Euroadventures – Pt. 1: Ireland

Dia duit! That means “hello” in Gaelic for those of you that didn’t know. Don’t worry I didn’t know that until about 4 days ago either. ¬†I learned it while visiting the motherland. ¬†Sorry it has been almost a week since my last week but for those of you that read my last post you knew that I¬†took my first trip of my European adventure (hence the title of this post) and flew on over to Ireland last Wednesday. ¬†The phrase “The grass is greener on the other side” must have originated in England, because the grass is SO much greener on the other side of the UK.

Cork

We started our trip in Cork. ¬†We landed there Wednesday afternoon and immediately after arriving at our hostel made our way to the Blarney Castle. ¬†Some may call this a tourist trap, but hey I had no problem being a tourist that day. ¬†The castle is home of the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that if you kiss the stone, it bestows eloquence upon you (not that I didn’t already have plenty of that already ūüėČ ) but I was there, so like all the millions of people before me of course I kissed the stone! The grounds around Blarney Castle are beautiful, filled with every kind of tree (including a fairy tree!), waterfalls, and of course are safe grounds for leprechauns. ¬†After visiting the castle I had dinner with Bridget O’Connor in a pub called O’Connor’s, obviously accompanied by a pint of Guinness.

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*pot of gold under this rainbow not pictured*

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Galway

After quite the interesting first Hostel experience, we woke up early Thursday morning to catch our bus into Galway. ¬†We were planning on going to see the Cliffs of Moher on Friday, but the weather forecast looked better for Thursday so we got off the bus, ran to our hostel, and headed off on a tour to the cliffs right away! It was quite the ride, up 214 m (approx. 700 ft) up a mountain, in a bus, on a very narrow road (and that is putting it nicely), but it was well worth it. ¬†It was a beautiful day, one of the best days all summer according to our tour guide, and we saw so much more than just the cliffs! Ireland is not only a land of so much green, but also so much limestone (which is actually grey rock for those of you that didn’t know, don’t let the name confuse you). ¬†For about two hours it seemed like just rocks, and then some grass, and then a lot more rocks, and then finally we made it too the top. ¬†What a view that was, to look out over Galway Bay, on the side of a cliff down into blue water, over looking the Aran Islands. ¬†I’m getting sentimental just thinking about it. I don’t think I could have ever gotten tired of that view, and the farther out you went the more there was to see. ¬†We made a few stops on the way back down to Galway, including Doolin, which is apparently the music capital of Ireland. Our last stop on the slope down to Galway Bay were at what is referred to as the Mini Cliffs, which were about half the height of the Cliffs of Moher. ¬†(But I’d say the view is about 3/4 as awesome).¬†See pics below for both of those breathtaking beauties.¬†

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After returning to Galway, we took on the town and Pub hopped on Quay Street and the Latin Quarter.  Ireland is just as fun as it is beautiful.  On Friday we explored Galway City, we went in the Galway Cathedral, walked the campus of University of Ireland Galway, crossed under the famous Spanish Arch, and escaped the rain in the Galway Museum.  For such a small city, there was so much to see and do, but Friday night we rested up for our last stop in the Motherland.

Dublin

We got to Dublin midday on Saturday. ¬†We were lucky enough to stay with a friend of a friend, so not only did we get a free place to sleep but I got to see a friendly face as well ūüôā (thats never something you can pass up when you’re on another continent for 4 months). ¬†We explored Dublin on Saturday afternoon, visiting the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the campus of Trinity College. ¬†Followed by exploring¬†the Temple Bar area and strolling through Grafton Street (shoutout to Worcester, MA). ¬†Nightlife in Dublin is pretty fun too, with a pub on every corner of every street, you really can’t go wrong. ¬†On Sunday we woke up and got a traditional Irish breakfast (much needed and so darn delicious). ¬†After breakfast I hit the Botanical Gardens, where I encountered my first Lebanon Cedar Tree! It was so very cool to see one major part of my heritage inside of the other, especially because they’re pretty¬†polar. Finally we made our way down to St. James Gate to hit the last landmark on our self-guided Ireland tour: the world renown Guinness Storehouse. ¬†And what a place that is, to be enjoyed by anyone no matter what their age or drinking preference (not that I don’t love a nicely pulled pint of Guinness). ¬†It is a drink of craftsmanship, legacy, and ambition, and it has everything to show for that. ¬†The Storehouse was vibrant, a sharp contrast to the dark water that a pint of Guinness holds within it. ¬†The last stop on the Storehouse tour¬†definitely adds to¬† the hype, as it takes place in the Gravity Bar overlooking the city of Dublin, while you enjoy your complimentary pint. ¬†I’ll cheers to that.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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All in all it was a wonderful trip. ¬†I’m so glad I got to see where several of my ancestors have come from, a place my dad has visited several times and has a large love for. ¬†I definitely have a new appreciation for the color green.

