Month: July 2013

Life Begins at the edge of your comfort zone… – by Olivia Halvorson

I have often heard that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone but I never thought much of it until I was standing at the edge of my comfort zone- or boarding gate 24 to Dublin as the flight attendant would call it. The wonderful thing about standing at the edge of somewhere though is that you get to see further than you ever have before. And slowly, without even noticing, you wake up one day and realize that your comfort zone has grown to include your new home away from home.

Studying abroad was scary, nerve-wracking, and intimidating. But it was also wonderful, fantastic, and completely unforgettable.

I could go into details about all the breathtaking things I’ve seen and the amazing friends I’ve made but no words could ever describe it as good as our hundreds of photos of green fields, glorious castles, and the happy people standing together in front of them.

I’ll always smile when I look back on that one summer in college that I spent four weeks in Ireland.


Cork and the Blarney Castle! – by Vipra Patel

Hi! Today has been a long and eventful day! It’s hard to believe that it is already Tuesday and in a few days we’ll be packing out bags for our journey back. For me it’s a bittersweet thinking about going home. I miss my family and friends more than anything and wish they were here to experience everything I have. However, I can’t wait to share all the stories with them and be able to look back at everything.

Today we went to Cork and saw the Blarney Stone . Starting out bus ride at 5am, we reached our first stop, Cashel Castle, around 7am. We all walked around and took in the beautiful scenery. After that we were finally on our way to the Blarney Castle. After arriving everyone hiked up through the narrow spiral stairs to kiss the stone. I was expecting there to be a big rock that everyone kissed, but to my surprise it was actually just a part of the castle and up in the air. Everyone laid down one by one and quickly kissed the stone for their “Gift of Eloquence”. We all walked out with our very own souvenir pictures kissing the Blarney Stone.

Next stop was downtown Cork. We arrived around 2pm and had two hours to roam the city. Some went to grab a bite to eat while others shopped. I decided to go to Penney’s with a few of the girls, and Kyle to shop. Everyone gathered on the bus at 4 to head back to Dublin. As soon as the bus started up everyone was getting ready to take their three hour nap during the ride back.

After a long day we arrived around 7pm! As drained as we all were, the Blarney Stone was well worth it!


Wrapping up – by Taylor Meegan

Wow… where to begin! Our last couple days in Dublin were packed with last minute souvenir shopping, eating at our favorite places, and getting a final authentic Irish meal. It is crazy thinking back to the beginning of this trip, coming in not knowing many people, not knowing the city, or what to expect from this trip. I think it is safe to say that we were all surprised and excited how amazing this trip was.  The food, to start with, was absolutely delicious. From Lemon Co. crepes and sandwiches to the vegetarian and organic food from Cornucopia, the food was some of the best we have had.  Our last meal in Ireland, we all went out to eat at O’Neill’s pub in order to eat an authentic Irish meal. Our meals ranged from corned beef and cabbage to beef and Guinness stew with delicious mashed potatoes and vegetables.

I think what I will miss most about this trip is exploring the country with our whole group. Ireland has to be the most beautiful place I have ever had the chance to visit. From the green mountains to the coastline, the views that we saw were breath taking. I can’t think of any place we traveled to that wasn’t exceptionally beautiful, and we went to tons of places. Starting at the Wicklow Mountains, then to the Ring of Kerry, Galway, the Aran Islands, Cork, and Kilkenny, everything was so pretty it was like looking at a postcard or being in a fairytale. Getting to all these wonderful and beautiful places is a different story. The amount hours we spent on a bus are a bit frightening. A couple trips we had to be on the bus by 6:00 in the morning and didn’t get home till after 7:00 at night, but every minute on the bus was worth all the different sights and tours we were able to experience.

