Sarah Smaby is a student at Michigan Technological University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Limerick, Ireland.
I came to Ireland believing that I would see new places and experience new things, but I never would have expected that I would start a new sport! I have been playing tennis for the majority of my life, and had planned on playing in Ireland, only to find that the University of Limerick’s tennis club was no longer in existence because of a lack of members. So, after finding about this at the Clubs and Societies fair/sign-up, I circled around the booths, thought the people at the rowing club booth seemed friendly, and blindly decided to sign up! I’m so glad I decided to join, but it suffices to say I found there was quite the steep learning curve! Here are four different things I’ve learned from rowing:
- You go backwards: Before joining, the only exposure I had to rowing was catching a glimpse or two of it during the Olympics. Prior to going out on the water, I had gotten to row a stationary boat in an indoor water tank at the University of Limerick. However, while in the tank I didn’t think too hard about how the oars would move the boat in the water. The first time I went out onto the river, despite having rowed in the tank, I assumed that rowing was like kayaking, and that I would be able to see where I was going- and I quickly learned how uninformed and new to rowing I really was!
- Rowing has its own language: Stroke side, bow side, ease up, back it down, bring to shoulders, erging- my everyday vocabulary has greatly changed since coming to Ireland- however not in the way that I expected prior to coming to Limerick! Along with that, rowing has also taught me to become familiar with the sounds of the morning; from the birds, to the wind, to the sound of an empty campus as I walk to the boathouse before the sun has risen, rowing has introduced me to a whole new world of sounds and words!
- Your hands will never be the same after rowing! Rowing’s a very tough sport- not only is it physically demanding, but it also completely tears up your hands, making the simplest things like washing hair and doing the dishes a challenge for days to come! I’ve learned that despite the number of blisters/calluses I acquire on my hands, there is ALWAYS room for at least one more!
- You get to see some amazing things while rowing: Although when rowing you have to be focused on the rowing and not the scenery, rowing has let me see some incredible things! For starters, everyday that we go out on the water, I get to row on the world-famous Shannon River! When I first saw the Shannon River I saw a few swans on it and was amazed by how beautiful the river and surrounding banks were. Now I get to see these sights every time I go out on the water, and I am in continuous awe of all how breathtakingly beautiful the river and the area surround my campus is! Not only have I gotten to see the Shannon River from a different perspective, but for rowing I got to go to a race up in Galway– where we raced past an old, abandoned, ivy-covered castle! Seeing the castle when heading up to the starting line was spectacular, and was something I never would have had the chance to see if I hadn’t joined rowing! The stereotype of rowers getting up early to row is more than true, but along with that comes once-in-a-lifetime views and perspectives that you would otherwise never be able to experience!
Want to learn more about Limerick? Check out “5 Surprises About Studying Abroad in Limerick”