International in Waterford

I think one thing that I will miss about living in Ireland, is the fact that I am so busy and see people everywhere. It seems like we always have something happening, either here in Waterford or we are all travelling. And honestly, I love that I can be walking across campus or around town, and I see so many people I know. Not just international students either. Yes, I know some Irish. That just doesn’t happen for me at home.

This week I had a few days that I am excited to tell you about. Basically, this week there was no school as a “study break” before exams begin next week. Of course we all studied, just probably not as much as we should…

We started this event with our large group of friends where some students from the same country will host a dinner night. Before the Easter break, there were Mexican and Brazilian nights. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to either. After the break, we had an American night – complete with amazing mac ’n cheese, chicken fingers, pb&j, and homemade delicious cheesecake, with beer and games of course – and then a French dinner – with amazing food that our friend had cooked for the first time, and made into a meal of courses.

Lovely ladies at the American dinner!

Lovely ladies at the American dinner!

Great friends (and food) at Canadian night ;)

Great friends (and food) at Canadian night 😉

Had so much fun with Canadian night, playing cards and hanging out!

Had so much fun with Canadian night, playing cards and hanging out!


Last Friday, Brittany and I had all our friends over for Canadian ‘breakfast for dinner.’ We really wanted to serve maple syrup, and this was the best way we could think of. We made French toast instead of pancakes, so we could keep it gluten free for our friend. Then we made fruit salad, scrambled eggs, and sausages. It was a pretty big hit, I think! Brit and I were cooking basically the whole time, but everyone said that they loved the French toast – and we did get to eat some. Our friend, Nick, from Newfoundland, brought chips (fries) and made some gravy to serve a version of poutine. It was pretty good – but made me miss poutine with cheese curds! Then we made s’mores for everyone, a North American treat that they loved. It was a pretty fun night!

On Monday, our friends held a Bavarian dinner. It was delicious. We ate Breze mit Butter (pretzel with butter), and for dinner we ate Semmelknodl mit Pfeffersoβe und Schweinsbraten (please never ask me to pronounce this). I’m honestly not too sure what it was exactly – some meat, I think pork, and a ball of dough-type substance with a gravy sauce on top. For me, though, dessert was the best, and it’s a German word that I can actually say: kaisershmarn. It was delicious! Berries, powdered sugar and cinnamon with something like a pancake, but less sweet. I loved it, and I’m not going to lie, I had two servings… [The full German name is: Kaiserschmarn mit gemischten Beeren, Zimt und Puderzucker.]

Chilling at the Bavarian dinner.

Chilling at the Bavarian dinner.

This is kaiserschmarn, the dessert from Bavarian night

This is kaiserschmarn, the dessert from Bavarian night <3

Lovely ladies at Bavarian night!

Lovely ladies at Bavarian night!

With lots happening this week, and many attempts at studying, Brittany and I decided that a day off in city center might be a fun idea. So, on Wednesday, we headed downtown to go to Reginald’s Tower. It was so interesting (and only 2 euros)! Honestly, if you ever come to Waterford, it is a must see. It does a great job of outlining the rich history of Waterford, the oldest town in Ireland. There were a lot of cool Viking artifacts and the tower itself was pretty interesting – albeit built for people who were possibly a bit shorter, as Brit and I had to duck under many of the doorways and along the spiral stairs.

After the museum, we decided to go to Christ Church Cathedral. For those who don’t know, I had a pretty hard time when I learned that my Gramma had passed away at home (a week and a half ago now). It was something I was going to have to go through by myself, very far from home and family. I spent a few days just walking and exploring Waterford by myself, collecting my thoughts. The one day, I ended up in this Protestant cathedral. You would never guess that it is from the 18th century. It looks so modern inside, but is very beautiful.

Reginald's Tower and Viking boat!

Reginald’s Tower and Viking boat!

View of the Quay from Reginald's Tower.

View of the Quay from Reginald’s Tower.

Drinks and sweets at Blackfriars cafe.

Drinks and sweets at Blackfriars cafe.

Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford.

Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford.


