Archive for the ‘Kari in Ireland’ Category


Kari: First Week of Classes

January 30, 2009

I know this is a long overdue update, and for that I apologize. I have been pretty busy with the first week of classes, meeting new people and trying to keep up with the ‘Irish culture and lifestyle’.

First day of modules! Today was a bit uneventful, but successful nonetheless. I had my first module (or class, as they call it in the States), and it was titled ‘Talk, Interaction, and Social Organization’. I had spoken to the professor last week about the module a bit, and it seems like the material will be challenging, but nothing I can’t handle. We have one presentation and one exam that makes up our entire grade, so talk about pressure! It is most definitely a change from the States, but a challenge that I am ready to take on. My module is from 9:15-11:15 AM, and after that I am free the rest of the day.

Tuesday: Second day of modules! Again, today was a bit uneventful. I would normally have a seminar from 12:15-1:15 PM on Tuesday afternoons, but we don’t have seminars the first week. So I waited until 3:15 PM for my Interpersonal Communication theory module to begin. This module is a first year skills module and the lecture is probably about 300 people strong. This module involves a lot of hands on activities. There will be a lot of recording of ourselves, then analyzing how we said what we said and our body language, all associated with how we communicate with others. This module will be something that I have yet to experience and for that I am excited.

Wednesday: Third day of modules! Today, I had only one lecture, but I will have a seminar in the morning starting next week. This was my Modern Irish Society class. I was very intimidated at first from this class, because even though I took a European History class my senior year of high school, I regret to say that almost NOTHING stuck in my head. The professor kept saying ‘in last years set of modules’ or ‘you should know’, and I didn’t. I am quite nervous about the class, but excited nonetheless. I think it will help me be informed about Irish Society more completely in order to make the most of my trip.

Thursday: (Would have been the) Fourth day of modules! Today, I would normally have a practical session for my Interpersonal Communications class at 9:15, but again, no practicals or seminars the first week of class. So instead, I slept in. I had a meeting with my advisor at 12:30 PM to finalize my modules for this semester. After a huge runaround (going to 4 different places to get stamps and whatnot) and 45 minutes, I finally got registered and am an OFFICIAL STUDENT AT UUJ! I have my student ID to prove it!

After registering, myself and a few others stopped in the Chaplaincy to introduce ourselves to Cheryl (Presbyterian Chaplain) and Arlene (Church of Ireland Assistant Chaplain). We talked for about different things going on on campus. They told us about iCafe, which is a way for international students to come together and meet each other and Irish students. They also told us about the Christian Union. The Christian Union is a lot like Campus Crusades for Christ. It was amazing being able to speak to Arlene and Cheryl about the different opportunities to get involved with and able to meet Irish students (which we’ve all had a difficult time with so far). I also met some other students, two of which are in one of my modules, so that will be nice to see a couple of familiar faces. The Chaplaincy also works closely with Habitat for Humanity. It’s an organization that I’ve always wanted to get involved with at school, but haven’t had the time, so I hope to be able to work with Habitat while I’m here.

Kelsey, Amanda (from Texas), and I all headed over to the Christian Union (CU) that evening. We met some really great people, and I also decided to go out on a limb and join a small group (bible study). It’s my first time doing anything like this, but I figured it’s a great way to meet local students, and students that don’t necessarily want to party 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, I like to go out, but I don’t think I can go out 3 or 4 nights in a row. I don’t have the budget for that! The small group that us girls joined is on Tuesday nights on campus, so we don’t have to get a ride or walk anywhere, so it’s very convenient. Although it’s my first bible study that I’ve ever been apart of, I am excited to see what it holds for me. I was hesitant at first, but I figured I needed to put everything I have into this trip, and this is one other way to do so!

That brings us to today. I don’t have any class today!!! It is currently 12:30 in the afternoon, and I am leaving for my home stay in a few hours. I have been looking forward to this since I got here. I think that it will give me a great insight to how Irish people live and it will be interesting to see the differences between how they and we as Americans live.

