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  • For me, my first real impression of Ireland did not come until a week after arriving in Galway. Visiting students at NUI Galway are asked to arrive six days before the start of the semester for orientation, and the days are packed with tours, meetings, and class planning. During this first week, I found myself completely surrounded by other American students and had very little interaction with any of the Irish. Due to the fact that classes didn’t officially start until after orientation, the campus was void of any Irish students or faculty giving it a distinctly American feel.
    As a visiting student, I was given a wonderful opportunity to live alongside Irish students attending the university. Unlike most American institutions, I did not know whom I would be living with until I arrived at Gort na Coiribe, my NUIG accommodation. My roommate Biz and I were informed that we would be sharing an apartment with four other Irish students, but we were given no further information beyond that. Those first six days were marked by ceaseless anticipation as we wondered who we would share space with for the next four months and when they would arrive. Our anticipation grew more and more by the day until we heard a knock on the door late on the sixth night.
    Standing in front of us on the doorstep was a tall boy with a huge smile on his face who casually greeted us with, “Hi! I’m your new roommate.” He strode into the living room, made himself at home, and explained that all four of our housemates were boys who would be arriving shortly. I have a younger brother and have lived alongside boys in HWS dorms, but I have never shared a living space with four of them before. All of them have turned out to be incredibly welcoming and have made every effort to make us feel at home. I can confidently say that I learned more about Irish culture the first day I met my roommates than I did my entire first week in Galway. They showed us their favorite shows, sports, and places to go in town. One of them speaks a little Irish and another even plays Gaelic football for his county. We have shared many laughs over silly language and cultural differences and they have even been patient enough to try and explain the rules of Hurling to me. Needless to say, I have come to rather enjoy living with these four boys. They have given me an Irish university experience in a way that nothing else could. I have made friends with their friends, and they have really come to like my American friends. Galway is said to have some of the friendliest people on earth, and that has definitely been my impression so far.
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