Studying abroad at Mary I last semester was, in a word, incredible. I went into this program thinking that I would spend every weekend jetting off to cities all across Europe. And though I did do some traveling while I was in Ireland, I came to love my host-city and host-university so much more than I'd expected. Limerick became as much of a home to me as my own hometown, and Mary I, as much of a second-home as my own college in the States.
The women in the International Programs Office are an incredible bunch, and they'll do anything and everything they can to make sure that you're well looked after, comfortable, and content. I didn't quite believe someone on Mary I's Student Union when they'd said these women would become my Irish mammies and aunties - but now I know they were completely right. Whenever there was an issue to be had or a problem to be solved, they'd drop everything to help me figure it out. More than that, they'd listen in when I wanted to chat or offer hugs and encouragement when I needed it most. They're the best women in Limerick as far as I'm concerned, and a big reason why I had the incredible semester I did.
The warm and welcoming nature of Mary I's staff is definitely mirrored in its students, too. I'd come to Ireland a little nervous about making friends - but before I knew it, I had friends from countries all across the globe. There was always an adventure to be had and experiences to be shared. By the end of November, the lot of us all got together to have our own Thanksgiving Day feast; I've never seen a room full of people so happy to just talk, laugh, and be together like that. I think the friends you make here are the friends you make for life.
Even school seemed like an adventure, made exciting and interesting again by the college's lecturers. As an education student, I found that getting an Irish perspective on teaching, learning and children was so enriching - and I think it really helped me grow as a future educator. Moreover, other classes like that of Tech Theatre and Celtic Mythology made my days at Mary I all the more enjoyable.
All in all, I can't say enough about my semester abroad in Ireland. I've had the experience of a lifetime and made memories that'll last just as long. Friends were in no short supply and there was always laughter, love, and adventure to be found. Thanks, Mary I, for this and for so much more. I'll be back someday soon for sure!