Volunteering During a Global Pandemic

“Tragedies are Local”

I had a delightful chat with one of my mentors.  She is a fearless leader, a former United States military officer, and highly skilled in preparedness and risk management, something I’ve also studied at length.  I will see if she is open to an interview, but one thing she said that I believe will resonate with both the UMass Community and the University of Limerick Community is this: “Tragedies are very local and personal.”  Take a minute to let that sink in.  How much has COVID19 interrupted life as you know it and what are YOU doing to help our world fight this and recover from it?

Community Leadership in Action

I’ll be happy to collaborate with you and potentially feature you doing amazing things on my IG – just reach out! @attorneyshazel  (JD Candidate, 2021)

I promised volunteering ideas, so below please find a few.  Pease use the comments section of this blog to share any of your additional recommendations.

If you don’t elect to volunteer formally, you can help people in your community who need groceries, lawn care, prescription pick-ups; you can provide emotional support via social media; you can make sure you’re following the CDC and the WHO so that you can personally be a part of our local and global solutions as opposed to contributing to this contagious problem, terrorizing the globe.

Even in troubling times, there are helpers; even when there seems to be no hope, a silver lining presents itself.  Look for the good in absolutely everything, especially during these challenging times.

Volunteer Opportunities

Operation Warm offers 25 volunteer opportunities you can partake in from home

Become a Red Cross Volunteer

The United Nations offers 108 volunteer opportunities

Deaconess helps identify how to make masks and where to deliver them

Caremongers in Reston, VA, USA offers a place where those at increased risk or disadvantage from the COVID19 Pandemic can find assistance or relief. Redistribution of necessary and limited resources. A place where those that Can help Do.  “The sky is the limit, while we limit the Spread! Pick up and Deliver Groceries, medications etc to those who are at higher risk or increased disadvantage. #SpreadLoveNotCOVID19”

Learn where you can make a Blood Donation

Volunteer Match allows you to share your skills and see how you could be matched with volunteer opportunities.  This is where I found my certification to become a Hospice Volunteer.

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks

The World, Interrupted

*This is a meme.  However, it reflects varying emotions as the UL Campus closed and international students were recalled.

My Fellow Americans, My Fellow Humans,

Hello, from an unexpected interruption to my Study Abroad experience, and to the intent of this academic blog.  The world as we know it is no more.  Dramatic shifts are afloat and I’ve been asked by the International Program Office to share some of my personal experiences as well as impart some of my wisdom.

You likely do not know this, but I have been in the United States military for just shy of 20 years. I have worked in myriad fields and lived all over the country.  I have attended multiple universities and achieved several degrees… usually at night, after working full time on matters of national security.  Law school was always a dream of mine – an absolute luxury.  Selected by UMass Law to study in Ireland, I was honored to represent our school, grateful for a chance to explore international law from the fresh lenses of my classmates and lecturers.  At the UL School of Law, students are from all over the world.  The legal modules are highly integrated with those of the Human Rights Master’s Program.  The UMass Law ethos, to Pursue Justice, naturally blended into a magnificent legal learning symphony.  I say this, so you can understand I was sort of in my own personal heaven, studying international law… thinking, and reflecting along the River Shannon.  It truly is a luxury to have time to think and reflect.  It is the space where grand ideas are born.

My supplies were fully stocked and I was hunkered down to weather COVID19 from Ireland, like a reporter in the field.  I was sitting in my dorm room, at the desk by the window, working on my Youth Crime midterm when I got the call. “Shea, the Chancellor wants you to come home; you’re being recalled.”  That direction was quickly followed up by a note from the UL International Education Division strongly encouraging international students to immediately return to our respective nations.  Now, I am a pretty flexible person – my belongings are currently in a storage unit in Massachusetts, my post office box is in a different town, and my cat is with a friend in yet another town; my brother was watching my Jeep in Maine; and, my realtor was helping me from afar.  So.. “home” to me, had actually become that dorm room in Ireland.  Local Family” to me, had become flatmates from China, Nigeria, Cuba, Canada, and Ireland.  Relocation, however, was not optional.