Of course, being downtown, we decided to stop somewhere for a warm drink and a snack. We ended up at Blackfriars, one of the first coffee shops we entered when we got here. The owners and staff are so friendly and welcoming, and the drinks and sweets are always amazing. I love their hot chocolate!

My last bit of interesting news is what I did yesterday: my friends and I got dressed up ‘fancy’ to attend WIT’s International Student Black Tie Event, or Mayoral Reception. It had a few names. Basically, we all got to get dressed up in fancy clothes and shoes, do our hair and makeup (well, the girls), and go to City Hall. We listened to some speeches, drank some wine, ate some great food, and took a ton of pictures. It was fun! There were so many international students, and I realized that even though our group of friends is quite large, it is small compared to the number of students studying here from other countries.

After the reception, many of us went to a friend’s apartment to hang out before heading to the after party. (Yes, there was a planned after party, by the school, at a night club.) My friends and I had gone to our apartments and changed out of our heels, so we were able to dance and have a lot of fun at the club. It was great to relax, hang out with everyone, and forget the stress of exams for a little bit.

Dressed up for the black tie event!

Dressed up for the black tie event!

International black tie event!

International black tie event!

ERASMUS students!

ERASMUS students!
Photo cred: Brownes Photography.

You ladies looked beautiful! Photo cred: Bruna

You ladies looked beautiful! Photo cred: Bruna.


Even with the ups and downs of losing someone I was very close to, I had a busy and interesting last few weeks. With school ending, we are now gearing up for exams – my first of which is next Friday. Honestly, I feel like I should be a bit more stressed out, seen as it’s worth 100%. But, I’m not. I figure that it’ll all work itself out. I am studying and that’s all I can do. (For those who know me really well, you will understand how huge it is for me to say something like that. Apparently Ireland has changed me.)

This weekend my friend, Alexis, is coming from home. With everything that’s happened, and all of my friends having their friends and family visiting, I am beyond excited to see a familiar face from home. I can’t wait to show her around and take her to the awesome spots I have discovered here.

And on that note, I want to add something that some of my friends have done over here: a brief list of things that I miss at home.

– Obviously I miss my friends and family the most. And Finn, my puppy.

– My bed. I miss my double bed that I can roll over in, and my feather-down comforters.

– Tim Hortons. I want an Iced Capp and Timbits, please!

– Hot water. Man, I took it for granted before. Cold showers here suck. (I do have hot water most of the time, but only if it doesn’t run out or if I heat it up first.)

– Dishwashers. I am sick of handwashing all the dishes. And boiling a kettle to have hot water to do it.

– Fast internet. Seriously.

– Driving. I love driving, and it’s been weird not driving here. Although, I wouldn’t want to on the opposite side of the road…

– Stores being open really late. Everything closes so early here! The grocery store that is open the latest closes at 21:00 (9pm).

– Mountains.

What about things that I will miss from Waterford?

– Again, obviously I am going to miss the amazing people that I have met here. It sucks that we are going to be separated by expansive oceans, expensive plane rides, and a 5-9 hour time difference. Guys, I know I’m far away, but please stay in touch!

– Walking. I honestly have begun to love walking. I walk everywhere here. And I enjoy it.

– Cafes. There are so many great cafes here.

– The pubs. Yes, I know we have pubs at home, but the atmosphere here is completely different. And I love it.

– Okay so this is more for Europe in general, but I love the fact that it is somewhat cheap and easy to get between different countries and places. It is mostly impossible at home unless you have a car or a ton of money…

– The accents. Enough said.

– The friendly people. Everyone here is so welcoming and friendly! I just don’t get the same vibes at home.

I’ve probably forgotten some in my attempt to finish this post, but this is basically everything I’m missing. Mom, I didn’t put Starbucks because technically it is here in Europe. I found one in almost every city while travelling. It was just that they didn’t have my one summer drink…

This was a pretty sight I saw walking.

This was a pretty sight I saw walking.

I walked across this little bridge on my day exploring Waterford.

I walked across this little bridge on my day exploring Waterford.

