The countdown continues here with number three on my list of favorite Ireland memories.
This isn’t one specific moment or memory, but the entire backdrop for my semester. When choosing my program, I knew that I wanted to be close to Dublin but not in it. Maynooth was the perfect choice, a little university town with a great nightlife and beautiful campus, just a short and inexpensive train ride from the big city. I became a part of this town in so many ways. I was a student at the National University of Ireland, living on the campus. I was a regular Sunday attendee at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. I shopped at the local Dunnes, Tesco, and Aldi. I danced at the student-filled nightclubs and sat at the bar of the unofficial town watering hole.
The town was lovely, with quaint winding streets and friendly locals. The campus and its huge medieval looking buildings were positively stunning. I had classes in those buildings, and I made sure I didn’t take my time in them for granted. The town and university made an absolutely wonderful place to spend a semester and I truly believe I couldn’t have chosen anything better. Maynooth probably isn’t on the itinerary for many people vacationing in Ireland, but I know when I go back someday it will be one of my first stops.
For the first few weeks of our semester, my orientation group and I spent lots of time simply wandering, trying to get a feel for the area and see everything beautiful that there was to see. We found a hidden golf course, an adorable cottage, some ancient ruins, a grand church, a historic graveyard, a tranquil pond… most of this was located either out in town or on the South Campus of NUIM. The North Campus was newer and much more modern, and living on the North Campus meant we had great flats to live in. My apartment was a large living/cooking/dining space shared by five students (myself, two Irish men, one Irish woman, and another international student from China) with five single bedrooms, all with small ensuite bathrooms. My room was small, but for the first time in my life it was all mine. I treasured that independence almost as much as I treasured my beautiful surroundings in this beautiful town, the great school I attended, the friendly roommates I had, the interesting people I met, and the community I became a part of.