Spring Semester in Ireland – Arrival – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

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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.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu


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29 responses to “Spring Semester in Ireland – Arrival – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. Kalahan Larson

    I did not quite grasp the meaning behind this article. What I did get out of it was breaking away from your usual routine. It is okay to have routines and things that you enjoy doing, but we cannot let ourselves miss out on experiences because we are too afraid to try new things. My friends from home and I have talked about taking a trip after graduation abroad. We all want to see the world before we start becoming “adults” with real jobs and busy lives. We have always seen adventure as a learning experience and that’s what I believe this author discovered. If she would have let her fears of being away from home or going out take over, she would not have seen the rainbow, or experienced Ireland.

  2. Der Yang

    Hello Victoria,
    Before reading your essay, I viewed Allison’s essay about her first day in Ireland. I am not positive if you two entered the same program together, however the stories are similar so I will assume so. First off, your ride and plane seemed like it was not very pleasant so sorry to hear. The farthest place I have ever traveled to was California and I already thought the plane-ride took forever. I am glad that you took the chance in your first exploration day to view the ocean. The photo is so beautiful that even if the rainbow was not present, the scenery would not change at all. Additionally, the people that hosted you all at Ireland were very welcoming an nice people. I actually kind of wished you tried an alcoholic beverage to tell us your opinions! Yet you did not have to. Everything conveyed a “homey” feeling as they look small and comfortable. The colors of the buildings are also very different from the ones we often see in Duluth. Everything is brighter! You must have had loads of fun. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Matthew Breeze

    What a welcome to Ireland yo had! The landing sounds exciting, but a little nerve wracking. This may be a stereotype, but it sounds like classic Ireland that your first night there you were taken out to a pub. Taking a walk to the ocean would feel so nice. I love water and I miss seeing open water during the long Minnesota winter. The ability to walk to the ocean and pick up shells sounds like a wonderful opportunity and a great place to be. I am glad to hear that you are happy with your study abroad experience thus far even though it is sometimes hard to be so far from home for so long.

  4. Kathleen Reicher

    Thanks for sharing, Victoria! I visited Ireland when I was about 11 years old, and it is, by far, my favorite vacation. The scenery is beautiful and so green! I had never been to an ocean before that trip, and I fondly remember picking up shells off the beach. I still have those shells, and they are fun to look at and remind me of that vacation. Make sure you take a lot of pictures too because those are fun to look back on as well! I think the fast driving on the narrow roads would have made me nervous as well had I been a bit older. I bet I’d be pretty nervous about driving there now that I am older. See everything that you can and have a great rest of your trip!

  5. Trevor Schwartz

    Thanks for sharing your story. I liked the part about driving on the left side of the road. That would take some time to get used to. I want to travel to Ireland when I’m older and hearing your experience is making me excited (Except for the rough plane ride part). I enjoyed your part about how unreal it felt to be traveling that far away from home because I am the same way. As much as I love traveling and see all the cool things I’m not used to, it’s always a surreal moment to realize how lucky we are to have the opportunity to go to such amazing places.

  6. Francesca Do

    Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your experiences with us! As I was reading your story about Ireland, I have a feeling that you and I are very similar. I myself is a “home body”, I like to stay home and relax, spending time with family, then go out with friends. I also never traveled alone or without my family before, so traveling to Ireland would’ve been very excited and scary at the same time. However, I believe it would be worth it, to travel to a different country, like Ireland, to experience the world outside of the United States. I feel that we have a mindset that each place we visit is somewhat similar to what we know or based on movies, but it is completely different from what we expect. Each and every place is unique in its own way, and to be able to see the beauty of it, we have to be directly in the scene.

  7. Dylan Brovick

    The flight landing sounds like a scary situation and one that probably angered a few who were excited to land and explore Ireland. I always find it hard to sleep while traveling to a new place because of all of the excitement. It is nice that the cottage people bought everyone a drink on the first night which seems odd at first but then i remembered the drinking age over there is different than the United States. I did not know from reading the other article that Owen the bus driver had been driving Scholastica students for over 20 years. He probably has some good stories and has been the first person that many students traveling abroad to Ireland meet. For me, the driving on the other side of the road would freak me out at first and probably take awhile to get used to. I hope your trip is filled with many more great days of exploring and seeing rainbows.