I do have to say, it was a very nice feeling getting off the train in Twickenham¬†today, despite the cold rain, to the feeling that I was¬†arriving¬†home. ¬†I finally start classes this week, tomorrow is my first day, and I’m actually not that sad my summer is finally coming to an end. ¬†But come Friday afternoon I’ll be off to my next destination: Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. ¬†How lucky am I, to check that off my bucket list at 20 years old? Stay tuned…Sl√°inte! (That means cheers in Gaelic, and if you didn’t know that get with it).

The 411 – Part 3

Hullo! I know it has been about a week since my last post, but I want to make sure that every post has enough in it to be worth the read, so bear with me.

I moved into school on Tuesday, among with the 50 other international student’s who are studying at St. Mary’s as well this semester. ¬†There are students from all over America, as well as Australia, South Korea, Spain, Germany, and potentially a few others that I forgot about. ¬†I was lucky enough to be one of about 5 people who was not suffering from jet lag ūüôā¬†And let me just say, how wonderful it is to have the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world. ¬†I now have lots of new friend’s from lots of different places! But to all my homies back home, don’t worry, I miss you immensely.

Attending college, or “Uni” rather as the Brit’s like to call it, is quite the 180 from studying at an american university; cue the next round of culture shock. ¬†This round of culture shock, however, was not a bad one. ¬†Let’s just say that drinking with your RA’s is not just acceptable, but encouraged as here they are more of comrades than authority figures. ¬†And you only have each class once a week at Uni. Take notes USA.

Amongst orienting us with the school, finding out our schedules (yay for no Friday classes! (and fingers crossed for no Monday classes either, stay tuned)), we also have had time to acquaint ourselves with our County. Yeah, state’s do not exist in the UK, they are referred to as “county’s.” ¬†St. Mary’s is sandwiched in between the two towns of Twickenham and Teddington. ¬†Both as equally charming as the other, and overflowing with the cutest caf√©’s and boisterous pubs. You could say that I’m enjoying myself. Picture below of me and Bridget having a nice lunch at a¬†caf√© on Thursday ūüôā¬†

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Yesterday, we did a walking tour of London. ¬†Now, as I was lucky to have seen most of what we did before, it was quite the treat to share the experience with people who hadn’t (not being alone was a nice touch as well). ¬†It was a beautiful day in Central London yesterday. ¬†The sun was shining and the tourists were out, ourselves included. ¬†Pic’s from yesterdays walking tour below.

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Up until now, it has just been international students on campus but all of the other students arrive today. ¬†I do not, however, start classes until next Monday. ¬†So I’ve had about a 5 month summer, but no complaints on that front. Now, you may be asking yourself, what goes on for a week before classes start? The answer surprised me as well: school sponsored drinking events, basically all day, every day. ¬†Participation is not required but encouraged for what is called¬†“Fresher’s Week.” Apparently they really just try to throw the first year students into the heat of the college experience on this side of the pond.

I, however, don’t think my body would appreciate that kind of liquid diet for a week straight. ¬†So I will be taking my adventures elsewhere come Wednesday, I’m off to the homeland! Flights are booked to Ireland and Bridget and I are¬†hitting Cork, Galway, and Dublin over 5 days to be back just in time for our¬†first day of classes. ¬†The ball is really starting to get rolling on this adventure ¬†and I’m low key hype.

Look out for my next post to hear all about Euroadventure’s – Part 1. ¬†Cheers!

I used the phrase *just british things* in one of my earlier posts and got some feedback that it was rather enjoyed. ¬†So just as I have posts of the nature of my happenings regarded as “The 411” I have decided that pictures (most of which will be taken on my GoPro) I want to post of things around the lovely country of Great Britain will be regarded to as “*Just British Things.*” Keep an eye out!

P.S. Any picture can be enlarged just by clicking on it ūüôā Cheers!

The 411 Part 1.2

Hello Hello! Welcome to Part 2 of my first 411 post. ¬†For those of you who know me (aka roommates, close friends, other people I like to annoy) as of late, instead of asking people what their plans are I have been asking them what the 411 is. ¬†So therefore, any updates of my doings or other happenings in my life will be posts of “The 411” nature. ¬†Every post will have a different part, and for this post obviously my first few days were so eventful I just had to have 2! I’m going to give you the play by play as short and sweet as I can.

