Tuesday, January 10, 2017

University of Limerick

We toured the University of Limerick and learned a lot about the university and Irish culture.
After a two and a half hour long bus ride from Dublin, we arrived at the University of Limerick. The character of the University of Limerick was quite different than that of the University of Minnesota or even Trinity College because the UL is quite young; it was only just founded in 1972. The buildings are quite new, and interestingly, the University lies in two different counties. Originally it was just on the Limerick County side of the Shannon River, but then it expanded to Claire County on the other side with the Living Bridge connecting them. We toured the campus, visiting some of the highlights.

We saw a structure called the Stables, which were the original stables but is now a hub of student activity with the visitor center, restaurants, and gathering space used often by the international students for events. We saw an auditorium in which the largest lectures of 300-400 students are held and saw smaller lecture halls and rooms for tutorials, which are similar to what we call discussions. We also walked through the University Arena, which is also open for use to the general public. Some interesting facts are that it holds one of the two Olympic-sized swimming pools in Ireland, and attached to it is the facility for the Munster Rugby team.

In the engineering building, we saw two of the labs mainly used by third or fourth-year students or graduate students. On the Claire County side, we walked into the Irish World Academy building. In the building there is a beautiful, enormous mosaic mural illustrating Irish Folktale stories, including the creation of the Shannon River.

 Back on the main campus, we stopped at a statue nicknamed Brown Thomas. According to our tour guide, the statue is the most photographed thing on campus, similar to our Goldy Gopher statue. Since it is tradition for the students to dress Brown Thomas up in hats, scarves, and even jerseys, we just had to put a Minnesota hat on his head and take a group photo.

We finished with lunch in the Plassey house, which originally was an old country house built in the 1770s and to which the stables originally belonged. Now it is the administrative center. During lunch we enjoyed some delicious food and continued to chat with our tour guides who taught us the difference between a shamrock and a clover.

The University of Limerick was an important stop on our trip because of its engineering program. They are on a semester system like us at the UMN, and their engineering program is four years because a co-op is required. As UMN students, we could have the opportunity to study abroad at UL, so maybe some of us will end up studying there for a semester down the road.