I returned to Canada after spending two weeks celebrating Christmas in France and New Years in Spain. It was the perfect ending to my trip, spending it with close friends. I met their families, tried their food (alioli is amazing), and experienced their culture. This has been an experience that I’ll never forget and the journey was everything I wanted it to be and more. The trip home was pretty exhausting, I spent the night in an airport and then had a 24 hour journey home with two connecting flights, but it was worth it.
One of the things that sold me on attending the Justice Institute of British Columbia, was when I first met with a councillor to inquire about the LESD program, she told me about the opportunity to go to Ireland. It took a lot of hard work and determination to earn the scholarship and opportunity to go but it was something that I wanted to experience. I still can’t believe I earned it. It wasn’t easy to complete the application package for the scholarship, and I almost decided not to, but decided I would rather take the opportunity than have the opportunity pass me by. In the end it worked out perfectly. If there is one thing future students can learn from this is that even if you think you can’t achieve something, try anyways. You might just surprise yourself in the end as to what you’re able to achieve when you put your mind to it.
Taking part in the exchange to Waterford Institute of Technology was one of the best experiences of my life, and I would do it again in a second if I could. I have traveled quite a bit so adjusting to life in Ireland wasn’t hard for me. I didn’t really miss being away from home at all but to be honest, I have found it a lot more difficult being back home. It’s been a tough week for me.
I can’t really say I was a huge fan of the school experience in that I didn’t like the 100% exam at the end, and I find the Justice Institute to be a more professional atmosphere, which I prefer. However, I did learn a lot about the Irish justice system and what life is like over there. It has really opened my eyes and makes me more grateful for what I have in Canada.
For future students who are thinking about applying, I can guarantee that the experience will be life changing. You will see sites that are breathtaking, go on adventures that you will never forget, and will meet people who might just change your life.
I have noticed that a great many students who first start out in the LESD program are very young, many fresh out of high school, and with little life experience. If it’s one thing I know, it is that traveling is a great life experience. I hope future students take advantage of this opportunity and apply for the two scholarships available. It is something that will help you mature in ways that you never imagined and looks fantastic on your resume.
It’s hard to believe that my exchange experience has come to an end. When I look back, it feels like it was just a couple of weeks. The international exchange scholarship was one that shaped my view of life and enlightened aspects of the real world. I am glad that I was able to experience this journey at a young age as I strongly believe it will impact my future decision making. I highly recommend this exchange to future LESD students as your view of the role of law enforcement will become stronger.
My last few weeks in Waterford involved lots of studying and Starbucks. My friend, Seena, and I spent countless hours studying for our exams. The exam dates came around much quicker than we had anticipated. The exam structure is much different than at home as the exam included five essay style questions where you had to pick three. My two final exams were Victimology, and Incarceration and the Law. I found both exams to be fairly easy as luckily all of the questions I spent many hours studying were on the exam. It must have been the luck of the Irish. After walking out of my last exam it didn’t hit me that I was all done my semester in Ireland as I felt like I had more studying to do. I believe that Seena and I think of Locus Standi and Habeas Corpus before we sleep at night.
It was strange when December 21st rolled around and I finally got to start packing my room up. The whole trip I was looking forward to that day, but when I had everything packed and the walls were bare again it was somewhat sad. There were a lot of goodbyes that week to friends and teachers, but I’m hoping there will be a reunion in the near future because I miss them already.
The night before I came home I decided to splurge and stay in a hotel the night before my flight. It was almost necessary to stay in Dublin before leaving as Waterford is over a 2 hour journey. My flight was scheduled to leave at 12:25pm, however fog decided to delay the flight by 2 hours. This delay slightly altered my itinerary. It was a tiring and frustrating journey home, but I had forgotten all about it when I finally arrived home. Life is getting back to normal and classes are up and running at the JI now, as if I had never left.
Although I had a rough start, I wouldn’t change this experience for the world. I made many forever friends and have experiences that will assist me in my future. Many people say 2016 was the worst year of their life, but for me, I think it was my best. I have the best job and school, and I got the chance to live in Ireland for four months. I don’t think many people can say that. I highly recommend this experience to future students as it will change your life for the positive, I promise.
