October 16, 2016
Last Thursday was officially the halfway point of the semester and it still feels like it was just last week that I first arrived, time certainty flies.
Classes are going well but being that the semester is halfway through, there is a lot more pressure to study. The exam format for two of my classes gives you the option of about five questions, of which three must be answered in essay format, a lot more difficult than a multiple choice exam. The classes are all very interesting but they are also very broad in scope so we are all trying to figure out which are most likely to be exam questions, some teachers give us a few hints to help out, which I am thankful for.
Coming to Ireland hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. I think being a bit older has helped me adapt fairly well but it’s officially the longest I have been away from home. I have lived on my own before but being a whole continent away from my family and friends for so long does get challenging at times. I do my best to stay in contact but it’s not always easy. These past few weeks have been a week of change for me, some good, some difficult, but that’s life and I am going to make the most of it.
I’m continuing to explore as much of Ireland as possible, on October 2nd I was grateful to be invited on a road trip with my friend Ruben, his girlfriend Charlotte, and her family to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs were absolutely amazing, it was a pristine clear day and you could see for miles around. The sheer height of the cliffs was unbelievable and the wind at the top was pretty strong, apparently we were very fortunate to be there on such a clear day because it is often cloudy with low visibility.
This past Friday I went with my friend Paola of Mexico, her roommate, and her classmate, Caolain, on a private tour of Waterford Crystal. Waterford Crystal makes famous glass crystal pieces such as the ball that drops in New York Times Square on New Years and many famous sport trophies. Caolain’s dad works for Waterford Crystal so we were lucky to have a specialized tour in which I got to experience how the glass making process is done. We also got to make some cuts and engravings into a glass cup which they let us keep, it was a really cool experience.
This blog I’m dedicating a small portion to talk about my two friends; Ana and Vanessa from Valencia, Spain. We are part of a small group of five people called family. They are a pair of fun loving girls who are always smiling, laughing, and having a good time, as they would say “it’s very Papaya”. There is never a dull moment with those two and I’m very glad to have made friends with them. If we aren’t enjoying a night out on the town, then we are either making dinner, playing monopoly, or studying together. In a few weeks we have a trip to Scotland planned together for the reading break which I’m pretty excited for, hopefully next blog I will have some good experiences to talk about.
October 11, 2016
With school now kicked into high gear and already approaching the halfway mark of the semester, life has become immensely routine. The days off have allowed us to explore some of the places Waterford has to offer.
My expectation of how Irish pubs should look, at least according to Canada, did disappoint. It turns out Waterford is trying to become “Modern.” There was no Irish music playing in the pubs like I initially thought, but the old buildings do still factor I guess. On the weekends, we try to find things to keep us busy. We got to experience Oktoberfest, “Waterford Style.” A big downside to the Ireland experience is I do not drink, nor do I even like to. (The picture with the beer was completely staged) That being said, when going out with friends I am the “Mom,” of the group and get everyone home safe.
On one of our nights in the city centre, we had just missed an unfortunate fatality. A man was stabbed to death on one of the city streets. On our way into the city the next day, I got to observe the crime scene. It was a terrible outcome, however I did get to see my first crime scene which I feel is valuable to have observed.
On October 1st, my friends from the Netherlands; Melanie, Marieke, and I, went to Tramore. A few times they have forgotten that I am Canadian and start speaking to me in Dutch. So I am slowly learning some Dutch. Tramore is a city comparable to White Rock, BC. The beach goes on for kilometres and was definitely the nicest beach I’ve been to. We basically walked the whole coastline and ended up parking ourselves on a cliff, hanging off of the coast of the Celtic Sea. It was so relaxing just to sit on the cliff, listening to the waves crashing on the shore and the heavy winds.
Over the past month and a half, I have started to teach myself how to cook. Whenever I go to the grocery store I somehow always get lost in the candy isle…very weird. I am, however, a professional chocolate shopper now. I didn’t realize the power I had in buying desserts. Cooking to me used to mean grilled cheese, but I have now learned the art of steak. You could say I thrive off of steak. I’m on a first name basis with the butcher at the grocery store now. However, cooking is very, very frustrating, because the fire alarm in our apartment is so sensitive. Even putting a single piece of bread in the toaster gets it screaming at you. It drives me insane…but I will still continue on with my evolution of cooking.
