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Back in Kansas City

I have been home for a couple weeks now, after my semester abroad and then a month long trip through southern Europe. It was a long trip back home, and one that was filled with mixed feelings. I was excited to be making my way home to my family and friends, but sad to be leaving Europe, my friends abroad and the life I had for 6 months. When they tell you at the beginning of your study abroad experience that you will go through various waves of culture shock, that is so true. I think I have had a harder time adjusting back to life in Kansas City, than I had in Cork. The food is different than what I had become accustomed to, as well as the lifestyle. I became dependent on public transportation while abroad, and although we have public transportation in KC, it is not an equivalent to the transportation abroad. As someone who doesn’t have a car, that has been a very big adjustment. I am glad to be home, and glad that I lived abroad, but I now know that I will always have a second home in Ireland. I am so grateful for the experience I had abroad, and can say with confidence that I learned more in my semester abroad than in any semester of college thus far. Whenever I talk to anyone about my experience abroad, I make sure to encourage them to study abroad because it was such an amazing experience. I know it will take some more adjusting to get back into my normal routine at home, but with time time that will happen. Regardless, I will always look back on my time abroad and cherish it.


Erin Kelly is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Political Science. Erin spent the spring semester in Ireland with the University College Cork exchange program

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Solo Traveling

While traveling with friends is a great way to travel abroad, sometimes there are situations when you end up traveling solo. It can be a little intimidating to travel alone, but it is possible and it can be very rewarding. In any traveling situation, you should be vigilant of your surroundings, know emergency contact information, and always let someone know where you are, this is especially the case when you are traveling alone. To add to that, it is probably not a good idea to drink alcohol while alone either, for obvious reasons. It is also wise to make a plan before traveling solo, consisting of what you want to do, travel times, and expenses. This helps everything move smoothly once your out and about! I have found that it can be a little disorienting when arriving in a new city. I find it helps to sit down and map things out before making your way. In places of mass transit, there is always an information desk or a help desk, and they are actually really useful! I always take advantage of them. When out and about in the city, it helps if you don’t make eye contact with anyone, and if you act like you know the place. I have avoided many scam artists, and trinket sellers this way. If they know they can’t take advantage of you, they won’t try. There are plenty of uneducated and naive tourists that they can take advantage of. Having confidence, or acting like you have confidence is a sure way of avoiding those tricky situations. It is also helpful to know a little bit of the language of the country you are traveling too. This makes small transactions easy, and the locals really appreciate when foreigners try to speak the native language.

There are a few precautions to take while traveling solo, but there are more rewards that hindrances. The times that I have traveled alone, I have spent time doing exactly what I wanted to do. In Paris, before my friends met up with me, I spent an entire day on the Champs Elysees, and at the Eiffel Tower. It was a wonderful experience! Traveling solo is also a good time to learn about yourself. Most people don’t enjoy eating alone or being alone for too long, but while traveling alone you are always surrounded by interesting things, different cultures, and great opportunities. Traveling solo can be intimidating, but it is also extremely rewarding. Just take caution of the necessary things, and it can be a wonderful experience!

Ending a Semester Abroad

With the beginning of final exams came the end of a semester studying abroad. While I will be in Europe for a majority of the summer, the experience will not be the same. My friends from across the globe, have all gone home to their internships, families and friends. My friends here in Ireland have left Cork for their homes in the countryside. The city is not as active now that school is out, but it is just as wonderful even so. All semester I was caught up in the moment, so much so that it went by in the blink of an eye. I can say that I have learned so much about myself, and the world this semester. For the first time in my life, I was immersed in different thought, and culture. I have made so many memories here, that I won’t forget them any time soon. Along with that, I have friends to visit around the world and connections that I am sure will last a life time. Every moment was a learning experience, and because of that, I am confident I have learned more this semester than any semester in college before this. I am conflicted about going home, because I want to see my family and friends, but with that, I do not want to leave Ireland or Europe in the slightest. I never expected that to be the case, but now I know why everyone who studies abroad loves the experience so much. I believe that this semester has instilled in me ‘the travel bug’, I am already planning to see friends before the end of the year. I hope to travel more after graduation too!

Cork Port! My favorite place to sit and watch life go by.

