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Home Again

Time January 29th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” – Carson McCullers

So I’ve been back in the US for a while now.

Being back is possibly the strangest feeling in the world. When I first got back I was exhausted. I was so happy to be home to see my family and my friends and celebrate my 21st birthday the American way, celebrate Christmas and New Years with people I love and hadn’t seen in months. And it was especially bittersweet as I had only recently found out that my family would be moving in a few months, so I was trying to soak in every moment in Memphis that I could. It was normal being back, or as normal as going home for the holidays is when you’ve been away at school.

But now that I’ve been back at college for a couple of weeks, I’m realizing just how strange being back is. I don’t exactly know how to explain my experience abroad. I loved traveling, seeing new things, meeting new people, forcing myself to be more confident in my abilities, creating deep friendships in short periods of time. When people ask me, “How was it?” all I can say is, “Amazing, life changing.” I don’t know how else to describe it in a short, conversational way. I don’t want to dominate the conversation with all my tales, which I could easily do with the amount of things I experienced.

A lot of people go abroad at my school and most of us live in a building together, so it’s nice to be able to compare experiences or commiserate, whichever we feel like. But I miss the group I went abroad with. I miss feeling like every moment was a treasure and you couldn’t waste it because you never knew when you’d be in that place, in that moment, again. I miss the feeling of adventure and mystery. And I know that I can travel here, meet new people here, see new places, try new things. But I guess it just doesn’t feel the same. It has inspired me to want to be more involved at my home university in an effort to get that feeling back. And I’m hoping that I won’t miss Ireland, and Europe, and all my friends so much as time goes on.254857_4374867528855_1012273642_n 246497_10152144752640089_301287136_n 281458_10151221655944417_124949117_n 335162_10152144749030089_453677619_o 374028_10151221654114417_1931392003_n 534582_525007824179103_1293993088_n 536548_10151271779475879_46586729_n 32383_10151221676354417_632995287_n.

But for now I just flip through all of the pictures and videos I took of all the beautiful places I visited and all the amazing people I met and hope I can travel again soon, even if it’s just across the country.


The End.

Time December 14th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“Never say Goodbye, because Goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting…” – J.M. Barrie

Well this is it.

The end.

And I feel completely unprepared for it.

I feel like there are so many things I didn’t get to see or do or enjoy enough. But then I also think even if I were here for a few years it wouldn’t be enough time. But 4 months is definitely not enough time; that I know.

I don’t think I can adequately express how much I have loved the past 4 months of my life. All of the amazing people that I have met and who I know will be my friends for the rest of my life. All of the breathtaking sites I have seen. Every note of music I’ve heard. Every interesting taste or smell that I know I won’t find at home. Even little things like just walking through town or experiencing the disorganization of a Ryanair flight. Hearing different types of Irish accents around me at any given time, or hearing people speak Irish at the Tesco down the road. Digestive biscuits, fresh doughnuts (emphasis on the dough), mulled wine, pints of Guinness, street performers, the Citylink bus to Dublin I took more times than I care to admit, crappy instant coffee, the 20 minute walk into town, all of the construction on campus, tiny showers/toilets, paying for public toilets, train rides through foreign countries, getting lost in foreign cities and discovering beautiful gardens and buildings. I’ll miss it all.

Yea, some of those don’t sound so great and I’ll probably miss some things more than others, but with the ever-growing-closer date of departure looming a mere day ahead of me, I feel nostalgic for it all already. I went Christmas shopping today on Shop Street and looking at all of the Christmas decorations, which in DC makes me a little homesick for my family, made me incredibly sad to think that I wouldn’t be spending Christmas here, in Galway, in Ireland, in Europe.

I am, of course, beyond happy when I think of seeing my family, my friends, my house, my own room, my dog. I will soon be able to go to the grocery store and recognize every brand, I will spend money without doing conversions in my head all of the time, I will drive a car, I won’t have to walk to the store, I will eat some of my favorite foods and get delicious home cooked meals. I will celebrate Christmas with my loved ones, as well as my 21st birthday and New Year’s. Even with all of that though, and even with one last daunting final to complete, I really, really, REALLY don’t want to leave what has come to be my home, Galway.