I will miss Ireland so much, but I will miss the 14 other students just as much. The 15 of us made a make shift family over in Ireland. We went food shopping, cooked, cleaned (barely…), and ate together every day. From going on tours, to eating numerous pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and exploring the city of Dublin together, I can say that I have made 14 great new friends. You have Courtney 1 and Courtney 2 (AKA. Sam) who I think ate more peanut butter than anyone I know could eat in a month. Our “Mom” of the trip, Kelly O’Keefe who was always looking out for us (and who, by the way, took a part in the peanut butter eating). Kelly Lucas was our social planner and is also the only person I know who loves cows so much. Vipra just had the best name to shout, and we were all awoken many nights to Kyle screaming it for no good reason. Olivia had a special way of ordering and eating her meals, always starting with desert, which always looked better than any of our food. Emily Burns was Grandma Burns, and could always crack us up with her expressions that she used. Elizabeth Marshall ate more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the tours we took then I think I have in my whole life, some even for breakfast. Elizabeth Schilling was always our navigator, finding and following directions to lead us wherever we had to go when none of us knew any idea where we were. Kyle being the only boy made him pretty special. Then we have Nikki. Nikki always had a great time and loved making new friends in Ireland. Kim was the girl with the plan; she was always looking for tours and things to do! Emily Coyne had a lot of embarrassing moments, especially when her hair turned into an afro on top of The Cliffs of Moher. And finally we have Emily Bak, whose favorite restaurant is McDonalds and likes using terms such as “emburrassing” and can eat more than Kyle.  And we cannot leave out Heather! Heather planned so many nice tours and visits, cooked the absolute best garlic bread, and got lost quite frequently trying to meet up with all of us, which led to many laughs. I will miss being with everyone all day, everyday, and cannot wait to have some beach days in the sun, something we could not do in Ireland!


Last Weekend in Dublin – by Samantha Herlihy

Hi everyone! I hope the weather at home is warmer than it is here! I’m sure you already know what an AMAZING experience each and every one of us is having here in Ireland, but I may as well mention it again; this program is incredible!

This past Saturday while most people traveled to Kerry and Belfast, a small group of us made a visit to the nearby Hill of Tara and Newgrange, in County Meath. Newgrange is a beautiful area with a history predating that of both Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza! Following the trip to Newgrange, our tour took us to the quaint little fishing village, Howth – with incredible views of Ireland and the Irish Sea; it was a great way to start off our last weekend here in Dublin.

This week we have all started working with our individual professors. We are all in the process of getting topics approved and beginning our final literature review. So far, the professors are extremely helpful and knowledgeable! We have been handed a wide variety of classes at UConn, but research is certainly new to all of us.

Today, most of us visited the Book of Kells and the Trinity Library. It was really interesting to see the Book of Kells, but the highlight of the visit was definitely the Long Room of the Library. Following Trinity, we visited the Jameson Distillery here in Dublin. Personally, I liked it much more than the Guinness Storehouse because it was a guided tour. Also, some people got to participate in a taste testing at the end of the tour.

Although the weekends in Dublin are behind us, I have to say that I am so excited to travel to Galway this weekend. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I am so grateful for every opportunity offered here, and am looking forward to what lies ahead!

Proud – by Heather Evans

We are coming to a close of our trip to Ireland.  I am so proud to have been here with the 15 UConn students.  They have represented the U.S. and the school of nursing well.  We have traveled, explored Ireland, attended a professional conference, and participated in our research course.  At every turn, the students have excelled.  It was an honor to be here with them.

I made dinner for the students in my apartment last Monday.  In return, they cooked dinner for me and my family last night.  WOW!  Emily is a great chef.   We had pasta, sauce, bread, and dessert.  It was a great time for us all to relax and chat.

This week the students are having their final meetings with their research mentors.  We are also going to tour Croke Park.  Declan, our professor at UCD, has arranged a special farewell meal for us on Thursday.

This has been a great trip.


“Home” At Last – by Elizabeth Marshall

Today is the final Monday we are here and even with 5 days left on this amazing journey, I already miss my new friends and the beautiful country of Ireland. I purposively have not read any other blog posts so that when I do go home and reality hits, I can find comfort in the memories that lie within each sentence. I was just talking to a few friends today about how the thought of saying goodbye at JFK Airport is tear-jerking. Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to hug my parents, dog Bella, family and friends, talk to people in the same time zone, and not have to calculate what time it is in America or how many dollars I am really spending on a 3 euro coffee. But saying goodbye to 14 new friends I have spent the past month with and to an amazing experience we all dreamed about and have been living is not easy. Thank you to everyone who has supported and given me this opportunity of a lifetime!

Sunday was day 3 of our excursion to Galway! We went on an all day bus tour with a very sweet tour guide through Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Ross Errilly Friary, and many other scenic stops! I think it is safe to say we were all very tired from the past few early morning days and the passage between stops was spent asleep, at least it was for me. Kylemore Abbey was by far my favorite part of the tour! The beautiful Victorian Walled Garden, the largest one of it’s kind in Ireland, was breath-taking and so precisely designed. I admired the array of flowers and plants, the layout of the paths, and the shapes of the flowers in the grass. The entire time I was walking through, I could not help but appreciate the amount of time and work the grounds crew has put into keeping this garden as beautiful as it was. I know how much time my mom puts into the gardens at my house and this garden was 100 times bigger! The food at the restaurant at Kylemore Abbey was amazing, fresh, fairly priced, and the water and bathrooms were free! A huge plus all around!