With the time starting to fly by, I am becoming eager for the experiences and life lessons I’ll have when I come home.
September 27, 2016
After a couple of weeks here, I am starting to settle in nicely. School has started and is in full swing.
For Emma and me, it has been a little bit of a struggle getting used to the school system here. At the Justice Institute classes are three hours long, so it’s a good amount of time to sit and digest all the information. However, in Ireland, classes are only an hour long so it feels like I’m leaving just after I have arrived, it’s been odd trying to adapt. As well, all classes are graded on either one exam or one essay and that mark determines 100% of the grade, which is a bit daunting to say the least.
Life in Ireland has no shortage of things to do or places to go. I have formed a tight knit bond with a group of international students, and we have become like a small family. It is really nice because we all support each other and have an amazing time. We also try to rotate making food for each other, that way we get to experience each other’s culture. I’m going to dedicate a small portion of my blog to talking about a friend or two that I have met during my stay here.
This blog I’m going to talk about my friend Ruben from the Netherlands, we are like international brothers. We go out to the pub to play pool and have a pint of Guinness while we discuss our lives back home. He is a very cool person and can do the best accents and impressions. Back home in the Netherlands, Ruben and a group of his friends participate in a competition where they build huge floats covered in flowers. Last year they built one of Iron Man, it was unbelievable how incredibly detailed it was. He told me it finished 7th which gives you an idea how competitive the competition is.
Waterford is a beautiful city with lots of history but it is not very big so we have already experienced the majority of what it has to offer. We are now stating to take small day trips to get an idea of what other parts of Ireland are like. On September 10th, I went on a day trip with a group of international students to Tramore (in Irish it means Big Beach) which is a coastal town about 20 minutes outside Waterford City. Tramore is a beautiful coastal town and we just walked for about 10 km along a trail that hugged the coast. The views of the cliffs and sea are breathtaking. Down on the beach they also have surfing lessons so I’m hoping to take advantage of that soon.
The biggest trip that I have taken so far has been to Cork which is a two hour bus ride from Waterford. Emma and I went with a small group of international students and we took advantage of visiting St. Anne’s church, which I paid 4 Euro to walk to the top and ring the bells. There was a book that had notes which corresponded to eight strings and you can pick from a number of different songs to play. The view from the church was also incredible as it’s located up the hill from the city.
We also visited Cork City Gaol, a prison which operated from 1824-1923. It was an eye opening experience to learn how prisons in Ireland operated during that time frame, let’s just say it would be a very tough sentence, sometimes for very petty crimes. We finished off the trip in Cork by visiting Blarney Castle and walking to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone which supposedly gives you the gift of the gab (eloquence). The castle and grounds were amazing as was the city of Cork.
That’s it for now, I can’t wait to share more of my experiences with you.
September 23, 2016
We are shortly coming to the end of our third week in Waterford, Ireland. As the days fly by, I have been making friends from all over the globe and am becoming more familiar with the Irish culture.
The first week of school was a bit of a bumpy road for Kyle and me, as we found out the first day that we had to change all of our modules. The way the school system works in Ireland is a lot different than in Canada. You attend each class four times a week for one hour lectures and tutorials. The timetable at WIT is also very different so Kyle and I were running in between campuses on the first day trying to figure it out.
I am personally settled into my classes now and loving them, and my instructors. The instructors we have, don’t have quite the same exhilarating law enforcement stories to share with us, however; they seem to be very passionate about their lectures. I am taking three classes which include Incarceration and the Law, Victimology, and Irish Fundamental Rights.
The way the grading system works is much too complicated to explain but there are no mid-terms, assignments, or homework. The first time I heard that I was relieved, however, finding out your whole grade is dependent on one final exam or essay at the end of semester, made me miss homework. So, as you can imagine, every day when I get back to my apartment, I go over everything I learned that day.