Galway Girl

With a broken heart and a ticket home.


The Blog Where I Try to Describe a Month’s Worth of Activities…

Time December 3rd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“Travel is at its most rewarding when it ceases to be about reaching your destination and becomes indistinguishable from living your life.”

Let me start off by apologizing for how long it has taken me to write this post. I went from having almost no homework throughout the year to having 6 essays due within 2 weeks. Not only that but I was sick for about a week and am still trying to shake it off.

So what have I been doing this past month?

I went to Dublin for a few days to show my old roommate from GW who is currently studying in Paris for the year, Casey, around. While in Dublin we went to a Bon Iver concert with a bunch of people from the Butler program, but not before yet again hitting up the Guinness Storehouse and enjoying Dublin. I finally saw the Book of Kells and the library at Trinity College. We even went on a pub crawl and got to go into the bar where they filmed Gerard Butler singing “Galway Girl” to Hilary Swank- a scene the Butler Galway Girls frequently watch while we’re here.

Bon Iver Concert at the O2 Theatre in Dublin. One of the best concerts I’ve been to and I had so much fun with Casey!

Bon Iver performance: [youtube][/youtube]

Live music at the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse: [youtube][/youtube]

The next weekend was our Belfast weekend. The Butler staff picked us up Thursday and we drove to Belfast and enjoyed a free dinner. The next day we visited the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, a rope bridge that leads you to a small island on the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. It was pretty rainy and cloudy that day so we weren’t able to see the coast of Scotland but it was breathtaking nonetheless.

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, even with my fear of heights I managed to not just walk across this but jump up and down and scare some of the people around me. The island was scarier to be on since people kept slipping and falling from the mud!

Rocks at the Giant’s Causeway…either formed by cooling of volcanic rock, or the broken remains of a bridge built by the giant Finn McCool who just wanted a friend.

Do you see the top of that cliff all the way over there on the other side of this second Giant’s Causeway inlet? Yes, well I climbed up the side of the mountain (ok there was a path) and walked all the way to the tip of that cliff. Yea, I know.

And this is where we climbed to. It basically felt like being on the edge of the world.

A view of the Giant’s Causeway: [youtube][/youtube]

On Saturday we took a Black Taxi tour and learned about the Troubles. We visited Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, learned about the history of the area, and signed our names on the Peace Wall. Asking our driver about his experiences during that time and hearing about how he and his brothers used to be routinely dragged out of their house for questioning by the police, and hearing how he had seen a friend of his killed in front of him is something that I will never forget.

Learning about the Peace Wall and when it will come down, which according to our guide probably won’t happen in the near future since the people want it there.

Later that afternoon we went to the Titanic Museum and learned all about how shipbuilding and other modern industries affected Belfast, as well as everything you could possibly want to know about Titanic (the ship and the movie).

Some of the Galway Girls in front of the Titanic Museum in the Belfast Harbour near the shipyards.

That night the Belfast Christmas Market opened and the Christmas lights turned on. Although we weren’t able to get tickets at such late notice to the  Lighting Ceremony, we did get to enjoy the Market.

Belfast Christmas Market: where kangaroo is a delicacy, obviously.

Beautiful Belfast.

As much fun as Belfast was, I was pretty sure that I got the flu while I was there because upon returning, even though it was our last week of class, I struggled to do anything besides sleep and take hefty amounts of Sudafed.

By the time I got around to feeling any amount of better I had so much work to do- and it was Thanksgiving! My apartment cleaned and cooked all day and borrowed tables from the nearby hotel in order to host Thanksgiving at our place. Everyone showed up with their favorite family dish (or if they couldn’t cook- some wine, store bought food, or plastic utensils). Even though a lot of us were feeling homesick after seeing all of our friends and family talk about the fun they were having at home, it was a successful night. We feasted and all said how thankful we were that our families supported us enough to let us have the best semester of our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving! Half of our food (yes there’s much more) laid out under our very creative sign.

Me and my fresh out of the oven apple pies! Not as good as at home and definitely not pumpkin but still delicious.

