Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

14 posts categorized "Student"


goodbye Ireland...for now!!!

By Kim Burke

I am currently sitting in the Boston airport, trying to make the most of my really long lay over while Dublin hapenny bridge I wait for my flight to Denver. Bad news, I am no longer in Ireland and my heart is a little bit broken. Good news, I am finally enjoying a real, ‘Merican Blue Moon beer, ah I’ve missed it. The last few days in Dublin have been really great. We have basically been free to do whatever since we returned from Belfast. On Tuesday night we did our farewell dinner with the whole group. While it was really fun getting to hang out with everyone one last time, it was also kind of sad. Don and Martin gave us some inspiring last words of wisdom and advice about readjusting to being home. We had a lot of “lasts” the past few days. We’ve gone to our favorite places for the last time and went and said bye to some of our Irish friends. We did a lot in the last few days and I would say we went out with a bang. Leaving Ireland is extremely bittersweet. I was absolutely heartbroken leaving campus this morning for the airport, but at the same time, especially now that I am actually back in America, I am excited to see my friends and family back home. For my last post I have decided to compile a list of advice for prospective students. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Tips for coming to Ireland.

-Make one, I repeat only ONE trip to Penneys. Yes, the cute clothes and cheap prices are tempting but a lot of small purchases add up to a big hole in your pocket and your Penneys clothes will break anyway.

-When you need change don’t ask the bartenders to “break it,” they take it literally and will rip your 20 euro in half. On second thought, ask them anyways because it’s pretty hilarious.

-Don’t travel anywhere in large groups of Americans, you will never get to actually meet or talk to Irish people if you do.

-Only eat at the fastfood restaurant, Supermac’s, late at night. Trust me, it will not taste as good during the day.

-Upon arriving try and get comfortable as quickly as you can. You don’t want to waste anytime being homesick because time flies when you’re abroad.

-When Martin gives you an estimate about how far it will take you to walk somewhere, add 20 minutes onto it because he is walks abnormally fast.

-If you get on the bus around 11:30 pm and they take a long time to move, don’t panic, get excited instead; you are about to experience the late night Dublin bus races. All the bus drivers start their last round of stops at the same time and see who wins, be sure to cheer your driver on, he will appreciate it.

-After you’ve discovered your favorite pub or coffee shop try and become a regular there, it will make you feel more local and it’s a great way to make Irish friends.

- Smithwick’s beer is pronounced “Smith-icks.” You may as well learn that now.

-As Martin and Don will tell you again and again, don’t stress. Something is bound to go wrong or happen unexpectedly on your trip, just go with it. Some of my best memories are when we made a mistake or ended up somewhere we didn’t want to be and we had an adventure and a good laugh out of it.

-The Irish have no sense of personal space whatsoever, and they have no shame in showing pda… just prepare yourself now and learn to accept it.

-Most importantly, be open to new experiences. Get out of your comfort zone and take it all in. You will come back changed for the better.

-Order a Baby Guinness for me, request Galway Girl at every pub and end every night at Flannery’s.

-If you are reading this blog and are on the fence about whether or not you should study abroad with CIEE Dublin… DO IT. I debated for a long time if I actually had the courage to go abroad and I am so glad I did. I would recommend this program to anyone. When else in your life can you frolick around a foreign country carefree? Studying abroad, much like college in general, gives you all the freedom of being an adult with none of the responsibility. Enjoy it.

All in all, this trip has been absolutely incredible. I have spent months and months preparing for this trip and I have spent years dreaming about going to Ireland, I can’t believe it’s over. This program was everything I hoped for and more. I can say with absolute certainty that deciding to come to Ireland for CIEE summer school is the best decision I’ve made in college. The two months I have spent in Ireland are two of the best months of my life. I have made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I want to give a big thanks to CIEE for giving me this incredible opportunity. I would especially like to thank Don and Martin, they both made this trip the best it could possibly be. And all I can really say now is that I left part of my heart in Ireland and I intend to come back in the near future and get it.



