...seems like good place to start
121 days ago, I set foot on Irish ground for the first time. Now, four months later, I am sitting in my apartment in Cork waiting for the next farewell party this evening. With a slight hangover from last night (frighteningly, alcohol is mentioned quite often in this book) this is the perfect chance to sum up my happenings on the green island.
Probably almost everyone who studied abroad will tell you the same. Still, I genuinely think that my time in Ireland was the best experience in my life so far. Some of my friends here are starting to get sentimental and a bit sad about everybody leaving soon - which totally reasonable - but I rather look back and be happy and thankful for these fucking awesome months.
STudying? yeah, sure
Of course, the official reason for doing a semester abroad is to expand your knowledge in your field of study. And even though class is a vital part of your daily life during Erasmus it’s honestly more an excuse for all the other stuff that is going on.
You spend so much time travelling and taking part in social activities that university sometimes takes a back seat. Nonetheless, I was able to improve myself with the projects I told you about and learned some new techniques as well. In general though, class was less demanding and time consuming than back home - maybe because lecturers treat foreign students nicer - and consequently I had enough time for everything else that is involved within “the Erasmus experience”.
always on the run
One of my favorite parts, was definitely traveling. Ireland is such a beautiful country and it would be a pity not to see as much as possible. I was especially lucky with the international society who organized a great number of cheap trips to almost every corner of the island. As a photographer I couldn’t get enough of the fabulous scenery. The soft green meadows, the picturesque towns and cities and particularly the rough coastline along the turquoise blue Atlantic filled my memory cards and also gave me countless opportunities to sit down and just relax.
From Dingle, the Giant’s Causeway to the riverside in Dublin and St. Patrick’s hill in Cork - the list of my favourite places in the world increased dramatically during my time here. Apart from that, I also took the opportunity for a short encounter with Great Britain since plane tickets from Ireland are way cheaper than from Austria (thanks again, Ryanair <3). This is also gave me an incentive to go to Iceland for a road trip for the next two weeks before eventually flying back home - I will tell you about that adventure another time though (This book is already getting too long).
Even though my heart beats for going places, the best thing about my Erasmus were no doubt the people. I’ve never built such close friendships within such a short period of time. Well, presumably since we were all in the same boat in the beginning. Nobody knew anybody and so we were almost forced to go out of our comfort zone and to socialize with each other. You end up hanging out with those “strangers” each and every day as all your other friends, your family and your work is a thousand kilometers away. Therefore, you get used to each other really fast by cooking, chilling, travelling and - obviously - partying together all the time.
There were countless hilarious moments to which we will later refer to as “the good old times”. It will be really weird when I suddenly can’t just go over to P4 anymore (the apartment of my best friends here) every evening. As it’s already slightly emotional and cheesy I would like to thank all of them for enduring my presence.
Seriously though, thanks to every single person I met here, for every nice conversation, for every laughter and for every pint. Doesn’t matter if Canadian, French, Irish, Czech, Dutch, American, Malaysian, Polish, German or Spanish - wherever it may be I’ll see you again for sure. A huge thanks is also dedicated to my family, my girlfriend and my friends from Austria for supporting, skyping and visiting me - that’s not to be taken for granted and I really appreciate that.
some wisdom at the very end
To everybody who is thinking of going abroad for a while, my advice is: JUST DO IT. There is no better opportunity to learn about yourself, other people and life in general. You definitely improve your self-confidence as walking up to strangers is your daily routine during Erasmus.
Some people back home were worried that I would miss a lot in Austria while I’m in Ireland. To be honest, for me it’s rather the opposite. I’m sure that things stayed the same in Graz and in Pöllau and most of the things that happened there are likely to happen next year again. But boy, what would I have missed, if I hadn’t taken the initiative and stayed in Austria. Well, I think I bored you enough by now and there is already pint waiting for me now. Thus, I’m eventually off to enjoy the last five days here in my beloved Cork.