Greetings From Ireland!
I’ve known that I would study abroad since the first time I stepped onto UNH campus.
It was a weird day. I’d already been accepted to the school, my state’s public University where a decent portion of my high school’s graduating class went every year. I knew from the minute I opened my acceptance letter that I’d probably end up there, but I wasn’t ready to admit it. I put off touring until one day my mom told me, “Okay, we’re going to go see it and if you like it, that’s it. You’re going.”
So that made the whole thing really weird. But about halfway through the day, we were standing on the grass between the English building and a small brick building called Hood House. Our tour guide noted that this is where we could find the Office of International Education. Something in me stirred and I turned to my mom and whispered, “I am definitely studying abroad.”
When people ask why I decided to go, I only have one stereotypical answer for them, and it’s that before this, I’ve never left. My life has been happily contained within my tri-state area, for the most part. So I figured for my first time leaving, why not flee the country for five months on my own? Go big.
The more time I spend in Ireland, the more convinced I am that I made the right choice of European countries. One of my biggest fears was being shunned for being American, or constantly getting on people’s nerves by talking too loudly and swearing in places I should be quiet. But in my experience, the people in Cork are the type that see you holding a map and stop to ask if you need directions, unwarranted. Though everyone I meet tells me that I’m welcome, I think I’d feel that way even if they didn’t.
It seems like I’ve managed to make a semester’s worth of rookie mistakes in my first two weeks. (So now I’m basically a native.) I took a class called European Cinema, figuring we’d be exploring the general world of European cinema, only to find out that we’ll be exploring mostly Early-Modernist-German-Silent-Horror films. That is a lot of modifiers, and apparently an actual genre of film. My professor has sharp features and wears dark shawls. She talks to us about how modern cinematic art conveys more meaning through technique than trivial things like plot. I thought I might be in a bit over my head after the first class, but this semester is all about new experiences, right?
We’ve already watched our first movie, and this is was the bad guy. New experiences, right?
I’m studying at University College Cork, and I’ve been learning long before my classes started. UCC has a few traditions, one of which involves the main quad.
There are two paths through it, but if you walk across them you’ll fail your exams. So pouring rain or shine, take the long way around. (One of my rookie mistakes was blatantly walking across before I knew, probably looking around like an idiot.)
There is also this crest.
This one’s even higher stakes. If you step on it, you’ll get pregnant. Immediately. Boom, baby. I remembered this one at the last second and almost fell over trying to avoid it.
Yesterday we took a train to Cobh, which is known for being the last place the Titanic stopped before leaving for New York. We took a tour and each assumed the identity of a passenger. My name was Nora and I survived, so it was a pretty good day.
Now I’m going to dump some pictures on you. To all my family and friends back home, I miss you guys and I’m sorry I didn’t upload any pictures to Facebook yet! Here’s to the beginning of #hannahandjulieabroad.
A coworker of mine at school has created the hashtag, “badly cropped selfies in famous places,” which I totally intend to spread throughout Europe. I’ve already got a few converts.Theresa, if you’re reading this, please don’t be creeped out.
These are my roommates in their purest forms.
Proudly bringing the art of the straight-face-picture to Ireland.