Hello! A Three Week Recap: Early Start Course + Getting Settled in Ireland

Hello, world!

I would like to welcome you all to my study abroad blog–I am currently studying abroad in Cork, Ireland for the Fall 2021 semester. I will utilize this blog as a keep-all for all my adventures (past and present) here in Ireland. I will update this blog as often as I can in hopes of giving you all my rawest experience studying abroad.

I will start this blog with a super-duper quick recap of my travel experience coming to Ireland: I am a Rhode Island native so my quickest route to Europe was leaving out of Logan Airport in Boston–and I did just that! At 7:25 PM on Monday, August 16th, 2021, I said my heartfelt goodbyes to my family and boarded my flight to Amsterdam. I had a four-hour layover in Amsterdam (yes, I did take a nap) and then finally got on the smallest plane I have ever been on to Cork, Ireland at 12:05 PM. At 12:55 PM on August 17th, 2021, I landed in Ireland (fun fact: there is a one-hour difference between the Netherlands and Ireland despite their close proximity to one another…okay fine, it might not be that fun of a fact but I did not know…I only figured this out on the plane when I realized my flight was actually two hours long…not one…good times!) Below are two pictures: the first one I took somewhere over the Atlantic while the sun was setting; the second picture I captured upon arriving in Ireland! Stunning right? Other than that, arrival in Ireland went quite smoothly–if only you had seen me dragging my two (very large) suitcases around the airport (it was a workout if I do say so myself). Anyways, there was a taxi waiting for me at the exit and my student accommodation was only about a 15-minute drive–I had a great conversation with the taxi driver who gave me a SparkNotes version of all that there is to do in Ireland!

I was warmly welcomed to my student accommodation (it is an apartment that I share with four amazing girls–we each have our own bedroom/bathroom and share the kitchen/common area) by one of our security wardens who was incredibly nice, welcoming, and helpful! He told me where I can buy some groceries and other necessities. I was the first one in the apartment to move in so it was definitely a bit lonely but I phoned my mother as soon as I arrived and gave her a little tour of my apartment. I was incredibly exhausted and trying to beat the jet lag so I unpacked, decorated my room a bit, and crashed. For the next few days after that, I was getting settled going into the City Centre to buy necessities (buying an Irish SIM card for my phone was 100% the best purchase I made). Enjoy these pictures below of Cork City!¬†

The River Lee
The River Lee (again!)
Cork City Views
Cork City
Alleyways turned outdoor seating for restaurants!









NOW to chat about what the title of this blog states: part of the study abroad program in Cork, Ireland through Holy Cross is the Early Start program. Essentially, the Early Start program consists of picking a class (they have a variety to pick from) that lasts three weeks. The class that I chose was Early Start in Irish Archeology (The Archeology of Prehistoric and Historic Ireland). Throughout those three weeks, we attended daily three-hour lectures, went on field trips, took an exam, and wrote two papers. The class was incredibly helpful as we got to learn the foundation of the Irish collegiate system (grading, assignments, what lectures look like, what professors expect, and so much more) in addition to getting to know the country of Ireland. The two concepts intersect in that we were lucky enough to go on field trips that directly correlated with the themes that we were learning in class. I learned a great deal about the country of Ireland and its rich history. I will highlight the field trips through photos so that you can all see the true beauty that Ireland holds.

First up was a field trip to the Dingle Peninsula (westernmost point in Ireland!) located in County Kerry on August 27th, 2021; here, we saw the Gallarus oratory and Kilmalkedar (church of the Early Medieval period). Here are some of my favorite pictures:

The Gallarus oratory (stone church)
The countryside of theūüďćDingle Peninsula
The archeology class got to spend some time in Dingle (a super cute seaside town)
Holy Cross group in Dingle! Quick storytime: the dolphin statue in the picture is the Dingle Dolphin whose name is Fungie! He is loved by many as he would come into close contact with the humans of Dingle–how cute! Sadly, Fungie has been missing since 2020 which left many concerned for his welfare. Most people believe that he either moved on to new waters or passed on.
SO. MANY. SHEEP. You gotta love Ireland!
More sheep because why not!
View from a Kilmalkedar church window!
The stunning archeological remains of the Kilmalkedar church