And just to leave you with some insight to how I am doing personally–The first few days of this trip has been pretty frustrating. Our program hasn’t really given us any guidance to anything so far, and I’ve been struggling, but I’ve realized that I can’t do that anymore. I have to put everything I have into this once in a lifetime opportunity, and after giving up all of my frustrations and allowing a plan to unfold before me, I have been 150% better. I am so blessed for everything I have, and I can’t spend my time worrying. I’m going to start this really foreign thing to me called ‘going with the flow’. Weird, I know, but I think that’s really the only way I’m going to be able to get everything out of this trip that I want!


Kari: The Coast is in My Front Yard

January 24, 2009

Just another update from the Emerald Isle.

Thursday: The international students had our first round of orientation from the University of Ulster. It was disorganized and unhelpful to say the least. That was unfortunate because it would have been a great time to use to get acquainted with the campus ourselves. There was a tour, but you could hardly call it that. There was a woman who aimlessly led us around the ONE building that all of our classes are in. I didn’t learn much, other than there are 7 vending machines in the ‘mall’ area of the building. A useful fact, I know. Thursday’s orientation ended around 1:30 PM, and I was to meet with my Ulster advisor around 2:00 PM to talk about classes. I was able to talk to her and get approved to register for two of the four classes I was thinking about taking. That was nice, but I still had to go find two professors and talk to them about taking their class. I was able to meet with one professor and I spoke with her for quite some time. She assured me that the course was going to be challenging for me, but I would be able to succeed. I guess the students here are used to getting 60% and 70%. That really freaked me out when I heard such a thing. I am nervous about my classes, but excited to learn from a different standpoint.

Friday: Round 2 of Orientation was pretty much the same as the first day…not much useful information. We did however finish up a little bit early and were able to hang out the majority of the day. Myself and two of my roommates went shopping at a small grocery store which included a very nice walk in very nice weather. It’s irelandcoastbeen so beautiful here.

Saturday: Was such a great day. First, we (meaning the 8 international students that have stuck together so far) took a walk along the coast that is literally in the front yard of our campus. We just had to cross a street and we were there. It was a little chilly by the water, but beautiful nonetheless. I am sure there will be a lot of walking along that coast this semester. Then, we went to Carrickfergus. Carrickfergus is a great little city about a 15 minute train ride from Jordanstown. It has a great castle, and a beautiful old church.


Kari: Arrival in Ireland

January 21, 2009

I have safely arrived at the University of Ulster-Jordanstown. It has been a whirlwind experience since I left O’Hare, but I have been trying to take everything in now, as I know the next 18 weeks are going to go by very quickly.

Since I arrived in Ireland, I spent the first four days in Dublin for our program orientation with another great group of 10 students or so who are heading to Limerick, in the southwest of Ireland to study. Our Arcadia (program) orientation included a lot of cultural lessons and information that would be helpful to us as we ventured off on our own. It became a little frustrating as the more questions we were asking, the answers we were getting were mostly, “I’m not sure, ask Ulster.” We were also given differing information about some things that I know frustrated me and a couple of the girls.

But the moral of the story is that we are now in Belfast, on campus, and luckily, my room was the only room that was cleaned and ready for me to move into. The other three girls are in temporary housing until this weekend or Monday at the latest. I was able to get my room set up, but there are a couple of problems…1.) we have no dresser 2.) we have awkward shelving space and 3.) there is no storage in the bathroom. Again, quite frustrating, but we are all putting our heads together and figuring it out. As frustrating as these couple of weeks might be, I know everything will be completely fine in the end.

Tomorrow and Friday, we have University of Ulster orientation, just for two hours a day though. I can already tell that this is going to be a learning experience from me, and although excited for the challenge, nervous at the same time. The next four and a half months will be crazy, busy, scary and rewarding, and will go by so quickly. Right now, like I said, I’m just trying to soak it all in.


Kari: Five Days and Counting

January 12, 2009

Hey everyone!

I cannot believe that I leave in five days. What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been, and now the time has come to leave for Europe! I’m excited beyond words, but super nervous as well. I probably won’t realize what I’m in for until I board the plane to London, then to Dublin. I’m just amazed by this opportunity.

Last week I spent some much needed time in Minneapolis catching up and saying good-bye to friends, co-workers and family. I was able to look back on last week and really think about the people that I have been blessed with, and because of them this study abroad trip to Ireland for five months is going to be that much easier. I’m going to miss everyone so much, but knowing that I have a strong support system back home (Oshkosh & Minneapolis) will allow me to enjoy my trip without worrying (too much) about everyone back home.