Everyone enjoying our delicious Thanksgiving feast.

After this I had a few hours of rest before I hopped on a bus to the Dublin airport and flew to Germany to visit my cousins and have a second round of Thanksgiving feasting. It was nice to see some family especially since Thanksgiving seemed to wipe my immune system and make me sick yet again, on top of the twinge of homesickness I was still feeling. Plus my cousins had brought over the coveted pumpkin (which we could find NOWHERE in Galway, and pumpkin pie is my all-time favorite food), along with other American delicacies to enjoy (and by delicacies I mean Velveeta, Chili mix, cornbread and pumpkin).

Since I returned from Germany it has been nonstop work. All of the essays are due around the same time and I leave for my last trip, a 6 day adventure to London, in just 3 days.

It’s been a hard week all around. Realizing that I have a dozen days left and half of those will actually be in Galway is hard to accept. It seems like yesterday that I arrived in Europe, excited and anxious for what the semester would bring. This semester has been so amazing and rewarding; it felt like it could never end. But the first of our group has left to return to America today, and I feel like there is so much I have yet to do or experience and that these 4 months were nowhere near enough time.  I’m so excited to see my family and friends in less than two weeks, and the fact that I have my 21st birthday, Christmas, New Years, and spring semester to look forward to is comforting. But I am not even close to being ready to say goodbye to my Galway home.


“There is no room for idleness.”

Time November 7th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It has been a pretty exciting week.

After a very lazy weekend and feeling like I needed to do something, since after all I do live in Ireland, one of my roommates and I decided to go on a tour of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Even though we had to get up at 8 am on a Sunday and it was freezing outside (literally, it was 32F…) and of course, its western Ireland, it was raining! Regardless, it was actually a really good tour. Dublin Tour Company has deals for students so we’re able to buy one ticket and go on tours of Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher as often as we want, which is a deal, and the tour guides are always informed and entertaining.

Picture of a fairy ring- or as historians know them: ancient rings built by people as forms of protection. They built trenches around the ring and dug into the ground for safety from enemies and wind.

A portal tomb on top of a cairn: basically an ancient/Neolithic burial ground where bodies were normally cremated and buried, although this one had partial remains found in it. You can also see the rocky landscape of the Burren surrounding the tomb.

Me, in front of the Cliffs of Moher, aka those cliffs you see in Harry Potter, The Princess Bride, and a bunch of other music videos and movies. Also known as: the most breathtaking place ever.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Then of course, there were was the US presidential election.

It was interesting viewing things from Ireland’s perspective, and Europe in general. People here love Obama. I mean LOVE. I’m used to being around politics and having involved debates over political ideals as an International Affairs major in Washington, DC, but you usually have a good mixture of opinions and a whole lot of passion when it comes to those debates. I’m not however being used to having people randomly ask me who I voted for or if I’m a Republican or Democrat as soon as they find out I’m American. Not that I mind exactly, I loved talking about politics with people who are somewhat removed from the debate (although the campaign and election were followed closely by the news here and as the US is such a big power people are invested in who wins, regardless of whether they’re US citizens or not). It was just overwhelming how much people love Obama in Europe and Ireland!

I’m taking a few political science classes at NUIG and I love them. One of them is a large lecture class on European Politics, but my professor really knows how to make things relatable to students, especially international students, and regularly brings up America as an example or as something to compare a case study. It’s kind of fascinating viewing how Europeans see us, especially since I always had this idea that Europeans thought all Americans were loud and fat and patriotic and a little stupid. Yes, they do think we’re loud (and that’s not really a stereotype because in general we actually just talk louder) and we are definitely very patriotic especially compared to many European countries, and maybe they think all of those other things but aren’t going to tell us. But they by no means hate us. They know a lot about us. They watch almost all of the same movies and television shows we watch, their news has a regular section on America, and they keep up with our current affairs much better than a lot of Americans do. If an Irish person came to America they would probably be much more culturally comfortable than any American is coming to Ireland because they just know more about us than we know about them.

