Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I have learned...

So as my time here is quickly coming to an end I figured I would reflect on my past three months while in Ireland..
When I first arrived in Carlow, Ireland I was scared and completely out of my element. Though things haven't went exactly as I expected them to I have no regrets in my decision to study abroad. When looking back I remember having some bad times such as being terribly home sick and missing my family. But besides my personal emotions we also had issues with our living situations..one difference between American and Europe teens is Americans are a lot more mature. Living in a student complex and being with first year students has been challenging.. we have had rocks thrown at our windows and through out letter hole that night resulting in us having to call the Grada to make the situation better. Then there was the time our dinner got stolen because the boys who live here think its amusing to steal food. Oh and the boys favorite thing to do is egg people's windows thankfully that only happened once. Though situations like these have occurred here I am pleased to say that I can look back at laugh at what I have witnessed here. Also I am happy to say that I made a lot of friends with the Irish students around me. Thankfully my Irish roommates have been absolutely amazing and I couldn't imagine my time here without them. I have also made friends with two other girls and I am so grateful I did. These girls really made my time here enjoyable.

Some things I have noticed between America and Ireland...
1. Ireland does not have Ranch dressing!! Very depressing but thankfully my mom sent me some!!
2. Common dinners for my Irish roommates consist of bacon or chicken stir fry. But the chicken stir fry is in a white sauce and completely different than what you would expect it to be. My normal dinner was tacos or a chicken salad or some form of pasta. My Irish roommates were amused but the dinners we made because they were so different that ours.
3. It is very very common to walk miles and miles daily while in Europe. Having my car when I go home is defiantly going to be the best thing ever. I will never in my life take cars for granted or the fact that I don't need to walk a mile daily to school.
4. When people drink here they drink to get completely drunk.. Americans I feel understand the meaning of limits and not over drinking here it is about having good "crack".
5. Tea is the number one drink! I have never drank so much tea in my life!! They use electrical tea kettles and when I get home I will have one in my house to make tea hopefully daily :) Oh and they put milk in their tea which I have never saw until here and I am proud to say that I started doing it as well.
6. Instead of bars like Southside has to offer Ireland has a large amount of pubs. These are what Americans would call dive bars back home. But the pubs environment are awesome there is always some Irish band or some kind of Irish music playing in the back ground.

All in all my experience hasn't been what I expected and at times it has been very difficult but I will forever cherish the moments I have had here. This experience has been way more than I have expected. I have been to Ireland, Germany, Italy, France and England and I am only twenty years old. How many people at my age can say they accomplished that in a short three month time span. I am very grateful for what I was able to do in my time here and I feel I have grown to be a better person. I am able to live on my own away from my parents and survive. I am also able to deal with my own obstacles and not have to rely on my mom to get me out of situations.

My time here has went by very fast but 96 days is a long time away from your family and loved ones and I am pleased to say I am ready to go home and resume my life back in the states :) The fact that I am going home still hasn't fully hit me everything seems so surreal and I can't even begin to imagine what my feelings are going to be when I step off that plane and walk towards my family.
Well I did it I have made it to December!! Nothing new and exciting has happened in the past few weeks until last weekend December 8 through the 11. Chrissy, Shawna and I went to London and Paris. We left on Thursday had a day in London then early Friday morning was on the Chunnel to go to Paris for a day and a half.

London was beautiful. While we were there we went on the London Eye and got to see the whole city. The views were incredible. Growing up I remember seeing London and movies and think how magically and pretty it was. Well being able to see it for myself I am pleased to say it lead up to my expectations and more. Along with the London Eye we saw Big Ben, Winchester Abbey, and went shopping on Oxford Street (which reminded me a lot of a street in New York). All in all it was an amazing experience.
Then there was Paris! Ugh I can't even begin to express how beautiful the Eiffel tower all lite up was. I will forever remember standing on the sidewalk counting down the minutes until it was five till the hour and the Eiffel tower came to life!! We wanted to go up and get the full experience of the tower but when we arrived there was actually a bomb threat! So when they reopened the place was ridiculously busy and myself being exhausted from all the traveling and freezing just wasn't up to waiting in line. My favorite thing we did was putting a love lock on the love lock bridge for my boyfriend and I to go back and take it off together sometime in the future. Though Paris is full of bridges with locks we went to the originally bridge called L'archeveche it is located behind the Norte Dame.
Though our time was limited in both places we manage to get a lot accomplished. I saw way more than I could ever dream of in my time there in London and Paris and being able to experience each place was the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I can't wait to go home and share my stories but also to be able to come back to Europe and visit London and Paris again and hopefully have a few days at each location.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Whoa... a lot has happened since I last wrote.
Well we no longer have field trips our last field trip was November 4 we went to the chocolate factory in Tullow. It was amazing!! We were giving chocolate cat molds and got to design our own chocolate. After the chocolate factory we walked over to Rathwood, which is this huge store fulled with Christmas tree and everything you could possibly want to see for Christmas. After we had lunch at Rathwood we then went to the Ring of the Rath. This was a very unique place and I really enjoyed experiencing a place like this. Out of all our field trips this was probably my favorite field trip.