  8. Alexa Lee

    Victoria, I think it’s great that you took the chance and are doing something completely out of your comfort zone. I think that studying abroad is great, and it’s nice that you have people you feel comfortable with. That is not to say that everybody enjoys studying abroad, even though there is this stigma that it is a life-changing experience. For some, it might just be an experience, and I am excited to see how yours plays out. I am interested about other ups and downs you’ve had on this trip? Do you think people ever regret studying abroad? You seem to have been super interested in exploring and soaking up all that you can in the next few months, and I am envious of that. Good luck, and have fun! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Grace Young

    What an incredible opportunity you have to be able to travel to Ireland and study there. The diversity of this culture compared to ours here in the Duluth is really cool. It’s amazing how such diversity can be seen in just one day in a different country! I think that this will be such an amazing opportunity for you to learn information not only about the Ireland culture, but about yourself. Like you said, this is a completely different thing then what you are used to and I commend you for putting yourself out there! I wish you the best on your trip, and I hope we can hear more about the Ireland culture and your own experience!

  10. Rachel Reicher

    Thank you for sharing your story! It can be hard for someone to change from being so attached to family to break those barriers and go outside your comfort zone. It is wonderful that you have done just that, and I am sure you will not regret it. Ireland is an amazing place to travel abroad and you’ll make many memories. I too went to Ireland and remember Owen. It is people like Owen who give you the sense of family while you are thousands of miles away from your own. Making connections around you in a new environment/country such as professors, students, neighbors, or Ireland citizens, can allow somebody to push aside negative thoughts about missing home or family. It is wonderful that you and friends went out and explored Louisburgh to get more of a feel where you will be spending a few months. I hope your trip is wonderful and unforgettable!

  11. Michaela Campbell

    If I could redo any portion of my education here at St. Scholastica, it would be to allow myself to fit in a semester to spend time in the Ireland program, so I think this will be an experience you will never regret! Based on what you have written so far, I know you are going to meet incredible people, and have memories that will never leave you. I like when people admit what makes them nervous, or what their expectations are about traveling abroad. I had similar feelings when I went to Europe last summer and left my family for a few weeks. As I read more about your initial feelings about the trip, the landing of the plane (that’s always a little scary!), and your first night in the town of Louisburgh, it seems that the people are very welcoming, and enjoy hosting St. Scholastica students! I hope that your future car rides make you less queasy, and that you share many more of your experiences!

  12. Caroline Grube

    This was an amazing article! I love hearing stories about people’s travels and their experiences in different countries. I could not imagine having a landing in a plane like that! I have flown a fair few times in my life and have never had a landing like that. I think I would be scared out of my mind during that! I would also consider myself a “home body” who would prefer to stay home than leave my family and travel to a whole other country. However, it is one of my biggest dreams to travel to at least part of the world. One of the places I want to go the most is Ireland, but I think I would rather do it with some of my family and experience it with them. This is especially because my family is part Irish and we highly value our heritage from there. I would love to experience something like this and I cannot wait to make that dream come true!

  13. Elaina Wald

    I read Allie’s story before this and I have gathered that the actual travel to Ireland was tumultuous. I’m grateful that you’re all safe. I was intrigued by your disposition the beginning of the article. Most students that are abroad or intend to study abroad are filled with excitement and can’t seem to stop talking about what they’re looking forward to. It’s very real to have a little bit separation anxiety and I thought it was very honest of you to write about it. I hope you continue to enjoy and explore Ireland!

  14. Joel Scheuerlein

    It is incredible that you got this opportunity to travel to Ireland. I also think it is wonderful that you took time to experience the cuisine of this culture. That is something I am incredibly jealous of. I believe that one of the greatest ways to become part of a new culture is by first starting with their food and their local cuisines. I remember when I traveled to Israel, I decided to try fried crickets for the first time, and boy was I happy I did. Fried crickets are absolutely delicious, and I wish that they came to America. I am so jealous you got that experience in Ireland, and I hope one day I get that opportunity.

  15. McKenna Holman

    A semester in Ireland sounds absolutely wonderful. I was in England over break and had a layover in Dublin. The most of Ireland that I got to see was through airport and airplane windows, unfortunately. However, from what I have read in your article and Allison’s article England and Ireland are incredibly similar in landscape. Have you noticed that there are coffee shops and pubs everywhere? I found that interesting, because at least in this area, you don’t find too many coffee shops, especially locally owned not corporate level coffee shops. I hope you continue to enjoy your stay, Ireland is beautiful!

  16. What an entrance you had into Ireland! How great that you were able to sleep almost the whole flight – I could never! I enjoy that you took your first full day to explore your new surroundings instead of just hanging out in your cottage. I bet the roaring ocean is a new, yet familiar sight coming from Duluth. Cheers!

  17. Hanna McLevish

    I just read Abigail’s post about her arrival in Ireland, and it was interesting to hear your journey to Ireland. It is amazing that you are already seeing differences in culture, like driving on the other side of the road and things like that. It would be very cool to experience differences in culture like you are. Ireland is a place I have always wanted to travel. Hope you have a great semester in Ireland.