Last Saturday, Kyle and I went to Cork, along with international friends we have made here. We all hopped on a bus at 8:30am to the city. Our group consisted of two Canadians, two Dutch, two French, and two Mexican students. The experience was awesome as we got to share stories about our home towns with one another. Upon arrival, we explored the city for awhile and, of course, I found a Starbucks and had to have my pumpkin spice latte.
We walked many kilometers and burned many calories exploring churches on our way to the Cork City Gaol. The Gaol is an old prison which was in use in the early 1920’s and is now a museum. We got the whole experience of what is was like to be a prisoner back in the day (everything but the punishments).
After the prison, we headed straight to Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. All of us were blown away by the Castle grounds. There were 60 acres of pure magical experiences. The Blarney Castle was very open for tourists to explore. We climbed a tight spiral staircase through a 35 minute line to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. It was kind of like waiting in line for a ride in Disneyland. You have to hang half your body upside down while someone holds your legs while you kiss the stone. They say if you kiss the stone you gain the gift of eloquence. The experience at Blarney Castle was an unforgettable experience and I recommend anyone who is thinking about going to Ireland to visit Blarney Castle.
During the week, we held an international dinner with our friends from the Netherlands. We introduced them to poutine on Tuesday which ended in them licking their plates.
There is still so much more to explore, many more friends to be made, and much more to be learned.
September 12, 2016
On September 1st, 2016, I finally embarked on the experience of a lifetime, studying for one semester in Waterford, Ireland. I really didn’t spend too much time stressing about leaving to Ireland for four months, I guess I try not to focus too much on the future. I didn’t really want to stress out about what could go wrong, I would rather just go with the flow.
I left Vancouver at 1:40 pm and landed in Newark Liberty airport at 10:00 pm, where I had a 21-hour layover. I used that time to spend one night in New York City where I found a hotel in Times Square. I was able to explore New York that night and a bit the next day before I boarded a bus back to Newark. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted but I felt I accomplished a lot given the small amount of time I was there. At 7:20 pm, I boarded the plane and departed for Dublin.
At 7:05 am, I landed in Dublin and the real journey began. Getting from the Dublin airport to Waterford, was easier than I thought. I boarded a bus that took me straight through Dublin and to the train station that would take me to Waterford. I got a small glimpse of what Dublin had to offer and I can’t wait to get back and do some thorough exploring. After about a 2-hour train ride and a 5-minute taxi ride, I arrived at my accommodation where I was looking forward to unpacking and relaxing after the long trip. Unfortunately, it was the weekend and there is nobody at reception to check students in on the weekends, which was a disappointing surprise. There was a number on the door to call for emergencies, but they essentially said I was out of luck when I called, and there wasn’t anything they could do. It was 1 pm and I was stuck outside with my bags, waiting for security to arrive at 5pm to get me a key card.
As I waited out front, I met quite a few international students as they went in and out of the complex. I met two girls from the Netherlands, Melanie and Marieke, who were really nice and welcoming, and they live down the hall from me. They gave me some water, allowed me to put my bags in their room, and then they took me into town to grab supplies (bedding and etc) that everyone needs, which was really nice. I spent the first couple of days hanging out and exploring the city with the girls down the hall and a few of their friends, who are also Dutch. A few people have actually thought that I was Dutch as well because I’m often with them, its funny because we joke that I’m an honorary Dutchman now. I have met so many people from all across the globe in the few days that I have been here, from places such as: Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Mexico, France, Brazil, and Canada. Honestly everyone here is so welcoming and eager to get to know one another, it’s amazing.
The scenery and history of Ireland is unbelievable. Reginald’s tower, located in Waterford’s city centre, is actually the oldest civic building in Ireland, established in 1003, and the only building to retain its Norse (Viking) name. Just thinking about the history here compared to Canada is enough to make your head spin. It has been a whirlwind few days but has been everything and more than what I imagined. I can’t wait to share more of my experiences, so until next time!
September 9, 2016
Everything is not what it seems.
