Hello again, world, and yes, I know – long time no see.
While I know that writing a blog regularly is (or should be) just a matter of discipline, I have a feeling that trying to update weekly was a bit ambitious with everything that’s going on. In short, I won’t make any further promises as to how frequently I’ll post, except that I will make a serious effort to doing it a bit more often over the next few months. Speaking of which, I woke up a few days ago suddenly realising that one month of the four I’ll be here is gone already!
Honestly, it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s been happening since the last time I posted, so consider this a more generic update of my stay in Galway so far. I’ll probably get into more detail on some of these later (hopefully).
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first – although I’d hardly consider many of my classes boring so far. 🙂 After a last-minute scramble on my first day, I’ve cobbled together a timetable, though it required some changes from my initial plans. As a result, I’m now taking six classes this semester, each worth 5 ECTS and consisting of two hours of classes a week, usually. Because of scheduling conflicts, I decided to cut out any planned English courses – with the unusual result that I’m now an English student in Galway, studying everything but English. But since all of my subjects abroad are in my ‘free room’ (which I can fill up with whatever I choose), this isn’t a problem. So in absence of any English courses, I’m doing a lot of stuff from History and Celtic Civilisation, namely:
- Early & Medieval History of the Celts
- Society & Social Institutions of the Celts
- The Stories of Medieval Wales
- Medieval Ireland, 5th to 9th century
- Social History of Ireland, 1850 – 1922
- Irish for Beginners
Long story short: I’m definitely enjoying most of the courses here. ^^ Gaining some greater insight into Irish/Celtic history and culture was one of the reasons I was interested in studying in Ireland in the first place and trust me, I’ve been getting A LOT of that – in fact, as much as I’m liking it here, I have the sneaking suspicion I’ll be a little sick of talking about tuadha, honour-prices, and rí’s and raths by the end of my stay. I’ve only had two classes of Irish for Beginners thus far, but as I suspected earlier, to say that the Irish language is a challenge is an understatement. The tongue-twisters don’t end there, as on top of the confusing Irish terms, I also get my healthy dose of slightly-less-confusing-but-equally-unpronounceable Welsh names twice a week, during Stories of Medieval Wales (seriously, who could forget such names as Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed, Rhiannon and Arawn, from the world of Annwfen?).
Those points are all meant in good fun, however, since I do really like the classes so far. 🙂 I think Early & Medieval History – and Social Institutions of the Celts are particularly interesting, in no small part thanks to one of the wonderful teachers (for my fellow English students – think Anita. 😉 ) The same goes for Medieval Ireland.
Though I feel like Utrecht is still the more beautiful university, there’s no doubt that the campus and services in general of NUI Galway are excellent, and everything well-managed. There’s also a huge amount of societies* you can join here, offering everything from Drama to Dancing and Anime to Accounting (not to mention all the sports), which is something virtually absent from universities from the Netherlands. Plus, the uni’s only a 15-minute walk from my appartment in Corrib Village – and that’s definitely a different experience than the 1,5 hour by train I’m used to! So all in all, I’d say the ‘student’-part of my student-life is well taken care of. 🙂
*Fun fact: one of the guys from the International Student Society that I signed up with had studied in the Netherlands last year – in Utrecht! (He also instantly knew I was Dutch – does that say something about my accent or his perceptiveness?)
And everything else
But what about the rest?
Theres so much (potentially) to tell, it’s hard to find a way to start, but no summary would ever do justice to my experience in Galway thus far without mentioning the people: undoubtedly the most valuable experience I’ll take away from Ireland is the sheer wealth of different people that I’ve come to meet over the last few weeks, from such a wide array of countries, universities and studies and walks of life. I’ve noticed that the past month, a bit of a ‘group’ (what’s a better word for it? Since we’re in Ireland, shall we stick with ‘clan’?) has been forming among international students, slightly divided between the Europeans (all united under Erasmus) and the other nationalities (such as the Americans), though obviously there’s a lot of mixing going on as well. Particularly thanks to means like Facebook, it’s been easy to organise some events together and even if we each tend to be further split up among our own group of friends, I still feel like there’s a wider sense of community between all the foreigners – so much so, that (to my great embarassment) I haven’t actually met all that many Irish students yet!
I might get more in-depth about some of my friends here later, but my immediate circle mostly consists of my house mates, Jan (from Poland) and Uwe (from Germany), and a few others, most of them staying in Corrib Village as well. There’s been quite a bit of partying (by my standards anyway 😛 ), but whether we’re spending time out in Galway or at home, it’s always fun. 🙂 Oh, and for the beer-drinkers among you, I’ve tried Guinness, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve also tried some Polish vodka, however, which I do.
Those that are following me on Facebook will already know this, but we’ve also taken two trips, both guided tours, one to the Cliffs of Moher and the other to Connemara and both totally awesome. The cliffs themselves were spectacular, but it wasn’t so much the destination as the journey: credit has to be given to the busdrivers on both tours, who shared a lot of interesting facts and history as they pointed out the sights, and were often hilarious to boot. Below you’ll find some of the sights in questios. Likewise, Connemara was an incredibly beautiful place with an absolutely stunning landscape and some interesting spots, like an old friary, and ending with the impressive Kylemore Abbey.
As I find wordpress to be a bit of a bitch when it comes to uploading pictures, here’s the gallery of the two tours and assorted pictures. I think the only thing left for me to say is, slán go foill! (“Bye for now!”) Hope everyone else back home is having a good time as well and here’s to the next few months of my stay in Galway!