My exchange location is in the middle of Ireland, in a city of around twenty thousand inhabitants called Athlone. Being in Midlands, as they are called, it is a rather rural location and as such does not offer exuberant facilities, which is just as well. It is an interesting change of scenery. The Athlone Institute of Technology hosts around six thousand students of which a sizeable number are exchange students from all over the globe. The education itself was quite different from what I was expecting – in my mind’s eye, being in the sphere of influence of the United Kingdom, Ireland was rigid and focused on rote learning, which turned out to only be true to a certain extent. The studies in Hotel & Leisure management are very focused on practical issues and applications, which has been a great addition to my repertoire.
Speaking of scenery, nature is definitely Ireland’s main draw. This semester was a very peculiar one, or so I am told, as we basically had a full on 15+ degree celcius summer here almost until November. It rarely rained as well, so in that regard, the image of a rain-soaked and green-grey Ireland was well and truly shattered. The highlights of my time here have been the trips we have taken with the International Society at the Institute of Technology as well as those I’ve undertaken on my own and the dinners we’ve had at the student-operated teaching restaurant facilities on the campus. I’ll cap this little snapshot off with a couple of images from my journeys on the Emerald Isle!