When I found out in April 2016, that I was going to be studying abroad in Waterford, Ireland, I was ecstatic. I remember when I told my mom that I was selected as one of the students to go, she started to cry. In April, it had never officially hit me that, “Hey, you’re going to Ireland,” until I got out of my taxi to my accommodation. To say nothing, but the least, this has been the hardest week of my life.
In the span of nine days of landing in Ireland, you could say I have done a lot of growing up. I have always considered myself as “mature,” however, this week has taught me that there is much more to that word. This week has been my first time ever leaving North America. Not only am I enduring the experience abroad, but I am without my loved ones for the first time in my life. No parents to hug when I come home at the end of the day, no dogs awaiting my return home at the front steps with their wagging tails, and no amazing boyfriend who has been by my side for years. I spent my first week in Waterford hiding in my room frantically phoning any family member to get that feeling of home.
Although, I still have those fearful days where I feel alone and have surpassed my comfort zone, I know that when I go home on December 23rd, I will be proud of myself. Comfort is what everyone seeks, and I guess my comfort is waiting for me on December 23rd back in Canada. This trip, however, may be just the experience that I need. The chance to grow up faster and learn far beyond what most students do at my age. I am grateful that I got this opportunity, I truly am.
My mom sent me a quote a few days back, when I felt like giving up, that read, “If you were able to believe in Santa Claus for eight years, you can believe in yourself for five seconds, you got this”-Rebel Circus.
When I go home for Christmas, it will be with the biggest feeling of accomplishment, and I will have conquered my fears.
“After an amazing three and a half months in Ireland, today marks my last day here”. For the past week, Jaymi and I have been cleaning our apartment, packing up our belongings, and saying our farewells to our fellow classmates. Yesterday, Adam and Jennifer, our two lovely Irish friends, drove Jaymi and I to Dublin as my flight was leaving the following morning, and we were to meet up with Jaymi’s grandma, Millie, that night. It took about three hours to drive from Waterford to Dublin, but the ride was entertaining as we were enjoying each other’s company while listening to Christmas music. Once we reached our accommodation for the night, Jaymi and Adam left to pick up Jaymi’s grandma, and Jennifer and I had a chance to relax. I used this quiet time to reflect on the highlights of my trip overseas.
The biggest change I noticed when arriving in Ireland, and after getting settled in, was the immediate sense of freedom. Other than schooling and volunteer work, I have been free to explore Ireland on my own time and, in turn, have absorbed everything that has crossed my path. When thinking about what I have enjoyed in particular, I’d say that overall, I’ve enjoyed learning about and experiencing a different culture firsthand. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know the Irish as I found them to be very friendly and helpful. I found schooling in Ireland to be completely different than the Canadian school system, and at first it was hard to make the transition into the Irish curriculum, but after attending classes for a week or two, I got into the hang of things, and was well on my way.
Throughout my time here, I’ve appreciated the beautiful buildings and landscape. You can’t go very far without bumping into a historic building without thinking “wow.” The history behind most of the buildings date so far back in time that it’s truly remarkable to think that these buildings are still standing. The views surrounding the Irish coasts are truly mesmerizing as well; I could sit on the cliffs and look out onto the waters all day long.
Looking back on the past months, I’ve enjoyed so much about this trip that I could talk endlessly about my time here. I’ve learned so much about Irish history, culture and its people; it’s an experience that I’ll never forget. I’m also grateful to have experienced this trip with Jaymi, as she has made this trip all the more enjoyable. Over the past months, we have been each other’s support systems, through which, we have built a great friendship.
I would highly recommend the amazing opportunity of studying abroad to future LESD students as it has broadened my cultural perspective and I’ve learned a lot about the Criminal Justice System in Ireland. Before I left Canada, I remember feeling nervous about what to expect while in Ireland. A few questions that would come to mind were, “will I get homesick and will I do well in school?” but shortly after arriving in Ireland, I found my footing and my questions and fears prior to arriving dissipated. To the future LESD students who choose to take part in this exchange program, I would highly recommend to dedicate sufficient time to your school assignments, as the marking scheme is different than in Canada, and above all, to enjoy yourself and make the most of your trip by taking advantage of everything that Ireland has to offer.