In general Europeans tend to pay more attention to the political activity of other countries. This makes sense since they’re geographically close to several other nations that they constantly interact with and are part of the EU with and share currency and open borders. They also seem to know more about even South America or Eastern Europe or Asia’s political activities as well though. I’m a little biased since I’m around a lot of political science majors here, but it’s still pretty evident that most average Irish people are more internationally aware than most Americans. Maybe it’s because Ireland is a small country population and border wise and because they’re geographically and politically connected/reliant on more countries than the US is, but I wish more US citizens would take on this mindset of reading up on current affairs. It’s something I definitely plan on taking home with me and spreading!


“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

Time November 2nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Embarrassing…only half this post went up and I’m not sure why. So here it is again, but different because of course…I didn’t save the original!

Last weekend I took my first international weekend trip since I’ve been to Ireland! I traveled quite a bit before arriving in Galway but it was my first trip to Hungary (the country where my dad’s side of the family immigrated from), and the first time where coming back to Ireland felt like coming home.

Unfortunately, a few nights before I left my wallet was stolen at a bar in Galway. In all honesty it was probably more my carelessness that enabled someone to take it than anything else since I’m the only one from my program to experience any kind of problems here.

Luckily my immigration card wasn’t in my wallet but I did lose some money, my NUIG student ID, and most unfortunately, my debit card. On a positive note, I have some amazing friends who helped me out and loaned me money while I cancelled my card and ran out of the cash I had at home. Since I opted not to open an Irish bank account and my bank is a smaller state bank, I had to wait for them to send my card to my home address in the US and have my mom forward me my card here, where it got stuck in customs for a few days because it needed some kind of special form to be filled out. Then there’s no post on Saturdays and Sundays and this past Monday was a bank holiday so again the post service wasn’t open. I finally received my card though, and all is well. But a little word of advice: maybe don’t bring your card with you when you go out and also have some kind of contingency plan with your bank so that there’s a faster way for you to regain access to your money!

Luckily, this little hiccup did not stop me from having an amazing time in Budapest! It was really one of the best trips of my life and I am already trying to find a way to return.

Alleyway in Budapest. St. Stephen’s Basilica is in the background covered by the smog/haze that seemed to coat the city.

View of the Danube River and the Hungarian Parliament building from the bridge leading to Margaret Island.

Hungarian lace and linen at the little market we ran into on the streets of Budapest.

Me standing on the Chain Bridge that leads over the Danube to the Budapest Castle, it was absolutely beautiful!

Stall at the market where the delicious Transylvanian Chimney Cakes were being roasted over a coal burning fire. These were so good and unique tasting that we went back the next day for more!

And of course we had fun at our hostel when they organized an open mic night and some of the guys sang part of a song…over and over again! [youtube][/youtube]

Since I didn’t have much money, I had a nice excuse to have a weekend exploring Galway, something I should have done long ago. I went to the fresh market Galway has on Saturdays downtown, and on Sunday walked to Salthill, a suburb right on the beach outside of Galway.

We got some delicious hot and fresh donuts from one of the stalls at the fresh market! Seriously it was so fresh and hot that it got squished from being in the bag for only a minute or so.

Fresh carrots and onions from one of the vegetable stands at the market.

One of downtown Galway’s main roads on an early Sunday afternoon.

Galway Bay, on the walk to Salthill

View of Salthill from the diving platform…where we saw several people swimming in the freezing cold water, some of them not even wearing wet suits!

The little explorations of Galway came at just the right time, though. After having so much fun in Budapest I was feeling the excitement of Ireland starting to wind down after being here for 2 months (especially since school was starting to get a little more serious with midterms and essays and presentations due and that was what I had to look forward to on my return from Hungary), I was just feeling a little tired of Galway. But exploring the city and the surrounding areas got me excited about Ireland again. Sometimes you just need to change up your routine a little to shake off any bad feelings.


“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

Time October 30th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” by

Last weekend I took my first international weekend trip since I’ve been to Ireland! I traveled quite a bit before arriving in Galway but it was my first trip to Hungary (the country where my dad’s side of the family immigrated from), and the first time where coming back to Ireland felt like coming home.