I have just started packing. It is such a challenging task considering a few things:

  1. Who in their right mind packs for 5 months abroad?!?! That’s so insane.
  2. I have way too many clothes for my own good. I have trouble picking out what I’m going to wear to church. I know I will forget something that I really wanted to bring!
  3. One word: SHOES. I think I got it down to 7 or 8 pairs….I started with wanting to bring about 15 pairs. I guess I’ll have to take and give some.

Although packing has been one of the most difficult tasks preparing to study abroad, I have learned something about myself—I have wayyyy too much stuff. I can guarantee that when I move back to Minneapolis in June, I will not be bringing nearly as much stuff as last semester.

So Friday is right around the corner. My ‘to do’ list is filling up fast, my list of people to call is endless is seems, but the errands I need to run are starting to get done! I’m not sure how much more time this week I will have to blog, but I should arrive in Dublin next Saturday around 1 p.m. (their time, so about 7 a.m. your time).

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I start this journey of a lifetime. I can’t wait to share my experiences with you all.


Kari: Orientation

December 7, 2008

Hello all–

I just wanted to bring you up to date about my studying abroad. This past Friday, December 5th, I had my study abroad orientation. Because I have not had the time to think about this journey I am about to take, this orientation was helpful in many ways.

We started our orientation as a large group. There were about 100-150 students present, plus parents and others of student’s support groups that were there. The large group orientation was helpful to an extent, but I feel as if I got most of my information from the two break out sessions that we were able to attend.

My first break out session was for my cosponsor college, Arcadia University. There were about 20 students in that break out session. I learned about what life may be like in Europe, as well as about the support system that we will have while abroad. Most of the students in the college break out session were either going to Italy or Ireland. It was great to get some information from an actual representative from the college we are going to study abroad through.

The second break out session was decided by country we were studying in, therefore I went to the Ireland/N. Ireland session. This was essentially a panel of three students who studied abroad in previous semesters in three different schools in Ireland or Northern Ireland. It was here that I receive some of the most valuable information, such as what to pack, what to do, and where to eat. I also learned that the rain boots in Ireland are better than the rain boots in the US. Expect me to come home with a cute pair!

Orientation allowed me to take time out of my schedule to finally think about studying abroad. I have been crazy busy lately, but this has put my experience ahead into perspective. I am starting to get excited to go, but with excitement comes nerves and stress. Let me get through this semester (another 6 days) and then I can tell you how excited/nervous/stressed I really am.

Until next time…


Kari: One Day Closer

December 2, 2008

As yesterday has ended and today has started (precisely 32 minutes ago), I can help to think that as each day passes, it is one day closer to January 16th. This past weekend, I finally bought my airplane tickets. I depart from O’Hare in Chicago on January 16th around 7:55 PM, and arrive in London, to get my student visa and go through customs, sometime the next afternoon. I then hop on a plane to Dublin, Ireland to meet other participants and relax for an evening before my orientation begins on January 18th. I’m already thinking that the first few days will be completely crazy and filled with important information, as I sit here trying to read through every e-mail I have gotten from my program advisor. It’s taken me quite some time to get through them all, but I am almost there.

My orientation for my program is this Friday, December 5th. I’m excited to meet other program participants and get a feel for how the semester might play out in Northern Ireland, yet it makes it that much more real. I haven’t really had a chance to be truly excited about going abroad. I am still trying to make it through this semester, but I have a feeling once next Saturday at 12:00 PM is over, my mind will be completely focused on Northern Ireland, and probably worried about how I’m going to pack everything I need and how many pairs of shoes I can bring without my luggage going over the weight limit. These are important things, as you can tell.

I feel like my 4 1/2 months in Europe will go by so quickly. I’m already planning on where to live this summer and next school year. It’s been hard to wrap my mind around planning for something this is going to happen a year from now, but it’s in the process of being planned, nonetheless, so I guess I can’t complain. I fly home from Northern Ireland on May 30th. I trust that this trip will be a trip of a lifetime. Although I will miss friends, family, and the Cities, I think this will be a great experience for me and I know I will learn so much.

Until next time…

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