shenanigans while studying abroad in Ireland
This morning I woke up in a bare room after sleeping in a bed without sheets. It’s move-out day.
Yesterday I finished packing up my room, which was more stressful than I anticipated. I thought it was hard packing one suitcase for 5 months, until I had to until I had to get rid of about 85% of that stuff. Fortunately I had plenty of space. When I first came to Ireland, I packed a medium suitcase and then fit that suitcase inside of a larger one. This way now that I’ve accumulated more stuff, I have two suitcases to pack in for the return home. So yesterday I took a bus to Shannon Airport and dropped off my two large suitcases, where they’ll be stored for the next couple weeks. For the next 20 days I will be backpacking across Europe, though with a carry-on—not a backpack.
I’ll be staying in Dublin for a few days, just waiting for three of my cousins to arrive so that I can give them the grand tour of Ireland. We will begin in Dublin, then head south to Cork, north the next day to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway, and then end in Dublin once again. I’m pretty excited about this part of the trip because I get to show them some of my favorite places in Ireland, as well and discovering new cities as well. After finishing up in Ireland, I fly over to Brussels. I’ll be completely honest here: the biggest reason why I’m going to Brussels is because it was the cheapest Ryanair flight. It’s definitely a perk that it’s a beautiful city, along with being the capital of the European Union. There’s bound to be a lot of history to discover, and I’m just glad it’s for a low low price. Finally, I’ll fly over to Manchester and then take a bus down to Cornwall where I’ll meet my dad. I’m pretty anxious about traveling solo for part of the time. At least I’ll be seeing some of my family in there as well.
This past week in general has been fairly rough. My friend Katherine and I have been the last two of our friends to move out, so most of my time has been spent saying goodbye to people. Transitions aren’t very easy for me anyway, but I don’t think any of us expected the difficulty of saying goodbye. It’s a bit easier for people that live close to me or at least in the US. But then there are the others that live more than a car ride away. How do you say goodbye to friends from Poland, Australia, Canada, and France knowing that it could be years before you reunite? It could take a long time, but it’s now a serious goal of mine to visit all of these far away friends. When this trip began at O’Hare airport with crazy flight complications I bonded with three people also heading to UL. We originally stuck together out of a need for other people in the same situation, but since then they have become my closest friends in Ireland. Seeing them off at the bus stop on Tuesday morning was very bittersweet, but I know I will see them again soon.
Here’s a quick note for all my friends and family reading this blog: I have postcards for all of you, but it’s ridiculously expensive to send postcards in bulk here. I’ve already written on a bunch of them, so when I get back I will hand them all out to you.
We should be in Dublin fairly soon so I will sign off for now. Look back for more posts soon! Slainte!
Note from later this evening: This evening I met up with my friend Katherine to get some dinner because she’ll be in Dublin for a few days as well. Before we met—at a place very similar to Chipotle—I was just walking around the city to get a feel for it again. I should quickly explain that I have never been known for my navigational skills. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve gotten lost in my hometown before, and it only has around 5,000 people in it. But since I’ve studied abroad, I’ve gotten much better at finding my way around cities. I found my way around Dublin, to the restaurant, and back to the hostel without looking at my map once. I’ve also just gotten better at reading maps in general. This is a big deal to me. It means that being put in an unfamiliar place on my own has boosted my self-reliance, and I definitely think it’s helped me grow as a person. Just wanted to add that in at the end of the day. Alright, it’s time for bed in Dublin.
I don’t think it needs explaining that I have been ridiculously lazy with this blog. Granted, I’ve been pretty busy lately with traveling, essays, and imminent finals, but that’s not much of an excuse. I have a lot to write about.
So here is a list of some of the blog posts forthcoming. They are in chronological order:
February 23rd— Into the West Trip
March 1-3rd— Dublin Weekend
March 4th— RAG Week
March 6-10th— Paris Weekend
March 17th— St. Patrick’s Day
March 22-31st— Easter Break in Portugal
——intermission of good craic in Ireland——
April 26-May 6— Reading Week in Italy and Spain
So, as you can see I have a lot to cover. Let’s get started! Also, there’s a new countdown: 30 days until I’m back home.
It’s catch up time. I will now attempt to re-cap in detail the last 3 weeks in 3 blog posts. Ready…. Go!
February 8th: My friends and I had now signed up for the OPC, as mentioned in my last post, and so we embarked on our first weekend trip with the group. We had heard many rumors about these legendary adventures, and definitely weren’t let down. Our trip began Friday night at 6 pm when we left on two coach buses… only to arrive at the grocery store down the street to pick up alcohol for the weekend. As soon as we were back on the bus, cans were cracked open, music was turned on, and everyone was getting to know each other. This continued into the night when we arrived until we went to bed to prep for the morning hike. Our location was Wicklow National Park, about 3-3 1/2 hours east from Limerick
The hike began the next morning at 10 am. While strenuous for a while going up, it had beautiful views the whole way that made the workout well worth the trip. See for yourself:
We also managed to have a bit of craic on the way:
Especially when we were chillin’ with these guys. They were pretty cool:
So after our 4 hour hike, we were back at the hostel for a well-deserved (though cold) shower, a nap, and some some delicious pasta. It was one of my first American-portions of food and my stomach was very happy.