December 20, 2016
The last few weeks have been pretty eventful. Classes officially ended on December 7th, and the students all celebrated WITmas which marks the official end of classes. Students literally started partying at 10 am and continued throughout the entire day, it was crazy. I don’t even like getting up before 12 pm if I can help it, let alone partying that early. I didn’t get it, exams were still to come so in my opinion there wasn’t anything to celebrate yet. On December 9th, I celebrated my birthday early with my group of friends. We had a great home cooked dinner and after I had a treasure hunt for presents, it was really nice. It was the final night we all got to spend time together before exams.
Fast-forward to now and my exams are over, it’s relieving but at the same time sort of surreal. On the plus side it’s nice to be done with the stress of preparing for exams. I’m still not a fan of the fact that exams comprise 100% of the overall grade. I prefer having assignments and tests throughout the semester, it’s easier to keep my focus but in the end, I felt I did alright.
On the negative side, some close friends have started to go home now. It’s really hard forging really close friendships with people and then realizing that you might not see them again. Sometimes, I get jealous of the people who live in Europe because for them it’s easier to visit their friends from other countries within Europe. I can live with not being able to see my friends for a few months but thinking about the possibility of never seeing them again is very difficult for me. It’s hard to realize that after all this time I’ll be going home. I read a quote that said, “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”. It might sound sad but at the same time I suppose it’s a reason to head back, I know people who will always have their doors open for me, and I for them, that’s one of the best benefits of international travel.
Today has been a busy day, it’s my birthday but I haven’t really had much time to enjoy it. I had to clean my whole apartment which I have checked out of. I was really anxious because I had heard some horror stories of people not being given their deposits back, thankfully I had no issues. Right now, I’m sitting in Stansted airport, London, waiting for a connecting flight to France. It’s 11:30 pm right now, we left on the bus at 3:45pm and aren’t due to catch our connecting flight till 7:50am…. it’s going to be a really long day. I’m with my friend Santiago, we are going to be spending the next few days with our mutual friend Julien and his family for Christmas. After Christmas, I’m heading to Spain with Santiago to spend New Year’s Eve with our friends, Ana and Vanessa, it’s going to be a lot of fun but after that it’s all over, and on January 3rd I’ll be starting my journey back home to Vancouver.
I’m not sure how to feel right now. On one side, I’m really excited to see my friends and classmates back in Vancouver who I haven’t seen in over four months but on the other side I really don’t think I’m ready to say goodbye to the friends who I have met here. I guess it’s true what they say, all good things must come to an end.
For now, I’m not going to focus on the future, I’m just going to make sure with the time I have left, that I have fun with my friends. Who knows …maybe I’ll be back one day. Until next time, thanks for following along.
December 14th, 2016
Never did I think my exam dates would actually come, but here I am the day before writing my first final exam. Growing up, my grandma always called me the queen of procrastination, however; this experience has made me work harder than I ever have before. As my exams are 100% of my entire grade, it has truly tested and shaped my work ethic. Although, this past month has been about hard work and studying, I have also had a lot of fun enjoying as much of Ireland as I can before I leave.
I have to admit, Waterford is beautiful with its Christmas decorations and spirit. Winterval, which is a Christmas festival running every day from late November to just before Christmas, makes it such an adventure going into their small, but charming city centre. I have spent many days in the city centre, in their Starbucks studying for my exams.
A lovely girl from my class, Seena, has taken so much time out of her life to make sure I see and experience what Ireland has to offer. Last Friday, we went to Kilkenny and it was definitely one of the most beautiful and charming cities I have been too in Ireland. Although, it is a small city, that didn’t stop it from having one of the biggest castles I have ever seen. After exploring the city, we enjoyed a cute little lunch in the heart of the city, before driving back to Waterford. Then last night, we drove to one of my favourite little cities, Tramore. It has the same charm as a California beach town with surf shops and cafes lining the beach. The Celtic waves crashing over the barriers at the beach were absolutely beautiful.
Since my last blog, I have officially completed one class by turning in the good copy of my essay for my Irish Fundamental Rights class. My essay topic was on the use of force rights of law enforcement in Ireland and Canada. I had the advantage of doing a comparative essay thinking it would actually be easier, however; to my surprise, I actually learned a whole lot more about Ireland than I anticipated. I’m not too worried about my final grade for the class as the teacher had already given me great feedback.
