Hey guys, so I know it’s been what, two weeks or so since my last post? Well, don’t worry that should be picking up again. If you haven’t already read the title, guess where I am? If you’re guess was anywhere else but Ireland then I’m sorry but you do not get to collect $200 or pass GO. For those of you who did guess Ireland, congrats! you win bragging rights. So I left little ole Greenwood bright and early Tuesday morning. And I mean VERY bright and early. Like I had to wake up at 4:30am bright and early. My flight was at 8am and I had to check my suitcase by seven. The flight to Chicago wasn’t that bad. The 10 hour layover in Chicago kind of was. I mean, it was great in the sense that I had pretty much all the time in the world to make it from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5 where the international flights are located on the other side of the airport via a shuttle as well as go through security again but even that only takes maybe an hour and a half. So I spent a lot of time waiting. And reading. And waiting.
Mom managed to get me on the group flight so once it got close to boarding time girls from SMC started showing up. I recognized more people than I thought I knew going on this trip. Apparently I just never learned people’s last names. Not everyone in our group was on this flight but a good chunk were. We flew Aer Lingus. What surprised me was that the plane was maybe half full. Nowadays with expenses and everyone wanting their money’s worth, most flights are booked full or even overbooked. Not this one. Seriously. I don’t know how many of you blog-readers have ever flown international before but these planes are pretty big. Two or three seats, aisle, four seats, aisle, and then another two or three seats and that makes one full row across. I was on the aisle in the row of four. I was the only one in those four seats. There was another row of four somewhere in front of me where it was the same thing, just a man and three empty seats. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that for an international flight before.
Apart from that and the fact that it’s Ireland and they speak English there, there were a few differences going over this time and when I went to France. I didn’t need a visa beforehand first of all. All we needed at immigration when we landed was our passport, the acceptance letter that we got from our school, and the landing card that all non-EU citizens have to fill out. That’s it. Then at immigration someone will look over the letter and passport, put a few stamps on your passport, write a code on the back page that you need for later, tell you how long you have to get an appointment with GARDA and take your picture. Now the picture machine was broken when I went through so I didn’t get that done but I have to code and everything else. GARDA is Irish for Guard of the Peace of Ireland. It’s immigration basically. You’re not allowed to leave the country until you’ve received your GNIB card which I’m assuming is like your visa. Even if you just want to go up to Belfast in Northern Ireland for the weekend, don’t do it. There’s no real border or anything marking Ireland and Northern Ireland but the signs and colors change. If you get stopped either re-entering Ireland or get stopped in Northern Ireland by the police without your GNIB card you’re in serious trouble. We were all told this at orientation yesterday morning by someone from the International Office. They also said that in order to leave the country without it, you need special permission from the police or from GARDA. The point they were trying to get across was to just post-pone any weekend trips to the UK or Europe until we’ve cleared immigration.
I won’t go into detail about how that works yet because well, I haven’t done it yet and I’m still a little confused on what we have to do. It’s getting a little better but there’s still things that I’m confused about. Most of us are still getting over jet lag and then we’re getting all this information thrown at us kind of all at once so a lot of us are still confused on things like immigration, banking, registration, etc. I’m sure we’ll get things figured out soon but until then the people in charge will just have to bear with us asking a lot of questions.
Alright, so maybe one of the biggest differences between Ireland and the US–or at least NUIM and the US are the dorms. They’re co-ed. Yep, you read that right, co-ed. Meaning that boys and girls share the same apartment. Just think of what a diaster that would be in the US. That’s another thing. Here it seems like the dorms are all apartments with five or six students per apartment. There’s a common area and kitchen area but then there’s a hallway with doors down it numbering (or is it lettering) A-E. So you have your own bedroom and mini bathroom with a sink, toilet, and teeny shower but then you share the kitchen and common room. In my dorm (they call them halls here), Killary, there’s three stories with two apartments per floor. We each have a keycard that looks like one you’d get in a hotel. You swipe this card to enter the dorm, then again to enter your apartment, and then your individual room also has a keyswipe. This week was break week for the Irish students between semesters so most of them went home so a lot of us haven’t actually met our roommates yet, or have only met one or two. I haven’t met any of mine yet. I know there’s guys though because in the common room there’s a small chalkboard that reads KINGS and then below it has 1. Fuck you, 2. Dicks, etc. and then on the door to the kitchen/common room area there’s a piece of paper with a name and underneath it says something about free sex available, call x. And I know a guy is back because I heard him banging around the other morning but I have yet to actually see/meet him. Everyone has to be back by Sunday though since classes start Monday.
I don’t think I mentioned this earlier but in addition to those of us non-European students studying here for a semester or a year, there’s also Erasmus students here. Erasmus is a program for European students to study in other countries. There were Erasmus students at UCO in Angers last semester too, I just didn’t have any interactions with them. So the apartments really are a mix of students with Irish, Erasmus kids, and then those of us who don’t fall under either category. One of the other SMC girls has a roommate from China (she hasn’t met the others yet).
Let’s see, what else can I tell you guys. There’s some stuff about classes but I’ll probably hold off on that until Monday when classes start. As part of the SMC group, there’s a special class that we have to take called Lectures and Tours. It’s taught by an SMC alumni who now lives in Ireland. We have our first trip with her tomorrow. We’re going to Glendalough. And then Sunday I’ve signed up with a friend to go on a trip to the Cliffs of Moher with the International Society. So that should be interesting.
I believe that’s all I’ve got for y’all right now. There’s some pizza and a movie thing tonight that I’m going to and that’s in about an hour. From what I’ve seen on facebook it seems like a good portion of the US is going through a cold snap, so stay warm!