frolicking about Dublin

 By Kim Burke

Second session has been flying by! Second session has seemed really different than the first Writer's museum session. We have a lot more free time and less structure. I have learned to enjoy the freedom of the second session; I’ve been to a lot of different places in Dublin and I am finally figuring out the places I like most and we have even become regulars at a few. The first session we went to a lot of places outside of Dublin, we traveled to a bunch of different little towns and we did the touristy stuff like the Guinness Factory, so this session has been a lot more relaxed and we’ve mostly just stayed in Dublin. It makes me feel much more local and less like a visitor to be able to have a favorite pub or coffee shop and to actually have local friends. On Tuesday, we toured the Writer’s Museum in the morning and then we were free the rest of the day. The DublinersWriter’s Museum was  interesting; we walked around and listened to an audio recording about different books and many great Irish authors. Although, a museum about books wouldn’t usually be at the top of my list to go see, I did find a few of the exhibits interesting. I especially enjoyed learning more about the work and life of James Joyce. I read his book, Dubliners in high school and then had to reread it here for a class assignment. I remember thinking in high school that the short stories in Dubliners were boring and mundane. I didn’t get it at all. Reading them again after being here and studying the history and culture, it holds a lot more meaning. I like seeing that what I learn in school actually does change my perspective on things.

After the Writer’s Museum we shopped around the city a little bit and with the beautiful weather 
we couldn’t pass up sitting outside. We went to St. Stephen’s Green, which is a park in the middle of the city. We laid out in the grass at the park, which is a prime location for people watching. I saw an assortment of people there: young families, old couples, rowdy teenage boys, and I couldn’t help but imagine their lives and what it would be like to grow up here.Entrance to stephen green

I have grown to absolutely love Dublin and as I sat at the park with my three friends we dreamed what it would be like to move back here next year. I am learning to appreciate my uniq  ue position in life; with one more year left of college and no clue what to do next, I really do have the freedom to do whatever I want. The four of us sat at the park and conjured up our dream life for next year; we planned out where we could work, live, hang out, and we decided that everyStephen green sunny day in Dublin we would meet back at St. Stephen’s Green. Who knows if we could actually move  back here after we graduate next year, but the important thing is that we have the ability to dream about it. I came to Dublin at the beginning of the summer feeling very unsure about my place in life. It seems like there’s a lot more pressure in America to get married, secure a career, and have it all together right after college, it’s the white picket fence American dream, I suppose.

Don and Martin are always saying that Americans are way too In stephens green
stressed about everything; I’m starting to believe them. Rather than stressing out about life after college, I’m beginning to get excited. I had the privilege of celebrating my 22nd birthday here in Dublin, and although I’ve sort of been dreading it because it means I no longer have the excuse of being a young and reckless 21 year old,  I’m realizing that we take life too seriously and getting older should be an exciting adventure, not something to stress over. Alright, enough rambling and daydreaming, back to my day in the park. After enjoying the park for a few hours we ate at one of our favorite restaurants, Sweeney’s. Take note, if you enjoy drinking Blue Moon beer at home, go to Sweeney’s. Although it doesn’t taste nearly as good as it does in the States, it is the only place I’ve found in Dublin that serves it. All in all, it was a great day in the city.


Happy 4th of July 'Merica! (in August!)

by Kim Burke

Fitzsimons I must say that without an outdoor BBQ, fireworks, and throwing the frisbee around, the 4th was a little bit of a let down. I was surprised to find that so many people here actually did celebrate it though. Much to the delight of everyone in our group, there is a pub on campus, which would be quite a rarity back home on an American campus. The pub on campus is called the NuBar and they were hosting a 4th of July bbq. After our fair share of hamburgers and corn on the cob at NuBar, we headed into town, and in true American fashion, we went to Temple Bar.

Many places in town had American flags hung and almost everywhere we went someone wished us a “Happy Independence Day.” Most the Irish people we ran into that night seemed genuinely American Flag Irish Bar excited for us that it was independence day and made a point to talk to us about it. Something I’ve noticed about the Irish is that they have quite a global awareness about other cultures. Almost every Irish person I’ve talked to is very knowledgeable about American history, politics and popular culture. I don’t know nearly as much about Irish society as they know about American society. As ethnocentric as this is, most of my perceptions about Ireland come from American movies, which is probably why most of my expectations about being here were wrong. Much to the dismay of all the girls on this trip, Ireland is not full of handsome Irish men wandering the countryside like P.S I Love You taught us, but nonetheless when we took a tour of Wicklow national park that didn’t stop most of the girls from looking. The Irish aren’t completely innocent either, considering that I’ve heard Jersey Shore quoted to me more than once. The first week of being here, when anyone asked where I’m from I would usually just say America, but most people usually seemed a little annoyed that I would assume they hadn’t figured that out. Turns out, everyone here knows where Colorado is, and I usually get some kind of response about Coors beer, the Rocky Mountains, and, much to my surprise, multiple people have asked me if I ride horses on the plains... I'm still a little baffled that that's the image some people have when they The Temple Bar
picture Colorado. Enough pondering about perceptions; back to 4th of July. With the responsibility of representing American pride we of course all wore red, white, and blue. My friend in the program, Erika, wore a red and white-stripped shirt. This of course led many people to jokingly ask, “Where’s Wally?” We were constantly correcting people saying, “His name is not even Wally, it’s Waldo!!” The following day, we were shopping at a bookstore called Chapters when we stumbled upon the kid’s section. Turns out that in Ireland the Where’s Waldo books do not feature Waldo, but they feature “Wally” and are actually called Where’s Wally? Typical, the joke is on us.