Then the night festivities began. As Valentine’s Day was next week, the group threw a ball right there in the hostel. However, try cramming 80 people into a tiny conference room. We ended up relocating to the bar down the road. Many people were far gone a this point, but I had a fantastic time dancing the night away.
The next morning was very groggy, but we eventually woke and took a short walk to help wake up. Some of the veterans of the group decided that wasn’t enough to shake off the hangover, so they did this instead.
Start with a bang, end with a bang. This trip definitely lived up to expectations.
The rest of the trip was fairly normal. I picked up some sort of sinus infection, which has all but disappeared now. The penicillin seemed to do the trick. (Sidenote: i obviously know about penicillin, but I’d never heard the phrase, “I’m going to prescribe some penicillin.” It was a weird moment.) I joined choir that week. By this time I’d also gotten my visa, so I am legally allowed in Europe until June! No more carrying my passport around with me. Things were going very well.
(Don’t worry, things continued to go well. That sounded like such an ominous ending…)
So ends catch up part 1/3. Hope you enjoyed it and are having a fabulous time wherever you are! Slainte!
Hey there friends and family. Here’s the spot in the post where I apologize for such long periods between writing. I promise, I have now have the next 4 posts planned out and ready to share, so it will not be long before everyone is in the loop. That being said…
This post is mostly about my mindset after being here over a month. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first, shall we? I was/have been sick with some sort of sinus infection for a couple weeks, though the only symptom now is difficulty in choir. I sliced my hand open a couple days ago while washing a glass that broke in my hand. No stitches, but I’ll probably have a gnarly scar for a while. I always seem to acquire war wounds while on trips. Other than that, I’m sick for home (both on Fox Run Lane and at Illinois State), but my busy schedule keeps that under control. Consistent cold showers—the bane of my existence.
And that’s pretty much it for the bad stuff.
I’m completely in love with this place. So far I’ve joined three school societies: Choir, the Outdoor Pursuits Club, and the International Society. Both the OPC and the International society put on trips throughout the year, which I will detail in the next couple blogs. For now, let’s focus on choir. Though we currently lack a piano, pitch pipe, or decent rehearsal space I continue to come back. We have MAYBE 20 people in the group, which is heaven compared to the 150-person choir back. Excuse me for briefly nerding out, but I can’t wait for the blend to develop and to start working on even more music. It’s even possible Eric Whitacre could become involved. But until that day, I’m happy with the content feeling I have while walking back from practice every Wednesday. It feels pretty good.
I’ve also been doing a lot of searching career-wise. Though I knew I would probably enjoy this trip no matter what and it would be great experiences, stories, etc. etc. etc… it was also a secret test for myself. As an English major, I constantly get the question “What are you going to do with that degree?” My answer at first was pretty varied, that I was open to publishing, editing, travel writing, or whatever else came my way. Then the default answer became travel writing alone, though it was more something to say than a real decision. So coming here was my test, to see if I could really handle travel and find out if I was genuinely interested in this field. Good news guys, I am. I’ve started to do some light research about jobs with editing experience for this fall and writing internships after Junior year. Trips have already been planned for Paris, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, not to mention other possibilities and the rest of Ireland. I’m pretty excited about it all, to say the least.
So that’s it for now. Look for some more posts in the next couple days. Slainte!
I supposed I should add some information on how to contact me.
I’m using Skype primarily to keep in contact with people back home, mostly because it is easy, free, and I can use it whenever I have wifi. For friends and family that don’t know and want to chat, my user name is “eminer.7”
If you ever wake up with the overwhelming urge to write a letter, send it on over! I would love to get any sort of mail. Simply message me and ask for the address.
Phone is a bit trickier over here and there’s almost no reason to share it as I only use it to chat with friends at UL.
And that’s about it! Hopefully my next eventful post will be this Sunday.
Alright friends, so I’ve been putting this post off for far too long. There’s been so much happening here that I’ve had trouble finding time to sit and write it all down, but I’m to do my best to keep up with it from now on. So, away we go!
The goodbye was tough, as I knew it would be. Dad came down with the stomach flu the day I left, so I had to say goodbyes to him at the house and mainly from a distance. Not so fun, and tearful. The rest of the family and I got to the airport almost 3 hours before take-off to get a time cushion, but all went smoothly so I found myself at the security gate more quickly than I would like. Another goodbye, and more tears.
Now, here I should clarify what the original flight plans were: O’Hare to Manchester, UK and then to Shannon. I should’ve been at the university by 11 AM. Simple. Easy. Wrong. Apparently O’Hare doesn’t plan on having the proper overseas plane for a flight, so things got complicated. What should have been two flights turned into O’Hare—>New York—>Manchester—>London—>Shannon, and over 24 hours of travel. Thankfully, I met some other people going to UL on the plane and we bravely (and jet laggedly) banded together. Finally, at 11 PM we arrive on campus and collapsed in bed.