Our bus back to Dublin left at 6:15 pm and we arrived in the City Center at around 8:50 pm. As much as we loved the tours of Galway and Connemara, biking around the Aran Island, and walking around Kylemore Abbey, nothing could beat the thought of being back in our apartments at UCD, our “home.”  Also after spending more than 8 hours of the day on various buses, I think all of us were relieved to smell fresh air as we walked home through UCD to Roebuck Hall.

Today we were lucky enough to sleep in because class didn’t start until 2 pm. I along with 11 other students went into Dublin around 11 am to pay for our bus tour to Cork tomorrow! Then we went shopping for a few hours and stopped in at a familiar American restaurant, McDonalds, for coffee and lunch. First time this trip I have been in a fast food restaurant and I have to say, I have never seen a fancier or bigger McDonalds in my life. After class and meeting with our mentors, apartment 6 had the whole group and Heather’s family over for a pasta dinner, cooked by Master Chief Emily Bak. Everyone pitched in with utensils, chairs, tables, dishes, preparation, and the cost of food and it was a lot of fun! It is safe to say there were no periods of silence throughout the evening!

Take care and hope everyone is enjoying their summer!



Weekend in Galway – by Courtney Egan

Hi from Galway!  After a 5 am wake up call on Friday and a 3 hour bus ride, we made to the western coast. We are having an incredible weekend thus far! On Friday, our day started with a tour.  We visited Dunguaire Castle, which was quite beautiful! We traveled into The Burren, where we saw many ancient monuments and tombs.  We also stopped at a leprechaun park, where the driver said a little leprechaun lives.

Sadly, the fog took over and we had much difficulty viewing the Cliffs of Moher.  It was very upsetting that we could not see the cliffs because all of us were looking forward to it!  However, we were very happy when the driver took us to the “mini” cliffs down the road.  These cliffs were amazing!! The views were incredible! We were so high up and got great pictures with the water below us.  To finish off the night, some of us had fish and chips while others went to “La Salsa” and enjoyed some Mexican food.  I had a vegetarian torta- delicious!

Saturday morning we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast and wished Taylor a very happy birthday! Happy 20th Taylor! Then we headed off to the Aran Islands, home of the famous Irish sweater.  We took the ferry over, very rocky but very cool!  We arrived on the islands and embarked on a full day of touring via bicycles! This was my all time favorite part of the trip thus far!! I loved biking around and exploring the island.  We biked to the top of another cliff! As you would expect, the views were incredible! The sun was shining and it was so magical.  Our calves are still very sore but it was completely worth it! We rode around and saw many horses, cows, and sheep, along with a beautiful beach where boat races were taking place.  We even saw seals sunbathing in the water!  Some of us got Irish sweaters as well.  The trip to the Aran Islands was out of a fairy tale.  Tomorrow we are off to Connemara & Cong- we are thrilled!!

See you in a week!


Pigs at the Hospital – by Kimberly Gaertner

The time here is flying by, and I’m enjoying every second of it. Let me just give you a snap shot of what my last couple days have been like. Yesterday, we had class in the morning, and then went to the Jameson Factory in the afternoon. It was very interesting to see how whiskey is made, and the historical impact that the factory has had on the city of Dublin. After the tour, a few of us went to a restaurant for dinner called The Church. It is an old church building that they turned into a restaurant. It was actually the church that Arthur Guinness was married in!

Today we woke up early and had about a 45-minute walk from the dorms to the Central Mental Hospital. We were able to tour part of this facility, which is one of the main psychiatric hospitals in the country.  This facility specializes in patients that have had past episodes with the law due to their mental illness. In small groups, we toured some of the units, and the nurses explained the process of rehabilitation in the facility. The nurse who took our tour group around explained that the main goal is ultimately re-entrance back into society if that is possible. The units range from maximum security all the way down to some that actually look more like a house, with a kitchen which residents can make their own food. I really enjoyed touring this facility. We even got to see their gardens where residences and staff can grow their own vegetables, and have hens and two pigs!