Excitement in the Ordinary

Janey Amend-Bombara National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland


February 18, 2020
Currently Studying at: National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
Homeschool: Sarah Lawrence College

A chairde! I’ve been in Ireland for over a month now, and I realized I have yet to do a real “Galway” blog. I’ve left the country twice now, and done a few trips around, but the real excitement of my study abroad journey doesn’t just come from the jetsetting- it’s the little moments in Galway when I’m sitting in class, or on the bus, or just making dinner, and remember that I’m here!

Honestly, I haven’t had many “OMG I’m really here” moments. While I’ve had some real challenges, like a moldy room, and iffy hot water, and brutal weather, the overall experience has been positive. I’m not running across Corrib Village singing and dancing, but I’m also not curling up in my bed wishing for McDonalds and the New York subway.

To be real: it’s pretty much like regular life, except everything is different. Like, I still go to school, my professors just have accents and don’t know my name. Or I go to the gym, but the machine is in kilometers. Or I order chips thinking I’ll get fries and well- you know.

I thought every moment abroad would be nonstop action. I thought I would be constantly aware of my difference, living every moment by the seat of my pants, never knowing what the next day would bring. And it’s true- I am very often “translating” cultural experiences. While there’s no de jure language barrier, there is a de facto difference between me and the Irish. I don’t understand politics. I don’t understand slang. I always forget to turn the stove on. (Why do you have to do it twice???)

In reality, I’m spending a lot of time doing homework, eating dinners with friends, going shopping, and playing video games. I’m currently in bed eating Ben and Jerry’s and staring at the laundry pile in the corner. I have dishes to wash, and homework to finish, and friends to see.

While I have some amazing trips lined up in the next few months (Belfast, London, Amsterdam, Rome….) I also have experiences here that are perhaps more meaningful than the money and energy draining weekends. Today, I learned about Travellers- an ethnic group in Ireland that is often discriminated against, and yet, I had never heard of them. I have advised my young housemates on the trials and tribulations of first year.

I think my favorite moments are on Tuesday nights. We grab a pint at the silent disco and dance the night away, walking back at midnight and gazing out at the River Corrib as the lights dance along the churning waters, singing old Irish songs and wondering if I’ll ever understand the words.


Semester Ireland