Within 4 hours, with flights booked, we were having something of a COVID19 Christmas party as we shared our food, cleaning supplies, extra clothes, and extra bedding with flatmates who would remain in country.  We all had so many emotions.  I joked about the challenge of deciding whether to bring my golf clubs or toilet paper with me on the flight (see pic).  I spent 2 hours on the phone with Aer Linguis to ensure my golf clubs were added as an extra bag.  I paused to broken-heartedly look at them, as plans to golf the island were now on hold due to a global pandemic – an enemy I couldn’t negotiate with.  I knew more lives would be lost and I wished I could hug the world.

It’s all very trivial, then and now – but, I had just gotten settled.  I had my own electric tea kettle, three layers of mattress pads, those awesome new Irish sheets, and an irrational stack of pillows.

Someone asked me what my supply plan looked like and recommended I share with you that it included much-needed nail polish remover.  It may sound funny, but especially in times of confinement or isolation, basic hygiene has a tremendous ability to empower one’s sense of grounding.  Wherever you are, in whatever capacity you are at in this global fight, it helps to have a schedule, shower daily, workout, journal/diary/read, mediate or pray – maintain your entire self: body, mind, and soul, as much as you can – it will help you adjust to this time as well as the new-normal that will follow in a post-COVID19 world.

I spent St. Patrick’s day, not in Dublin, as the official UL correspondent I was chosen to be; but, as a student packing, with a mixed sense of urgency and concern for humanity.  It was confusing to figure out where to go – did my military unit want to activate me yet?  Why was my Jeep in New Hampshire and my brother in Florida?  Where was I going to quarantine for 14 days?  Because, although I had been practicing  social distancing for days, I am responsible and planned to follow the CDC and the WHO.

Then, there was just this new fear – how on earth was I going to get on a plane, with students I know who had traveled all over Europe for weeks, and potentially bring this virus to the people of my great nation?  How could I, a responsible law student and military member, possibly be one of the international transmitters of a deathly virus?  Whose life would I be endangering upon my return?

A flatmate helped me decide which shoes to keep, toss, or donate, and I did my best to write a thank you card to our Village Staff.  I’m working with UL to negotiate reimbursement for abandoned lodging.  Of note, I can officially say I now live out of 2 suitcases and a golf bag.  (It’s safe to guess COVID19 cost all displaced international students anywhere from $1000-$3500 USD, pending flights, unused hotels, unforeseen expenditures, and abandoned belongings.  We owe tremendous debts of gratitude to the family members who took us in and quarantined along with us.)

We had a solemn St. Patrick’s Day dinner (see pic).  I didn’t have the heart to tell my flatmate I couldn’t eat the lasagna she made.  It wasn’t just those of us who were leaving who were distressed.  There were six of us at the table, two of us recalled to America, four staying.  Those staying were wrestling with the question of whether to try to go home.  They were sad to see new friends leaving.  Some even had mixed feelings to include immense gratitude as their home nations were suffering far worse and Ireland was a welcome sanctuary.  We had a guest who tried to talk to us; but really, there’s no room for pleasantries at such a good bye dinner.  We were grieving a loss.

Our flat had bonded much in our time together.  All post-graduate students, we had been practicing daily sayings in Chinese; we were reading one another’s papers and scripts; we celebrated how clean we maintained our shared living space; we went to dance performances together; we dappled in kayaking in the UL pool; we had a busy WhatsApp chain of shared news media; we had a night where we all sang our favorite songs to one another; and, we had even started after dinner walks (see pic).  After dinner walks are one of my greatest pleasures and I highly encourage you to go walking with your families during this time.  In Ireland, you need to stay within a 2km radius of your home; and in the United States, please follow your local laws. Social distancing isn’t a joke – it’s a highly preventative measure. 

