Over the last week, I’ve fully embraced my role as an American tourist by scrambling around Waterford and taking a million photographs. Week one in my new home has brought new faces, Irish phrases, and a handful of breathtaking sights.
On Saturday night, Maria and I arrived to Waterford I.T. for the first time and were greeted by our new coaches (Mick Evans and Jillian Hayes). After going grocery shopping (shoutout Coach Mick for buying the first round of food), we headed to Ryan Pepper’s house for dinner. “Pep,” as they call him, is the point guard for the Vikings, and he’s been an instrumental part of my transition to living in Waterford. When we arrived at his house, the Peppers had a home cooked meal waiting for us. They made it clear that I’m always welcome over for dinner. Truthfully, that’s a dangerous offer to extend; I’ll make sure to cash in on as many home-cooked meals as possible, because my ability to cook is limited to scrambled eggs and overdone chicken.
After dinner, we grabbed a cab down to the Mansion House (a large pub in the center of the city) to meet the entire team. I was blown away by how friendly and outgoing my teammates were. They bought food and drinks for the two new Victory Scholars, and explained many of the ins and outs of life in Waterford. Perhaps, the most valuable lesson came immediately after I ordered a Rockshore Lager in front of the group. My teammate Jack Murphy informed me, “You might as well order a pint of water, lad.” I’ll stick to Guinness from here on out.
On Sunday, I was able to experience the beauty of Waterford for the first time. About 20 minutes outside of the city is a beach town called Tramore. After spending a few hours in an amusement park, my teammates and I drove to Guillamene Cove (pictured below):
This image is exactly how I envisioned the Irish coast before my arrival. A handful of people made the ambitious decision to swim in the sea. I was even more surprised to see people jumping off the cliff into the water below. You won’t hear about me doing anything like that (@mom and dad).
On Tuesday, I travelled around downtown Waterford for a few hours. Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, and known as the “Viking Capital” of the country. One highlights of today was my visit to the Crystal Factory, where I was able to see the creation of crystal from raw materials. Check it out below:
I’m thrilled to call Waterford my home for the next 9 months. I must admit, it’s been challenging to move away from the rest of the scholars, who are now scattered across different cities throughout the island of Ireland. Hopefully, we will see each other over Halloween or Thanksgiving. Now, it’s onto hoop season!