I’m Gill and I manage the international student bloggers for i-studentglobal. I spend a lot of my working day emailing and reading the wonderful stories of their lives studying in places far from their homes but I rarely get to meet any of them. When the opportunity came to visit the bloggers at Maynooth University in Ireland I pounced on it.
I had visited Dublin a few years before but decided to take the opportunity to spend a few days there with my husband. We visited the usual tourist sites including Trinity College, The Guinness Storehouse and took good advantage of the hospitable pubs.
Everywhere we went we were struck by the friendliness of the people and how they couldn’t do enough for you. There was music everywhere from the street musicians to live music in the pubs; all this made the weekend very special.
The icing on the cake came on Tuesday when I took the train to the small town of Maynooth to meet up with the five bloggers who send us regular accounts of their time in Ireland.
Waiting for the train I eavesdropped on a conversation between a rail worker and a student waiting for her train. On being asked what she was studying, the student went into an explanation of calculus and finished with the words ‘Mathematics is a beautiful thing.” to which her avid listener replied, “and studying is a wonderful door.” Poetic conversation at 8.30 in the morning; unheard of on most commuter routes. The great Irish literary tradition is obviously very much alive.
I got off the train at Maynooth and followed a stream of students past the pond with its resident ducks, through the ruins of Maynooth Castle and onto the South Campus of Maynooth University.
The beautiful building is impressive enough but I was eager to meet the bloggers whose words I had been reading. Ian with his Irish ancestry, Xiuxiu with her love for Westlife, Barbelies who’d written about the welcoming Irish, Felipe with his quest for the Celtic culture and Zubin with his manic Wednesdays.
We all met with Wayne Henry, the Director of International Education, and started our discussion. We spoke about the differences between their homes and Ireland and about blogging. I was eager to know how they viewed blogging, to discuss their ideas about blogging in general and talk about what makes a good blog. We had a great conversation and many useful ideas came out of it.
I asked the students to show me around the campus.
We had a wonderful walk around the impressive and historic South Campus; its main building was designed by Pugin, who also designed the Houses of Parliament in London.
They led me through corridors lined with portraits of past dignitaries of the university, into a Harry-Potter’esque dining room and out into the beautiful grounds that surround the university.
We walked through the beautiful parkland to the tunnel created by elm trees that leads to the cemetery.
I saw the places on the North campus where the students study, eat and meet their friends.
In the afternoon Xiuxiu and Felipe accompanied me into Dublin where we had lunch in a beautiful Art Nouveau restaurant.
We then walked through the Dublin streets, through the grounds of Trinity College and ended our visit at the statue of James Joyce; an apt place to finish my hugely enjoyable visit to Ireland. Thank you, Dublin and the Maynooth bloggers for making me feel so welcome!