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Author: Daniel Downey

Dear LVC, thank you.

Dear LVC, thank you.

Dear LVC,

Thank You.

For the memories I’ve made here. The weekends filled with fun and new experiences, but also for the late night study sessions and 9am classes

For my dorm room that has become my second home, where I can binge watch Netflix, but also have it filled with people laughing at my accent

For teaching me that I can do things when I put my mind to them, like moving away for a year from my hometown, even though 8 years ago I couldn’t go to summer camp without crying and wanting to come home

For the things I’ve learned in and outside the classroom

For vacations from studying just at the right time, when I’ve been able to travel all around the place and stay with friends (and getting food other than Metz)

For letting me experience all different seasons, 2ft of snow to 90F/35C temperatures with humidity. I quickly learnt that I need sunscreen every time I step outside in the sun

For pushing me to step out of my comfort zone in class, with presentations and cultural experiences (Although professors definitely grade me easier because of the accent)

For being in N. America because that’s where Chick-fil-A is

For my professors who loved me that little bit more because of the Irishness and their obsession with Irish cheese, leprechauns and Guinness

For showing me what American culture is really like and dispelling the myths and stereotypes I had about Americans. You’re not all obese and stupid, promise

For the people who have supported me, the team in the Center for Global Ed, my advisors, RAs, everyone

For forcing me to appreciate and be proud of where I come from, but not scared to experience new things and see how others do things differently

For giving me a new perspective on life. Even though so many of you see Annville as the most boring, conservative town in America, it has done more for me than you can imagine. Yes, LVC might have had some tough times with diversity and acceptance recently, but it has shown me how a community can come together and rise above it

For allowing me my independence, but also for everyone who kept me right when I needed it

For the lifelong friends I have made here. At the risk of getting really soppy, these people have made this experience the best one of my life, and you best believe there’s always a place for you all to stay in Ireland!

Finally, for making it so damn hard to have to leave

Dear LVC,

Thank You.

16 things an Irish student loves at LVC

16 things an Irish student loves at LVC

  1. There are fries literally everyday. Criss cross, wedges, old bay, crinkle cut. Don’t know what to get with that chicken? Fries. What about that sandwich? Fries. How about that ice cream? Fries.
  2. Everyone holds the door open for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re literally 20 feet from the door, someone will probably still hold it open for you.
  3. Why are there so many puppies on campus?! It’s amazing! If my university at home had that many puppies I don’t think I’d get any work done.
  4. Sports are taken very seriously. If you play a sport expect to practice 6 days a week and possibly twice a day. Compare this to Northern Ireland where you might practice once or twice a week and have a game on a Saturday.
  5. Slang like “What’s good?” and “Came in clutch” just don’t make sense to me, but then neither does “What’s the craic?” (Irish slang meaning ‘what’s up’ or ‘how’s it going’)
  6. Redbook trips are so freaking awesome. Free trips to New York City? Yup. Hersheypark? Yeah. Skiing? Uh-huh. Phillies baseball? Of course.
  7. We got to ask the President for an extra day off because the football team beat Albright. That is literally the coolest thing ever. I don’t even know who plays sports in my university at home, never mind go and support them and get a day off for it.
  8. I’ve never experienced anything like the UG. Music I’ve never heard in my life (we don’t really listen to rap music in Ireland) and sweat running down the wall. Sure it’s all part of the college experience, right?
  9. Walking tacos in the C-Store are honestly my favourite college food. I could eat those things for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  10. The professors actually want to get to know you. They want to see you do well in their class and facilitate that as much as possible. Some even have you meet their family and go to their house for dinner. Yes, that really happened.
  11. An Irish accent on campus will literally get people you’ve never met coming up to you and asking you to “just say some words”, followed by me having no idea what to say in response.
  12. A lot of people like to tell you that they’re Irish too (no matter if its 2.43% Irish), but that’s okay because who doesn’t want to be Irish?!
  13. Racquetball is my new favourite sport. Everyone on campus has played at least once and it can get very competitive.
  14. I always forget about the sales tax they add on at the register in Turkey Hill or any other store off campus. Basically it’s a complete guessing game as to how much I’m about to spend.
  15. College academic life is very different. Participation and discussion is 100% required and can sometimes count for up to 30% of your overall grade. You will have homework every night and quizzes throughout the semester, instead of one big exam at the end.
  16. But most of all, I love the people of Lebanon Valley College and how proud they are of their College. It’s an amazing place and community!
The beginning of my adventure…

The beginning of my adventure…

My Lebanon Valley College study abroad journey began back when I first applied for University in Northern Ireland. Although I didn’t know the specifics at that point, I knew I wanted to spend a year studying in America and so this became important to me when choosing to study at Queen’s University Belfast. I knew they had a great Study USA programme and as soon as I could, I applied, was interviewed and got a place on the scheme!

I trawled through a list of about 100 colleges throughout the United States, but finally settled on Lebanon Valley College. At first, it stuck out to me because it was close to many places on the East Coast like Philadelphia, New York City and Washington DC. The campus also looked amazing and it seemed to give a real sense of community and acceptance.

The weeks before my departure date, 22nd August, were the slowest weeks of my life. I was in complete excited anticipation of what the year would hold, as well as a bit of nerves and worry, as expected. Finally, I was off to Dublin Airport on a cold summers morning (but it wasn’t raining for once), knowing this would be the last time I’d see my family for 4 months before I came home for Christmas break. My Mum had cried every day for about a week by this point, but I was determined that I would only feel excitement the morning I left. It suddenly hit me and reality set in when I had just said goodbye to my parents (with Mum in floods of tears and Dad as cool and collected as ever) as I walked through security at the airport. I let out a few tears (this is the first time Mum and Dad are hearing this, oops) but quickly gathered myself and excitement rushed back in while waiting in line to go through United States of America pre-clearance. The only thing I wasn’t looking forward to was the 17 hours of travelling ahead of me.

Late on the night of the 22nd August I arrived at Lebanon Valley College. I had been picked up by Caitlin Murphy, my amazing International Advisor, and got my first look at where I’d be living for the next year as we drove from Harrisburg to Annville. Caitlin has been such a brilliant help this year when I’ve needed something, haven’t been sure how something worked or when I just wanted someone to chat to. Caitlin, Jill and the whole Center for Global Education deserve a lot of recognition for the massive amount of work they put in and the pure passion they have for their jobs and for making a LVC a more diverse campus.

I’ve never slept better in my life that night, despite the anxious thoughts and worry. I was to be up at my first orientation session at 9am with the rest of the new International students. Orientation was incredible as I met so many new people so quickly and made lifelong friends in those first few days. It was overwhelming, as it is for any new student starting College, but at the same time exciting and new. I was ready for the experience and open to meeting as many new people as possible.

I quickly found out that the LVC campus really is as beautiful as it looks on the website and I knew I had come to the right place. The people have also played a huge part in my life here. They truly are a wonderful community who are willing to listen to new people, learn about new cultures and are just genuinely kind and caring. This is definitely the reason why I haven’t been properly homesick (sorry Mum and Dad). The LVC community are my adopted family.

At this point I figured I’d just share some photos of my first few days and experiences at Lebanon Valley College. More posts coming soon!

My first day at Lebaon Valley College!
My first day at Lebaon Valley College!

 

So so hot!
So so hot!

 

Flag raising ceremony
Flag raising ceremony

 

Group of International students
Group of International students

 

First baseball game- Phillies
First baseball game- Phillies

 

First trip to Walmart
First trip to Walmart

 

I slid down this, I'm not joking
I slid down this, I’m not joking