In less than 36 hours, with my destination changed twice, and hopes of returning to Ireland to witness future UL graduations, I was on a plane with one of my flatmates, lysoling yes, even the hands of the stranger sitting beside me.   Patrick, what a doll you were to tolerate me cleaning our entire row before our plane departed.  I look forward to horseback riding with you and the Boston Police one day.  Please say hi to Karen for me.  And, Olive, thank you and the Aer Linguis crew, for keeping our aircraft so clean and your passengers so comfortable! As an aside, it’s a really small world – our flight attendant is a graduate of the UL School of Law and holds degrees in law and economics.

I safely arrived in the United States, collected by an uncle at the airport, and began teleworking for my military unit right away, while under quarantine.  My uncle risked his life for me.  I am eternally grateful his company allowed him to work from home so that we could quarantine in the same house.  He is one of my favorite people, but this was a tremendous sacrifice.  He joked, “we can’t leave our little refugee at the airport” to lighten the mood, which of course resulted in me tearing up as I put my mask on while realizing I would likely not hug anyone for months to come.  

To discuss the impact of a global pandemic, a very human level from one student’s perspective is just that – one student’s story.  And, while I’ve been asked to share more about my shattered plans, I will save that for another post.

Let’s think more on a macro scale – about the safety of our world and of our nations.  Let’s focus on what we can personally do NOW to help humanity.

This is a time where it is NOT optional to address how you can best help your family and your neighbors, rather it is of epic importance that you do.  We are in a new world that requires us to work together, facing a deathly virus, so that we can save as many lives as possible and recover our economies and infrastructures creatively and deliberately.  We will need to think differently, but right now – we must focus on what we do individually and collectively.

It is a choice to be a helper, a choice to be part of the solution.  And, in times of crisis, we get a chance to determine what we are really made of.  For some, it means acknowledging physical limitations requiring you to remain home, to help flatten the curve, and to not overwhelm our hospitals.  For others, it means showing up to the front lines – running grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, delivery services and other essential businesses, to including maintaining national security and protecting the long standing democracy upon which our nation was founded.  These decisions are individual and they are NOT made lightly.

I’ve been struggling with my disappointment in those not listening to the social distancing guidelines, who are still going to gyms, who are visiting their significant others and traveling between homes as though the world is fine, who are laughing in the face of COVID19 believing themselves to be healthy enough to handle it if infected – not prioritizing the safety of others.  I’ve called upon my faith as a reminder that we are all equal, that we all react differently in high stress situations, and that it’s up to those who are able to continue to set the example, and to lead in our communities.

I challenge you to look inside, to reflect upon how you can best be of service, and to do so graciously, deliberately, carefully, and respectfully.

I’ve gathered some volunteering opportunities and will post them; but, I also want to encourage you to comment on my blog if you have positive ideas of things people can do to help our world in these troubling times.  I’ll share your ideas as long as they are heartfelt and respectful.  If you have a good news story, please feel free to share that as well.

Our minds are powerful tools and we must remain positive.

I want to thank you for reading my blog, and for loving one another.  Make amends with anyone you are in quarrel with.  Decide how to be your best self.  And, remember that is it okay to feel however you feel, but that it is important you take decisive action to remain healthy, to support those you love, and not to endanger the lives of others.

We are in this together – one world, one humanity.  Lives are on the line.  Our actions matter.  Your actions matter.

International Law – Academic Discoveries

There is a 10m high book vault and robotic crane in the UL Library

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

International students arrived early, for a week-long orientation.  I was the only law student; and, apparently fell into a category of “mature student” – not necessarily a lovable label.

For life-long learners out there like myself, be prepared to ignore this label (and all undesired labels) and continue making connections and finding likeminded souls – those who love to travel, learn, and meet people – because our hearts are open, our minds are wise, and we span all ages and nationalities.