The next two days were orientation in the morning and the pub at night. Friends from the flight and some others decided to go exploring in the city to gather groceries, sheets, and other necessities. That first weekend was pretty much spent settling in and getting to know the campus.
Monday I started checking out my class options, which they let us do for two weeks until we officially register. I had already confirmed my choices with Illinois State, so my schedule is now set up. Here’s the line-up:
Irish Cultural Texts, Cultural Theory, Irish Folklore, Renaissance Literature, and Augustan/Restoration Literature.
Thursday was my lovely friend Nichy’s 23rd birthday, so we all got together for a party that night. I opted out of going to the bar after the house party, and later heard many stories about getting kicked out of the pub and having jackets stolen. Many shenanigans ensued.
The next day was my first castle adventure! Let me clarify right now—you may find yourself thinking, “I always see pictures of castles in Ireland. There really can’t be THAT MANY of them. Sheesh. Tourist trap.” You would be false, these babies are everywhere. This one in particular is about a 15 minute (muddy) walk from my house and I’ll let pictures speak for themselves.
But this was only a prelude of the sights we were to see on Saturday at the Cliffs of Moher! We took a day tour north up the coast and saw some absolutely breathtaking views. Along the way we stopped for lunch (delicious clam chowder, beef, potatoes, etc.) and photo ops. Here are a few of the results, in chronological order.
This trip was exactly what I needed to feel like I made the right choice in coming here. The view, and sitting on the edge of that “smaller” cliff, was completely liberating. I should make a small shout out to my friend Austin who lent me his camera charger, without which these photos would never be taken. Also, Jessica Carroll should know that her gift was bought here.
Sunday night was the Super Bowl, so we Americans naturally headed down to a pub where it was being played. While I normally couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl unless the Bears were in it, it was nice to participate in something our country is pretty invested in. Sidenote: I’m happy that I have great friends who tell creepy drunk men to back off.
The rest of this week has been school mostly, with some fun interjections. Karaoke, fish and chips, and the company of friends continue to make me feel at home here. (Officially getting my visa tomorrow can’t hurt, either).
Coming up in the future: hill walking in Glendalough, the City of Cork, Dublin a few times, Paris, Italy, and possibly Greece. So incredibly pumped.
Until then, Slainte!
The day has finally come. I’ve been spending my morning snuggling in bed with my dog. Everything but my toothbrush is packed. We decided to get to the airport with 3 hours to spare, so that no matter what happens or how lost I get I’ll still get on the plane on time.
Terrified of puking out of nervousness-5%
The goal now that I’m actually leaving is to blog once a week at least.
Let’s do this thing.
“Go to other countries. Not a typical backpacking tour. Planned tour means you will hang with Americans on bikes and flirt with drunk Germans and someone will steal your Levi’s in the hostel and a guy from Poland will sock you in the face while bad techno plays everywhere and you will learn nothing except that your face hurts and not everyone showers. Get into other cultures and talk politics and love. Meeting other people is the only way to know if you believe what you believe cause it’s been handed to you, or if it really rings true in your heart. Getting lost should be seen as a sweet chance to be found. Remember, you belong everywhere.”
— Derrick C. Brown (via elvis-parsley)
Fall semester is over, I am officially a junior, Christmas has passed, and New Year’s Eve isn’t far ahead. It is getting to that point where I need to buckle down and legitimately prep for this trip. I am less than a month away from departure, and there is a lot that still needs to be done around here. Primarily packing. And unpacking. And repacking. See, for this trip I get a large suitcase (weighed under 50 lbs), my backpack, and a small carry-on. I’m generally alright at packing for trips, but let’s be real. I’m packing my whole life for 5 1/2 months. This is going to take some determination, and possibly duct tape/WD-40.
Let’s move on to happier topics. For one, my family was very generous to me this Christmas. I am now in possession of a new camera, which means photos will accompany the blog soon (today)! Also, I have a couple of new sweaters and a windbreaker to keep me cozy/dry in the rain. Some adapters and converters were found in my stocking, which will keep my computer from blacking out the campus. Another intriguing present was these old Irish coins.
They’re no longer used since the circulation of the euro in 2002, but they’ll make a great addition to my foreign coin collection. I’ve done some research on them and here’s what they are from top to bottom/left to right: a two pence piece, a pair of pennies, one shilling, and a pair of five pence pieces. Which reminds me, I really need to become accustomed to the euro.
For more bright news, I FINALLY found out where I’ll be living while on campus. Seems there was a mix up in communications between schools, but it’s been sorted out. I’ll be living in Kilmurry Village in a house with five other people. Housing there sounds much more spacious than the dorms and is more like apartment-style living. We each get our own room, plus a kitchen, living room, and 2 bathrooms. It figures that the one time I get more space the less I can bring. Ah, well. The village looks beautiful and is right next to the track, so maybe I’ll be motivated to work out? Don’t answer that question.
All in all, things are shaping up nicely. More news to come eventually.
Days until departure: 24