Ireland Students

Ireland Highlights – by Evan Mitchell

On June 8th 2019, 18 young Huskies departed the United States for a study abroad experience of a lifetime.

Upon arriving at UCD, the search for a shower and a nap became imminent. Preparation for the first day of class began as we worked to determine what time it was. To go along with a 5-hour time-change, what threw us off the most was the stubbornness of the sun to set. This isn’t saying that we were met with overwhelming sun-exposure, in fact I (Evan) rarely took my rain jacket off, however the sun refused to set until at least 10:30 pm. For our first few nights, 11pm still felt like 4am and if it wasn’t for amazing light-reflective shades in our dorms, our reliance on coffee to drag us out of bed and send us off to class would have been more troublesome.

Aside from jetlag, our first few days of class were met with new topics and new faces. Bright and early on a Monday morning (or what felt like mid afternoon), our Husky pack was introduced to other nursing students from schools across the United States. We were lucky enough to share a classroom with representatives of Georgetown University, University of Hawaii, and other accredited nursing schools. Interacting with these students, whether it was in class, participating in Gaelic games, or jumping into a bog was a surprisingly nice experience.  Most of these students were entering their senior year, so it was interesting hearing about their respective clinical exposure and how they have survived nursing school so far. Being able to further “understand what nursing truly means to us through a different perspective” – (Krysta O’Shea) in Ireland was a highlight for everyone. Not only did we learn in the classroom, but on our excursions off campus we “learned how to milk cows and play both hurling and Gaelic football – traditional Irish sports” – Sophia DeNucci.

Similarly, Kaitlyn Drysdale’s “favorite part was learning about nursing from another part of the world while getting closer and creating lifelong memories with my fellow Huskies”.

I don’t think any of us ever expected to develop the bond that we did over our 3 weeks in Ireland. We spent nearly the entire trip as a group, exploring all that Ireland had to offer while immersing ourselves in the culture.

Upon travelling throughout the island (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), we took in the beautiful greenery, cliff-filled coastlines, and the sheep. Yes, the sheep. They are everywhere in Ireland.

One of our favorite spots was up at the most northern end of Ireland at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Although terrified of the 100 foot drop, Kelsey Byrne claims the trek across the bridge to be her favorite part of the trip. While still in Northern Ireland we made our way up to the famous Giant’s Causeway and yet again took in the breathtaking scenery before heading down to explore the historical city of Belfast.

On to the west coast of Ireland, the legendary Cliffs of Moher did not disappoint. The views from 700+ feet above sea were remarkable. It was important not to get too close to the edge even if it meant for a quality photo (though Evan had the genius idea of climbing down a bit to explore). The experience of exploring the western coast of Ireland was my (Evan) personal favorite adventure. Renting bikes and riding around the Aran Islands while coming upon a shipwreck and miles of coastline was an experience second to none.

We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity that both the University of Connecticut and University College Dublin provided for us. Our perspective and understanding of the nursing field expanded exponentially. It was through experiences with fellow students abroad that helped make this trip so special. Being able to leave a long day of class to go explore in the city of Dublin is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we couldn’t be more fortunate the experience. Not only did we take a lot away from the classroom, but our quality time together as a group felt way too short.

Of any research conducted abroad, we discovered and concluded that Huskies travel in a pack, and that pack became a family.

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.


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!


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!


Half Way Point – by Elizabeth Schilling

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!


Ring of Kerry – by Nikki Yannatos

I can’t believe that today marks the halfway point of this study abroad experience! I definitely don’t want to leave Dublin anytime soon. Today me and nine other students decided to take a trip to county Kerry! Our day began very early this morning because we needed to catch a train that would bring us across Ireland. We left at 6 am from the dorm and all of us were barely awake. However, after sleeping for about three hours on the train and drinking a cup of tea we were ready to explore this beautiful county.  When we finally arrived we were picked up by the tour company and it was time to begin the drive known as the Ring of Kerry.

Our tour began by stopping at a breathtaking view of the coastline. This was the first time we saw the coast of Ireland and we were all amazed at this view of the Atlantic Ocean hitting the land. After taking many pictures we continued on to see how a shepherd herds his sheep with his border collies. Seeing the sheep herding was my favorite part of this tour because I’ve never seen anything like it. Two of the Emilys even pet one of the sheep! After the demonstration it was time to continue on to our many more stops. These stops included dingle bay, seeing wool get made, and the national park of Killarney.

Overall this trip was amazing! The views were spectacular and we all enjoyed traveling to another part of Ireland. Sláinte! (“cheers” in Gailic)


National Maternity Hospital – by Courtney Egan

Hi to everyone! Yesterday afternoon, we went to the National Maternity Hospital in downtown Dublin.  Before entering the facility, a lot of us had the preconceived idea that the hospital would be very similar to a maternity ward in the United States.  However, we were quickly proven wrong! The two are VERY different. To start, the hospital reminded me of a large, brick house.  It looked nothing like the modern, spacious hospitals back home.  Inside, there are no private labor rooms.  In fact, there are multiple beds per room.  All of us girls were shocked and agreed that we would not want to share a room with someone, especially during labor! The only time a woman in Ireland is in her own private room is during the actual delivery.  After the baby is born, the woman is transported back into a multi-bed room- sometimes referred to as a Nightingale ward- for recovery.  We were also shocked by the paper charting!  In Ireland, a midwife is present In the U.S, everything is done electronically.  One midwife showed us how every part of the labor is observed and then documented- it was tons and tons of writing!  We are very thankful we have computers and electronic medical records!!  One thing that really stood out to us was that once a woman is admitted for labor, she only has 10 hours to deliver the baby.  I think every single one of us had a mini panic attack and felt the pressure!  We were also informed that the baby is placed on the mother’s chest immediately after birth, not like the U.S where the baby is given to the nurses to be observed and cleaned.  We loved our tour and were very appreciative that we were able to go! We would love to go again and check out the neonatal ward! Fingers crossed!


Life in Dublin – by Emily Coyne

Hi to everyone back home! Dublin has been an absolutely amazing experience so far and I can’t wait to continue it for the next 2 weeks! The last couple of days we’ve been taking the time to explore the city a bit more.   Last night the group went out for some gelato which was DELICIOUS !!

Today we visited two hospitals in Dublin, St. Vincent’s Hospital and The National Maternity Hospital.  I really enjoyed the maternity hospital! After the tours we found some cute shops downtown that had AMAZING sales! I’ve never seen Topshop have such cheap clothing before and everyone seemed to find the best deals, especially Taylor!

This weekend some of the group is planning to take a trip to Kerry/Dingle (which is supposed to be absolutely beautiful) and some are venturing out to Belfast in Northern Ireland.  Both excursions should be amazing and everyone is bound to have a great time!

As much as I miss being home, the people on this trip with me have made this experience an even better one.  I don’t think I’ve laughed this much with a group of people in a long time and I hope we continue the good times we’ve been having!

Cheers to Dublin!