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May 2012 - Irish Life Experience

More Helpful Advice from ILE 2011 Alumnae, Fiona Tomlin

Hey! I’m back!

Although Ryan did a superbly thorough job of filling you guys in on some ILE essentials, I would like to add a few things. (From a girl’s perspective.)

Fiona’s ILE Survival Guide for Girls:

1. Bring a small bag that is easy to carry around that fits your wallet, a digital camera, an international phone if you have one-not necessary, and maybe some lip balm or gum. Leave the heftier tote bags at home. Even if it’s new and adorable and fits all your necessities. Trust me, most of those things aren’t remotely necessary.

2. Get an international phone if you plan on updating your family by phone, but you can just as easily do without one if you don’t think you’ll need it. I don’t recommend using your time in cities relying on Internet Cafes to E-mail/Facebook family and friends. If you want one, there are international phones and plans that let you add minutes for really cheap. (Go to Vodaphone.)

3. Your beloved curling iron/hair straightener can still blow out even with a proper electrical adapter. This can result in burning your hair off, leaving a weird short spot in the back of your blonde tresses. (Neither confirming nor denying if this tip is related to a personal anecdote.) Basically, bring one if you can’t live without it, but use sparingly and carefully.

4. You’re given a lot of independence on the trip, but also the right amount of supervision. Don’t abuse your independence. Listen to directions and stay within the kind boundaries set forth by your wonderful counselors and you will have no problems.

5. This might be painfully girly, but here it goes: Buy a new perfume before you leave the US, (Travel size so TSA can’t freak out.) and use it daily in Ireland. Science shows us that smell is the most sharply tuned sensory association tool we have. In other words, when you’re back stateside and missing the ILE or your ILE friends, one whiff will take you right back to the Emerald Isle. I’m so glad I did this even if you’re laughing at me right now for spritzing perfume in a cloud around my laptop as I write this. Memories.

6. Bring comfortable, broken in flats or sneakers that go with everything. You do a lot of walking and you don’t want to attempt to break in new shoes no matter how cute you think they’ll look on the cobblestones of Temple Bar. Blisters are never cute. Also bring a lightweight raincoat and rain boots for wet days, of which there’s a good amount.

7. Ryan touched on this but…, take pictures! However, don’t take too many pictures. Don’t focus on simply snapping away! Look around, relish the moment, IN the moment, then snap away. Take meaningful photos of things that you love or inspire you. And most importantly, hand someone else the camera once in awhile. What’s a hundred beautiful green landscape shots if your beautiful self isn’t even in one of them?!

8. Connect with any Irish family you may have and see if you can arrange to meet up with them for one day or just dinner. I did this. I know Ryan did too and it is a fantastic new way to experience your heritage. The ILE Program is very accommodating when helping you meet up with your family, but be sure to arrange it well in advance.

9. Buy an Aran Knit Sweater from the Aran Islands. You’ll thank me when you’re back at home, cuddled up in it with a cup of tea and doused in your “memory-perfume,” daydreaming about your summer in Ireland.



Fiona Tomlin-San Diego, CA-ILE 2011

Helpful Advice from ILE 2011 Alumnae, Fiona Tomlin

Hi 2012 ILE’ers!

I’m Fiona Tomlin, an ILE 2011 Alumnae from San Diego. Let me first of all congratulate you on your acceptance to the ILE! Right now June may seem far off, but trust me, the time of your life is right around the corner! I am so excited for all of you! Now that Ryan has covered some helpful logistical tips (Which I recommend you read and follow.), I would like to tell you about some things that I took away from the ILE that continue to impact my life on a daily basis.

I like to think of the ILE as an unforgettable personal journey where each individual is tasked with discovering his or her passion for Ireland in a unique way. When you return and hear mention of Ireland in others’ conversations, you’ll want to join in and exclaim your love of the country, describing every detail of the incredible journey you took on the ILE. Now, speaking from experience, not everyone is as zealous about their heritage as others are, but immerse yourself in every opportunity and you will understand why daydreaming about Ireland is my favorite past time.

Now, most of you probably elected to apply for this program. Just in case anyone feels they’ve been forced into applying (Just go with it.), or if you’re just still feeling nervous or hesitant about the experience (Totally normal.), let me put you at ease and dispel some myths you might believe about Ireland, study abroad trips, and new experiences in general.

Myth: “I’m too shy to be myself around strangers,” or “Everyone will think I am weird if I open up and act myself.”

Fact: Everyone is in the same boat during the first few days, and alienating yourself from others is one of the most detrimental things you can do to your time on the ILE. Keep an open mind, be friendly, open and engaged towards everyone, and most of all, be prepared to get to know others deeply. Have a positive attitude from the very beginning of the program, and you will form fast (But lasting and incredible.) friendships.

Myth: “I will have nothing in common with anyone.”

Fact: There was a diverse range of people who were in my program, with kids from literally every corner of the United States, but we all shared a common Irish heritage and/or love of the country! All it takes is one common thread to ignite the possibility to develop an amazing bond. Again, just be open.

Myth: “I’m not even going to attempt Irish dancing…, I have two left feet.”