The Wild West

by Kim Burke

Kim and Maddie We ended the first session with our West of Ireland trip and this trip was my most favorite thing we’ve done in the program thus far. We traveled out to Westport, County Mayo and stayed in a cute little hotel and did tours everyday. The first day there we hiked to Croagh Patrick, which is an ancient pilgrimage site that is still used yearly for the devout to climb up it barefoot. Across from Croagh Patrick is the Famine Memorial. County Mayo was hit the hardest during the famine and this memorial is in the shape of a “Coffin ship.” Tragedy struck in 1847 when the potato crop failed completely, forcing thousands of people toWhole group and famine village abandon their homes and way of life. Coffin ships were the name given to the ships carrying the thousands of Irish people trying to escape. Many people died on that journey, thus the name coffin ships. 
It was a very somber mood when we drove along the famine walk and we saw a famine village. The structures of the village were still there, but it had been completely abandoned, this gave us a tangible way to understand the devastation of the famine, it literally wiped out once thriving communities. It was humbling to be in a place that has overcome so much devastation.

Image012       Three students           
famine ship memorial                                                                    

We also got to tour Tom Hennigan’s farm. His farm has been in his family for generations and we learned all about how Irish farmers used to live back in the 1800’s. With my own family hailing from County Mayo, I couldn’t help but imagine that my ancestors lived similarly. I loved getting to hear from Tom as he talked to us about “the good old days” of Ireland and how much the world has changed. Most of the Irish people that I have conversed with are young college aged students like myself, so it was interesting getting to hear from someone from an older generation.  Group in connemara

Our West of Ireland trip was so great because we went to places that I would never have gone to on my own. It was also a last hoorah for the students that were leaving after the first session. Although I was really sad to say goodbye to the first session people, it made me really thankful that I have another month here. My time in Ireland so far has been a crazy, exciting, and scary adventure!


                                                       The Summer I group


A New Summer School 2011

by Kim Burke

My time in Dublin thus far has been quite the adventure. From the first few Picture 2 Dubh Linndays of walking around the city in a zombie-like jet-lagged state, to being in tears at the end of the first session while having to say goodbye, I have come a long way. My expectations for Dublin were way off, but then again, most expectations are. Coming here, I knew that Dublin would be a thriving, international city but some part of me still wanted to believe it would be the green rolling hills full of sheep and farmers. While I was initially disappointed, little did I know that in a few weeks time I would be absolutely in love with this city.

Our teachers, Don and Martin, are great and they compliment each other well. Martin tries to 
always make sure we feel comfortable in the city and our school material and makes sure we understand Irish culture. Don helps us understand the culture too, usually by means of shocking us with the bluntness and forwardness that is uniquely Irish. The first week here was pretty much all orientation. As our teacher Martin walked us through the city, I was trying desperately to remember where everything is, mostly due to the fact that he continued to Picture 2 Sigpost jokingly threaten us with “ambush orienteering” in which he would leave us on our own to find our way, and I was determined to be ready for it. We walked around Dublin City Hall and were able to view the gardens of the black pool where Dublin’s name is derived from, originally called Dubh Linn. We walked along St. Audeon’s, Christchurch Cathedral, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

We also had class orientation and Don and Martin gave us advice about being an American living Picture 4 St Audeons in Ireland. I learned about “slagging” the first day of class, and I then experienced it first hand that night… and pretty much every other night I’ve been here. Slagging is basically poking fun at others but it is always done in good jest, and I’ve found that most Irish that slag you do it because they like you and it’s an easy conversation opener. There is one social aspect I picked up on immediately after arriving in Dublin; the Irish are extremely sarcastic and have a very dry sense of humor. The Irish perceive Americans as easy target for Picture 7 Sheep slagging, a stereotype I’ve realized we contribute to frequently, especially after Martin had convinced half of our class that the sheep in Ireland actually have longer back legs than front ones to help them stand on the mountains. Slagged.                                                        


I really love the lay out of our class; most days consist of a lecture in the morning and a sitPicture 15 Kilmainhamiiie visit in the afternoon. The site visits are always really interesting and I love that we can learn about  something and then go physically see it. My favorite field trip so far was our visit to Kilmainham Gaol, the jail that housed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. The 1916 Easter Rising was a failed attempt for Irish freedom but when the rebels were taken to Kilmainham and executed there, it made martyrs out of them, which ultimately reignited Irish passion for independence from Britain.