To my family and friends back home: thank you for all of the kind messages. It is definitely hard being away from my family at this time, but I am doing okay. I have a few friends here who have been amazing through it. I was very lucky that I got so many years with my Gramma, and that I have a lot of great memories. Although I didn’t get to see her right before I left, I got to Skype her twice while I’ve been here. I know that she loved me and was proud of me. I loved her very much and will miss her a lot. But I know that she would want me to keep moving, continue my studies and travels, and just live life. She was a beautiful and amazing person – she will be in my heart everywhere I go, just like others I have lost.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler Ros

May the road rise up to meet ya



Why Ireland?

Tramore beach.

Tramore beach.

“Little by little, one travels far.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

I have been asked many times why I chose Ireland for my study abroad.

Honestly, I don’t have an easy answer.

I wish I could reply: “Ireland was my first choice!” or “The culture is so amazing!” or “I came for the booze and partying!” as so many of my friends here can answer. Of course I am glad I came here, and of course I knew the culture and history was going to be amazing. That is definitely one of the aspects that drew me here.

But first let me tell you something.

I actually applied for a study abroad over a year ago, to a school in England. I have always wanted to go to the UK, with it probably being at the top of my list of places to travel. I was so excited to live there, to have a chance to be immersed in the cultures of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte’s, and so many others that I had studied for some years. To be in the place of the monarchs, the wars, and the center of the 19th century world.

I guess it wasn’t meant to be though. The school decided that they weren’t going to do an exchange with ours, as their students weren’t really coming to Canada, and it wasn’t worth it. I was super upset.

But I really wanted to do a study abroad. For the experience, and the change of scenery and life. In the years leading up to this idea, I had gone through a lot. I was changed as a person by events that happened in my life, and by a new perspective of the world. In a lot of ways, it made me stronger; but also weaker. I wanted to know that I could do things on my own.

So I tried applying again.

This time, I applied to go to school in Wales. I got accepted and was going through the process of picking classes, when I realized that it really didn’t feel right. I was far too stressed and honestly, wasn’t very excited.

That really worried me. So I left the program.

After a lot of thinking, I decided to try one more time: I applied for Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). I had debated somewhere warmer, like Australia, but Ireland appealed to me more. It has a lot of similarities to home.

The whole process of applying, being accepted, and getting ready to go, I felt nothing like I had the other times. I felt calm, excited. It was so refreshing.

WIT looked like the perfect school. Although they don’t offer many classes for my program, and don’t really have a history department, it seemed right. The classes are small, like at home, and the campus is really great. My professors are amazing and the classes are interesting. And the atmosphere at the school is so relaxed, something you don’t experience at home. At home, the focus is on attending class, learning as much as you can. Here, there is no attendance. Classes are cancelled in a moment’s notice.

I’m so glad that I ended up here in Waterford. It was definitely the right fit for me. I have gotten to do so many amazing things, and I have met some wonderful people. And I’ve only been here for less than a month.

For those asking, I am loving my classes so far. I am taking 19th Century Fiction, where I get to read classics by Twain, Austen, Bronte, Dickenson, and Shelley. In another class, I am getting to write – about so many different things, about whatever I want to write. I was excited, as I hadn’t taken a creative writing class before. And my last class, Literature of the Family, is my hardest class – but it is super interesting. We are reading multiple books and sources, and examining the representation of family and familial dynamics in literature. I can’t find courses like these at home.

I can’t wait for more adventures, even if that means taking exams which are worth 100% of my final grade. It is all new and exciting.

Tramore Beach. Climbed some rocks 😉

I have even adopted a new mentality and lifestyle. I am nowhere near as stressed as I usually am at home, finding the atmosphere here relaxing and calm. It’s the change that I truly needed.

So, there is my long-winded explanation of my choice to come to Ireland. I am so lucky to be experiencing this.

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam



P.S. – this is sort of a bonus post for the week. A friend mentioned it might be cool to have a post about why I chose Ireland. I will normally only upload 1 post every week or so. But stay tuned, as I have a trip planned for this weekend. And sorry if this post was too long or deep…