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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.

 

Living the life of the Irish

In the aftermath of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve realized that I have integrated into Cork life more than I thought. Many of the Irish do not celebrate St. Patrick’s day like we do in the United States. Many spend the day with family, at church, or relax on their day off from work. The people who go out an celebrate on St. Patrick’s day here in Ireland, are all tourists. At first I was really shocked to see only tourists out on the town, but then after a while it made sense why the locals stay home. Cork was a mad house! People were everywhere! Every pub was filled to capacity, lines as long as a block just to get into restaurants! It was insane! I went to city center to watch the small parade the city of Cork puts on, but afterwards my friends and I went back to our apartment because it was so crowded. But throughout all of the madness, I realized that I have been come somewhat of a local. Many tourists mistook me for a local, and I was asked for directions too many times to count. What made the situation even better was that I knew all the directions! I felt pretty good about that, and it made me realize that Cork has become a home away from home. I can make my way around town, I know the best shortcuts, the best restaurants, all the places to get a good pint, and I even strike up conversations with the locals. The last part of that list was the most difficult to get around to though. Sometimes you can strike up a conversation, and then the person you talk to has such a strong accent that you can’t understand one word they say. Still, it is really nice to have conversations with locals. They are always interesting and uplifting people. I’ve also become so accustomed to the Irish accent that, unless someone has a very strong accent, I don’t recognize it anymore. It is amazing that in such a short amount of time, I have gotten used to life here in Cork. At first, I never thought I would find a groove, but now I have one and it is a really nice thing to have while living abroad. So, if you are worrying about studying abroad, just know, that it takes time to feel comfortable in your host country, but it will happen and when it does you’ll feel really accomplished. I know I do!

Transportation Abroad!

While across the pond, I have come to rely heavily  on public transportation for the first time in my life. At home I have a car so I am used to having the freedoms associated with it. All of that changed when I landed foot in Ireland. Here in Ireland, the bus system is the major form of public transportation and using it can sometimes be an adventure in of itself. The biggest challenge with Ireland’s bus system is figuring out which bus goes where! I am lucky enough to only have to take one bus throughout Cork.  There have been hiccups along the way though! One time I got on the wrong bus, and had to ride it for over an hour to get back to where I originally got on. Then I got to the correct bus stop and the normal bus I take was done with its rounds for the night. I couldn’t help but laugh at my mistake. Another funny feature of the bus system in Ireland, is how diverse the drivers are.  By diverse I mean, that some drivers drive sooooooooo slow, and others drive like NASCAR drives. The NASCAR bus drivers make it a bumpy ride, especially when the bus is full and people have to stand. You have to hold on for dear life in that situation! Other than differing driving habits, some drivers are extremely friendly and talk with people on the bus, while others keep to themselves. Though using the bus system is fairly time consuming, it has taught me a lot about public transportation and patience. Since I no long rely on myself for transportation, I have to plan accordingly and understand that others are doing their part to get me to where I need to go.

The best advice I can offer to others using transportation abroad, is to have patience, research all the difference modes of transportation where ever you are, know the schedules, know the costs and if there are discounts or student transportation cards, and be courteous. Public transportation can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you educate yourself before using it.

 

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

Ireland is Craic and All That

I’ve been in Ireland for a while now, and I am definitely in love with Cork! The people are wonderful, the atmosphere is comfortable, and I am constantly learning new things! Though I have hit some minor bumps in the road, I can say that it has paid off. Though I am a foreigner, I am able to have conversations with the locals about the local politics, and life in Cork. I know I am far from being a local, but it is definitely nice to talk with the people from Cork!

School is structured differently here. This week I have a reading week for my classes so I will most likely get caught up on all my readings and maybe write a paper or two. I am already halfway done with the semester, and its only February! Classes finish the first week in April! The semester is going by too fast! I have also found that college work in Ireland, is mostly independent study, supplemented by a lecture once a week. Adjusting to the different structure of college in Ireland, definitely took a little while. I have found it has made me a better student though! To keep up in the classes, you definitely have to read. The class discussions also help with understanding the readings, as well as the material of the lectures! I am really enjoying the classes I am taking. It is probably one of my favor parts of being in Ireland!

I am excited for this weekend! I am going to a traditional Irish music concert, in a local pub. The school is sponsoring the night, so a lot of my classmates will be there! I am also going to do all the fun touristy things Cork has to offer this weekend, as a way of getting know the city even better! I have many Irish friends that have taken on the title of tourist guide, just for this weekend! I think it will craic! In Gaelic, the term “craic” means “fun”. Everyone here says craic instead of fun, and it is starting to grow on me. I have found myself often saying “and all that craic” at the end of sentences! Overall, I can say that Ireland is craic and I am so glad to be here!

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

Trials and Tribulations

This past week will go down in the books as a week of trial and tribulations. Studying abroad is truly an amazing experience, but it would be dishonest to not mention the difficulties and hardship which accompany the experience.

