Before I came to study abroad in Galway, I had all of these ideas in mind for what my time in Ireland would be like. I felt that since I’d been dreaming about this opportunity for years, I knew what I’d be doing, who I’d meet, and almost everything that would come with the experience. Obviously I knew my idea of Ireland would be nothing like what I imagined but I still had hopes for the unknown.
My first few weeks in Galway consisted of getting to know my new city. I found that a great way to explore the area was to go Geocaching. I downloaded an app on my phone and whenever there was a break in the rain, I’d head outside and start tracking some hidden treasure. It’s definitely not the easiest task in the world (I have still yet to find a single cache) but I’ve been taken to some pretty great parts of the city. With the GPS navigation, the app has allowed me to get lost in a safe and fun way. I’ve gotten to see historical buildings and beautiful views of the River Corrib, all of which I don’t think I would have found if I had just kept wandering on the main streets with no direction in mind.
Another thing I found extremely helpful is finding a restaurant that you can call your own. Back at home I have a favorite place to go with my friends and family. It’s a place where I feel comfortable enough to go by myself. Finding a place I could go get lunch and hang out at really helped me adjust to Galway. I checked out a few restaurants during my first weeks here and took note of where the locals seemed to populate. Ironically enough, an Italian pizza place right by Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop is where I call my comfort of food home. The restaurant is packed during lunch time and especially during the weekends. The sounds of families coming together for a meal or friends getting together for a laugh make me feel at ease and allow me to settle my mind if I'm having a bad day. Not to mention the pizza is really delicious too.
What I noticed in the past couple weeks was how “stuck” I was beginning to feel here. Reaching the midway point in the semester made me feel like my time was almost up but I also still have so many days left. I felt like I had done everything I could in town, discovered all of the interesting hangouts and the unique corners of Galway. I felt too settled, bored, and it was making me uncomfortable.
My roommates and I started to take advantage of local activities and student deals. One Saturday night we went to the Galway Greyhound Stadium to watch the races. We actually met the general manager and he talked to us for quite a while about the history of racing, how it was developed, and how everything works. We got student deals on tickets at the local theatre and were able to experience an interesting interpretation of Irish literature in play form. And this past weekend we scored a student discount on a day trip to Connemara.
If I learned anything these past two months, it was how to “live” in my city. It’s important to get out and experience everything that your area has to offer but at the same time, don’t get too comfortable to the point where you’re bored. Search the area for places and things that will help you adjust. Actually establish a life for yourself in your home away from home. And then when you feel yourself getting a bit uninterested in your new surroundings take a day trip or maybe even hop over to another country. Refresh your mind with a new place and look forward to returning to your host city. Explore while you have the opportunity and make the most of your time abroad.
|Mountains of Connemara|
Morgan McKenna is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Galway, Ireland. She is currently a junior at Stockton University.
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