An Irish study abroad trip, that changed my life…


Editors Note: While this blog is typically run by current international students at the University of Limerick (UL), a former UL Study Abroad student who studied at UL four years ago, had the following experience, that we thought you needed to hear!

Amanda Collins
Boston, MA, USA
April, 2016

Have you ever heard of love at first sight? Did you laugh? I did. What about the phrase “when you know, you know,” or “boys take a little longer to mature?” You probably think it’s all a load of rubbish, don’t you?

Well, it’s not (always), and I have a story I’d like to share with you.

I am a firm believer in fate. I believe that the Universe has a plan, and the thought of serendipity gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Spring semester 2012 (don’t even remind me that it has been 4 years already…) I studied abroad at the University of Limerick (UL) because honestly, it was less expensive than some other places I was looking at. I even had to write extra essays because my grades weren’t great. But hey, follow your dreams because everything happens for a reason, no? (Warning: this story might be full of clichés that ring true and give hope to fairy tale fantasies everywhere.)

Let me give you the “short” version of the background to this story so that I can get to the juicy romance bit, because that’s my favorite.

I arrived in UL thinking that I was going to be a genius and organize my schedule so that I had 3-day weekends. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. I got put into a Friday tutorial class. So of course, I tried to sneak into a Thursday tutorial for my literature course, but was told to come back … on Friday morning. No! How was I going to go to class and travel all weekend if I had classes 5 days a week? Ugh. I was so disappointed.

Friday morning came along and I sat down in my tutorial and was paired for the entire semester long project with an Irish student, Alan, who was a really nice guy. As I was sitting discussing the project with my new project partner, I look up, and walking in casually late was the most gorgeous boy I had literally ever put eyes on. For me, it was liked one of those moments in a movie, where God himself beamed down his latest aesthetic creation, and that glowing, mystical spotlight shone down from the ceiling and angels starting singing “Hallelujah”…

I think I actually felt my heart sink into my stomach and fly out of my open mouth, which looking back, I now realized was probably resting on the table. Alan knew this guy and called him over, and so politely told the lecturer, that he wanted this new student to be in our group. *Swoons* YES. Perfect. How was this this even happening? Was this real life? This guy I’ve only been staring at for a full 5 seconds was now part of my semester long group project. I did not know what I had done to deserve this, perhaps it was a reward for coming to this Friday tutorial, instead of going traveling with my friends. I quickly learned that this chiseled face had a name: Michael Collins.

I left class and walked back to my room, but not until after I spotted my new crush with a group of friends outside the ski slopes. Sigh. Skipping ahead, Michael was in three out of four of my classes that semester and if that’s not putting me in his path or vice versa I really don’t know what is.

I remember one particular time where had one of my many Bridget Jones moments over the course of the semester; I was cutting through the Stables, in a grubby Patriots sweatshirt, yoga pants, and muddy gym shoes. My hair was in a messy bun, the rain made me look like a wet Wolfhound, I had no make-up on. And there was Michael Collins, fixing a cup of tea (which I now make for him in the morning with a good drop of milk and half a sugar).  I waved – he waved – I tripped, I kept walking. “REALLY?” I asked myself.

The first time we had an actual chat was when I had posted a Mac Miller song to my Facebook and he had commented surprised that I listened to him. We started chatting about music, which was something that we had in common, TV shows we both liked, that horrible essay we were meant to be writing, etc. Michael and I unfortunately only got very close towards the end of the semester, and soon I had to go home. Home is what I now called my apartment in Thomond Village, but I needed to go back to Boston.

And it was heartbreaking.

I remember he kissed me goodbye in the archway of the Stables as I cried, and he walked away holding my hand until it fell and didn’t look back. I was leaving in the morning.

So what did I do? I cried like a baby and stayed at the Stables. Closed down the place! Tequila shots, Bulmers, Chartreuse, Kopparberg, Desperados (I wasn’t alone, I swear. I had a big send off!)…completely gorging on all the things I wouldn’t see in the States, and trying to forget Michael.  Needless to say, I missed my flight the next morning.  I’d dropped my phone at Stables and reset the clock, so the alarm I’d set proactively didn’t go off. Oops? My whole family still jokes that I did it on purpose. Subconsciously, I probably did! I pulled an all dayer-all nighter so that I didn’t miss my flight a second time. I had been in touch with Michael and told him what I’d done and he joked that he has that flustering affect on women (at least he knows…) and I cried the whole six and a half hour flight home. Yup, I was that girl. He and I stayed in contact, bonding over the new seasons of Breaking Bad. He tried to ignore me, I’ll give him that; But when you know, you know – he gave me that feeling, and I wasn’t about to let go.

In March 2013, I went back to Limerick and was there for 3 weeks. I remember checking in at Shannon Airport “The eagle has landed.” Not five minutes later I had a message in my inbox: “Michael Collins: You’re back?! Where are you!?” and as soon as I’d dropped my bags at my friend’s, we met at Dunnes on Childer’s Road.We spent A LOT of time together. A lot of it spent cuddling in that weird little alley next to the Stables (sorry not sorry). Michael gave me a warm “Welcome back to Limerick,” he told me that he loved me, and that if I lived there he’d make me his wife. WHOA. I was on top of the world. I didn’t get to see him before I left and it crushed me. As fate would have it, the last song I heard in the car before getting out at the airport was Passenger’s “Let Her Go.” Are you effing kidding me?  Fate, you cruel mistress. When I got home, I asked him what happened and he could only say that he couldn’t say goodbye again. I was mad, “that’s a load of crap,” I thought.  

Michael and I stayed friends, small talk occasionally as he tried to ignore me again. Until one night in January 2014, a night out, I wrote him a 12 page letter spilling the beans about my love as I’m doing for you now. And I mailed it. What was I actually thinking?

But hear this: as much as I wanted to pretend I hadn’t mailed that, I did, and if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this as Mrs. Michael Collins. That’s right. I married that boy and am now Mrs. Michael Collins. It exists, love at first sight is real, and it happened to me! It didn’t happen to my husband of course, but that’s because boys take a little longer to mature (I told you).

When people ask us how we met, Michael always laughs and passes the mic to me because he knows how much I love talking about my three favorite things: 1) my semester abroad, 2) the love of my life, and 3) the next time I’m going back to Ireland which is never soon enough!

From Study Abroad to happily every after



This blog is run by the University of Limerick Student Ambassadors. This story was written by a past student of UL, about her study abroad experience in Ireland.

Read more about UL student bloggers here

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