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Week two: Freshman year repeat

Duke Editor 1/10/12 9:51 PM

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By Allison Keene

Freshman Year Repeat: Getting Involved on a Foreign Campus

My first few days in Galway have felt a bit like the start of freshman year. The combination of new roommates, surroundings and classes can, admittedly, be a little overwhelming.But the mere fact that I’m in Ireland now makes the transition so much easier. Just like freshman year, however, I have realized the importance of taking advantage of everything that Galway and the University provide. Fortunately, both offer opportunities to build a home here almost as soon as students step off the plane. Here's my check list for the next few weeks:

1)  Get to know roommates and other Duquesne Students

Dunaras Village, the student apartment complex where I live, won't tell you the names of your roommates before you move in, so I moved in with absolutely no foreknowledge of who I would be living with or when they would arrive. I was fortunate enough not to be the first one to move in, so I had friendly faces to help me drag my behemoth suitcases up two flights of stairs. Despite the distinct lack of Facebook creeping ability, getting to know roommates is an easy way to feel at home. Similarly, Duquesne students are lucky to be traveling in a group, a luxury other students don’t have. Duquesne students here are going to be a great resource for enjoying a piece of home while abroad.

2)  Explore the city

The city of Galway is designed for students. The town itself is a network of narrow, winding cobblestone streets lined with pubs and stores. The Irish culture revolves around these small venues, where students, musicians, and natives gather to enjoy a truly unique and intimate atmosphere. Live music is an important part of this area, with both traditional Irish and popular music available to people willing to hop between venues.

3)  Attend orientation

Orientation is not generally the highlight of most people’s first few days at school and, frankly, nothing is going to measure up to the intensity of Duquesne’s marathon extravaganza. The National University of Ireland at Galway’s orientation is several days and, though it might not be the most interesting of pastimes, it definitely offers solid information and is worth the time. The events are largely quick and over by early afternoon, so the rest of the day is open for city exploring.

4)  Join the International and Erasmus student groups on Facebook

Erasmus refers to students studying abroad in Ireland who are from Europe, but joining this group as well as the international student group can be beneficial. Both allowed one of my roommates to network with students before she arrived and let her know about activities happening on campus; it was something I wish I had the foresight to do.

5)  Join societies and clubs

Galway offers more than 60 societies and as many clubs for students. In Ireland, societies vary extensively, from the International Students Society to the Photography Society, German Society, and even the aptly-named Nothing Specific Society for those students who are either indecisive or without specific interests. Almost all sports are represented in the clubs, even surfing and kayaking (although it’s January, and those are distinctly unappealing at the moment). The way they advertise the societies at the activities fair is fantastic: giant Jenga towers and paper airplane attacks are to be expected.

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