I have been given so many opportunities this semester. I saw the ocean for the first time in my life, traveled to multiple countries that some will never see in their lives, and have become somewhat of a surfing fanatic. (Ireland has great coasts for surfing!) I will always remember my time in Ireland and the amazing memories I have made here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Road Tripping In Ireland

Some would be surprised to hear that surfing is a big deal in Ireland. It actually a really wonderful place to catch some waves!

Finals week is pretty drawn out here in Ireland. It is actually three weeks long. While I spent a good majority of that time studying, I took a pretty nice study break one day and road tripped around western Ireland with a few pals of mine! It was the best day trip I have ever gone on! We drove through a ton of little towns and got to see a part of Ireland that many tourists don’t get to see. We stopped in a small town on the coast called Lahinch, where we spent a couple hours surfing.

Lahinch. In Gaelic inch means beach!

The weather was uncharacteristically nice, so it made for a perfect day for surfing! We made a quick stop at the Cliffs of Moher and made our way home. The day was filled with throwback music, warm weather, and great company!

The town of Lahinch is quite small, but it has a lot to offer. Great food and people!

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Home Away From Home

While my time here in Cork is almost over, I have come to find Cork to be a home away from home. If someone told me that I would think of Cork as home when I first arrive here in January, I would have called them crazy! Though I have only been here for a short time, this city, its people and the atmosphere have become so familiar to me. I think the most important part of the fact that Cork feels like home is the process that got me there. When I first got to Ireland, I never thought I would fit in. My accent sticks out, my clothing style is what many would call American, and I do not look similar to the locals at all. By putting myself out there I slowly became accustomed to the Cork lifestyle. I would strike up conversations on the bus whenever it was possible. I would go to pubs and have a couple pints with my friends and invite the locals to join in. Doing this is so much fun because the locals love to talk about American life and politics, as well as Irish life and politics. Though this dialogue might seem like a tough subject, it actually always ends up with lots of laughter. We all can relate to Irish life, and also learn so much about each other. Cork has become a home, because of the friendships I have made here as well. Everyone is friendly here in Cork, so it is actually not hard to make friends. Everyone looks out for everyone else. The time I have spent with my friends has been such a fun and goofy time! Even if we are studying or just hanging out, there is always laughter.

So, for those who are worried about fitting in or getting adjusted to life abroad, there should really be no worries! At first, it might seem like living abroad is an alienating situation, but it is surprising how accepting and friendly people are. Getting out and becoming involved in University, as well as the city makes for such a fun, wonderful time!

Cork, my home away from home, definitely has some beautiful sights to offer!

Here are a few of the sights and some of the fun times I’ve had!

Port of Cork
Though St. Patrick’s Day was a while back, this is a pretty good representation of the fun we have on a regular basis!
Oliver Plunkett street. This is hands down my favorite street in Cork. It is filled with good pubs, fun boutiques, and the English Market!

 

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

Colds, Aches and Pains Abroad

Catching a cold, getting a stomach bug, food poisoning, migraines, and a few minor booboo’s here and there. No one thinks about getting sick abroad, but it most definitely can happen. By far, every person I have met who has traveled or studied abroad has gotten sick with one thing or another. I personally had a pretty aggressive cold for a couple weeks, while a friend of mine experienced the stomach flu, and another friend got food poisoning while traveling. Dealing with a sickness of any sort while abroad can be a really stressful situation. Medicine is a bit different here in Europe. Most over the counter medicine has different labels than what we are used to in the United States. I once tried to get Neosporin at the local pharmacy here in Cork, and spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what the equivalent cream was. Simple medicine like ibuprofen, or Advil is also labeled differently. Though getting sick, in many cases, is unavoidable, there are sure ways to quickly recover.

1.) If you have access to campus health services, my best advice would be to take advantage of it. When I was sick and unable to attend class, I made an appointment with the health services doctor and with in a couple hours I was given a prescription and directions as to how I could get better in a timely manner. All of this was free of charge. Most campuses also offer free counseling too, if the stress does get to the better of you. Knowing all of the resources at your disposal early on in your semester, can make a huge difference later on!

2.) Before you leave for your host country, look up general information on how pharmacies work. Knowing what different kind of medicine is offered in your host country will also help ease any situation. Know the labels of your host country, and the dosage. In the states, most dosages on ibuprofen come in 200mg, but I have seen in many instances, one tablet of the ibuprofen equivalent being 1000mg here in Ireland.  It’s good to be educated about what you are putting in your body regardless, but it would be extremely unfortunate if you took the wrong dosage of a medicine abroad.

