Chicago / Dublin / Cork (Claire Hephner)

This is my third day in Ireland! The weather has been beautiful so far. It has only rained once and it wasn’t a real rain like I would experience back in the states, it was more misty.

The flight to Ireland went really well. I flew out of Chicago all by myself! This was my first international flight and first time flying alone. It was also my first time in the very confusing Chicago airport (O’Hare) which is one of the biggest airports in the world. My boyfriend, Matt drove me down to the airport and waited with me til I went through security. It took an hour to check our bags because there was some sort of handicapped USA team traveling with us and they had to check all of there luggage and needed to do some special things before going through security. I was a little nervous and really sad to see Matt leave me alone at the airport. Once I got through security I found my designated area and sat behind an Irish family. That was really entertaining to listen to them speak.

I sat by the window on the plane and I learned on the way there that the lady next to me was originally from Michigan but lived in France for the last 15 years. In graduate school she studied abroad in France and met her now husband! I barely slept at all on the plane ride. They had free movies and I watched “Water for Elephants” because my mom had just finished reading the book and it looked the best out of all my options. It turned out to be pretty good.

When we landed there was no one in the Dublin airport and the lady on the plain showed me where to go to collect my luggage, she had a connecting flight to France so she went a different direction. It took awhile to get my luggage and it was so heavy to lug around the airport. My next mission was to find the bus stop so I  could get to Cork!

This was very tricky. I asked at least 8 people! In order to get to the tiny bus station you had to walk out of the airport and then down this windy, clear, plastic tunnel. I was told by several people it was “by the church.” When you picture a church you picture steeples and crosses… this church looked more like an old stone building and was not very tall. I arrived at the bus stop around 8:45 a.m. (Ireland time). It took me awhile to find the sign that said what time the bus would leave for Cork. The sign said 10:50 a.m. but I later learned from a bus driver that it would be there at 10:15 a.m., which is when it arrived. Thank goodness!

On the bus I met two guys that are also studying abroad and are living in Ireland for a full year! The bus ride took forever, four hours to be specific. A normal car or train ride to Cork would be 2-2 1/2 hours. I noticed throughout the ride that the bus driver never turned at the signs that said Cork. The other two guys and I laughed at this. We went through at least 10 roundabouts on the way there as well and through several small towns. This was where I first learned that all the vehicles, especially the buses, drive very close to each other!

When I arrived in Cork I was very tired. I had slept an uncomfortable 2 hours on the plane and 1 hour on the bus. It was about 3 p.m. now in Cork. I found a taxi to take me to my apartment, Leeside Apartments on the Lee River! The taxi driver I got was originally from Nigeria so he was very hard to understand but he was extremely nice. I was a little worried because he did not seem to be sure which apartment on Bachelor’s Quay was Leeside. Leeside Apartments were literally a mile maybe down the road from where the bus dropped me off. Once we got there my taxi driver got out and made sure I could get into the building (not as easy as it sounds). Several entrances were locked and we had to go around the building to get in. I finally got in and met Josephine who was in-charge of the apartment complex. She showed me to my room…

Claire Hephner is studying abroad at University College Cork in Ireland.

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