Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Studying aboard in Ireland has been an amazing experience.  It has changed me in many ways.  While in Ireland I was amazed by how friendly and welcoming everyone was.  I hope to incorporate this into my own life.  Another thing I liked about the Irish culture was their relaxed and laid back approach to life.  I never felt pressured or rushed during my time in Ireland.  The Irish do not obsess over deadlines or over work themselves.  I think this something I want to try to bring into my life.  Working hard is important but I also want to enjoy my life to the fullest. 

The major change that this experience has had on my professional goals is that I never want to become preoccupied with status.  While working in any hospital in America you are easily able to tell who are the doctors, nurses and aids.  Hearing a nurse say to a patient “That’s not my job, an aid will help you.” Is a very common occurrence.  During my time in Ireland it was not as easy to tell who were the nurses and who were the aids because they all helped the patients equally.  There was never a discussion of who was a nurse and everyone’s focus was completely on the best interest of the patients.  I think that it is easy to lose this after years of work and become more focused on simply getting the job done.  I hope to never loss what this experience has taught me and how it will make me a better nurse. 

What surprised me the most about myself during this experience was how much I enjoyed working with people with special needs.  This was my first experience working with this population and I was apprehensive at first.  I felt very unprepared, however after the first day I realized how much I enjoyed it.  It is a very rewarding population if you open yourself up to them. 

I went into this study aboard experience with an open mind.  This allowed me to avoid feeling homesick or judging my surroundings.  I opened myself up the new world I was exploring and attempted to take in as much as a possibly could.  Since I avoided making judgments about Ireland I think it was very easy for this experience to impact my view of the world.  I was able to see how completely different yet similar a different country can be.  I learned so many important things while in Ireland but the most important thing I learned was to be confident in myself.  This experience was able to show me so many things about myself that I had never know before.  This feeling is something that I would take with me forever and it is hard to describe how amazing it feels. 

To anyone who is interested in studying aboard I would recommend that you go into the experience with an open mind.  It is unrealistic to expect a different country to be the same as what you know.  I would also recommend for you to avoid become obsessed with trying to contact loved ones at home because that can take away from the experience and make you miss what is right in front of you.  Studying aboard was an amazing experience and I am already planning where I can go next!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My favorite weekend getaway was when we went to Westport last weekend. When we arrived in Westport we started the day at Mount Croagh Patrick.  Mt. Croagh Patrick is a sacred mountain rising 2,510 feet tall and one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Ireland.  The climb to the top of the mountain is an act of penance.  My fellow students and I were very determined to climb to the top of Croagh Patrick.  The morning was overcast and fairly cold, making it impossible to see the top of the mountain.  After renting our walking sticks, we briskly started the climb up the mountain having no idea what to expect.  Our goal was to keep a steady pace through out the hike.  As we ascended the beginning of our journey we thought that we would have no problems making it to the top of Croagh Patrick.  We read that the average climb time was three and half hours.  We joked that we should be done much quicker than that as we noticed elderly people and young children walking down the mountain after completing the hike.  The incline of the mountain grew steeper and steeper as we continued on, with an increasingly rocky terrain.  We grew weary of what the rest of the climb would entail as the top of Croagh Patrick was ominously covered in a thick fog.  We asked a few people how much farther till we reached the top and they told us we were about half way.  We tried to mentally prepare ourselves for the rest of the journey.  We agreed our best way to reach the top was to stick together and take quick group breaks whenever they felt needed.  As we passed the half way point we reached a bend in the path that revealed how much further we needed to climb.  We gathered ourselves and just as we began the hardest part of the climb it started to rain.   The rest of the way to the top was extremely difficult.  The terrain was now completely rocks and every step had to be carefully planned to avoid falling.  I also began to have a hard time breathing due to a combination of my asthma, the wind, and the altitude.  We slowly but surely made our way up the remainder of Croagh Patrick.  At the top it was so foggy we could barely see anything.  It was disappointing that it was too foggy to see any of the views of the landscapes.  After a short while resting at the top it was so windy that we were freezing within minutes.  We looked at the chapel and St. Patrick's Resting spot that was at the summit.  Then we begin our decent to the bottom of the mountain.  We very carefully walked down on the array of rocks that covered the path.  A few of us fell but we were so elated with being able to reach the summit that it barely bothered us.  Once we reached the bottom of Croagh Patrick we drank the Irish version of Gatorade and celebrated our successful journey.  We round the bus into Westports city center and ate dinner together in a nice restaurant.  This was my favorite day trip in Ireland not only because of the beautiful scenario and experiencing a different town, but the spiritual experience of us hiking Mount Croagh Patrick together.  Over three short weeks I have become very close to my fellow students in Ireland.  We were able to motivate and support each other during this climb.  For me this increased the spiritual experience of being able to make it to the summit of Mount Croagh Patrick.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My typical weekday in Ireland begins with a wonderful breakfast of hearty Irish bread.  I have grown to love the bread here and it is one of the things I will miss the most when I am home.  After breakfast I walk to my bus stop.  In typical Irish fashion, our bus is always a little late.  I ride the bus with two other students who work at cregg house, one service user and our animated bus driver Vinny.  Vinny is always full of laughs and helps start our day off on a positive note.  I arrive to Beachwood after all of the service users have arrived.  I am greeted by heartwarming good mornings and cheers from the service users.  I walk around to their stations and talk to each service user about their day.  I chat with my Irish mentors about my recent site seeing trips or local experiences in Sligo.  Shortly after that it is time for the first tea break of the day.  I help my mentors before tea and coffee for all of the services users.  This sounds like a simple task, but there are many things that need to be done to insure everything runs smoothly.  All the service users have special cups, seats and rooms that is needed for an issue free tea break.  After tea break there is normally a short activity before lunchtime.  This could include chair exercises, singing, beauty time, and games.  Since all the service users have become comfortable with me, I normally run these activities.  I enjoy doing this and getting to spend one on one time with small groups of the service users.  It is also a good experience for me because there can be various issues that I will need to handle on my own since I am in charge.  Before we know it is lunchtime and I walk with some of the service users to the cafeteria.  I assist some of the service user with getting their food and cutting it up.  I sit with the service users while they eat and make conversation about various things.  After they finish their lunch I help them with getting coffee and tea.  Once everyone is finished, they go to the recreation to relax and I eat my lunch.  Once I finished my lunch I head back to Beachwood.  When I get there the service users are normally there and working at their workstations.  I check on everyone and see what activity we have for the afternoon.  The activities always vary and are a great time for me to get to interact with some of the service users one on one.  Some of the things we have done include going to a play, feeding ducks, cooking, walks, and the most exciting thing was when the Sam McGuire Cup came to Cregg House for us to see.  This cup is the equivalent of the super bowl trophy and I got to hold it!  After our afternoon activities rap up we have another tea break before everyone gets on the buses to leave.  I help most of the service users get on the bus and I head down to Cregg House to catch my bus.  After I get back to Yeats Village, I meet up with the other students and we head into Sligo Town Center.  We normal do a little shopping, grab some food and head to a pub.  While at the pubs we talk about our days and use the wii to communicate with our families.  Eventually we head home and relax to prepare for the next day.  Every day here goes faster than the last one has.  I am absolutely loving every minute of this experience and I wish I wasn’t leaving next week.  Between spending my weeks at my placement and sight seeing on the weekends I am very worn out, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I have really enjoyed my time so far in Ireland.  It is absolutely beautiful here.  They may say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but pictures of Ireland cannot do it justice.  The scenario is one of the things that has surprised me the most about Ireland.  I was expecting amazing views and unique landscapes.  My expectations were completely blown away by seeing the views in real life.  I have seen only a portion of the landmarks we are visiting and I am amazed how many things there are to see here.  So far we have visited the Cliffs of Moher in Ennis.  The Cliffs were breath taking, this was my favorite thing we have visited so far.  The Cliffs was a great way to start my experience in Ireland!  