So Day 1. ¬†I arrived here Thursday morning, and took the Tube into Central London. ¬†I got off at Piccadilly (so much fun hearing British people say this word) Circus, which is essentially the Times Square of Central London. ¬†There I enjoyed a nice British lunch of fish and chips, and a cider (god bless the drinking age of 18 in Europe! #finallylegal). ¬†Then I wandered to the South Bank, which runs along the Thames (pronounced “Tems” here in England) and made my way to the Tate Modern Museum. ¬†Then my jet lag got the best of me and that concludes Day 1.

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Day 2. What an eventful day! My new friends had booked a Buckingham Palace tour for Friday morning, something that also happened to be on my bucket list for this week. ¬†After touring the Royal Mews, I spent 2 hours walking around only HALF of Buckingham Palace. ¬†I left feeling like quite the peasant and having developed a newfound love for the Queen, cuz she is just so darn cute. Will and Kate had to take a rain check on dinner, we’re trying to make plans for next month.

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 We then made our way, and when I say made our way I mean took 2 trains and a taxi arriving an hour late for our ticket time to the Warner Brothers Studios in London.  What did I do there you ask? I walked down Diagon Alley and boarded the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4 at the Harry Potter Studious Tour.  It was truly magical!

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Day 3. ¬†I finally got to see a familiar face yesterday ūüôā My friend Becca, whom I worked with this summer (now we’re making a splash in a different pond! ūüėČ ) and I met up in Notting Hill. We got breakfast at this weird Princess Diana shrine called Cafe Diana; it was as creepy as it was wonderful! After we ate we spent the entire day walking through the parks of London. ¬†Yes, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park,¬†and¬†St. James Park. ¬†That’s quite the trek and I have the blisters to prove it. ¬†We rewarded ourselves with a well-deserved pint at the pub!¬†*just british things*¬†

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Day 4.  Today I saw Westminster Abbey, walked across the Tower Bridge (yes it is actually called the Tower Bridge, not the London Bridge), and climbed all 311 steps to the top of the London Monument, talk about winded.  I had Authentic Indian for dinner with my new friends (did you know that London has the best Indian food in the world besides India!) before saying goodbye to my new friends.

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As the first little chapter of this trip closes, a prologue if you will, I couldn’t be more excited or ready to move into school on Tuesday; to move into the place that I get to call home for the next four months and to meet the people who are going to make this adventure so memorable. Stay tuned…cheers!

The 411 Part 1.1

So before I get into all the bloody things I’ve been up too since touching down in London town, I have a story for all of you…

For those of you who read my about page, (and for those of you who didn’t just click here), you heard my whole spiel on fate. ¬†Well as much faith as I put in fate coming into this experience, I also put in myself.

Fresh off my twentieth birthday, of course I thought I could fly to a foreign country by myself and stay alone for 5 days before my program started on Tuesday.  Get in, get situated, get adjusted.  I thought it was the smartest plan ever.

It took me about ten into the twenty minutes it took me to find my Uber driver to figure out how very ambitious that was of me. ¬†After finding him, we started off on the 45 minute drive from Heathrow to the airbnb I had booked for my first few days in the UK. ¬†Well when I say this was off the beaten path, in the words of my uber driver “You are no where near central London and on the opposite side of the city from your school.” Why thank you sir, I hadn’t already pieced that together!

Upon arriving finally at my residence for the first few days of my stay, jet lagged and in culture shock (we’ll just leave it at this, unprotected right hand turns) I was feeling defeated before my adventure had started. ¬†Well as I knocked on the door to 14 Drayton Road with my 3 giant luggage, I was faced with Pat. ¬†Her and her daughter, Ali, had arrived the night before and were here traveling and helping her younger daughter, Julie (who was staying with a friend for the night), move into the University of Edinburgh in a few days and they were stopping into London on the way.

As I sat down and got to talking to them, they invited me into the city with them to explore on their first day.  I offered to help them around the city, from what I remembered from the last time I was here.  Thank God I had someone to make the 10 minute trek to the Tube with, as this is not the best area for a 20 year old American girl to be getting lost in on her own (but it still managed to happen anyway).  I have spent the last several days exploring, touring, and tagging along with them.

If I had gotten here and not been met with welcoming American arms, I can honestly say I think I probably would have been miserable the last few days.  All anyone talks about is how studying abroad is the greatest experience and you find yourself and blah blah blah.  And I have no doubt that it is going to be anything but all of those things, but the reality of it is, I have also come to face that it can also be a little scary and lonely at times too.

Some one, or some thing (I bet you see where I am going with all of this now), led me to find them.  I needed that little buffer, that little force of fate, to help me ease the transition into this very new world I am now living in.

So all’s well than ends well. ¬†So happy and grateful for my first friends to have met here, and so I have attached a picture of us in a flying car at Hogwarts ūüôā And to find out what else I have been up too the last few days just click here.

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