A Love Letter to Ireland

Alyssa worked with the International Education Division in Ireland for two months over the summer and became part of the international team. This is the second blog that Alyssa has written about her time in Ireland. 

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Hello everyone, it’s me again. As I finish my two-month internship with the UL International Office, I want to share with you a story that perfectly sums up my experience in Ireland:

A few weeks ago, I visited Dublin for the first time on an excursion with the International Summer School. After seeing the Book of Kells and taking far too many pictures of the Trinity College Library, I found myself wandering through the gift shop when a beautiful spoon adorned with a Celtic harp caught my eye. My paternal grandma, my Nana, collects decorative spoons from the places she has visited and as a little girl I used to love pulling up a stool in her kitchen and counting them hanging on the wall, getting lost in imaginary travels around the world from the Grand Canyon to the Panama Canal. Whenever my family went vacation, I would always ask my parents if we could pick out a spoon for Nana so it would be like she had been on the trip with us.

From the second I saw the spoon in the gift shop, I knew I had to buy it. I walked up to the register and handed the spoon to the man there, who started asking questions like who it was for and what made it special. I don’t know what it was about this kind man because I’m normally a private person but I found myself telling him all about Nana, about how she collected spoons and how I wished she were here with me. I explained that this country was special to us as she had traced our family history back through our Irish ancestors and found connections to our Irish family name (Maguire). When I realized I was rambling, I tried to wrap up by saying that while I am not from Ireland, I have Irish roots.

He looked up from wrapping the spoon, smiled warmly and said to me, “Welcome home.”

Thank you to the International Office for taking a chance on a girl from America with limited international experience and allowing her to spend two months learning from you. It has been a privilege to learn about international education from one of the best international offices in the world. The work you do, though exhausting at times, is vitally important to this university and its mission. You are impacting countless young people by opening their minds to other cultures, improving their self-efficacy, and expanding their global network. Personally, you have taught me a great deal about collaboration (within the office, across the university, and around the globe), adaptability, and student-centered service. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful for your hospitality and your support of every piece of my experience.

Thank you to the University of Limerick for modeling the way for other higher education institutions. This university truly prioritizes its students and their academic, professional, and social needs. By combining rigorous academics with a wide range of quality extracurricular engagement opportunities, UL demonstrates its commitment to holistically preparing its students to enter the postgraduate world as capable and experienced global citizens. I have been nothing short of impressed by the genuine kindness and care shown through every interaction I’ve had with UL employees at all levels, which I know translates to the interest the faculty and staff take in their students. This connection fosters an authentic student voice and allows for open and honest communication between students and their institution, something that other universities may lack.

Goodbye for now Ireland,

Alyssa

 

Read Alyssa’s previous blog here

Learn more about studying at the University of Limerick

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