Fact: While you very well could have two left feet, no one really cares. It might be good for some laughs during Irish Dance workshops! Just give it your best shot. Everyone likes different things, but there is something for everyone to connect with on the ILE. No, your dancing skills may not belong in Riverdance, you might think literature is boring and dry, or your athletic prowess may be lacking…, I get it. But make a promise to yourself to give every single activity your best effort and keep an open mind. You may end up catching onto a jig, smirking at James Joyce’s humor, or helping your team towards a late night soccer game victory. (Oh-make sure you participate in the late night soccer games, even if you’ve never kicked a ball in your life. SO fun and I’m no Sporty Spice, trust me.) It’s a tired phrase, but it’s crazy true and I’ll end with it anyways: You’ll never know until you try.

Fiona Tomlin-San Diego, CA-ILE 2011

***More to come from Fiona tomorrow!***

Helpful Advice from ILE 2011 Alumnae, Raizel “Prunes” Burstein-Frame

Hello New ILE’ers,

You have no idea how lucky you are! In a short while, you will be embarking on the most amazing trip ever! If you are anything like me, you may be a little apprehensive, but don’t worry! You’re going to have the time of your life.

A few recommendations:

1)Talk to people you meet, not just the ones on the program. Ireland is full of wonderful people and it can’t be the Irish Life Experience without them.

2)Be in the moment. Every now and then, stop and say “Oh my God, I am so lucky to be here!”

3)Do not eat macaroni and cheese out of a can. It tastes like socks.

Have an awesome time! I wish I was going with you!

-Raizel Burstein-Frame-Seattle, WA-ILE 2011

Helpful Advice from ILE 2011 Alumnus, Ryan Cueller!

Hey 2012 ILE’ers!

Alright, so let’s begin with what I learned. Basically anything about the country is fair game. Considering you have six classes, you’ll basically cover everything there is to learn about Ireland. It all starts with Irish literature in the morning. We have to get the classes out of the way and you do a couple more. Then you break for lunch and chill for an hour or two in between your morning and afternoon classes. Once you’re back together, it’s back to some good ol’ Irish dancing and Gaelic sports.

Besides the classes, literally everything you do should be cherished. It didn’t hit me until I came back home of how much of a blast I had. At first, I thought this trip might be a tad bit lame, but in all reality I was completely wrong. If there was one trip I could relive…, this would be that trip. This Irish Life Experience has opened my eyes to my entire heritage, the Irish culture, and lifestyle of others. I could continue rambling on about how profound this trip was, but I would become boring due to my horrific grammatical and conventional errors.

Some things I wished I knew beforehand would have included the following:

-Pack light. Do not bring a different set of clothes for each day, because you’ll end up wearing maybe four of them. Maybe a couple more, but not really.

-Make sure you receive at least one care package, so you can have your classic munchies from back home in the US or wherever you’re from.

-Bring a rain poncho for the drizzly and crumby days.

-Buy postcards and stamps and send them out on the first week to all the peeps you want to contact, because by the time you get home they will just be arriving by then.

-Don’t forget to bring money! Money is highly useful when it comes to buying souvenirs and food. Personally I brought Euros over in the first place, but you can take money out from an ATM while over in Ireland. Or you can just bring a wad of Euros for your entire trip. It’s really your preference.

-Do not forget to pack a pair of shoes that you do not care to get wrecked-due to the amount of rain Ireland has in showers.

-Also, bring a pair of casual shoes for everyday walking.

-Lastly, make sure you take advantage of taking numerous pictures. As a guy, I took maybe 1:8 the amount of pictures the girls took, but that’s because they’re girls. Point is, take A LOT of pictures, because you’ll want to look back and remember how your trip to Ireland was and reminisce the past!

So that concludes my excerpt of suggestions and comments about the Irish Life Experience and Ireland itself. Trust me-you will have no regrets coming on this Program. It has changed my life and continues to do so everyday I reflect upon it. Enjoy your stay in Ireland. If you stay in Dublin at the Boarding School, King’s Hospital and there’s a summer camp with different groups of kids from Denmark France, Germany, Italy and Spain-tell the Spanish girls “Hola,” for me.

-Ryan Cuellar-Chicago, IL-ILE 2011

Introducing Amy Dever-Your 2012 Female Counselor

Hi 2012 ILE’ers! My name is Amy Dever and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am and how blessed I feel to be a part of this summer’s ILE Program! I was born and raised in Spokane, Washington, where I lived until I graduated high school. I went to Carroll College in Helena, Montana, where I studied Math for Secondary Education.

The summer after my junior year at Carroll, I had the opportunity to go on a Diocesan Mission in Santo Tomas, Guatemala with several of my peers. We were there for 11 days and immersed ourselves in their culture. It was an amazing and life changing opportunity and made me want to see more of our incredible world.

I have always loved working with kids, especially teenagers, and now I have the privilege of doing that as my profession. Soon after graduating from Carroll, I heard of a high school math position opening in Polson, Montana. I decided to apply for it-not even imagining that I would be offered the job and end up teaching here. So far, it has been a wonderful first year of teaching. I teach Geometry and Pre-Algebra and I was also a Co-Head Coach of the Cheerleading Squad.

One of my most favorite hobbies is dancing and I will soon be getting my Zumba certification in June-only a few days before we take off on our great adventure to the Emerald Isle. You know what that means…, there may be sporadic Zumba parties in Ireland! I hope you’re ready for that!

Although I have many roots in Ireland from both my mother’s and father’s sides of my family and many of my family members from the United States have been to Ireland, I have never traveled there. I am so excited to embark on this journey and share this experience with all of you! I can’t wait to meet you all very soon!