My first exam is for my victimology class. The class itself was harder to adjust too as the whole class material was based off of 17 handouts about everything from the development of victimology to gaining rights for victims. The class was challenging in a way that we spent so much time focusing on the offender over my past 3 semesters, that we never really stopped to look at the role of the victim in a crime. My understanding of the victims’ role in the Criminal Justice System in Ireland, and even Canada, hit me like a ton of bricks. Learning that victims have absolutely no rights in the Criminal Justice Process and that they just act as a piece of evidence throughout the conviction process is absolutely sad. I never gave any thought to the whole victimization process before this class and as challenging as the class was, I am so happy I chose it. I am truly excited to write this exam, because I feel so attached to the subject now. My other class, Incarceration and the Law, is a whole other story but I am not too worried.
I have honestly found this whole semester to be fairly easy. I guess not knowing where your grade stands before going into the exam does not help, but I’ll find out on January 20th if this semester really was a breeze.
In just nine days I’ll be home and this experience will be all over, but I am so thankful I got to do it.
November 23, 2016
It’s nearing the end of my semester here at Waterford institute of Technology in Ireland. There is not too much new since my last blog, everyone is hunkering down with exams quickly approaching. Life here is so much different than at the Justice Institute. Back home, I found it very easy to focus but here there are just so many distractions going on that it’s difficult to keep a focused mind but that’s life in student accommodation for you. I feel fortunate only having three classes, it’s easier to balance leisure and studies than having five to six classes, that’s for sure.
One of the most surprising things I have found during my time at WIT, compared to the Justice Institute, is the level of commitment students have. At the Justice Institute, we are really committed as a cohort to attending all classes. It’s a level of professionalism we expect of each other as it directly translates into the careers we are trying to achieve. When someone is constantly missing class we frown on that as a group, as we like to keep each other honest. At WIT there are quite a few people who don’t even attend a quarter of the classes. I will look around and see faces I have never even seen before. There are days where there aren’t even 15 people of an expected class of 60, its mind boggling. I guess that’s one of the down sides of having schooling paid for is that some people are going to take it for granted. Here the grades for the first two years don’t really matter, it’s the grades in the third year that really count. For some students, as long as they pass (which is 40%) it doesn’t matter to them. I’m not trying to generalize, there are many students here that work hard but there are also quite a few that don’t make much of an attempt to put the effort in, something I haven’t experienced at the Justice Institute or any other secondary institution I have attended.
For the past couple of months, I have been practicing on a hurling team full of international students. Hurling is one of the main sports in Ireland, it’s very comparable to Lacrosse but much more physical and brutal. For us, we just practice the basics, we are trying to get a game against another school but I’m not sure that will happen, it’s a lot of fun though. Something I found very surprising is that most the people who play Hurling professionally receive little to no money, if they are really good they might get some money through sponsorship deals but for the most part they are not compensated. Being a professional hurler takes just as much time and commitment as it takes to play any other sport professionally, and many have a second job just to make ends meet. I can’t imagine the commitment it takes to make it work in such a physical sport with little compensation and just the love of the game, and then you have hockey back home where the best are millionaires, it really puts life in perspective for you.
Funny story, my accommodation ends here on the 23rd of December but my flight home isn’t until January 4th, so I have decided to spend Christmas with a couple close friends in France, and then spend New Year’s in Spain with our family group from Ireland, which I’m looking foreword to. Anyways, my flight is due to depart from Dublin on the 4th where I will land in London, Heathrow, and then fly home. When I was booking tickets, I thought “Hey it’s cheaper to fly from Spain to London than it is to fly from Spain to Dublin, so why don’t I Just skip my first flight and just get on the second flight and fly home”. Well little did I know you can’t skip a flight or it cancels out the entire itinerary. When I called United Airlines the lady said it would be a $100 cancelation fee…which I was fine with absorbing, but it was when she said and an additional $3,000 because of the change that I almost had a brain bleed. Long story short it’s all sorted out and all is ok, I won’t be living a life of poverty in Ireland because I would never pay $3000 for a flight…EVER!
November 22, 2016
Today marks exactly one month until my flight home. Time really does fly by when you’re having fun. Although my journey here in Ireland is a little far from over, looking back on the memories I have from this trip, thus far, makes me feel very lucky. I’ve seen much more of the country of Ireland than I expected to. At this point, I have practically visited everywhere from North to South and East to West. When I was leaving for Ireland, the picture in my head of what this trip was going to be like was completely different than what I have experienced.