An Irish classmate from Comparative and European Criminal Justice provided insight into Modules and Programs

Sample Modules? And, Pick?!

At UL, we sample modules for two weeks before making final selections. This may sound strange, but a gift in practice – a chance to really consider and commit to your academics.

In my first class, Dr. Coffey announced he was here to be our “guide on the side” – his heartfelt attitude toward our genuine learning distinctive and admirable.  He went on to provide an overview of Policing and Human Rights (the next day, International Criminal Law), and detailed upcoming experiential learning trips, the laws we would explore, and the thinking we were allowed to do.  I was hooked!

UMass Law approved my final selections without complication.  For those considering a law semester abroad, note that I reserved the majority of my electives and exercised deliberate planning with esteemed advisors.  Both UMass Law and UL were extremely helpful and supportive.  Special thank you to Dean Mitnick, Dean Specer, Dean Cahill, Dean Quinn, Professor Flanagan, Professor Rudko, Dr. Coffey, Nancy, Gina, Dan, Gavin, and Ally. 

Studying in the Glucksman Library

Structure

The University of Limerick is huge, with the Law School taking only a portion of the Foundation Building.

My classes are in both the Foundation Building and the Main Building.  I was psyched to get them all on a Monday through Wednesday schedule, allowing ample time for travel throughout Europe. Follow my IG to see more photos.

Because our Professors post generous material online, I can pretty much work in any café in any country.  A way of life I have indeed become accustomed to.  If you have a passport, why not use it?

Class Dynamics

My classes are comprised of students not only from all over the world, but from various educational programs.  At UMass Law, we study with other law students.  Here, I get to study with Barristers and Solicitors, Garda, Human Rights Activists, Counselors, and more.  Some of my classmates are pursuing a Masters in Human Rights, while other are almost done with a Masters of Law.  We have classmates in other programs and as well as those merely taking a module for career broadening.

I appreciate the life-experiences and contributions of the varied expertise in the physical and online classrooms.  The ability to apply knowledge and understanding to actionable results is how the world evolves.

Professor Eoin O’Meara Daly leads us to explore and understand Youth Crime and restorative justice in Ireland

Experiential Learning

Each of our Professors coordinated guest lecturers for us.  Whether it’s a trip to the Garda Station on Henry Street, a day at the Garda Training College, a trip to The Hague to tour the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, inviting a French Professor to teach us Criminal Justice from the French perspective, or coordinating multiple podcasts with experts in Youth Crime – these professors are grand.  They have created an academic experience far surpassing expectations.

Something UMass Law and the UL School of Law have in common is the desire to ensure their students can go on to practice the law, fully prepared and extremely competent.  Our field demands we be zealous and ethical advocates for our clients and communities.  My most cherished part of this study abroad is the school and how much it complements UMass Law.

The University of Limerick School of Law offers incredible modules in International Law and Human Rights

Life on the Emerald Isle

This Bostonian is happy to tour the Wild Atlantic… despite speedy bus rides along steep and windy cliffs

How are Ye?

Do you find yourself when you travel? Some say yes; some say no.  This post is about adjusting to a new culture, to a new world, and to being open to new experiences.

A city girl used to working long hours, I’ve found life incredibly slower in Ireland.

Walking here makes me dizzy, and I’m never quite warm enough.

I’ve found reasons to laugh, made some lifelong friends, fallen further in love with international law, and can’t explain just how much joy the River Shannon brings me.

Exploring Dublin

We Walk Where We Like

Which side of the road does one walk on? Which side of the windy sidewalk?  Which side on the stairs?

After interviewing many locals, the truth remains gray – “We are Irish, we go where we like,” and, that is that.

This is not the case in Washington, D.C., where we all know that unless you are climbing those escalator stairs, you have no business marking time on the left side of that step!

Frozen Toes

Ever stood in a very hot shower, but somehow couldn’t thaw your feet?  Welcome to dorm life in Ireland!  It’s a shared experience for most dorm residents – this feeling of never quite being warm enough.

