Monday, September 9, 2013

Canada--> Amsterdam--> Ireland!

By: Kevin Marthinsen, Humber's Study Abroad Student

So it’s been one week since I arrived in Ireland and already there is much to discuss.

Standing in front of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
I flew into Amsterdam on the 29th of August and spent the weekend there with a friend, staying in an apartment in Oud-West. Having been to Amsterdam before, I made sure to knock off all the touristy destinations the second day we were there, as it was my friend’s first time to Amsterdam and there are some places that are a must see, namely the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and the Anne Frank House. The highlight of the trip was meeting two young men from Scotland who both work in London, England. At the time of our first encounter, the one told us that both of them had won an all-expense paid trip to Amsterdam. Needless to say, the four of us quickly became a small entourage and spared no expense. After the weekend we found out that the two hadn’t in fact won an all expense paid trip to Amsterdam but rather that one of the two men was a stockbroker and had recently received his fiscal yearend bonus. Without going in to specific details, let’s just say the night was one to remember. Best of all, expense-free!

On the 1st of September I flew into Dublin and took a 3-hour bus ride south to Waterford. It wasn’t until I stepped off the bus that my being in Ireland for 4-months dawned on me. It was a bit of mixed emotions at first because although Ireland in some ways is very similar to Canada, in many ways if not every way, it is very different. For one, after stepping off the bus I had no clue how to order a taxi. A task that back home is quite easy and requires little thought. Not having a working phone (with internet access) made finding a number to call for a taxi very difficult. I found myself walking up and down the road trying to find a taxi to hail but had no such luck. Ultimately I had to purchase a rather expensive data roaming service through Rogers so I could look up a taxi number. Little things like this made me realize I’m not back home, where tasks like this are simple.
 
It took about two days to get settled in with the basics: Internet, Irish phone number, bed sheets. My roommates who are both from Austria speak German but in front of me will speak English. There are many Brazilians, French and German students here to study at WIT. We’ve all gotten to know one another very quickly through this Facebook group for international students. If you ever wanted to know what parties are going on in Waterford, you could check the Facebook group and know what everyone is doing. Everyone here has been on party-mode as it is one of the best and most fun ways to meet people. The toughest question I’ve had to face all week is whether I should order a half pint of Guinness or a full pint (the obvious answer is always a full pint).
Tramore Beach, Ireland
This past week I’ve already been able to travel through Ireland having gone on day trips to Tramore Beach and Kilkenny with a handful of other international students. This month I plan to visit London, England and attend Oktoberfest in Munich!

One week since my arrival I can say I feel very comfortable here. I know my way around the city and I’ve met a lot of great people. One important thing I’ve come to learn is that “a couple drinks at the pub” usually ends with you walking home at 4 a.m.  Also, they’re not kidding about the rain here.

By: Kevin Marthinsen