Student Ambassador Pei Jun Lee from Malaysia has loved getting accustomed to the local culture in Athlone! Trying new foods, learning from local artists, and connecting with community groups, are just some of the amazing things that she has experienced in her new Irish home…

Blending into the Irish culture  

Joining local groups and going to local events is one way to deal with being homesick while living abroad. The more you take part, the more you can learn about your new country! In immersing yourself in this new culture, you might fall in love!

Athlone is a large and busy town in Ireland’s midlands. There are always a variety of events going on. As a study abroad student, you have the opportunity to participate in and experience the local enthusiasm for their traditions for yourself!

Apple Day Athlone! (photo: Pei Jun)

Athlone Apple Day 

It was a privilege to attend Apple Day, which was held for the first time in Athlone, where the apple harvest was celebrated. The ‘Athlone Apple – At the Core of Ireland’ event was launched in the Franciscan Friary Orchard. This is a project in Athlone Town that aims to establish community orchards and showcase an edible food trail. 

Through this event, I had the chance to take a look at the weaving and basket making traditions of the Irish people. The Athlone Family Resource Centre (AFRC) launched the ‘Community Wellness Blanket’ public arts exhibition. They created a large blanket with various crochet patterns. They also turned one of the orchard’s corners into a location for tourists to take photos and children to listen to storyteller, Niamh Henderson. 

One of the stalls at the festival (photo: Pei Jun)

Food and Drink 

At the event the AFRC set up many stalls for guests to enjoy a cup of apple cider, candy apples, and various apple desserts. Sadly, I did not get the chance to try an apple candy! Make sure you arrive on time, so you don’t miss out on parts like I did! But, I did get to eat some of the apple desserts baked and provided by the committee members. We had apple tarts, apple pies, French apple cake, and cinnamon apple crisps. They were all very delicious! 

Delicious apple treats (photo: Pei Jun)

Acoustic Music 

Seamus Shannon and his friends performed a live session music as well, the music energised the atmosphere, and several people began to dance. You can invite your friends to join you in dancing or you can just dance alone and letting go of your homesickness or other anxieties while blending into the Irish culture. 

Seamus Shannon’s trad group (photo: Pei Jun Lee)

Thank you for reading. I wish you all the best and hope you can meet new friends and enjoy your time in Ireland as much as I am!

Pei Jun Lee is studying Health Science and Nutrition at Technological University of the Shannon.