i just plugged in my straightener for the first time since arriving in ireland and it must have experienced some sort of mini internal explosion because it smells something suffocatingly fierce and i unplugged it so quick my hair is still frizzy.  i now write this with my head hanging out the window trying to catch a breath of fresh air.  #lifeabroad #itsnotallglamorous
this first week in ireland did not disappoint.  i feel as though i've already done and seen so much (and have the bags under my eyes to prove it!) and i am so grateful for the solid leadership and supervision that has made me feel included and looked after.  i am in good hands. 
wednesday was my first official day in the office and we welcomed 92 Ph.D. students and their families from the states to ireland with open arms.  this group is here to attend a conference on campus and had arranged for our office to solidify the lodging logistics as well as establish an itinerary to travel the area and experience limerick.  while i had no role in the preparation for their arrival, i have had the pleasure of partaking in their adventures and serving as a local resource for these students.  a group of them are staying in the same accommodations as i, so it has been a joy to see them outside of the scheduled events and continue to get to know them in a more casual setting.  i've even surprisingly been running into them all around town - i don't know if there's just that many of them (maybe there are?) or limerick is really just that small (maybe it is?) but it's fun to see a familiar face periodically, making this new city of mine feel a little more like home.  we have three more days of adventure ahead of us and i can't wait to experience all that this week has in store!
we had another smaller faculty-led study abroad group come through for the weekend that i also got to assist in hosting.  it was many of the students' first time abroad, so it was such an honor to experience a new culture through their eyes.  it's the curiosities they have and the conversations they spark that make this field of international education so rewarding.  on friday, i attended their sessions on education in ireland and then i went along with them that evening to hike the kilcommon pilgrim loop, a 7 km walk through the rolling hills of the irish countryside.  although the forecast predicted rain, the weather held up and it proved to be the perfect night for a stroll through the woods and prairies.  we topped off the night with my first pub dinner at bobby byrnes's.  i went with the fish and chips - totally not irish, but totally delicious.
on saturday morning, we took the larger group to the milk market in limerick city center.  the milk market is housed in a large building downtown and runs for different periods of time throughout every weekend, but is especially energetic on saturday mornings. local vendors bring their authentic, artisan goods to sell from their small, family-owned businesses and locals walk through and get their fresh produce for the week and of course have a snack or two right there while they shop.  there were all kinds of treats available, truly anything imaginable - pastries, breads, fruits, vegetables, olive bars, fresh fish, cooked sausages and falafels, flowers, craft and beauty items, juices, coffee... to name a few.  after spending time in the milk market and treating myself to a coffee and chocolate croissant, i stayed and moseyed around downtown for the day, exploring and getting myself oriented.  downtown limerick is lovely - very easy to navigate and has all different kinds of restaurants and shops. i live for little bouts of intentional wandering and exploration.
this was only the beginning of an ever-eventful weekend - stay tuned! 

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