By: UCC US Student Ambassador Jessica Jasewicz (Wells College)
While studying abroad in Ireland I wanted to branch out from what I was used to doing back home. I wanted to meet new people and get involved in new experiences. So, when we had orientation at UCC and I listened to the two Chaplains (Rob and Billy) talk about how being in Chaplaincy was great, I was immediately interested. Billy wanted to start a student choir, and said that if anyone was interested to shoot him an email about it. After orientation I just went back to doing what I normally did, hanging out with my roommates from my home college, but during the first week of official classes I began to think more and more about the Honan Chapel Choir. I emailed Billy and he told me to meet the choir on Sunday at 6:15pm. I decided to go and it was amazing. Not only was it peaceful and faith-filled, but the music was really fun to sing as well. After mass we went to the Abbey Tavern for some pizza and mass reflection.
I started to go to Chaplaincy a few weeks after I joined the choir, because I am the type of person that likes to wait and see what I am interested in participating in rather than just putting myself out there. That said, I am so glad I became a part of the Chaplaincy group. At Chaplaincy, everyone is so nice; they help one another, are always prepared to offer a cup of tea or coffee, and enjoy good chats together. On Thursday nights the group has a social- be it a karaoke night with pizza or a Halloween themed party. I loved these gatherings the best because the events really brought out the best in people. I mainly went to these events because I wanted to meet Irish people as well as international students. My favorite social night that the Chaplaincy had was for Thanksgiving; they had an intern plan the whole thing and he planned a game of football before the meal and then, while we ate, we watched the Minnesota Vikings play. I made three pumpkin pies and a pecan pie, and had to improvise a bit. Ireland does not have pumpkin puree, so I had to make the pies with actual pumpkins. Everyone thought they were the best part about the dinner.
Chaplaincy also took trips throughout the semester. I didn’t go on the first one, but I went on the last two. My first trip was a camino to Gougane Barra (the word “camino” means a walk). We took a bus for about 2 hours and then walked for about 3 hours to get to Gougane Barra. It was an amazing experience and a time of reflection for us as we walked through some beautiful Irish countryside. When we got there we had a chance to walk around, have lunch, and explore, and before we left for our journey back to UCC we had a prayer session in the church. My second trip was my favorite trip by far: a retreat to the monastery Mount St. Mallory. This was truly an inspirational experience for me because we got to pray and sing with the monks and learn more about our faith. I have never felt more at peace than I did when I was at the monastery, and I wish I could have stayed forever.
Joining Chaplaincy was the best thing that I could have ever done, and now I have friends that will last me for a lifetime. We are not only pen pals, but we send each other gifts as well.
I hope everyone finds something special to be a part of while abroad at UCC!