1. What were you totally freaked out about before going that turned out to be no big deal?
Before I left I didn’t know anyone who would be going on my program or anyone else in my host city. I was terrified to show up alone in a foreign country but I don’t think that I’ve ever made new friends so fast in my entire life. It wasn’t an issue by a long shot.
2. What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?
I wish that I would have researched the history of the country a bit better. I knew a fair amount, but there were a number of important things that I had no idea about. I attempted to remedy the problem by taking an Irish history course during my first semester and it helped a lot.
3. What’s something you did for the first time while abroad that you’ll continue to do now that you’re home?
I began refusing to let myself use laziness as an excuse not to go out, especially with new people. While abroad I viewed it as making sure that I got the fullest experience possible out of my time there, and I realized that it’s stupid to not apply that same mentality at home.
4. What’s the most annoying thing about everyday life in your host country?
Not having a quick way to get anywhere. I had to make sure that I always left early enough to walk to wherever I needed to be. There was no subway or extensive bus system and very few people dared to ride bicycles.
5. What local food and drink do you miss most now that you’re back?
I don’t quite know that it’s local food per say, but I miss getting nice big bowls of fresh fish chowder with a side of brown bread. In the drinks category: I desperately miss Beamish. It was the local stout brewed right in the city and I totally fell in love with it. It’s extremely hard to find in the US but I was lucky and found it at one store in Claremont.
6. What food and drink from home did you miss most while abroad?
I absolutely missed Mexican food. We had one Mexican restaurant in town and they put bbq sauce on everything. Very, very weird. As for drinks, I desperately missed non-carbonated lemonade.
7. What standard local fashion styles would elicit strange looks in California?
The fashion wasn’t too different there. People tended to get a bit more dressed up to go places, like to class, but it was pretty much on par with the difference between California and the east coast.
8. What’s the coolest place you visited while abroad?
That’s a toss-up between Prague and Malta. Prague was amazing and I was lucky enough to go there a few times. Malta was actually just a spur of the moment weekend trip and I hadn’t even heard of it before I went, but we had an amazing time!
9. Where do you want to go next?
I’m actually headed back to Ireland in about a month and a half, but other than that I’m trying to get down to visit some friends in Peru this summer!