Living in a new place, let alone a new country, can present a lot of firsts. First time trying to find your way around town, first time trying to cook using a stove where the labels are rubbed off, first time doing international student orientation, first basketball practice, and the list could go on and on. So far we have been in Carlow for five full days now and I have already been presented with so many challenges that I have had to figure out.
Carlow is a small town where nearly everything you could possibly need is all within about a 10 minutes walk.. that is if you know where you are going. Grocery stores, restaurants (lots and lots of pubs), shopping centers, churches, you name it and its probably here somewhere (& if I tell you it’s not then I just probably haven’t stumbled upon it yet). The first time walking around the town showed me that yes you can get lost, but if you just keep walking toward the big Carlow Cathedral then you will probably, and hopefully, end up somewhere that looks familiar. With knowing that, I have felt a lot more comfortable to go out and explore the town. So far, there always seems to be a new place I have not been yet and I am sure, at least for a while, I will keep finding that out.
Out of the five days we have been here, three of those days I have been taking part in the IT Carlow international student orientation. Before the orientation started, I did not feel like I was in that much of a foreign place. I felt pretty confident I knew what was going on and that I was going to be able to get by just fine. But as the orientation went on, I have learned so much more about Ireland, and many other cultures, that I had no idea about. Aside from learning just how genuinely nice Irish people are, I have also learned a lot about the French and German culture as well. One of our activities we had to do at orientation was basically “speed dating”. For about an hour, I rotated talking to about 12 different people for five minutes each. The first four or so people I talked to were all from China.. and boy did that challenge me. For the first 20 minutes I was challenged with trying to communicate to them what I was trying to say in a way that they would understand. Saying what I thought were simple questions such as “How many siblings do you have?” or “What are you studying?” turned out to not actually being that simple. After asking those questions in a multitude of different ways until they understood what I was saying I just laughed to myself because for how challenged I was in trying to communicate to them with what I was saying, I know they were just as challenged with trying to understand me. So not only did I learn so much about people from different parts of the world, this exercise also showed me how much I am going to learn about and be challenged myself this year.
As I sit here and reflect on all of this, I await 6:00pm, the time of my first basketball practice. A big challenge for me when deciding on whether or not I wanted to continue my basketball career this year was the awesome experience I had at Bucknell the past four years and the teammates I had the opportunity to play with. Not only do I have my first practice soon, I also get to meet my teammates for the first time and I could not be more excited. Although I know I will miss my old teammates and all the good times I had with them, I know that when I made the decision to pursue this incredible opportunity and to continue playing, I had to promise myself to not only make the most of this and every opportunity this year, but I also had promise myself to have fun & that’s exactly what I am looking forward to, having fun and making new memories with my new team!
“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.”- William Arthur Ward