Unfortunately, a few nights before I left my wallet was stolen at a bar in Galway. In all honesty it was probably more my carelessness that enabled someone to take it than anything else since I’m the only one from my program to experience any kind of problems here.

Luckily my immigration card wasn’t in my wallet but I did lose some money, my NUIG student ID, and most unfortunately, my debit card. On a positive note, I have some amazing friends who helped me out and loaned me money while I cancelled my card and ran out of the cash I had at home. Since I opted not to open an Irish bank account and my bank is a smaller state bank, I had to wait for them to send my card to my home address in the US and have my mom forward me my card here, where it got stuck in customs for a few days because it needed some kind of special form to be filled out. Then there’


“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”

Time October 15th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

First off, apologies: The internet situation here is not ideal so all of my videos have been piling up with nowhere to go but a file on my laptop. I’m trying to upload them on any platform but I’m not sure when that will actually happen.

Now on to the good stuff! This past Sunday I got back from Butler’s Killary Adventure Weekend. What can I say about this trip besides it was an amazing weekend? I ran through bogs and coated myself with mud, climbed a rock wall, jumped on a zip line, swam in Ireland’s only fjord, and the weather was beautiful with a rainbow as a constant presence over the fjord the entire weekend. I might add that I am terrified of heights so my main goal in life is always to do as many things that make me face that fear as possible and this weekend was no exception. I could have gone tubing, kayaking, gorge walking, played laser tag, or done archery and clay pigeon shooting, but I wanted to challenge myself.

On top of all the great craic we had doing our adventures, I met so many people from the other Irish programs, and bonded with everyone in my group and the IFSA Butler staff. It was a crazy weekend that was definitely filled with adventure and much more and made me so happy that I chose to study with Butler instead of any other program. The staff here is so much fun and they do their best to make sure we are always having the most fun we can possibly have.

I’m bruised, beat up, exhausted and sore from the weekend but I loved every second of it and am so excited for the Belfast trip in November!

There were so many great photo ops but unfortunately I hardly ever brought my camera with me on our excursions, and when I did I was having too much fun to remember to stop and take pictures! Luckily others weren’t as short sighted as I was so all of the photos below are NOT MINE but are either from Butler or other students that I downloaded. I can’t take any credit for any of them!

Zip-lining through the air on a Sunday afternoon in Ireland, no big deal.

Climbed up a pole during the high ropes course, I’m waiting for my partner to climb up so we can jump off and catch the trapeze together.

Rainbows, mud, and great craic. Life is grand in Ireland :)

At the end of the turf challenge (aka mud and bog run), just hanging out with my room mate!


“Play the field and anchor none of them.”

Time September 26th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

My post’s name is a little strange, I’ll admit. So far I’ve been using travel quotes and song lyrics as titles but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use a quote from an old Irish woman we met at a small pub in Doolin. These lovely 90 year old women were Irish and had immigrated to the US  years ago. But they had come to a tiny town on the coast near the Cliffs of Moher for holiday. At 90. And then they taught some American girls a few Irish step dance moves. At 90. And they were drinking whiskey at midnight. At 90. And they were telling us how we should have the time of our lives right now when we’re young and not let anything or anyone tie us down. Did I mention they were 90 years old???

I hope that I am taking their advice to heart; it definitely feels as if I have. The reason this post has been such a long time in coming is because I haven’t stopped to think about my adventures since I’ve started. Thinking about trying to put them into words seems like an almost impossible task. Between traveling, figuring classes out, making new friends, and just generally taking advantage of every moment, and then in between all of that trying to stop my immune system from crashing from the lack of sleep… I have been busy.

Our program group is pretty close and even though we don’t do everything together we have arranged a few trips. A lot of us went on a day trip to the Aran Islands where we rented bikes for the day and rode around looking at the beautiful scenery, seals, beaches, and old churches. I bought an Aran wool knit sweater, which we thought was something that you did when you went to the Aran Islands, but upon talking to some new Irish friends we found out that this is mainly a tourist thing to do. Either way I think when winter hits we’ll all be happy with our purchases.

Ferrying back to the mainland after a day on Inishmor, the largest island.

