Monday, February 01, 2010

My Erasmus in Cork

As you probably all now, a bit more than four months ago now, I left my beloved Belgium for the country I always had dreamt about, Ireland. If I had to describe my Erasmus in one word, the word would be ‘adventure’. It was quite a challenge for me to leave and live alone for three months but I decided to take the opportunity and looking back now I can say I am happy and lucky I did it.

So, my Irish adventures started on 15th September in Charleroi airport. And from then on, I felt unlucky. Indeed, having misread the Ryanair luggage policy I had to pay 210€ excess. I felt so bad I just wanted to leave the airport and go back to bed I had left too early this morning.
Fortunately, Magali was with me and she supported me. And so we left and when arriving in Dublin, instead of taking a second flight to
Cork (the 210€ were still a painful memory) we took the bus, ready for a four-and-a-half-journey.

When I arrived in Cork, I was surprised by the generosity and kindness of the Irish people, but also by their accent, which is quite hard to understand I must admit. But I could understand a few words and finally arrived in
Farranlea Hall where I was supposed to stay for the semester. There, I learned that I had to move to another place, closer to the campus. The reason was that there would be more people staying for the week end so that I wouldn’t be alone. But as you can imagine, it was not the case. And even though the room was better than I expected I felt lonely from the time my friend was gone. But soon I met people and started college. As I was in Ireland to improve my English, I was glad when I learned that my flat mates where Irish girls from Cork with Irish names difficult to pronounce and remember at first time, i.e. Maire, Aoife and Deirdre. This was also my first contact with the Irish language, which I tried to learn when I was there.

Talking about Ireland without talking about the weather would be a huge mistake, especially if this one added some little things to your Erasmus. We’re always complaining about the rain in Belgium… Be reassured now, Ireland is worse. It had rained so much the week of 20th November, that the authorities decided to open the dam in Cork. As a result, a great part of the city and parts of the campus were flooded. The campus was thus closed for a week and the water supply was interrupted in some places. Unfortunately, it seems I was in the wrong place and therefore had to live, or survive without water for nine days, and believe me, it was not an easy week!

As far as college is concerned, the courses were very interesting for the greater part. I was just a bit disappointed about my German class, because they didn’t want me to take a higher level and I just felt I didn’t learn anything. But on the other side, I learned a lot about Irish and Celtic believes and customs - without forgetting the fairies - during my Folklore course. The system of examination is also a bit different from here… As far as I’m concerned, I had to write three essays for one course for example or write two essays (three pages each) in an hour and a half.

Let’s talk about my life as an Erasmus student there… In the beginning of the year, I joined the photographic society, which enables me to go on a trip to Galway and to visit at the same time
Connemara and the Burren. As I already had gone to Cork in June to get to know the city, I didn’t go sightseeing that much. I just regret I didn’t go back to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone, though I went to Clonakilty and went to the Inchyndoney and Owenahincha beaches. I also went to see the Gaelic football match between Cork and Kerry in a pub and attended a hurling match. One of the places where I spent a lot of time in Cork was the Mardyke Arena, the sport complex. There, I experienced trampoline, which was, as Floriane told me, perhaps a bit too dangerous for me, and wushu. Sadly, the Mardyke was flooded and I had to stop doing sport. Though, I continued to walk because, as opposed to people staying in the Netherlands or in Belgium, I had no bike. I also liked to go to Crane Lane Theatre, where bands were playing live.

To conclude, my Erasmus was a great experience, even though it was sometimes a bit adventurous. I learned to know more about Irish and other cultures and I also learned to know more about myself. It’s a great opportunity I had and even if sometimes I wondered why I chose to go there and sometimes had regrets, looking backwards now, I’m glad I made this choice.


Anonymous said...


Ricardo Galvão de Mello said...

Hello! Im going on erasmus to UCC next year, can you give me any help about costs in food and acommodation?

i love your blog!

Thank you :)