The next field trip on the roster was to North Cork and the Rock of Cashel on Wednesday, September, 1st! The three stops on this trip were to the Labbacallee Wedge Tomb (one of the biggest wedge tombs in Ireland), we then visited Mitchelstown Caves and made our final stop at the Rock of Cashel located in County Tipperary. Here are some of my favorite pictures from each site:

Labacalle Wedge Tomb

Mitchelstown Caves

My first authentic Irish lunch in Cashel! Vegetarian quiche with veggies and mashies!
Selfie in the Mitchelstown Caves!
All the below pictures are of the Mitchelstown Caves and honestly, these pictures don’t do it justice–the cave systems were massive and so interesting–just to get down into the caves we had to walk down a steep, manmade staircase! Such a cool experience

Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary 

One of my favorite pictures: world from the door!
Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel
Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel

Next up, we have a field trip to Dublin on Friday, September 3rd! In Dublin, we visited the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street and the Christ Church Cathedral–in both places we got to explore Viking Dublin! Here are the pictures from both sites!

The National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street 

Gold Lunulas at the National Museum
National Museum of Ireland
I am very fond of floor art/tile panels–this one is so beautiful; also located at the National Museum of Ireland

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

City views in Dublin
More floor art–this is at the Christ Church Cathedral!
Holy Cross group at the Christ Church Cathedral
Picture of me outside of the Cathedral!
This is THE Christ Church Cathedral (view from the outside)
This picture and all the rest that follow are of all the things that caught my eye while exploring the Cathedral and the 12th-century crypt that lies underneath the Cathedral

Alrighty, to continue on, the following field trip was to¬†West Cork on Monday, September, 6th, where we saw quite a few important sites including, Garranes Ringfort, Ballinacarriga Tower House, Coppinger’s Court, and Dromberg: Stone Circle and Fulachta Fiadh. All of these sites hold a lot of significant value to Ireland’s history–I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to visit all these sites and learn from each place. Here are my favorite captured moments:

Garranes Ringfort 

To get to the ringfort, we had to walk through tall grass (literally up to my waist)–it was an adventure
Jany + nature (in moderation) = happiness

Ballinacarriga Tower House 

We had to walk up a very old and steep staircase to get to the very top of the Tower House; the Tower House holds a lot of well-preserved historical treasures!
This is the Tower House from the outside

Coppinger’s Court¬†

Unfortunately, we were not able to get any closer to the fortified house as it is not stable nor safe enough but this is Coppinger’s Court, built in the year 1616
Cute cows that live next to Coppinger’s Court!

Dromberg: Stone Circle and Fulachta Fiadh 

We have officially made it to the last field trip of the class: on¬†Thursday, September 9th, 2021,¬†we headed off to The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher–an iconic attraction in Ireland. In the region known as the Burren we got to see Corcomroe Abbey (a Cistercian monastery) and Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. Here are some pictures from all of the last sites we saw in the archeology class!

Corcomroe Abbey 

As we can see by this image, modern-day burials have become popular at the Corcomroe Abbey
Lily-of-the-valley carving on a pillar at the Abbey
Corcomroe Abbey ruins

Poulnabrone Portal Tomb

This picture of me shows just how unique the landschape of the Burren is!
In front of the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb!
Poulnabrone Portal Tomb
Poulnabrone Portal Tomb

The Cliffs of Moher

It was a cloudy and foggy day near the Cliffs but increadibly beautiful nonetheless!

Overall, as you all can see, the Early Start Program was such an incredible experience. I am so thankful that I was able to be part of an amazing program. It was quite literally the best possible introduction to Ireland I could have asked for–to see so many places and learn so much in a short period of time is a dream!

Alright everyone, that about wraps everything up for this blog. When you see this blog I would have already started classes (stay tuned for the next blog)–and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience thus far at University College Cork! See you soon!

Take care!

-JMG (: