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.
As the trip came to an end we were able to squish in some things that we still wanted to do. Most of us did our last minute shopping and a couple of us walked through St. Stephen’s Green. The weather was beautiful and the grass was very green. Some people laid in the grass and took naps and some were reading books. It was a beautiful scenery and very relaxing.
Our last day spent in Ireland was a relaxing one, we slept in a little and then we went and got crepes at Lemon Crepe & Coffee Co for our last breakfast in Ireland. I have never had a crepe before and these were delicious! Definitely something I recommend to try, especially at this place located in the center of Dublin. We spent the rest of the day exploring the shops in Dublin and then returned back to our apartments to finish (or start) packing. We all then met at Madigan’s Pub on O’Connell Street for our last supper. I had the Guinness Cottage Pie and it was very tasty. After dinner I had my first (and last) Irish coffee.
This trip was a wonderful experience and I recommend anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad to do so. At first if you are hesitant, don’t be. If you are worried about not knowing anyone, don’t be. You meet students from all over the country and become very close with those from your own school. You may be letting yourself out of your comfort zone, and it is worth every second of it. You are able to explore all over, plan trips on your own, and do anything that interests you. This 4 week trip to Ireland was amazing and I am so glad I had the opportunity experience it (I’m sure everyone else would agree).
It was bittersweet leaving, many of us were ready to see our family and friends but we will miss Ireland entirely. It was strange waking up this morning in our own beds and not having a time scheduled to meet on the second floor for class. This is a trip that will always be remembered and there will be endless amounts of stories told. It truly was an experience of a lifetime.
Today was our final day in this beautiful country that we have been able to call home for the last thirty days. It is bittersweet to be going home and it became so real when we said goodbye to Meredith at the bus stop this morning. The rest of us headed into town for some crepes that were just to die for! (Mine was Nutella, strawberries, bananas and white chocolate-OH MY!)
We also got to go to the “dead zoo” or the Natural History Museum. There were walls and walls of animals there it was so cool. After a while we were forced to face reality and head back to UCD to pack up all of our stuff and get ready for dinner at Madigans (we had the same waiter as the first time we were there and he was the best…AGAIN!).
I honestly have to say that I encourage anyone from UConn (or anywhere else) to come on this trip if the opportunity presents itself. We have all had so much fun and have been able to grow closer while exploring (and conquering) a new city. We learned a lot and saw a lot and there isn’t much more you can ask for than that. I will miss all of the people that I have met here so much and know that we will keep in touch when we get back to UConn in the fall. We will be up and heading to the airport early tomorrow so I guess this is the end of a wonderful trip. Until next time!
This morning several of us went to try the full Irish breakfast at O’Niells. An Irish breakfast consists of sausage, bacon, egg, potatoes, beans, black and white pudding, tomato, mushrooms, and a coffee. Myself like a couple of others were not too sure about this meal, so I decided to split this with someone else and get their pancakes too, which was a great choice. We weren’t too sure if we would want to even try the white and black pudding because of what it is made of. We did and it was not what we expected at all. We didn’t think it would come as a sausage and the white pudding tasted a bit like corned beef. Overall breakfast was pretty delicious.
After breakfast we had a tour of the Gaelic Athletic Association’s Museum and Croke Park. It was a great tour and we learned a lot. This stadium can hold almost 84,000 people for events such as hurling, Gaelic football, or concerts. As our trip is coming to a close, I definitely wish I attended one of their fast paced matches of hurling or Gaelic football.
One thing that I have discovered over the past three weeks is that if my nursing career doesn’t work out, I should just move to Dublin and become a talent scout. After experiencing so much of the live entertainment here, I’m pretty sure this is the most talented city in the world. Last night, we all went to see Riverdance, a show that I have wanted to see since I was little. I may just speak for myself here but I expected the show to be more of a typical Irish step dancing show equipped with recorded music and the classic curly wigs. However, as soon as the show began I was taken away by how beautiful the live singing and instrumentals were, along with the hard shoe dancing which made music of its own. In addition to Riverdance, I have listened to the best live music that I’ve ever heard while in Dublin. It’s basically like every time we step foot in a pub we get to see a concert, for free! It’s become a sort of joke between some of us that we seem to hear songs like Zombie, Little Lion Man, One, and Galway Girl every single time we go out. However whether it is traditional Irish music or a mash-up of Backstreet Boys songs (yes, played on a fiddle), we have not yet heard anything less than great. Every time we go out to listen to music we wonder how these singers haven’t been discovered yet because they are just so talented. We have also grown to love the traditional Irish music, especially the song Red Is the Rose which I’m pretty sure Alex and I have stuck in our heads at all times of the day. Although it will be nice to soon go home and be reunited with family and friends, this is one of the many things that I will miss about our Dublin experience.