In the beginning, as pathetic as it sounds I spent too much time feeling sad when I really wasn’t. If I could start over, I wish I realized the experience I was going to have was going to be great. I’ve met so many amazing people here that have greatly impacted my view on the world. I feel as though I am much more aware of the real world and what goes on in it now.
Before I left for Waterford, I felt that I knew everything I needed to know about how to survive. I learned very quickly that many basic necessities of life are NOT the same, for example the shower. I’m not entirely sure of the reason for it but if you want hot water you have to heat your water by flicking a switch and setting it to what’s called a “Boost.” You then have to wait sometime for the water to heat and only then will it work. There was no nice manual of “How to work things in Ireland,” waiting for me so this resulted in the first week of cold showers until someone explained it to me. The same similar system functions the appliances in the kitchen for the stove and oven. You have to turn the power on to function these as well. Basically, I thought the stove and oven were just broken the first week until someone explained this to me as well.
The months of September and October were particularly warm so there was no need to function the radiator at the time, however; November has turned Waterford into a giant freezer. I kid you not, I just figured out how the radiator works two days ago and it has changed my life. Last, but not least, the most important of all is the wifi. As virtually everywhere at home has Wi-Fi, the thought had never even crossed my mind until I arrived. They have a broadband connection in every room in my accommodation, however; apple laptops always seem to have their own special connections for everything, and there is no apple store in Waterford. There are many international students that attend WIT and actually know what they’re doing unlike me so every store was sold out of routers. I had one ordered in but I eventually found one on the fourth day before it arrived. I hope the next people that participate in the international exchange laugh and learn from my mistakes and have an easier time starting out life in Waterford.
School wise, studies are going great for me. I turned my essay in which was 100% of my grade and was told my essay was in the honors category from the teacher which was a huge relief. It was an awesome feeling to nail it the first time especially being their expectations for essay formats differ from Canada. I finally received my exam timetable from WIT last week. My exams are on December 15th and 19th which gives me a big gap in-between to prepare for exams. Classes have moved into revision at this point which gives me lots of time to study.
Hoping the rest of my time here will be “grand,” as the Irish say.
November 11, 2016
With six weeks to go until my flight home, I am becoming eager to wrap up the semester. In the beginning of September, November felt like years away, but here we are in the middle of the month.
We had our reading break from WIT last week. The week off of school allowed us to explore the country of Ireland, as well as Northern Ireland. Melanie, Marieke, and I, embarked on a six day adventure in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as well as Dublin. We spent two days in Belfast which happened to be the perfect amount of time to see the city. Belfast had much to offer and proved to be rich in history. We purchased “Hop-on, Hop-off,” bus tickets which allowed us to see all of the tourist attractions. Belfast was by far the most beautiful city (Other than Vancouver) I have seen.
The buildings in the city all contribute their own beauty and historical evolution of the city. A well-known attraction that stood out to myself was the “Titanic Museum.” The museum takes approximately two hours to venture through and it definitely exceeded my expectations. The building was built to scale of the Titanic itself. The building really puts into perspective how big the Titanic really was. The museum was somewhat of a maze starting with the assembly of the Titanic, and everything in-between, and all the way up to the survivors of the horrific ending. Spending 2 days in Belfast was enough to see the whole city in my opinion. The only downside to Belfast is their currency is the pound which is basically double the Canadian dollar. Spending $40 on a burger was enough for me.
After a great two days in Belfast, I was looking forward to what Dublin had to offer. We saved a small amount by staying in a hotel located about 20 minutes outside the city. We had also purchased “Hop-on, Hop-off,” tickets in Dublin as well. The bus had two routes with a live guide which explained much of the history in the city. I don’t usually enjoy guides but I learned a lot about the city thanks to the guide. Two highlights from Dublin were the Temple Bar and the Guinness Factory. The Temple Bar stood out to me, because it was what I expected Ireland to be like. It featured live Irish music, and had so much Irish history wrapped up in one place. I was surprised to be impressed with the Guinness Factory. The factory features seven floors of the evolution of Guinness. We learned how to pour our own pint of Guinness and received certificates to prove it. Although the week went by fast, it entailed memories I will never forget
On the important side of education, I have basically completed one module as the classes are just tutorials now. I feel as though I am understanding the material I have been receiving in my modules quite well. The thought of my whole mark being reflected off of one test is nerve-racking, however; it is a learning curve I’m ready to take on.
Until next time.