“The Irish can apparently spot foreigners, because they use umbrellas… Always wear sensible durable shoes, the weather could turn at any time… It’s Irish tradition to sing during Christmas dinners…found that out the hard way.” – Ayo Ademuwagun, Nigerian Barrister/Solicitor (UL, LLM 2021)

We are encouraged to run our heat sparingly, and accommodations limit when warm (let alone hot) showers are available.

Friends have resorted to burying themselves under electric blankets, taking multiple showers, and negotiating with hot water boosters in their bathrobes.  My favorite student hack: hot water bottles in the sheets!

Of interest: Restrooms are often almost freezing.  And, a fun UL quirk:  There is barely an electrical outlet on campus!  It can be frustrating when your laptop dies in class and there isn’t an outlet to be found in one of the many collaborative study spaces.

After much investigation, I discovered one outlet in Starbucks.  It’s possible that I rush to it on Tuesdays at 4.00 pm on the regular.  I am very grateful for this sole energy source.

Finding a Good Laugh

The Irish love good craic.  They value chats with friends, old and new.  The humor is almost more important than anything.  Messages about slowing down, enjoying the moment, and laughing with people we love are grand, for it is the relationships in our lives which matter most.

Caroline, from the UL Concert Hall, suggested I attend “The Punchline” where I laughed the night away to an Irish Comedian.  That comedy show could not have come at a better time as I have definitely been missing my family, and my niece, especially.  Check out Danny O’Brien Comedy, if you’re in need of some good Irish craic.

The People Make the Place

UL International Society Committee Trip Leaders and Health and Safety Officer at the Torc Waterfall

I love meeting people from all walks of life and nations.  My classmates’ varied world views are integral to developing even greater depth in my expertise in International Law.   I am grateful for the kind interactions and professional debates with students, faculty, staff, and the local Irish.

Enjoying coffee in Killarney

Within days of arrival, I was scooped up by the UL International Society and volunteered as a Leader on an adventure through the Dingle Peninsula.  I have no idea HOW those buses can cruise around the edge of cliffs as they do.   Unashamedly, I whispered many a prayer that day… and, every trip since!

For those who know me, it should come as no surprise that within a month in a new country, I was elected to Committee and am planning a Spring 2020 Masquerade Ball for 200 international students.  Se la vie!

I’ve been to almost every coffee spot on campus.  One of my baristas likes to say things like, “How are you, Pet?” and “How are you, Love?” – I just adore her helping to make Ireland feel a bit more like home.

River Shannon Views

River Shannon Swans

My favorite part this new life in Ireland is literally the view from my dorm room.

I had never considered living on a river before, but I can see ruins, swans, dogs and the ever-rising waters on the daily.  We were hit with several storms – and, well, stormy nights along the river are just sensational.

I’ve lost hours watching the sun rise and set on the River Shannon.

 

What’s Next?  Studying law in another country: Professors who inspire my love of international law – legal experts who view themselves as “Coaches.”  It’s incredible!

University of Limerick’s International Society

The University of Limerick’s International Society Welcomes New Members

The University of Limerick International Society is one of the most active and welcoming societies at the University of Limerick.  Comprised of energetic students from across the globe, this society aims to integrate visiting students, through a multitude of trips and social events around the Emerald Isle.  This spring, we will tour the Ring of Kerry, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, explore Galway and the Aran Islands, and hike the remarkable Wicklow Mountains!

I had the pleasure of meeting our President when she came to “collect” me from the airport and “deliver” me to the UL Campus.

Today’s Interviewee

Hannah Knittle, President, University of Limerick International Society

“I came to UL and was like this is it, this is where I’m going!” – Hannah Knittle

Hannah Knittle, President, UL International Society, has dual Irish and American citizenship.  Hannah was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and is here on a Joint Honours Program, set to graduate with dual bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Politics in August, 2020.  Hannah aspires to earn a Masters in Psychology in Ireland, and then pursue a PhD in Scotland.  In addition to being a dedicated student, she is also a UL International Student Guide and volunteers to help children with autism.

