Prompt 3: Mid-Program: A Day in the Life
A Day in the Life
- Describe the neighborhood where you live, the sights, sounds, and smells and what makes this location unique. Describe a typical day for you or you favorite locations, hot spots, and places for meeting and socializing with new people.
My study abroad program is in Carraroe, a small village in County Galway, Ireland by the sea. There is a grocery store, three bars, a restaurant, and shop or two. It is very small, and about 600 people live here. All of the houses look very similar. All are white and have beautiful stonework. Some have traditional thatched roofs, making the area very picturesque. From my homestay house, you can see the ocean and the islands off the western Irish coast. The air smells salty and fresh. It rains a lot but can also be very nice. People are very friendly and it’s a nice place to be.
The pubs are where most students go to socialize. I do not drink alcohol, so I haven’t been, but I hear it’s a lot of fun. I socialize mostly with other students in the program during lunch and tea breaks and the planned outings.
A typical day would start at eight in the morning when we have breakfast. Me and the five other girls in my homestay eat together and our Fear an Ti (man of the house, the one hosting us) serves us. We usually have porridge, but we have a Full Irish breakfast on Sundays which is fantastic. We try to only speak Irish to each other at meals. A bus comes later to take us to the Acadamh in town where we have class. I am in the Level 2 Irish class. It lasts until 4 pm, so it is a very long day! In the afternoons, we sometimes have lectures about Irish culture. After dinner, we have either Sean Nós dancing, Ceilidh dancing, or Irish singing lessons. These are nice for my language learning because they are all taught in Irish. It’s a good way to learn outside of the classroom.
On Saturdays, we have field trips that usually last all day. So far, we have been to the Aran Islands, to Patrick Pearse’s Cottage, and to Kylemore Abbey.
- What has surprised you most about your experience thus far? In looking back at the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of your program, tell us how this is going for you.
I’ve been surprised how fast my language learning is progressing. Before this program, I was learning Irish by myself through books and video lessons. Consequently, I didn’t have much practice speaking and holding conversations. The class has been intense, but I’ve been learning so much. My hosts’ daughter in law drove me to class yesterday when I missed the bus and I was able to converse in her with Irish. One of my goals for this program was to improve my speaking skills and become braver in using my Irish. I have definitely pursued this goal. I try to use my Irish whenever I can now, and I’m not as self-conscious about it as when I started.
- Have you identified strategies or aspects of your program or host culture that provide better access and insight into community engagement? Do you have advice for others interested in studying abroad?
I think there is a lack of awareness of the Irish language. It is not a popular hobby, let alone a popular study abroad subject. There are so many resources here provided by NUIG (the National University of Ireland, Galway) to help learners. They have multiple programs and classes for international students. They really have done a good job creating the program I’m in. The language component fits into every part of the day. I am surrounded by people passionate about Irish Gaelic and willing to help me reach my language learning goals. My advice to prospective students would be to just reach out. For less popular programs like this, the resources are out there, ready to be taken advantage of.
If anyone is interested in the program I am doing, of course they can also contact me!