When making my decision to study abroad in Ireland, I had researched a few different companies and by far, API was the best choice for me. API provided a slightly longer summer program than my second choice and I am very happy it did. After 5 weeks in Galway, I had mixed emotions about going home. Although part of me missed home, the other part didn't want to leave the friends I had met and the experiences we had.
Before leaving for my trip, I was definitely very nervous since I had never gone on a trip by myself, let alone out of the country. My nerves were set at ease by the API Staff, Kevin and Finn. They were always available if we needed anything and treated us like family from day one.
Galway was an amazing city and I cannot wait to go back some day! There was always something going on. During my trip there was a two week long Arts festival, along with the Volvo Ocean Race festival. On any given day there were numerous musicians playing on Shop Street. Of course, the pubs are also a main attraction. Not to worry, there are plenty to choose from.
Life in Ireland seemed some much more peaceful than in the US. Be prepared for a lot of walking, though with such beautiful scenery, walking everywhere was very enjoyable. Even in the rain, I didn't mind walking. The strong, chilly wind was occasionally an issue though, as it made umbrellas useless.
During my trip, I lived in Gort na Coiribe with two other API girls in a two bedroom apartment. The apartments were roughly a 20 minute walk to campus and the city center. Overall, the place was a great home away from home. There were definitely quirks such as cold showers and occasionally low water pressure in our bathroom; however, the maintenance staff did their best to fix the issues. One thing I didn't prepare myself for was the cost of doing laundry and the cost of food. Although the kitchen was sufficient, it was often much easier to just eat out which definitely added up in costs.
The academics at NUI Galway was fairly easy. As part of the program, I took two courses, Irish Society and Archaeology. There were no homework assignments. Instead, each grade was based only on a paper and two exams, a midterm and a final. Some of the courses, such as Archaeology, offered excursions to really get out and experience hands on what you are learning which was great. The one issue I faced in terms of classes was staying concentrated when studying knowing there was a fun atmosphere around me waiting to be experienced.
Aside from individual course excursions, NUIG's summer school program organized program wide trips to the Dingle Peninsula, the Aran Islands, and a theater performance during the Arts Festival. They also provided optional Irish language classes and dancing and singing workshops which were fun to take part in. Another great part of NUIG was the receptions they put on for the students with free drink tickets at the college bar!
Overall, I absolutely recommend API, Ireland, and Galway! The memories and friendships I gained from my trip abroad through API will surely last a lifetime and I could not be more grateful.