AS I sit here at my built-in desk, in my single, fully furnished room, inside of my student house, a part of the lovely Kilmurry Village, I cannot help but notice that things are not quite the same for me as they were a few months ago. There are quite a few differences actually, including being over 5,000 km away from my home university, the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point, United States.
Two months ago, I would have been huddled at my desk, under every blanket that I own, trying to keep hold of any bit of warmth I could find. If I were to venture outside, I would have to cover all parts of my skin to protect it from frostbite. My eyes would obviously be left, but even those might have to be covered by sunglasses, just so I could see through the glare reflecting off of the blankets of thigh-high snow.
Here in Ireland, the weather presents a different set of problems to deal with. Instead of blankets of snow, there is a concern of being submerged in depths of water! And instead of risking frostbite when venturing outside, there is a threat of a being blown away, or even a tree falling on you, as the Storm Darwin illustrated this last week.
As I think about the weather, I enjoy the solitude of my fully furnished, one-person bedroom, listening to the sounds of students walking the streets of the lovely Kilmurry Village. I have my own space, which is something that I am very grateful for after living within seven feet of another person for the last two years, having shared a room with a roommate.
To live on campus here means something entirely dissimilar to what it means on my home university. Here, I can walk down the hall to take a shower in a bathroom shared with two other students. I do not have to walk to a bathroom which is shared by over twenty people and hope that one of the three showers is open. I can also walk down the stairs and make myself a tasty dinner with groceries stored in a series of presses. Something like that would be very impractical to do when sharing a kitchen with fifty other students, like in the dormitories from the States.
With that said, because things may be a bit different does not hinder my experience that I have had here so far. In fact, I would even say being in such a new environment has bolstered my experience here. With the ability to learn new things around every corner it is almost impossible to be bored with the culture that is evident here on this campus and in this city. There are a lot of unique experiences to learn from here on this campus, from hiking the countryside; to touring great sites with the international society; to seeing the fresh selections available at the Milk Market; to even just standing and watching a hurling practice next to the Arena. The list can go on and on but the point is that this campus offers a lot of opportunity for involvement, for meeting new, unique people, and furthering oneself both professionally and in general character. The people of this campus have a lot to offer and I thank them for that.
My journey here is only just beginning but I intend to learn the most I can while I am here and make the most of what this campus so graciously offers. For now, I gather my waterproof jacket, leave my pleasant village, and head off towards campus, towards the next adventurous experience.
By Alex Thomas