So firstly I want to dive into the kind of individual I am before I go on to explain my arrival to Maynooth and to Ireland in general.
I am an Economics major with a minor in Business Management, I plan on working for a corporate after I graduate but then ultimately working for a non-profit. Preferably something to do with children or the elderly.
I consider myself a passionate individual for many things including (but not limited to) nature, people, varying perspectives, art, history, and architecture. I’ve always been called a hippy dressed in business clothing and I always try to have a positive outlook in all circumstances. I am very much so a go-with-the-flow kinda girl so I hardly ever plan things in advance, I think adventures that happen on the wim are the most memorable ones.
I love tea, my favorite is the green variety but if it’s in front of me I’ll drink it despite the flavor. I also used out dated slang (e.g. groovy, stellar, nifty) so be prepared to see that somewhere in my blog.
I have a plethora of nicknames: Rei, Rei-bae, Ronald, Terry, Lana del Reigan, Reigs, Reigy, Noodle, etc. Honestly I respond to anything just so long as it’s said in my general direction.
That is pretty much me in a nutshell! If you’ve stuck with me so far I’m going to assume we jive well together and that you’ll enjoy my writing style!
I find it INCREDIBLY important to be as honest as possible in these blogs, I don’t want to sugar coat my stay here to convince you to come. I know when I was researching Maynooth I wanted authentic answers, so that is what I am here to provide. Everything I have to say is completely genuine.
I am from the U.S. so this means travel isn’t as widely available to me as it would be if I lived in the EU. It is lengthy, and expensive, so studying abroad was a tough decision for myself to make financially, but I felt like I was being called to Ireland. Something in my bones just ached for it. I arrived a few days early (mainly because it made my plane ticket cheaper) to start exploring and adapting to the country before making my way to Maynooth. I left sunny Florida where the weather was about 85 F (29 C) to come to brisk Ireland where just stepping off the plane I could feel the weather drop to 60 F (15 C). This was a complete flip from everything I am used to, and while I am a wimp when it comes to the cold I was fueled by excitement and anxiousness as I began to explore this new country all on my own. That was my coal keeping the root of me warm.
I fell in love with the looks of Ireland as soon as I landed, I couldn’t wait to meet the locals in Leixlip, this is the next town over from Maynooth and where I ended up staying for the first three days prior to my move in date.
Admittedly I was struggling to find my accommodation and I wasn’t sure how the busing system worked or even the cross walks! I felt so overwhelmed with so many emotions that it made my head dizzy. I was so embarrassed trying to walk onto a bus and being told to get off because I didn’t have exact change. If you’re from the U.S. then you understand that public transport really isn’t a thing with us so this was my biggest personal struggle. Always always have exact change for the buses here because they don’t provide any change! Then when you can I highly recommend getting a leap card, it saves you money and gives you discounts! I had to wait until the move in date to obtain mine though so I mainly took a taxi everywhere.
I took all of these differences as motivation and strapped up my big girl boots. When I finally figured out how the crosswalks work I felt a deep sense of satisfaction from my tiny victory. I’m a bit of a perfectionist at times so I had to remind myself that I am trying to adapt to a whole new way of living and that its okay to not get it right on the first try.
The first thing I did was go to a local pub where I experienced my first cultural adaption. In the US we are used to waiters rushing us in and out of restaurants/bars/etc. But in Ireland they want you to enjoy yourself, they don’t ask or expect you to leave unless its on your own terms in your own time. The Irish have a very relaxed concept of time which I deeply admire as opposed to the “time is money” slogan that we are spoon fed in America. So I was sitting at my table wondering when the check was going to come, and then I realized that I more than likely had to ask for it or pay at the counter. I find that it is like this at most places in Ireland, which again is so you can make yourself comfortable as a guest for as long as you’d like.
I ran a few errands, such as buying a prepaid phone, and explored the town of Maynooth.
I swear my cheeks have never burned so much in my life. My smile was deep and everlasting when I came across this cute little college town riddled with pubs and shops and nature.
I slid into Maynooth castle where I expressed to the workers my gleaming joy for everything I’ve seen so far. To which they responded with a map of Maynooth and Dublin and loads of information on things to do! I was incredibly grateful for the advice and committed it to memory.
While I was eager to explore my little college town I didn’t want to step foot on the campus yet, I wanted to save that for my move in day. I felt like I would have spoiled some kind of surprise for myself if I had. I treated myself to dinner in Maynooth then took my taxi back to Leixlip to begin packing and preparing for move in day the next morning.
I woke up an hour before my alarm clock due to my fluttering excitement, who was I going to meet, how would my room look, what was I going to do with my day! All of these questions and more went flying through my brain.
I took a taxi to Maynooth and said goodbye to my AirBnB host, I began analyzing the left side of the road driving trying to teach myself mentally how to do it for when I live in Ireland (or England) after I graduate.
We drove through the campus and I was in awe by all the sights on the way, I saw so much greenery and it wasn’t even a quarter of the campus. When I left my taxi I was standing on the campus grounds with a checked luggage, carry on, and heavy backpack. They had check in going on for returning students as well as international but the returning student check in was the first one you’d see. This made it rather confusing for me to find the right area to be in, especially since I hadn’t been on the campus before, Maynooth did have students standing outside waiting to help, but none of them were by the car park so they couldn’t navigate me to the right area. I didn’t see any students until I got closer to the proper international student check in but by then I already found the building to go to, so I didn’t utilize their help.
Regardless I was still giddy and eager to begin my journey! After I checked in I used the provided campus map to find my accommodation. A very quaint little apartment style building with its own bathroom and shower. I wish I could explain the intense joy that washed over me, I began unpacking things and just took a second to flop down on the bed and do my little bouncy weird thing I do when I am overjoyed. I fell in love with this campus right then and there. I have a beautiful view of the courtyard just outside my window and the perfect amount of space for myself to reside in comfortably. My roommates slowly trickled in and we all introduced ourselves and got along right off the bat, we didn’t really need to establish any rules because we all clean up after ourselves and we are good at communicating. This isn’t the case for everyone though, I just got lucky! So I definitely recommend setting up some ground rules with your roomies 🙂
Later in the evening I reached out on the Maynooth Facebook page asking if any international students would be interested in meeting, little did I know that the people I would come to meet would end up being my best friends. Not a single day goes by where I don’t see them. (I’ll go more into detail on them in my next blog) We took it upon ourselves to grab a bite to eat then explore the campus some more. That’s when I saw beauty in ways I never thought possible. Maynooth, especially the south campus, is so stunning. Ivy kisses the buildings and greenery can be found around every corner. The trees gently rock their leaves and chestnuts to the ground and the grass mimics the movements of the wind. I found myself completely hypnotized by everything. Maynooth made me so grateful for my senses, I am so glad I get to appreciate this campus to the full extent. Initially I was only supposed to stay with Maynooth for a semester, but after this moment I just knew I needed the year long experience, I couldn’t let myself leave so soon.
I recommend following Maynooth on all forms of social media and you’ll be well equipped for the scenic views you’ll take in while here.
I understand that traveling alone or studying abroad can be a huge jump for people and can be rather scary for others, it’s okay to process through these emotions and Maynooth really does help you with feeling comfortable and involved on the campus. Just take a breath and let yourself fall in, because I promise you you won’t regret it. I am still so happy that I chose Maynooth, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I am still learning and adapting to so much but that is only half of the fun.
Maynooth is so much more than just looks, its a community and once your roots are in I doubt you’ll ever want to go back home.