In this week's post, Elizabeth is interviewed by CAPA Dublin's Hayley Ni Bhriain on her semester in Ireland and the Dublin difference.
As we approach the first week of December, it is difficult to believe how fast the time has flown. This week I decided to pop into the CAPA Dublin office and chat with Senior Program Director, Hayley Ni Bhriain about my time and experiences in Dublin!
Hayley Ni Bhriain: Why did you choose to study abroad in Ireland?
Elizabeth Leahy: I chose to study abroad in Ireland for an assortment of reasons! I had actually been to Ireland once in 2010 with my local Gaelic Football team. I played with a local club outside of Hartford, Connecticut. We stayed for 10 days hopping between counties and we only stayed in Dublin for 2 ½ hours to watch a football game. I’ve always wanted to come back and when looking at studying abroad, I knew I wanted to study for a semester in Europe. Ireland has so much culture and the study abroad/internship program with CAPA really helped with my studies. I didn’t really have to think about it once I looked further into CAPA and the different parts of the programs. Looking forward into what I have left in my studies this semester really helped me get ahead! After experiencing the rich culture of Dublin, I made the right choice by studying abroad in Ireland.
HN: Is there a favorite thing you have learned while you have been here?
EL: One of my favorite things has been exploring and understanding the city of Dublin. I love to wander around the city and understand the place from a geographical sense. I am a very directional person and when I arrive in a new location I always try and learn about where I am in relation of where I need to be. My first few weekends in Dublin were spent walking the city and finding different treasures hidden throughout the city. Many times my friends and I would hop on a bus to City Center and just wander from that spot. I remember the third week we were walking to dinner and it all ‘clicked.’ I saw two businesses that were only a street apart from each other but I finally saw some them together and how close they were. I have slowly navigated the city and I now I feel so comfortable to be able to hop on a bus and go!
HN: What is something everyone should do if they are visiting or study abroad?
EL: It is a little more difficult to get to as a tourist, but if you have time or are studying abroad I would highly recommend hiking Ticknock Mountain. It is south of Dublin and requires a 30-minute walk from the end of the bus line to the start of the trail. My friend and I went two weeks ago and it was absolutely incredible. From the top you can see all of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains, and County Meath! After talking to a man on the mountain we learned about all the sights from the summit. It was one of the most mystical days I have had in Ireland. When we got to the top we were absolutely freezing from the wind (and it being the middle of November), but it looked like we stepped into Narnia. We always had wanted to hike the Wicklow Mountains and without a car, this was the most efficient way to see them!
HN: What is the biggest difference between Ireland and the U.S.?
EL: One of the slight differences is with the education systems. At home in the U.S. I feel like I am constantly in the library doing busy work assignments that are due next class, while in Ireland there are classes that only require two assignments for your entire grade. It is a lot more stressful for grading purposes, but it was an interesting transition because I am used to the consistent small assignments versus the large heavyweight essays/exams. Also the way my classes are scheduled this semester is that I meet only once week for a long amount of time. That rhythm of consistency is slightly different. It has been a transition but allowed me to explore new teaching styles.
HN: Prior to coming to Ireland and Dublin, how has your view of what Ireland would be like changed since living here?
EL: I had always heard of people being very friendly in Ireland, and it was not until living here that I noticed the friendliness and comfortability. You always have to be aware of your surroundings, but I have noticed how open and friendly people are here. I have found myself asking people questions directly versus looking the information up because it is easier and people are willing to help. When I walk around a city like Boston, I do not normally talk to people out but here it is completely normally to talk to random people in public. It has been very comforting and lovely here.
HN: What is your favorite place in Ireland?
EL: Oooh that is a tough question...We went to Howth a weekend in September and it was absolutely wonderful! We did the coastal walk and it was one of my top five days in Dublin. The weather was perfect and the streets weren’t too full. The entire walk was so peaceful and even if there were other people also on the path, it never felt crowded. It was nice to only be 30 minutes from City Center and have that sense of nature.
HN: What is the biggest thing you will take away from here?
EL: Definitely the memories and connections I have made here. I have been able to form such great relationships with friends, all of you in the Dublin office, and even the people at my internship. I will definitely carry these new connections with me through life and into the future. The memories made through this semester will last a lifetime. My time in Dublin has allowed me to grow as a person out of my comfort zone. I have learned a variety of life lessons that will stay with me after I leave Dublin. I really cannot explain how grateful I am for having this opportunity to study and live in Dublin for the semester.
Thanks Elizabeth and Hayley!
Elizabeth's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.