Hannah’s welcoming spirit, hard-working nature, and generous heart reminded me of the essence of UMass Law, where our motto is to Pursue Justice, and we are diligently dedicated to helping others.

I am impressed with humble leaders like Hannah, and I hope you enjoy this interview!

Getting Involved with the International Society

“I got involved first as a member, and really enjoyed going on trips.  Then, I met the President, and began my Committee work as Treasurer.”

Hannah’s diligence earned the society a massive budget increase, benefitting all members.  I’ve personally witnessed her selfless nature when she recommended other students for awards.

International Society Members Exploring the Emerald Isle

Committee & Student Resources

“Upon arrival, the international society immediately made us feel welcome. We were greeted right away and they were very comforting and supportive through the moving in process.” – Natalie Treco, USA (BS in Biology, UW-Green Bay, 2022).

“We always aim to help.  Most of our Committee members are international students, so there is always someone who knows exactly how you feel if you’re missing home.  It may seem like a small thing, but it helps to know you’re not alone.”

UL resources are abundant.  Éist Student Counselling and Wellbeing provides counseling and weekly classes.

The UL Chaplaincy Service is available for reflection, comfort, support, and hospitality.   The International Office, UL Student Life Welfare Officers, Academic Officers and Committee members are also available.

If you’re ever struggling or have a question, feel free to message the UL Int Soc Facebeook.  Hannah genuinely reflected, “I will always try to answer questions.”

“I love how every semester people from all over the world that have come to UL join the society, and I get to help in showing them Ireland, but they also end up showing the world to me. I love hearing other people’s perspectives and feel like I’ve gotten a broader world view by being part of this society.”  Jordan Cassells, Ireland (Bachelor of Laws, UL School of Law, 2021).

 

What is your favorite thing about Ireland?

“The lifestyle.  Ireland is more laid back and it makes me feel at home.  It’s easy to relax.  I love traveling around. There’s 50 shades of green.”

Do you have a favorite Irish saying?

“There are a lot.  My favorite one is ‘what’s the CRAIC?’ – it can be used as ‘what’s happening?’ or ‘how’s it going?’

‘We had good craic’ means you had a lot of fun doing something.”

Upon initial arrival, she was told,  “There’ll be tea and biscuits and good craic.”  Looks like Ireland delivered!

Hannah, Traveling with the International Society

What do you wish you knew before you came to UL? 

“Time management – how to prioritize studying and socializing. In high school, I’d go from classes to theatre and then home and had a lot more structure.”

Where is your favorite place in Ireland?

“I love so many places!  My favorite is Ballyseede Castle in Tralee. Co. Kerry . I visited it in my first year in college and knew I wanted to get married there.

Real dogs live in the castle – it’s a real castle!  The rooms are beautifully grand and there are beautiful trees along the driveway.  It’s gorgeous, green, and silent.  It’s amazing, I love it so much!”

Have you met anyone special here?

“I’ve met many special people.  Everyone in my degree program has to do an Erasmus and I met my fiancé in Scotland.”  Fun Fact: 27% of Erasmus students meet their long-term partner while on Erasmus.

Congratulations on your engagement and on recently completing your Final Year Project (FYP).  What an accomplishment!

At a Committee Meeting, Hannah reflected, “I need to work with kids, kids are my favorite thing on the planet.”

Will I get an invitation to your wedding?

“Probably,” said with an Irish wink!

Our UL Bride-to-Be already has the Ballyseede Castle booked, and only time will tell if I get to see the amazing couple tie the knot next April!

Thank you for taking the time to share some valuable UL resources and Irish insights with us, Hannah!

To learn more about the University of Limerick International Society, check out our YouTube Video, follow us on Instagram, and connect with us on Facebook.

