Spring Semester in Ireland – Arrival – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[The beach near the cottage and the rainbow that I saw on that first day of exploring]
I have always been the type of person that would rather sit at home and hang out with family then go out and do things with people my age. I would say I am what you call a “home body.” That must be why my family was so surprised when I told them I had applied to travel to Louisburgh, Ireland for three in a half months in the spring of 2017. When I first applied and even when I got my acceptance letter to the program, it didn’t feel like something that was ever actually going to happen. Even as I hugged my mother goodbye in front of the big airport doors, it didn’t feel real.
As I boarded my flight from Minneapolis to our layover in Newark, the reality had finally settled in: I was going to be the furthest away from my family for the longest I have ever been. That made me a bit nervous. Fortunately for me, there was so much excitement radiating from my other classmates that I was mostly able to ignore my nerves. For four hours, we spent waiting to board the flight that would bring us from Newark, New Jersey to Shannon, Ireland, everyone chatted excitedly with anticipation.
Our second flight happened to be a red eye. I knew from previous experience that most of the time you don’t get much sleep on a red eye flight but I also knew that when we landed it would be almost 7 AM Thursday morning and we were going to hit the ground running. For that reason, I tried my hardest to sleep the majority of the flight. About thirty minutes before we landed I was woken up. Our captain had come over the radio tell us that the landing was going to be rough and let me tell you: he wasn’t lying.
[The Cafe that Arden, Allie and I stopped at for coffee in the town center]
Every time we seemed to get closer to the ground, the wind would push us right back into the air. This rough up and down motion lasted almost half an hour before we finally touched down on the tarmac. But even when our wheels were on the ground it was still obvious that the wind was propelling us forward. The plane fought against the wind to slow down and eventually succeeded but for a minute there, a few of us didn’t think the plane was going to be able to stop.
Once we left the plane, we went through immigration, grabbed our bags and headed outside to meet the much talked about bus driver of ours: Owen. Owen is a man that lives near Louisburgh and has been driving the College of St. Scholastica students for at least twenty years. When we found him out in the lobby awaiting our arrival we loaded up our big coach bus and set out on three-hour journey to Louisburgh.
[The pub that all of us students had our welcome night drink at]
As we winded through the streets of Ireland there were three things that struck me immediately. First, it is so unusual driving in the left lane since we are so used to driving on the right. I was also amazed by how fast they drive on these extremely narrow roads and by how well they were able to fit two cars past each other on a road that seemed to be made only for one. To be honest, it made me a bit car sick whenever I would look out the window at the road or a car passing by because it always felt like we were going to run into something.
After what felt like forever, we finally arrived at our cottages in the small sleepy town of Louisburgh. I was finally able to settle into the place that I would be calling home for the next few months. After unpacking and a short nap, I was informed that my presence was required for a small get together at the pub. All of the students made the short walk from our cottages to a pub called An Bhun Abhainn. Where the board members of the cottages decided to buy us all a drink. I have never been much of a beer drinker so I decided to stick with a sweet cider called Orchard Thieves. After finishing our welcome drinks many of us trudged back to the cottages and went straight to bed.
The next day was a day of nearby exploration. My friends Arden and Allie went on a walk with me into town and found out where several things are such as the post office, a pharmacy and even a small grocery store. We took a break in a small café where I was elated to find out they serve lattes. The inside of Ruddy’s was very welcoming and homey. It had big overstuffed chairs, a few tables and a bench seat for people to sit back and relax on. Arden, Allie and I sipped our warm drinks while playing a short card game. We were still so new to this place that we couldn’t be satisfied with our day of exploring without taking a walk to the ocean.
The three of us left Ruddy’s and took the quick five-minute walk to the beach that is near the cottages. The tide was really low at the beach which allowed us to walk further onto the beach before reaching water. Because almost the entire beach is covered during high tide, it was easy to spot several shells sitting in the sand. As a bent down to pick up shell I had seen on the ground, I looked up only to notice a rainbow lit up across the sky. That was the moment I knew this semester in Ireland was going to be one amazing adventure.
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
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