On November 10th my boyfriend (Josh) finally arrived to see me :) this was without a doubt the best day of my entire stay here! Before arriving at the airport I had so many emotions and thoughts going through my head. The whole time I was trying to picture what my reaction was going to be like when I first saw him. But I realized you can't picture something like that you just have to let it happen. After waiting what seemed to be hours I finally saw him! I ran straight to him and just started crying. I was so happy to be able to have someone from home here with me and to actually see and hug them was amazing! After I collected myself and emotions we went and I showed him around Dublin.
The next day we took a tour of Cliff of Moher. This was such a wonderful time. We got to see so much in just one day. The cliffs are absolutely beautiful. Though the wind is very harsh and practically blew me away, it was still so amazing to see something that pretty.

After experience Dublin and the Cliffs we came back to Carlow for a few days. Then on November 17th Josh, Chrissy and I left for ROME!! Rome was by far my favorite place I have visited during my time here. We went to Vatican City, Colosseum, the market, Trevi fountain, and the Spanish steps. These places are seriously undesirable.. I will never forget experiencing any of the places I saw. I am so grateful to have such an awesome opportunity to see the world and be able to experience it with such wonderful company :)

Today I am exactly three weeks away from my departure. This day can not come fast enough.. after seeing my boyfriend leave and knowing I have to wait to see him again was the hardest thing I have ever been through. I have been very depressed since he left and just really miss my mom and family. The days are going by fast and I do not want to regret anything but in a way I am very glad that my time here is coming to an end so I can reunite with everyone back home!

Friday, November 4, 2011

It has been a little while since I lasted blogged we have had a busy time. Last week October 28 our field trip was to Dublin. Our first stop was to the Dublin-Kilmainham Goal which was one of the first jails to use isolation. It was pretty neat to see what the cells along with the jail looked like. After that we went to Trinity College and looked at the Book of Kells. It was nice to see more of a college setting rather than what our college is like here in Carlow.

After our field Chrissy, Shawna and I decided to stay in Dublin for the night. That night we did Dublin's Ghost walk, it was a great time. Keeping in mind during our field trip Eric had warned us to not go on the Northside of Dublin at night. Well little did we know the ghost walk took place in the Northside of Dublin. The first half an hour was great, I enjoyed very second and it was really fascinating. When we got to one part of our tour there was a pub on the corner and about 25 ten year old children surrounding it. Their parents have been inside the pub getting drunk I am guessing.. these kids pretty much attacked us. I have never felt so threaten by children before in my life. They began throwing rocks and mooning us it was crazy! Needless to say after this happened we couldn't get the group back on track. It was still a good night and now thinking back... it is really funny.

The next day we went with Chrissy to pick up her sister and her brother-in-law from the airport. This brought a lot of emotions out in me. I was crying in the airport because I was thinking about when I finally get to see my family!! It was a bitter sweet moment. I also couldn't stop thinking about how my boyfriend is coming in less than a week and how amazing it is going to be to see him!! ugh only 43 more days until I am home with my mommy and the rest of my family.. I seriously can't wait for that moment!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Okay, now that things have finally calmed down I can finally write about my wonderful experience in Germany! When we arrived to the airport Shawna's cousin (Roland) met us there so we could take the train to his house. This was very comforting because I myself speak no German at all and I had no idea where I was. Roland could not have been nicer! He talked to his neighbors before we arrived and set up a place for us to stay since his nieghbors had a guesthouse.

For our first day we went to a medieval city. Every thing in this little town looked straight out of a movie. The architexture was truely amazing. Every house there was made out of wood unlike the houses that are built today. While I was walking around I felt like I was in Beauty and the Beast and people were going to be singing to me while I walked down the streets. Along with the housing being different the streets were so narrow! I was a shock a car could even fit down them.

The next day we adventured off without Roland and went to the nearby zoo. I was a little nervous for this since I didn't know my way around and not being able to speak German I thought I would surely get lost. But even not being able to speak German I felt so welcomed and people were trying to talk to us even though they spoke very little English. The zoo not only housed many unique animals but had many green houses for different plants and flowers which were beautiful! The zoo itself was very clean and very pretty. The exhibits were not like the ones back home where animals are up high on a hill or what seems like miles away. All the animals were very close and you could almost touch, which I thought was very neat.

