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!
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.
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!
Even after two weeks of being in Ireland, I must remind myself that I am finally here! I remember receiving emails months ago, I would think it was months away but really the trip came super quick! I was nervous about leaving my family and boyfriend but I knew I had to push myself to go! I assumed that everyone on this trip already knew each other because they had all started the nursing program together but to my surprise most everyone was meeting for the first time! I can’t get over how close we have all become in just two weeks. It has been an amazing trip so far, the places we have gone and the friendships I have made will be memories I will never forget.
Saturday we went on the Ring of Kerry tour, which was incredible! Sunday we had a very low key, relaxing day to recover from our 18-hour adventure the day before. We went food shopping, which seems to be something the people in Ireland do often. A few of us went to the gym and we finished the night with dinner and dessert.
Today we had class from 11am-1pm with Dr. Lafferty who spoke to us about elder abuse. The elderly population is rising in Ireland and the HSE is working on increasing awareness of elder abuse to help prevent this heartbreaking issue. I couldn’t help but think and worry about my 90-year-old grandmother. I always pray that she is taken care of and vow to treat every patient I have as if he/she is my grandmother.
Later in the day, we went to Professor Evans’ (or Heather as we call her in Ireland) beautiful home she is staying in! She cooked us pasta with the choice of meat or vegetarian sauce and the most delicious home made garlic bread! We were starving when we got there but we left feeling very full. It was really nice to have a huge dinner together. We were able to hang out and just talk with each other without being in a public environment restricted by sitting at different tables.
Now, we are all working on our literature reviews for our research class. Today, five of us met with Declan Patton who is our advisor for our project. He spent time with us not only discussing work but also getting to know us better. We spoke about our heritage and where our ancestors were from. It was nice to establish a connection with him and know we can go to him with any questions about the project (or for directions to the best pubs).
I am looking forward to the next two weeks! We have some great things planned. Tomorrow, a few of us will go to see Trinity College and over the weekend we will go to Galway!
Being the only male on this trip so far has led to many high fives and many smiles accompanied by a thumbs up from a list of people we have encountered here in Dublin so far. Coming into this program I really only knew three of these beautiful ladies well enough to call them my friends. But less than a week here I feel as though we have all created a family with one another. Of course there is still much for all of us to learn from and about each other, but so far I foresee an amazing trip with many laughs and even more stories.
Anyways, on June 13. we started our morning off bright and early at an Elderly Abuse awareness conference. Here we learned about how much abuse is happening to our elder population, not only physical but emotional and finical as well. We also learned about what is being done to stop this abuse and what the future looks like in stopping said abuse. After this very informational conference we all headed back to our rooms for some rest. Around 4 o’ clock we all headed to the bus stop to catch a bus into Dublin. There we meet up with the other students taking the same class for a, “Experience Dublin” tour, on which we become Vikings riding around in a WW2 amphibious vehicle. Now I can fill ten pages about everything we saw and learned, as well as all the fun we had but I only have four weeks in Ireland, and I am trying to make this quick so that I can go enjoy this amazing country. Here is the website if you want to know more about that tour: http://www.vikingsplash.com/ . After our tour around Dublin we all headed back to our apartments for the night. I know, I know pretty lame right? Well we had to be up very early for the conference and the tour took a lot out of us. Plus we had to be awake and at the bus stop early the next day to catch a bus for another tour.
Like I said, on June 14 (which is the day I am writing this), we all woke up early to get a bus which would cart us around Ireland for the day. Specifically, we went to Wicklow hills and path, which if anyone did not know was where they filmed both Braveheart and PS I love you. Now this was where my breath was taken away. The scenery is indescribable and even the best pictures do not do it justice. Sure the city of Dublin is also a great place with beautiful and one of a kind artwork and stone work but the Wicklow hills and valleys are a spectacular Irish sight. Again I could go on, but we are all getting ready to head into the city and see what the night life has to offer us. Hoping the rain does not come back and we get to see some street performers. If you want to know more about the tour we took here is the website: http://www.wildwicklow.ie/