As I was being toured around the University of Limerick (UL), it struck me that I’m only a few years away from doing college visits with my daughter. She’s 13 right now, and thinks she wants to go to college close to home. God love her for that. I know that may change. As I walked around the Limerick campus, I thought, what about UL as a university choice? I started to think of it as my first college visit and looked at it through a prospective parent’s eyes. I liked what I saw.
A Limerick Location – I liked that.
Limerick, Ireland has been chosen as the 2014 City of Culture. As I toured around the city, I met so many warm, funny people who greeted me with that famous Irish hospitality I wrote about. They were eager to show me their city, and I liked what I saw. As I wandered around the university campus, I felt quite at home. There were bustling college students quickly walking from one class to the next. They had more of hike than at some other colleges as UL straddles two counties: Limerick and County Clare, where the newer expanse has been built. In order to travel from one part of the campus to the other, it’s necessary to cross the River Shannon on the longest pedestrian bridge in Ireland, while enjoying the serenity of the natural landscape.
Music Hall – I liked that, too.
Music Hall was the highlight for me. As a flutist, I am always drawn to buildings where I can hear other musicians practicing scales and concertos. Even when I attended college myself, I often found a cozy place near my university’s Conservatory of Music to sit and hear musical notes waft through the windows.
At UL, there was no need to tuck myself away to listen to people practicing. A group of musicians were jamming right out in the open corridor, playing traditional Irish folk tunes. Music to my ears! One member of our group even asked one of the fiddlers if she could borrow his instrument and she joined right in. My daughter has done this with her Jazz Band at school. It made me see what fun I missed as a classical musician. We’re not the impromptu players that these talented musicians are. If I attended UL, Music Hall is where you’d find me. If my daughter continues to play trumpet, I’m sure she’d spend some time there, too.
State-of-the-Art Sports – She’d like that.
My daughter is more of an athlete than a musician, so the state-of-the-art athletic fields are where I’d probably find her. The multi-purpose all- weather synthetic grass park contains two full size soccer pitches (and a rugby pitch). It is the largest artificial grass development in Ireland, and it was absolutely stunning. As was the Arena, Ireland’s largest indoor sports complex. If the Olympics were to come to Ireland, this is where many events would likely take place.
In addition to the outstanding fields and equipment available, world-renowned sports therapist, Gerard Hartmann, operates the Hartmann International Sports Injury Clinic at the University of Limerick. Professional athletes from around the world have travelled to Limerick for his treatments. As a parent of an athlete, it would bring me great comfort to know that my daughter would have the best medical care.
Studies – more important than I’m emphasizing here.
UL currently offers 78 different undergraduate programs. My daughter doesn’t know yet what she wants to study. She wavers between Teaching, Graphic Design, and being completely Undecided. When we do choose a college, the program of study will be our main area of concern. If that fits in with the programs offered at UL, terrific. We stepped into a classroom lecture for a moment and got a taste of what learning is like at this university: Fierce. Demanding. Serious. In fact, the professor lecturing was so intimidating that we all joked about it later. More than a few of us thought we’d better get out our notebooks and take class notes or suffer the consequences! I’m sure this would turn my daughter off, but I want her to get a good education.
Housing – I liked it.
The apartments at UL were different than the dormitory-style housing I’m used to here in the States. At most American universities, freshmen share small, cramped rooms in a large, multi-storied building that lends itself well to partying. The apartments at UL were much more private; music to the ears of a mother would worry.
The apartments have 6 single bedrooms off a short hallway that leads to a small common area and kitchen. I liked that each person has his/her own space with a door and some privacy, and that an apartment of six people is separated from the next apartment, and so on. As an introvert, I would have craved this for myself. I think my daughter would like it, too. You can still socialize, but when you want to, you can also retreat.
Cost – very good — if we were Irish!
Apparently, Irish citizens do not have to pay for higher education, though the schools do tuck some fees into their registration fees. We heard one quote as we walked: something like 2,000 Euro/semester. Since our financial advisor just told us to plan on $50,000/year for my daughter, this sounded like a dream come true!
Especially if my cab driver into town was correct. He told me that since my grandmother is still alive and is a descendant of an Irish citizen, she (my 94-year-old grandmother with dementia) could apply to the Irish Embassy to be granted citizenship, and that would then trickle down to my mom, me and my daughter (after we filled out about a thousand documents). The cabbie was very insistent we do this. I was a little overwhelmed by all that he was telling me and didn’t have the heart to tell him that I wasn’t 100% sure it was my great-grandmother and not my great-great that immigrated here. But after hearing the cost of college
tuition registration fees, maybe it would be worth the effort to find out!
I know there will be many more college visits in the years to come. I’ll wander through campuses analyzing their housing, academic resources, athletics, atmosphere and cost. Touring UL gave me a glimpse of the future and what credentials I’ll look for as we compare campuses and my daughter makes her final selection. I have no idea where she’ll end up, but if she chooses the University of Limerick, I’ll be happy with her choice. You’ll find me in Music Hall every time I visit.
Where did you go to school? And what made that place your choice?