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The Mass Media

The Beast from the East

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The Beast from the East

During the Spring of 2018, I had the incredible opportunity to embark on one of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s exchange programs for a full semester at the University of Limerick in Ireland. I experienced many fine aspects of European culture, specifically focusing on the Irish-side over the course of my four-month stay. There is one infamous event I’d like to share here today… it’s an event known to the people of Ireland and Great Britain as “The Beast from the East.

It was Wednesday, Feb. 28 of 2018 when I had first heard about this “beast” snowstorm, or “anticyclonic storm” as some called it. There was talk amongst my community of Irish friends that this storm would surpass any prior storm they’d had within the past 30 years. I found myself getting a bit nervous, even though I was well aware my upbringing in Boston had very much prepared me to deal with snow. My roommates from the Midwest and I knew exactly how to handle whatever conditions this storm was going to drop on us.

Later on that same day, I received an email from the University of Limerick that classes would be cancelled for the following two days. My roommates and I were thrilled to find out this storm had just gifted us a four-day weekend! We decided to drop the homework and studying that was going on throughout the house to make a trip to our local grocery store, ALDI, so we could survive the weekend. I couldn’t believe what was in store for us…

Nothing…literally nothing was in store for us…I kid you not, this ALDI that we always relied on was entirely raided. The large majority of bread, meats, veggies, milk, and fruits were sold out. If I had to estimate, I’d say 90% of the shelves in the grocery store were empty and out-of-stock. This was something I could’ve only imagined in post-apocalyptic Hollywood films, until this very moment I stepped into the store and it became my harsh reality.

We rummaged through the slim pickings and made our purchases that were necessary just to survive the weekend. I for one ate too many servings of Raspberry Jelly spread on a Baguette with a side of dry, off-brand corn flakes (I’m proud to announce I haven’t had the desire to eat any of those foods since that dire weekend last March).

Fast-forward to the very next morning, Thursday, March 1. My roommates from the Midwest and I awake to a laughable sight…as a New Englander this was all beginning to seem like a practical joke; there were a mere two inches of snow that accumulated from this “Beast from the East” that was extremely hyped up. Upon checking my phone a bit later, I noticed my Irish friends were genuinely distraught from the amount of snow they received. They were sending concerned messages, warning each other not to venture outside in the “treacherous” conditions. It was at this point I decided to step outside. Upon doing so and taking a few steps, I saw the aftermath of a two-vehicle car crash nearly outside our door (everybody involved was safe), the streetlights were flashing red to warn they weren’t working, and cars were drifting around on the coating of snow that layered the pavement. It was pure mayhem.
Overall we made the most of the storm, having participated in a snowman-building competition with my roommates, making a collage of newspaper headlines talking about the storm, capturing evidence of the empty aisles in ALDI, watching videos in regards to the bread shortage that was occurring in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and participating in multiple snowball fights organized by the University itself. I had a great bonding experience with my roommates, made memories that will last a lifetime, and witnessed non-New Englanders cope with the most basic of winter conditions by our standard. The “Beast from the East” experience was a genuinely mind-boggling one, but it was definitely one of the richer memories I will cherish from my study abroad days.