Coast on Inishmor

Aran Islands

typical Irish rock walls

Cemetery on the island

Aran Islands

beautiful fields on the island

Biking through the Aran Islands

We also bought a student pass to take a tour of the Connemara region, the place that was hit hardest by the potato blight famine in the 1850s, and to see the Cliffs of Moher. We haven’t gone on the tour of the Cliffs yet, but the bus ride through Connemara was beautiful and it ended with a trip to Kylemore Abbey, and castle built in the 1850s by a young couple in love. Now it’s owned by nuns, but I can see why they wanted to live in the Connemara mountains: it is absolutely gorgeous.

Lake near Kylmore Abbey

Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey, set against the Connemara mountains.

Kylemore Abbey, a castle built in the 1850s by a wealthy couple in love. Today it’s inhabited by nuns.

Quick stop in our tour to take in the Connemara Mountains,

Connemara region, where the potato famine hit the hardest in the late 1840s and early 1850s.


Small pong in the little town of Cong. We stopped here during our tour of Connemara on our way to Kylemore Abbey. Although I’ve never seen the movie, our driver told us The Quiet Man was filmed here.

View right after leaving the Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey.



This past weekend me and a few other girls from the program went to Doolin, a small town in County Clare near the Cliffs of Moher. We spent the night and talked to our new friends, the wise Irish women, and some old Irish men that were in the area for the Matchmaking Festival that was going on in the next town over. We decided not to go to the Festival with them and instead watched a traditional band play and talked with people from our hostel. The next day we took a hike around the village and up onto the beginnings of the cliffs and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful. We lucked out and the normally bipolar and wet weather of the Irish wet coast was sunny, crisp and beautiful for the entire weekend.

Little town of Doolin.

Hiking through the little town of Doolin in County Clare.

Hiking along the cliffs in Doolin.

Hiking along the cliffs near Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher on an uncharacteristically sunny day in County Clare.

Beautiful view of the clear waves crashing at the bottom of some of the shorter cliffs.

Hiking along the cliffs near Doolin- absolutely beautiful!

Cliffs near Doolin.

Rocky shore in Doolin.



Little island off the coast of Doolin.

Shot of the cliffs off the coast of Doolin.

Evening walk towards the shore in Doolin.

I already have plans for my next few weekends here and they all involve staying in Ireland. After the past few trips I almost feel like I don’t need to leave the country to enjoy my time abroad. I know I will, but I’m glad I had my backpacking trip before I settled into Ireland so I could have time to really enjoy this country. When will I ever again have three months to really get to know one place well?

I’ll post again in a day or two with all of the videos from the past few weeks.


“One who makes no mistakes makes nothing at all.”

Time September 4th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I have finally arrived in Ireland! It has been an insane journey. Frankfurt, Munich, Salzburg, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels, Dublin, and finally Galway, before running to the Notre Dame v. Navy football game in Dublin- which in itself was one of the craziest experiences ever. 40,000 extra people were in Dublin for the game and most of them were American. It almost felt as if you weren’t in Ireland- that is until you tried to cross the street and almost got hit by the cars driving on the left side of the road.

But now I am finally getting settled into my new home in Menlo Apartments.. Most of my room mates are American girls from Butler but we have one Swedish post grad student who is incredibly sweet. The Irish students just arrived a few days after us and we had our first day of registration/classes. The way they do things here is slightly hectic…We waited in a class with other Irish students for half an hour before we all realized we had a different schedule this week.

We wandered around campus trying to figure out where all our classes were and a number of people never found them…Luckily I found mine and am prepared for the rest of the week…hopefully.

We’re all getting used to the differences over here. Washing your cloths takes about 4 hours- without including air drying time. Straighteners and hairdryers can blow up and melt. You need to carry your passport or get an Age card from the Garda (Irish police) to buy alcoholic drinks. Look BOTH ways when you cross the road. It can literally rain at any moment- even when it looks beautiful out- so always carry an umbrella.

