Erin Steinbrick, Ireland
Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience – unless you get to do it twice! For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Erin, a junior psychology major at Keene State College.
I am studying for my second spring term at the University of Limerick in Ireland.
Yes, second spring term, meaning I studied last spring, came back to Keene for the fall, and now I’m right back where I was last year studying away, currently sitting in my apartment, writing this article on a typical rainy day in Limerick.
My situation is a rare one and tends to bring about a few questions. The two questions I get asked most frequently are: “You’re allowed to study abroad twice?” and “Why study in the same place?”
I still can’t really give a proper answer to either of those questions!
However, the best I can do is just say simply, I made it work. I wasn’t afraid to have to move things around, to work crazy amounts of hours and to actually drop one of my two majors to make it back to the place I felt I needed to be.
Okay, I may not have been that cool about it, “incredibly stressed” would probably best describe me this past fall. Nonetheless, I knew I needed to make it back here, regardless of the obstacles.
Having that feeling, that pull to this place, it was never a question of where I was studying again; it was, “How do I get back to Limerick?”
UL is an amazing university, and it is so different from Keene.
There are about 13,000 students, which makes for a large campus! To walk from my apartment to the gym is just about a mile.
So if you thought the walk from Pondside II to the gym was bad, I’m now walking a mile, going for a workout, then a mile home!
The University of Limerick also has a large number of majors, which are mostly science based.
Majors include engineering, secondary education in the sciences, social sciences, even full nursing, doctor and midwifery programs.
However, one of their biggest majors still remains Irish music and dance.
I have five housemates this term; five Irish students and myself. Of those five students, four are music and dance majors. This of course means at any time of the day a ‘session’ may break out in my living room.
Banjos, guitars and the tin whistle can be heard in our shared space. I often go in, take a seat and just listen, loving every minute of it. A free show of very well-played traditional Irish music, and I laugh every time they ask if they’re bothering me.
Another question I get asked is mostly from my fellow international alumnus of last spring, “Is it really different?”
Being here for three weeks already, I am working on the best way to answer my friends. So this is what I’ve come up with.
The biggest differences, besides being surrounded by all new people, that I’ve found include: the bus into the city changed from the ‘308’ to the ‘304’ and the price went up to €1.80 (that’s just about $3), immigration doubled its price, and the construction that was going on last spring is now finished, making up the new medical school and medical student accommodation.
Other than that, Cappavilla is still the best student accommodation. (In my opinion! How can you beat a single with a double bed and your own bathroom?)
My lectures still average at least 80 students, and yes, the drinking age is still 18.
My study abroad 2.0 is only just starting, three weeks in with 12 to go.
This term I am excited to see some familiar faces, and places as well as planning trips to holiday where I’ve never been, including Holland, Croatia and possibly Barcelona; living in Europe really makes it easy to go to school all week and take a quick weekend trip to a totally different world.
The best advice I can give is if there is somewhere you really want to go, just ask around – the Keene State College GEO Office, or your advisor, that’s what they are there for!
You can’t be afraid to ask because you have to remember, the worst answer you can get is no. Of course if you look at my situation, ‘no’ is only at best debatable.