’. I never would have guessed that my international daydreams could amount to anything more than a small distraction from real responsibilities.
For those like-minded souls out there, those people that have a hard time reconciling the intense desire to experience the world and the standard obligation to graduate ASAP – there is a miracle that exists for us. This particular miracle is a perfect blend of a student’s graduation schedule and an opportunity to travel the world. It’s called, ‘Study Abroad.’ Gird yourselves ladies and gentlemen, because study abroad is an exhilarating, challenging, exciting, unpredictable experience, and it’s worth every single second.
So at this point, I am writing from a cozy village on a small island directly across the world from my comfort zone (which I left back home in Wisconsin). They call this place Ireland; I call this place the best decision I’ve ever made.
For the record, they literally do not drive on the right side of the road here.
That isn’t the only difference to immediately hit a foreigner as they step outside the airport. For example, while people in Ireland do use money instead of some sort of sheep-centric bartering system, the cash is all different sizes and denoted in bills that very closely resemble a rainbow. Then there’s the landscape, which is all over the place (pun!). One look at the Ireland’s hilly countryside will introduce you to at least fifty shades of green you never knew existed.
There are subtle differences as well. Ireland has a well-known legacy of folklore and superstitions. The traces of old legends and the elite regard for good and bad luck still run strong in common phrases and habits. For instance, I joined the field hockey team this semester, and when someone misses the ball or messes up, instead of saying, “Try harder” or “You’ll get it next time”, they always say, “Oh, bad luck” or “Just unlucky” as if to blame luck for the missed play.
The semester is now on week 8, and every day has been a new adventure. From ‘falling’ off the Cliffs of Moher and learning the Ogham language on the Aran Islands to trying authentic fish and chips on the coast of Dingle and listening to trad music in Dublin, Ireland has overflowed with tradition and welcome. This adventure is mind-blowing. Study abroad has literally opened up a whole world of opportunities, and I am excited to live and learn in such a beautiful country as Ireland for the next three months.