3.) It is okay to rely on your support systems abroad and at home. No one feels the strongest when they are sick, and if talking to mom or dad helps, then I would suggest doing it. My roommate helped me out a lot when I was sick, and I have done the same for her. We both know that being sick alone is not a fun situation at all, so if we can make the situation just a bit more bearable then we will. If you know something will help you feel better, then it is probably best that you do it.

Post sinus infection happiness!

Being sick abroad happens to the best of us, but it is an obstacle that is easy to overcome! A little bit of research and taking advantage of resources can go a long way!

 

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

Packing for Your Semester Abroad

I’ve been living abroad for a little while now, and it think it is a good idea to talk a little bit about packing for a semester abroad.

Clothing:

When I did my packing, I had an idea of what the climate in Ireland would be like. I also took into account my personal style and the contrasting European style.  Though these were the two main considerations I stuck to, there are many other considerations that need to be taken into account. When packing a bag, know yourself. Know, if you are going to want lots of clothing options, or if you will need a variety of shoes. Do not limit the things that you know you will need or want. In that same light, don’t go overboard. I packed a single suitcase (a vary large suitcase) and really limited myself in what I needed opposed to what I wanted. I made a plan to buy clothing while abroad, because I will be in Europe during the winter, spring and summer months. I mix and match clothing, and swear by layering clothing, because I can use that clothing for the winter and summer months. Another smart idea is to pack clothing or buy clothing that can match multiple things. My wardrobe consists of earth toned colors and a few brighter pieces here and there to add for a bit a spice in my life. When considering what to pack, just know, that however many bags you have packed, you and only you will have to carry and lug all of those bags around. I have a friend who came to Ireland with 3 large suitcases, and a duffel bag and had to worst time in the airport and then on the bus, because she simply had too much. Along with that, she doesn’t even ware half of the clothing she brought because it doesn’t suit the Irish climate.

Toiletries:

When packing think about certain toiletries, and medicines that you know you will absolutely need. Talk with your pharmacists early on, to figure out how to get or have your medicine abroad. If you wear contacts, it might be a good idea to pack a couple extra containers of saline. It can get pretty expensive in Europe. Deodorant is a completely different concept in Europe. If you aren’t comfortable spray deodorant, or deodorants that contain metals, I would suggest packing a extra deodorant. If you don’t wear deodorant at all, you are more than welcome in Europe! It is always a good idea to have extra of anything that you know you will need. I brought extra contacts, because I would rather be safe than sorry. Again, know yourself. Know, what you will need and what you cannot live without.

Technology and such:

Electrical outlets are different here, and depending on where you are traveling there can be different kinds of sockets. The U.K and Ireland have the same type of socket, while mainland Europe has a different type of electrical socket. If you are going to Australia and surrounding Islands, they too have different sockets. Do your research before you leave, so that you know what kind of technology you will have access to and what things you need to buy before you go. If you have a habit of doing your hair, know that you’ll probably have to buy your curling iron or straightener in your host country. I’ve found that blow dryers that are bought in your host country work better and are less dangerous than ones brought from home. The amount of electricity output is different in Europe so, using that blow dryer from home, could start a fire. The more you research, the more you’ll and the better you’ll be off.

Packing for a semester abroad can be stressful, but it can also be a learning experience. Take time to really map out what you want and what you need abroad. If you forget something, don’t stress, there is will always be a way to get the things you need while abroad!

-Erin

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Support System Abroad

Studying abroad can be a bit scary at times. The comforts of home aren’t at the tips of your fingers. Your family, friends, and way of life get left behind as you begin an adventure of a lifetime. It can be difficult to go about all of this alone, and in actuality, you don’t have to be alone in your adventures abroad. Building a support system in your host country is a lot easier than you’d think. Many people, especially those who are also on exchange, have the same worries, anxiety and difficulties as you. This situation does sound a bit sad now that I am writing it out, but that is not the case at all. This situation really allows for the growth of amazing friendships and an empathetic support system. It can be a bit intimidating to put yourself out there and make new friends, but it is well worth it! While keeping in contact with people at home is always a good thing to do, sometimes it can be difficult for those loved ones to really understand how you feel or what is going on. Talking about problems or just relating to life abroad with others who are abroad can be a truly helpful thing.