The week started with a couple coughs and a sneeze here and there, which quickly progressed into something much more serve. After a couple days of misery, I decided to go to the doctor. Sinus infection was the diagnoses, and a week of antibiotics was the cure. So far, my sinuses are slowly clearing up. I am still very sick, but in a much better state. While dealing with my sickness this week, I also had to deal with a much more serious matter: immigration. In Ireland, student visas are not required or permitted because the country uses a different system to keep track of visiting persons. Therefore, all visiting students have to register with Ireland’s immigration bureau. The amount of time given to figure out all immigration matters depends on the date stamp your port of entry (airport security) gives you on your passport. I was only given until February 11th, while others were given until the end of April. Normally the date in which you are given to get all immigration matters dealt with isn’t that big of a deal, but in order to register with immigration, you also have to set up an Irish bank account and this is where my issue arises. In the U.S. setting up a bank account takes a few minutes, but in Ireland it takes weeks. My bank account took almost three weeks to open. To transfer money from the United States into an Irish bank account can also take up to a week. It sounds like a long process, and if you are on a timed schedule there is no room for mishaps. Well, this week was where the mishap happened for me. My money wouldn’t transfer internationally for some reason, so by the end of the week, and by the time I needed to register for immigration, my bank account wasn’t ready. On Wednesday the freak out session ensued. I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to about my dilemma. Once I calmed down a bit, I called my mom who then was able to get a hold of our study abroad office at UMKC. While she was doing that, I was getting a hold of my Irish bank. After much discussion with all sorts of different offices, and persons more qualified to deal with this sort of situation, I began my registration. I am currently on a watch list in Ireland, since my bank account still isn’t ready, but once it is all finished and dealt with, I can finish my registration and go about my study abroad experience with ease.

This week was a long, sickly, and stressful week. Not every part of study abroad is perfect, wonderful, and fun. There are parts that suck, for lack of a better word. Regardless of that, I am still so glad I am doing what I am doing. Life is not an easy endeavor and to expect studying abroad to be any different would be naive, because though it can be seen as a form of a vacation, it is still life, even life that includes hiccups, and mishaps. But with that, life includes fun times, happiness, and adventure which is definitely a part of the study abroad experience as well.

I am now in the part of the week which some say is made for relaxing: the weekend. And after this week I am definitely going to take the weekend to do just that, relax. I think I started my relaxing weekend off well though. I went to a Rugby game! I love rugby, so it was most certainly a treat for me. Plus, Munster won (which is good).

Rain rain go away, come again some other day!

Being from the mid-west I’ve experienced my fair share of weather, but I can honestly say that I’ve never lived in such rainy and wet place! Best purchase for this trip? Rain boots. Hands down! While preparing for Ireland, I did my research and looked up the climate in Cork. I expected it to be rainy, but I didn’t expect it to rain this much! I have been told that this winter has been a pretty mild winter too! What really is amazing is how the locals are never phased by the rain, even when it is pouring! The Irish are definitely a tough group of people! Me? I not so tough. I was walking home from school one day last week, and a bus drove right past me in to the biggest of puddles and completely soaked me to the core. I couldn’t help but laugh at my situation, because (1) I was totally being a foreigner and not paying attention to what was going on around me, (2) everyone else was laughing at my situation and (3) publicly crying is not my forte. I think I took it like a champ, and kept going about my day. Everyone else was soaked due to the rain, so I didn’t stick out too much.

Classes have started for the semester and I can’t be more excited for what is to come! My classes are challenging, but the people in them are fun and make it seem like we aren’t even in class at all! Being a Political Science major, in a different country during the political climate of today makes for really interesting and in some cases eye opening conversations. It is interesting to see different ideologies, and perceptions of politics, and the world! I’ve found that in conversations with the locals, no matter what it is we are talking about, they are always very gracious and kind. Working up the courage to actually talk to a local is the most difficult part of the conversation. I’ve even gotten used to the Irish accent, so really my own anxiety is the thing that gets in the way!

I am also adjusting to the Cork lifestyle as well. In Kansas City I have the luxury of driving my car everywhere I need to go, but here the best mode of transportation is your feet or the bus. Most of the time I walk everywhere, but when I am feeling extra lazy I’ll ride the bus. I was surprised at how fast I became accustomed to the city, the people, and transportation. I know all the short cuts through the city, how to get to all the best pubs, stores, and parks. At first I was very overwhelmed by the city, but really it only took a couple days of wandering around to get myself orientated with the place.

Overall, my first few weeks have been wonderful! I’ve been keeping in contact with my family and friends so I don’t get behind in their lives, but I have also made many new friends and experienced many wonderful things at the same time. I think the biggest take away from my first two weeks, is that no matter how much I sing “rain rain go away come again some other day”, the rain doesn’t seem to listen.