So many things about Ireland have surprised me.  I have been happily surprised by how welcoming and nice all the native Irish have been to us.  I have also been surprised by how many interesting shops the town of Sligo has.  I was not expecting Ireland to be a fashion forward, and I have seen so many cute stores here.  There are so many clothes I have seen so far that I want to buy, they are are so different from things sold at home.  Another thing that has surprised me is how nice all of the roads are here.  After spending a life time on bumpy Pennsylvania roads I was shocked that the roads in Ireland are so smooth.  

My first day at my placement was wonderful and beyond my expectations.  I am placed at Beachwood at Cregg House in Sligo.  Cregg House is a wonder place for people with special needs.  Today I was able to meet all of the clients I will be working with during my time.  They were so unique and I was so thrilled to see how excited they were to meet me.  I was able to paint some of the clients finger nails.  This was a great way to meet some of the girls and was also a benefit to the clients.   I went on short walks with groups of the clients around Cregg House.  This was so nice because the girls were able to show me around what for many of them is their home.  It was also the first sunny day since I have been in Ireland so it was a great day for a walk.  My favorite part of my day was during the music session at  Beachwood.  Everyone of the clients went around in a circle and they each sang a song.  It was so interesting to see how music benefited the clients and how much they loved singing.  Singing is not one of my talents and I avoid singing in front of people at all costs.  After seeing all of the Clients overcoming their fears by singing in front of everyone and seeing the miracle of how much the music effect them I knew I couldn't pass on singing.  It probably did not sound good but I am very happy I sang them a song.  I came here thinking I was meant to help people with special needs but it was apparent on my first day that they will be the people who are helping me become a better person.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pre-Departure Post

Studying aboard is something that I have always dreamed about.   Traveling has always interested me.  As a young child I was obsessed with shows like The Amazing Race and I always hoped one day I would have the opportunity to travel the world.  Studying aboard in Ireland will be the first trip on my race around the world.

While studying abroad in Ireland I am looking forward to experiencing another culture and becoming a more well rounded person. I am excited to meet new people and see the beautiful scenario of Ireland.  I hope to become more adventurous and try new things while I am studying aboard.

While studying aboard my main goal is to get outside of my comfort zone.  I want to always keep an open mind during  my trip.   I hope to gather a better view of the world from this opportunity.  I plan to accomplish these goals by trying new things and opening myself up to new experiences.

My greatest fear while traveling is returning with regret that I was not adventurous enough during my time in Ireland.  I want to get out of this experience everything I possibly can.  If I returned home feeling that I did not try everything I could have, I will be very disappointed in myself.
I am most excited to meet new people and see how another country lives.  This is my first experience ever traveling overseas.   I am looking forward to seeing the differences between our culture and the Irish culture.  I have always wanted to see the beautiful landscape of Ireland that I have adored in countless movies and pictures.  I am elated to take this first step in my journey and I cannot wait for this chapter of my life to begin.