Hi! My name is Kayla DePara and I am from Wolcott, Connecticut, USA. I attend the University of Hartford, which is in my home state, and I completed my junior year at the University of Limerick studying B.A. Mathematics and Pre-Dental. I hope to attend dental school after graduating from UHart.

Ever since middle school, I always knew I wanted to study abroad in Ireland, so I made that dream come true! When looking at colleges in Ireland, I could not find any college that would fit me more perfectly than UL. I am a very athletic and outgoing person and seeing how UL is “Ireland’s sports campus”, I could not see myself going to any other University.

Deciding to study abroad at UL has been the best decision of my life so far. I have created so many memories and friends that will last a lifetime. UL has helped me experience everything I have wanted and more while abroad. The students and staff at UL are very welcoming and immediately make you feel like you are part of the community as soon as you step on campus! This university has offered an excellent balance of academics and exciting student life which was what I was looking for. I have been lucky enough to travel to seven different countries while studying here this semester; England, Italy, Albania, Greece, France, Switzerland, and Spain. All have been amazing experiences for me! I have found a new love for traveling during my time in Ireland and I am just getting started. I very excited to share my experiences with students and showing them how life changing studying abroad at UL can be for them!

Email: Kayla.DePara@ul.ie

       
       
Reminiscing and Acclimating     25 July, 2017    by Kayla DePara
       

Walking down the Living Bridge, listening to the River Shannon rush beneath me. Hearing all of the Irish students talk about the good craic they had the night before. This is one of my last memories I have of my time in Limerick. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about Ireland. I miss the simplicity of the Irish people’s life style. After returning home to the U.S., I have realised that I live a life of simply working, studying, and no “me” time. Now that I am starting to apply to dental schools and preparing for my final year of undergrad, my time is consumed with checking off things on my “To Do List”. You have to grow up and be an adult at some point in your life, right? But thinking back at how I lived in Ireland, I wish I could go back every day.

Some of my favorite memories I have of my time abroad is backpacking around Ireland. I impressed myself by being able to live out of my backpack with only a few outfits for a four day weekend around Ireland. I was amazed at how it was so simple, and cheap, to just hop on a train or the Dublin Coach and take it anywhere. On my birthday weekend, my friends and I headed down to Dingle, a quaint little town south of Limerick, right on the ocean. We went door to door trying to find vacancy at every hostel in town. We ended up walking about a mile out of the town to the only hostel in Dingle with vacancy. That made for an interesting walk back from the pubs that night. Besides wandering the streets of Dingle, something that I miss about Ireland is the amazing pub food. The food in the pubs were the best meals that I have ever had! Whether it was a panini, wings, or beef stew, the food tasted like it was right from grandma’s kitchen. I can’t wait to go back to one of my favorite pubs in Adare called Pat Collins Bar to have the best chicken pesto panini you could ever have.

   
   
       

Although Ireland and studying abroad was the best experience of my life so far, there are many things that the U.S. has that I absolutely love which Ireland does not have.

One of the many things that I missed the most about America was baseball. I am a huge baseball fan so not being able to go see a game in the first week of the season (April) was actually very hard. I had to stream the games online until the early hours of the morning to be able to watch a full game. Being back in the U.S. I have already been to multiple major league games, so I have fulfilled my baseball needs.

However, while I was in Ireland, I watched a ton of rugby which I fell in love with. My first rugby match was Munster in Limerick. The crowd and the experience was just like going to any sporting events back at home, maybe even a little better.

The last thing that I missed so much while I was in Ireland was Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Being from New England I drink Dunkin' Donuts almost every day, so finding out that there were no Dunkin' Donuts in Ireland was a shock. The down side was that I did not like Starbucks coffee, but I survived. To my surprise, however, I was able to find a Dunkin' Donuts in London, England!

   
 
Leaving Ireland and Europe was extremely hard for me. As I pulled out of Plassey Village where I called home for four months, I felt like I was leaving a piece of me behind. I will forever miss the constant adventure Ireland brings and the lifelong friends that I have made. I long for the day that I get to go back and revisit all of my favorite places. Studying abroad is the best perk of going to college that I think a college student should take advantage of.