Cheers to our amazing International Society students from around the world!

What’s Next?  For our continued exploration of Ireland, I will share with you some tips for adjusting to life on the Emerald Isle as an Exchange Student.  Open-mindedness is crucial, but if you are sarcastic and can appreciate humor, you will likely find yourself quite at home here.

Dia Dhuit, Ireland!

Linguistic Sounds

“Dia dhuit!” – an Irish Gaelic hello.  What does it sound like?  Well, I’m still attempting the accent, but you can hear it here.  Accents vary county to county, so if you find yourself in Ireland, wanting to say hello in Irish, rest assured your best attempt will likely be met with grin and a wink.  Much thanks to Finn Lannon (Masters in Marketing and Psychology, 2022) for igniting my interest in learning this incredible language!  Go raibh maith agat.

An Unexpected Homecoming

Céad míle fáilte – A hundred thousand welcomes!  The People of Ireland are extraordinarily friendly.  There’s a cultural belief that to make a friend, one must be a friend.

Every interaction is an opportunity to make a new friend and set up a time to have a chat!  Blessed with the “gift of gab,” the Irish love to chat, especially over coffee or tea and biscuits.

Our plane arrived early and we were greeted by the loveliest of rental car agents.  It felt almost intimate, like we were home, coordinating taking a family member’s car out for a spin!

My brother was thrilled to drive a manual on the “opposite” side of the road, and we ventured off with the spirit of children on Christmas morning.

The Magic in the Air

Burren National Park

We watched the sun come up as we explored our new surroundings. More arrival pictures available here.

Ireland is known for lush greenery, but I’ve been most fascinated by the mystique of the grays.  The way the sunlight tilts in just between storms,  the clouds offer a conversation, and the sky flirts from above… All so mysterious and intriguing.

I’m an ocean lover, so forgive me please if there are more posts of water with grays and blues, than of fields of green.  It would be remiss of me if I did not make a valiant effort to show you the greenery, but I’m confident we’ll get to that as spring approaches and we take to the golf courses.

Breathtaking Innis Beach

From the Skies

This may surprise you, but it rains quite a bit here!

Blarney Castle

Much like the Irish, who do what they want, when they want, the sky opens when it wants and how it wants.

For the first week, my brother and I noticed the ground was always glistening, although it rarely rained.  It was a bit puzzling, but we focused our attention on appreciating the gorgeous weather and taking in the breathtaking views!

We explored Shannon, Galway, Cork, Blarney, Buttevant, Bunratty, Limerick, the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren National Park, and even enjoyed a weekend in Dublin sans rain.

What a welcoming vacation for us!

Cliffs of Moher

One of my favorite moments was an unexpected stop at the ruins of an Augustinian Abbey, Ballybeg Abbey, founded in 1237, dedicated to St. Thomas.  Located on the bank of the Awbeg, close to Buttevant, there was light in the air and the feeling of history in our hands.

After my brother returned to the states, the weather got real.  I’ve watched it rain, snow, and sunshine with a purpose from the dorms in Thomond Village.  The skies even brought hail to my laptop through an open window in our International Criminal Law module!

As my Irish friend, Saiorse Forde Juneja (Bachelor of Arts, 2023), says, sometimes it “lashes out at you” and you’re forced to face the truth: there may be little to no value in your umbrella.  Cheers!

What’s Next?  Tune in for a special segment on the University of Limerick’s International Society, and an interview with our current President.

Island Preparations

Formal Travel Necessities

RFID Blocking Passport Holders are Essential

International travel requires a balance of pre-departure planning with excitement of setting off on a new adventure!

The UMass Dartmouth International Program Office (IPO) offers comprehensive pre-departure briefings.  They emphasize the importance of health management; safety preparedness; registering foreign travel; and, understanding one’s expectations, balanced with those of both home and host schools and countries.