  Some of us in Galway
Picture 12 Galway students All of my free time the first few weeks was spent traveling to different parts of Ireland. Heading out to the countryside was wonderful and it’s the image most people have when they think of Ireland; lots of green hills and beautiful seaside cliffs. I spent my first weekend in Galway, which I absolutely loved. Galway seems like a miniature version of Dublin; it has a small town feel but still all the amenities of a big city. It seemed to have a more “Irish” feel to it. The Irish are all extremely friendly and hospitable and when I walked into Picture 11 Galway
the pub in Galway that first weekend, I felt like I was already among friends. The weekend we were there they were having a Havana festival, so the town was full of live music and we sat out on the canal and watched the Havana dancers. It was awesome. I also took many day trips traveling to little fishing towns just outside of Dublin, and while these towns are usually less than an hour train ride away, I feel like I’m in a different country. The most memorable town for me was Howth (although seeing Picture 8 Howth
Bono’s door in Killiney was a close second.) My day in Howth consisted of gallivanting around the markets, hiking through the Howth Castle Gardens, and having fresh seafood and a bottle of wine overlooking the ocean. Not a bad day at all.


And then there was 2 and a half hours until I go to the Airport.

I am writing this literally at last possible second, so I feel pretty good about recapping what I have learned this trip, in no particular order.

  • No one likes American guys. No one. We are boring in our own country and viewed as dead-weight for American Girls, which are the Golden Key to getting into any place or getting any discount. Thanks, American Female Friends
  • IRISH PEOPLE LOVE PRINGLES! SERIOUSLY! THEY'RE EVERYWHERE! ALL SORTS OF FLAVOURS! HAVE YOU EVER HAD PRAWN PRINGLES? They have! They love 'em! You get an American Girls with a tube of Pringles they just might hand you the key to the city.
  • When someone asks me where I'm from, I say Wisconsin. I'd say "America" or "The States" and they would be annoyed with me for assuming they couldn't figure that out.
  • Open Container laws on mass-transit systems cut down on drunk driving, but exponentially increase the chance of having a drunk homeless man fall asleep next to you.
  • Irish people know how to say their Th's in words like "Three" and "Theory", they just choose not to.
  • I look 17. People were incredulous when they would see I'm no longer a teenager.
  • I love Kebabs.
  • I love the Dog Track
  • Whenever you go t--Wait, back to the Dog Track.

Every session we have a "Farewell Dinner" at a nicer restaurant and usually have a very pleasant time. However, someone had the idea to have it at the Dog Track. So our pleasant time turned into a SUPER AWESOME TIME! What is better than eating salmon while watching the 12-1 dog place in second place? I'll tell you what, actually placing a bet on that instead of idly talking about it, like I did. The adrenaline, the chance, the surprisingly low amount of dead-beat heroin addicts, I love it!

  • Without fail, every time I told an Irish Person I was from Wisconsin they said, I quote: "THAT 70S SHOW!" This was a good 20 interactions that his happened. They LOVE That 70s Show, and most likely never met someone from Wisconsin. Which I why I got the following follow up questions:
    • "Living in a city must be a serious culture shock"
    • "I bet you're finally enjoying a farm summer!"
    • "You're from WiSCONsin?" - That was from Americans.

All in all, I've had an absolutely incredible experience that I can say with a great deal of certainty that I'll remember forever. The CIEE staff has been absolutely fantastic with Don and Martin being equal parts knowledgeable and personable. Dublin is now my second favorite city in the world and I look forward to coming back whenever possible. However, there is no place like home. It will be bittersweet in two hours when I have to get in that cab, but I feel confident knowing that I've done everything I could have dreamed of and more here.

Deuces, Ireland.

Hopefully next time we meet I can have a job.

....Alright, I gotta finish packing.

Northern Ireland: ...I'd feel too bad making jokes about this.

I was really excited to go to Northern Ireland since I heard about it. I never really knew what happened in Northern Ireland until I spent 40 class hours learning about it. It's super complicated and messy and the fact there is a ceasefire is amazing. 