  18. Nouqouja Yang

    Really nice article! I love how you led us through your journey and how you were feeling starting from your application to how the flight was and how you felt when the moment finally hit you. I really liked this because I was able to compare your article with the article after yours on Ireland also. Everyone’s experience is different and how they feel about a certain place or change also depends on how they look at things. It seems like you had an amazing time and I’m glad to see that. I think it’s always nice to see people emerge themselves in a new culture. It opens their eyes and heart to a new experience and world other than theirs. One day I would love to also visit Ireland and see how beautiful it is. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!!

  19. Thomas Landgren

    Thank you for sharing your experience! It seems like your journey started out with some excitement with the red eye flight and the rough landing. How nice of the cottage council to buy you guys a round of drinks. What a nice welcome to Ireland. I agree with you it is hard to get used to driving on the other street over there. I think that it is awesome that you guys went exploring by yourselves it makes the trip even more memorable. I am excited to hear more about your semester in Ireland.

  20. Kendra Brunn

    Thank you so much for sharing this story! I’m sorry your flight wasn’t great but I’m glad you made it there safe! I am really hoping that I will get the opportunity to travel abroad, it is such a unique experience! I have heard great things from everyone I know who has traveled to Ireland and I would love to go there someday. I love that the pub owner bought drinks for all of you, I’m sure that made things feel more welcoming!

  21. Mariah Koenig

    First off, thanks for sharing your experience! It would be an incredible opportunity to go to Ireland for three and a half months! I have some Irish in my roots so it would be really interesting to experience the culture that part of me comes from. After reading both of these articles about traveling to Ireland, I want to go even more! I couldn’t imagine being away from my family and friends for that long. I also could imagine experiencing that plane landing like you did! Overall, I think being far away in a different country can not only teach you things you didn’t know about that culture, but it will also teach you things you didn’t know about yourself. I hope you have a great time there!

  22. Hattie Meyer

    Thank you Victoria for sharing the first hours of your travel to Ireland! Your story made me feel better about traveling a long distance. I am a homebody as well and I love seeing my family. This coming fall I will be studying abroad in Italy! Im very excited as one can tell. What I learn from your article was that one must step out of their comfort zone. Experience the world and the cultures for what it is. It may be scary at first but if you are giving the chance it is all well worth it. Im guessing you didn’t know many or any of the other students that was on the trip with you. Its nice to know that everyone is feeling the same thing and are in the same boat. Making friends won’t be to hard. Thank you again!

  23. Ellen Hansem

    Isn’t it so fun to break out of your comfort zone? Just looking at your pictures of Ireland, it is clear that even the buildings are built and painted differently than the ones back here in Duluth, Minnesota. What is especially interesting about trips like this, though, is the fact that-after you peel away the little differences in architecture and culture- a lot of things can remind you of home. Approaching the sea in a certain mindset, for example, could send you back to the shores of Lake Superior. And despite the fact that the cars drive on opposite sides of the road, they’re rushed and crowded all the same. Enjoy your trip!

  24. Your experience at the beach seems very magical! A good omen you definitely noted! It all sounds very exciting and new, a wonderful experience for anyone to have. Would you say you enjoyed the cider you tried at the pub? Have you tried many new foods and drinks yet while there? I think it is wonderful that your diver Owen is so popular and has such a good reputation. How would you describe him? I would love and look forward to hearing more about your experiences while in Ireland!

  25. I know that feeling all to well of leaving your family for the first time and to travel abroad for the first time. Reality never really sets in until you set foot on to the plane; at least, that’s how I felt when I left for CSS from England. After all the researching and planning, it feels surreal when you arrive at your destination. It is great that you seized the opportunity to study abroad, especially in Europe. You will get to enjoy the Irish culture and fun traditions. I can only hope that you use your opportunity to travel more, or be more encouraged to want to stretch out more of your comfort zone!

  26. What a journey! I hate long flights, so an international flight must have been quite the experience. I’m glad you are writing about your experiences in Ireland. So many fellow CSS students go and rarely do we hear about the every day happenings of the trip. I’d like to hear more about your classes and possibly the local foods! I can’t wait to read more.

  27. Skyler Long

    Well your experience seems pretty cool and I would like to have a experience over seas and have connections. The article I read before this one got me thinking maybe I wanted to experience Ireland but now It makes me want to go even more. I have no clue though how I would adapt to life in a different culture, after being here for so long I feel it would be hard to change cultures. A part of me says it would be a good learning experience but that would be hard just thinking about. Going away from your home culture could really open your mind and teach you what other places are like and how fun would that be. Thank you for your story telling of your history.

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