The IPO coordinates with expert counselors, nurses, and school administration to ensure students are prepared for the culture shock that typically ensues – inside and outside the classroom.  How to Deal with Culture Shock while Studying Abroad offers valuable insights.

For those interested in exploring #UMassDAbroad opportunities, check out While Abroad to discover the support you might receive while traveling!

A Surprise!

I was delighted to discover a month-long break in between law school finals in the States and Orientation Week in Ireland.  (Hello, Sleep!)

At UMass Law, our amazing Law Enrollment Center team and myriad advisors keep us on schedule – we select and enroll in courses months in advance.  Fun fact – when you’re an exchange student in Ireland, it may take weeks before your courses are finalized and you have access to syllabi.

My Ireland Advisor reflected I was the first student to ask for homework during orientation.  To my colleagues in the States, Ireland definitely has some best practices we might consider adopting!  And, to my esteemed Professors, I hope you’re pleased I’m prioritizing academics.

Embracing the Upcoming Departure

My family is close and we were grateful to enjoy the holidays together. After the New Year, I snuck off to work in Washington, D.C. before returning to the northeast for final preparations.

Everyone asks about packing, and the truth is that it can be a fun, family affair!  My brothers helped load my storage unit with everything I wasn’t taking – demonstrating their most advanced Tetris skills and brotherly patience.  Such gems!  They also helped me settle on hiking boots over snow boots.

I wanted to bring more stilettos than the scales allowed, and, since one brother was traveling with me, I snuck an extra pair of heels into his bag when he wasn’t looking.  It’s all about the strategy!  (Travelers – I highly suggest investing in a luggage scale. Thank you, Mum!)

My Irish accommodations did not allow me to bring my ragdoll, Ninja.  He would love the view of the River Shannon I currently have, but I am confident he is enjoying his time, helping my friend study law well into the night.  Support from friends and family is crucial, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that he is safe, happy, and well cared for.

Ninja would adore Ireland

Golf clubs were prioritized, but what did I miss? Sheets, dear readers, sheets!  After almost two weeks of searching, Nuala at Strawberry Beds on the Dingle Peninsula set me straight!  So thankful for the new, crisp, white Irish linens.

Strawberry Beds, Dingle

Wheels Up

Airport navigation was easy.  We flew Aer Lingus.  The flight crew was friendly and we found the Irish clovers on the aircraft wings and earbuds delightful!  Upon arrival, the immigration officer at Shannon Airport was welcoming and offered suggestions on Ireland golf courses.  In transit, my golf clubs were misplaced.  Luckily, we were reunited in Cork City, the following day.

The best part about the departure was the arrival – the moment my brother said, “We’re in Ireland!”   – Cheers!

Touring the Cliffs of Moher with my Brother

What’s Next?  Look for an entry on some of the fun we had during my brother’s visit and how welcoming the University of Limerick and the people of Ireland are!  I also have a special segment planned for you, highlighting our robust International Society.

Greetings from the Emerald Isle!

Welcome to International Law from the Emerald Isle – a blog about academics and exploration as an exchange student in Ireland.

I am Shea Hazel, a Public Interest Law Fellow (PILF), and Juris Doctor Candidate, 2021, at UMass Law.  I am presently studying International Law and Human Rights at the University of Limerick School of Law – an incredible opportunity to broaden thinking and awareness of global perspectives on complicated legal issues.

As a blogger and correspondent for Spring 2020, it is my goal to share some insights with you into what life is like as an exchange student in Ireland.  I love learning about new people and will be interviewing some of the amazing locals on this beautiful island.  Your engagement on this blog, on twitter, and on Instagram is welcome and encouraged, to include any questions you’d like me to find answers to for you.

It’s my wish that you find this fun, informative, and possibly feel a bit more motivated to pursue one of you own dreams!  Especially if it is joining us to #pursuejustice at UMass Law!  Cheers, and.. here we go!

Hello from Ireland!