If you’re lucky enough to be one of the thousands of Irish students heading off to the Gaeltacht this summer, chances are you’re feeling anxious, excited and if you’re a first-timer, scared out of your mind. Don’t sweat it though, as well helping with your honours Irish next year, those weeks you spend making friends, building your confidence and having serious laughs will be some of the best of your life.
So what can you do to ensure you’re totally prepared?
What to Bring
As far as clothes go, you’ll need to pack for the heat (strappy vests, flip-flops and SPF) and lashing rain (jeans, hoodies and a rain jacket)- hey, it’s Ireland! Don’t think you’ll need to haul your wardrobe though, you’ll be swapping clothes with your new roomies in no time.
As well as essentials like your toothbrush and GHD, bring your favourite perfume, all the chargers you need and maybe even you’re own pillow to ensure total comfort while you bunk!
Check with your Gaeltacht about their phone policy. Mobiles are banned in lots of colleges and you don’t want to be sent packing for breaking the rules on day one. Plus it gives you a great opportunity to give your phone a little break and get to know all the new gals and guys.
If you play an instrument, make sure to bring it (unless it’s a piano). You’ll have loads of chances to play at the nightly ceilis and most colleges have an end of course show too.
What to Expect
If you haven’t been to Irish college before, it’s more than okay to feel nervous. In fact, it’s expected, particularly if you’re flying solo. If you are going on your own aim to rack up new friends the minute you arrive. It can be hella scary walking in on your own but a simple smile on your face and a dia dhuit will go a long way. If you’re stuck for words, a compliment will get anyone talking so don’t be afraid to say “Is maith liom do mhála” or “Cá fhuair tú do ghúna?”. Remember, lots of other people will be arriving on their own too and they’re probably just waiting for someone to make the first move and say “Conas atá tú?” or “Cén chaoi ina bhfuil tú?” depending on where you’re headed.
If you’re going with a group of friends, you’re probably feeling super excited, but don’t make the mistake of being too loud or keeping yourselves to yourselves. Instead, sometimes it’s best to separate yourselves, take a wander around and get to know people who would love to be in your situation with a group of friends.
Although you’re technically at Irish college to brush up on your language, expect to be distracted by all the possible summer flings. As anyone who’s gone to the Gaeltacht before knows, it’s as much a place for flirting as it is for learning, thanks to the fact that you don’t have to wear a gross school uniform and you are free yourself. However, when it comes to finding love at the Gaeltacht, use your best judgement and try not to be someone that you are not.
Top Tip: Don’t even think about leaving home without a pocket dictionary.