I have been extremely fortunate to have made connections and relationships with people abroad, that have proven to be instrumental in my individual growth. I think it is safe to say the same for my friends here in Cork. We all take time to talk about our lives, and the differences we experience while abroad. It is also wonderful to talk to my friends who have lived their entire lives in Ireland. They present different perspectives and help make the place feel more like home. So, while it may seem like studying abroad is an individual endeavor, it doesn’t have to be. Meeting new friends, and building a support system abroad is definitely achievable.

Just a few friends I’ve made while abroad!

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

Traveling while Abroad

While I have been studying abroad, I have taken the chance to also travel. Traveling through Europe is extremely easy while living in Europe, because travel prices are cheap and accommodation is too. Though it is easy to get from country to country, I think it is important to talk about safety while traveling.

As American’s we don’t have to deal with pick-pockets, or street scams like Europeans do. While we can walk the streets of Kansas City with ease, that is not the case in many European countries. While I travel abroad, I carry with me a purse that protects various forms of theft, like digital scanners,  and pick-pockets. As a personal rule, I always keep my purse in front of me, and in crowded areas I keep my hand on it. Some people like to have a money belt on them, that can hold money as well as their passport, but if I am only traveling for a short period, I just carry my purse. We don’t have to pay attention to these things in the States, but it is definitely something to be vigilant about while traveling abroad.

A good rule to go by, in any situation abroad, is to be vigilant. If someone approaches you, asking you to sign a paper or buy something, don’t do it. It is usually a scam and while you aren’t paying attention, someone will pick-pocket you. In those situations, it is okay to reject people, even if it is aggressive or what some would call rude. It is better to be safe than sorry!

If it is possible, dressing like the locals and acting like the locals is the best way to avoid any extra attention. People won’t target you if you act and look like a local because they know they won’t get anything out of you. While traveling in Paris, I was mistaken for a local a few times because I walked around with confidence, and understood the metro system pretty well. If you can do anything to make it seem like you know what you are doing, and are a local, do it.

Before I travel, I always try to learn the metro systems or the bus system. This makes it easier to travel around while visiting, but also makes it seem like you are a local. I’ve found that it gives me confidence as well. Learning a little bit of the language of the city you are visiting also helps. While in Paris, I used small french phrases here and there and it made a great difference. If you need to, use google translate to help you understand signs.

Traveling abroad is a wonderful experience. It is a time to grow and learn a lot about yourself, but it is also important to be safe so that everything runs smoothly. It is okay to be a little nervous about traveling in Europe, but don’t let it hinder you from seeing and doing amazing things. Use the nervous energy to research about the best ways to travel, and how to stay vigilant in any situation!

When It Doesn’t Rain In Ireland

This past weekend I took a small trip to Galway, the Aran Island and the Cliffs of Moher. It was probably the best weekend to see the west coast of Ireland! The sun was out all weekend and for the first time in about a month it didn’t rain!

The sights this weekend were truly gorgeous. I started the weekend at the Cliffs of Moher, where I was dropped off at the end of the cliffs where the locals usually go, to avoid the tourists. From there, I walked the entirety of the cliffs. Since the weather was so nice, I was able to see all of the cliffs. On most days the rain, mist and fog limit the visibility of the cliffs.

The walk along the Cliffs ended up being quite a long walk! I spent about four hours walking along the path, taking photos and enjoying the sights.

The Aran Islands were unreal! I didn’t feel like I was even in Ireland anymore because the weather was so nice and warm! I was told by a local that the weather the day I was on the Island, was warmer and better than in Spain. Inishmore was the specific Island that I visited. It is a small island, so small that I biked the entire island within four hours! The island is littered with churches, graveyards, and a lot of happy cows! I visited one of the sand beaches on the island for a picnic and spent a couple hours splashing around in the ocean and soaking up the sun!

Galway was such a wonderful city! Live music is always playing, whether it be on the street or in a pub! I didn’t spend a lot of time in the city, because during the day I went to the Connemara National Park. I hiked the hills of the National Park, and saw some breath taking sights! This weekend will definitely go down in the books!

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.