On the third day we went to a castle and pumpkin festival. We didn't go into the castle but the outside was more than enough to see. There were gardens all around filled with beautiful roses and other flowers. The pumpkin festival was on the same property of the castle. Since I have been abroad this was the first time I actually felt like I was at "home". Fall is my favorite season back in Pittsburgh and Ireland doesn't have the prettiest fall lol.. Germany however had an awesome fall! All the leaves were changing and this pumpkin festival put the icing on the cake. They had a 800 pound pumpkin that a man from America was craving. The only thing missing was the pumpkin pie!

The fourth and finally day was definitely one that I"ll remember for the rest of my life. We took a trip to Heidelberg and this is where my great-grandmother lived before moving to the states. Every picture from my great-grandmother shows a river, castle and a bridge. While on our way to Heidelberg we found the river the whole way there!! Then as soon we go into the town I saw the castle. We actually were able to walk through the castle. From the top of the castle we could see the whole city, it was truly beautiful and it was there I got to see the bridge. After the castle we did some shopping and I got some presents for my family. This was probably my favorite moment of Germany.

This trip was exactly what I needed! Being in a family setting and playing games as a little family nightly really helped with my home sickness. I have also realized what great of an opportunity this truly is for me. I may never get the chance to come back over to Europe so I plan on traveling and living life to the fullest for my remained of time over here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This past week was probably one of the worst weeks I have been through during my time abroad. I have realize how much I appreciate home. Being here I can already tell that I am growing stronger as a person. I am become less reliant on my car, cell phone, and in some way my family. I will always be close with my family especially my mom, she is more than my mom she is my best friend. Up until this trip I didn't think I would be able to go away from home for such a long time and yes I miss my mommy, my little sister, and my whole family but I realize I can do this and I don't need them by my side (as much as I wish they could be). I am very grateful in a way I get to realize this about myself and have this opportunity to grow as person.

Our field trip this Friday (October 14) was to Kilkenny. While we were there we went to the castle and Smithwick's brewery. I loved Kilkenny, the town was so lovely and there was towns of shopping shops. I am planning on going back for a day so that I can fully look around and see what the town has to offer and of course do some shopping.

I am very pleased to say that tomorrow morning I'll be on a flight to GERMANY!! Yay! Germany is some where I have wanted to go to for a long long time! My great-grandmother was an ancestor from there and she passed away when I was a baby. During my time there I will get to go to Heidelberg and see exactly where she came from. This is really special to me because I am the first out of my family to actually be able to go to Germany and see where my great-grandmother came from. All I can say is that I am very excited and my feelings are seriously indescribable!!

Well I need to go pack :) I can't wait to share my Germany stories with you!!
60 more days.. I can't wait

Sunday, October 9, 2011

This week has probably been the hardest week yet for me. Wednesday (October 5) I recieved the care package from my mom. This package really hit me hard for some reason. Yes, it was only a bunch of food, a magazine, pictures that my little sister drew for me and hair feathers to me it was "home" in a box. I just sat on my bed looking at the contains of my box crying for probably a good hour. Since I have been here I have missed home but this time I was actually ready to pack my things and head home. You never realize how important the little things in life actually are until you don't have them any more. By leaving home I have learned a lot about myself and also this trip has already shaped me into a better person. I have realized that when I return home I am going to be much more apperciative for things. I have never thought of myself as a selfish person but in reality we all have this trait. No one realizes how convient things are in America. In Ireland places close at 7 pm at the lastest and they do not have a one stop shop. When you go shopping for your groceries you go to one store then if you need school supplies you go to another, its crazy!! Back home we just go to Walmart and we have everything we could ever want and need under one roof ( I freaking miss it!). Along with convient shopping, I miss my car! Ugh when I see my car I may just run over and hug it! I don't mind walking though I can be a lazy person I am not that lazy but when I hike about a mile every day just to go buy food to just walk back so that I can cook the food I just purchased. It gets really annoying (especially when it rains every day). I wish there was some bus system like Pitt students have back home but of course there is not.

Besides my homesickness we had another field trip this Friday to Glendalough.The scenery of this location was beautiful! There was this waterfall that was just ugh so pretty. I have never seen a waterfall before so this was really special for me. The only thing I would like to have changed was I would have liked to go on my own pace and just take in my surroundings. I felt as though I was rush and that I wasn't able to actually be thankful for my experience. I would definetly would like to go back to this place and just take it all in again. But all in all I had a very nice time and took got a lot of pictures.

My time here is going by quickly and I am enjoying every second of it the best I can. Every day is getting easier  but I do have my moments where I just have break downs and want to go home. Only 69 days...