Politics aside, Belfast was OK. It has a totally different feel than Dublin. High Rise buildings, all grey brick, it feel more like an American city than Ireland. (Well, technically it's not Ireland, but you know what I mean). The political murals were equal parts inspiring and terrifying and the fact that the Troubles were only ended 10 years ago is equal numbing.

One non-depressing, super awesome thing is WE SAW WHERE THE TITANIC WAS BUILT. Like, inside the buildings! So sweet! As they say in Belfast: "There was nothing wrong with it when it left here!".

Things then got somber again going to Derry/Londonderry and seeing the murals and memorials to The Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday. The Bloody Sunday Museum was especially poignant with the the sister of one of the boys killed runs the Museum and gave a talk to our group. She was recently in the news because her and the other families of the Bloody Sunday victims were invited to a formal apology by the British Prime Minister for the actions of the British police on that day after findings that the protesters weren't a threat to anyone's safety.

I apologize if a lot of this is foreign or unfamiliar with anyone. I don't think I can do a summation of the history of the Northern Ireland Tensions justice. However, if you're interesting in History, Politics, or Current Events, it's worth a look. A really interesting case of sectarian hate and tensions between ethno-religious boundaries.

 The Carrickfergus castle in Carrickfergus, to be exact. It was a castle, and it was dope.

That brings us up to now, sort of!

Dublin Castle 'n' Stuff - 6/7-13/7

This week we had a lot of free time so I did more of the aforementioned bumming around and hanging out with friends from the session. A friend from freshmen year came in, we watched the World Cup, nothing Earth Shaking.

 Dublin Castle is a really cool spot. The inside is gorgeous. If you are a fan of old houses, walking around old houses, looking at classic architecture, looking at Victorian and Elizabethan furniture and decorations, go to Dublin Castle. They also sell post-cards with Family Crests on them. "A Cat When Stroked Is Gentle". Way to go Kane Clan.

With this break in the action, let me tell you about a rekindled love affair: Sugar and I.

In Europe, no one uses preservatives. In your candy bar and in your soda you just high quality ingredients and high quality sugar. On the downside, everything is way more empty calorie pack. On the upside, the majority of your beverage/snack food isn't made in lab. I am bringing home a treasure trove of goodies to show America the joys of sugar and hopefully it will catch on here. Or we can stick with the chemicals, I've been cool with them so far.

See you in Northern Ireland!

The Importance of Being Realistic - 5/7/10

When I was in High School I really wanted to be a creative writer. A novelist, a poet, something. I though my life would be cool and relevant and be filled with equal parts accolades and popularity. We went to the Irish Writers Museum and there seems to be a general trend: "Man, they were a great writer, but they hated themselves!" After listening to what looked like a Cobbler's tool for making shoes talk about the canon of the Irish Literary Set I could figure out if they were all morose because they were too crazy/brilliant or if they were just Irish.

Not to sound culturally insensitive, but the museum spanned the the 19th and early 20th centuries. That was not exactly the best time to be Irish. I now know more about James Joyce than I ever needed to. One thing I found funny was the fact that he always wrote about Ireland, but he felt oppressed there so he peaced out. I might try to start reading Ulysses again. However, it took me 20 minutes to think about reading it, so I can only imagine actually trying to read it will be about as fruitless. 

It rained this day. It literally was the nicest Irish summer in the history. It rained 4 times while I was there. All four times I had no umbrella, jacket, and was always walking somewhere. I looked like someone thew Oliver Twist in a lake.



I went to a Hurling Match on the 4th of July. What's Hurling? Field Hockey on steroids and a disregard for padding.

Tangent Time: Ireland has a huge volunteer sports organisation called the GAA, the Gaelic Atheltic Association where they play Irish games such a Gaelic Football, Rugby, and Hurling. They're all various variations of running and trying to kick things through uprights. They do have one common theme, beating the crap out of each other with minimum cushioning. In Hurling there is a 200 pound man barreling at you with a wooden club in his hand swinging all about your personal space. They were FORCED to wear Helmets this year. It's really wild.

The Hurling Tournament was good craic and I'm glad I got to go. Irish sports has a really cool dynamic American sports lack because since the Athletes are all from their respective Counties and are unpaid, the players are all members of the community who you see at the bank, the grocery store, etc. etc. It's a cool concept to cheer for your friends and neighbors as opposed to laundry, as Seinfeld says.

We then celebrated America's birthday by asking some Irish friends of our what the most American place to eat is. It was called Captain America's. It was the pretty much the Hard Rock Cafe with faux-Americana knick-knacks on the wall and American inspired specials.

I went home feeling full, groggy, and slightly underwhelmed. SOUNDS LIKE THE 4TH TO ME!