Monday I flew from Amsterdam to Ireland to start my next great adventure: studying abroad at University College Dublin (UCD). Ireland is absolutely gorgeous, completely green like a brand new spring day. Coming in to Ireland from the main land you see the beaches with waves lapping on them spreading out into the distance. There are mountains to the left and a small island off the coast to the right. Flying over the island you can see the farmland underneath. It is mostly evenly cut rows of hay at this point in the season, with the bales evenly lined up. Even just flying in, I felt like I was at home; more so than in the cities of Europe.
Arriving in Ireland was a bit crazy because the flight was delayed due to a strike in Amsterdam. Instead of going to UCD to check into my dorm, I got into a taxi with other late-comers to go to the Notre Dame O’Connell House for orientation things with the university. We went shopping for bedding and kitchen supplies to fill our apartments on campus. After dinner, we finally managed to lug all of our luggage and purchases to UCD to move into our new residences. When I walked into my apartment, all my roommates except one were already there. They bombarded me as I walked into the door asking all sorts of things and wanting to just say hi; they were so excited to meet me. They are very friendly and bubbly. Our apartment is very nice too. There is a common room with a small kitchen and an eating area, plus we all have our own bedrooms.
The past few days have been very busy with orientation activities and setting up the apartment. I finally have groceries and everything I need in my room. It is so nice to be unpacked and settled after weeks of travelling. I have a warm bed to sleep in, a wardrobe for my clothes, and a desk under the window to write at. Being able to cook in the kitchen has been its own adventure as well. The meals have already taken quite a range from chicken stir fry to soup to beans and toast in a hurry. The hot meals in the kitchen surely beat eating from grocery stores and bakeries on our backpacking trip.
Notre Dame has already kept us quite busy. Our first full day in Ireland we had a scavenger hunt that took up the entire afternoon. We ran all around the city centre trying to find different landmarks or solve puzzles. One member of each group even had to chug a Orange Soda in under 20 seconds! We didn’t win the scavenger hunt, but we did get 36 items on the list and won the best photo. Thursday night we had an opening mass and dinner at the O’ Connell House, which was very welcome after a few days of cooking for ourselves. Today just brought chores and preparing for classes to start next week. Tomorrow we are headed to the North to see Belfast and the Cliffs of Moher.