But every mistake we make is never serious, and you always learn from it and laugh at yourself. I’ve been in Europe for 3 weeks and in Ireland for 1 and it has already been the best 3 weeks of my life. Meeting new people with different points of views and ways of doing things is refreshing and exciting. Being surrounded by the completely unfamiliar is a little disorienting and can be confusing but I have always managed to find my footing and enjoy it. Anyone that is thinking about going abroad but is a little nervous or fearful: don’t be. Within less than a month I know I made the right choice in coming here and any negative things I’ve had to experience pale in comparison to the positive. I seriously can’t say it enough! Go abroad.


Below are pictures and a video clip from the game.


I didn’t have my luggage yet and we had just moved in…but it’s our home for the next 3 months!

Free pints of Guinness at the Gravity Bar

Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse


“All adventures,especially into new territory,are scary.”

Time August 14th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I am officially freaking out. I leave for the airport in less than 5 hours. I don’t think I’ve really taken the time to mentally prepare myself for this trip. I have been so absorbed in planning  and figuring out the logistics of how everything will work (which even now I am still in the process of doing- how am I getting my laptop to Ireland?!). My advice for people planning a trip before studying abroad: think of every little tiny hiccup two months in advance and find a solution for it a month before you leave, not the day you leave…

Luckily though, the fantastic IFSA-Butler staff has been extraordinarily helpful. They email me back within hours when I ask really silly questions that have already been explained in prior emails. Or when I ask about things that I don’t need to worry about they are quick to assure me they will take care of things. They are literally life savers.

Even so, my stress continues to sky rocket. But maybe it’s not stress. Maybe it’s a combination of nerves, excitement, stress, and the fact that I have a bit of a cold that is making my stomach roll. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am about to have the best 4 months of my life; but try to tell the butterflies in my stomach that fact and I begin to feel even more sick.

My one probably overweight suitcase that I have yet to try and close, and my tiny backpack that holds 2 weeks worth of my life. Now where does the laptop go…

Once I am finally on the plane and there is nothing more I can physically do to prepare, I will somewhat settle down and enjoy the moment. Until then I will continue to cram things into my suitcase, freak out about how much money this endeavor will be, and chug some Airborne to try and bump my immune system for the 9 hour flight tonight.


The Road is calling, so I’ve got to go

Time July 24th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | 4 Comments by

A little introduction: My name is Rachel, and I am a Junior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC but I’ve spent most of my life in Memphis, TN. I’m majoring in International Affairs, have taken a few semesters of French and Italian and hope to minor in English Literature. I have a few stamps on my passport (Paris with a friend, Athens and Istanbul on a high school trip), but have never left the country for much longer than a week- this will be my first big trip abroad.

It has been a hectic summer. Not only have I been incredibly excited to go to Galway in the fall, but my plans on how exactly I’m going to get to Galway have been in a constant flux. What was once a simple flight over soon became a month long backpacking trip through Europe before IFSA-Butler’s orientation, and then was finally slimmed down to a two week long backpacking trip.

Through IFSA-Butler’s student network I met another Rachel going on the trip who was interested in going on a backpacking trip before we began classes, something that I had always been interested in but never had the guts to really go for it. Luckily, Rachel and I will be traveling together through Germany to Prague, Amsterdam, and northern England before heading over to Dublin to meet up with our group.

This is a rough map of the route I will be taking to arrive in Galway.

We still have some work to do when it comes to our plans, but our tickets have finally been booked and now all I have to do is prepare and pack…which the closer the day comes the harder I realize this process is. I still don’t know how I am getting my luggage for Galway across the Atlantic, or know (or own) what I need for a two week backpacking trip. I still need to register to vote overseas (still a little sad that I will be missing the presidential election campaign in DC this fall- but I’ll just have to be there for the inauguration in January), and there are several loose ends that need to be tied up before I leave the country on this adventure.

I know that I am going to have probably the best time of my life, but with my departure date less than 3 weeks away and so much left to do, mostly I feel stress and anxiety when I think of leaving. Especially with the backpacking trip, this will be the most in charge of my life I will have ever been. Finding food, places to sleep, deciding where I want to go and what I want to do (and can do) is thrilling but a little terrifying as well. A little more superficially…two weeks is a long time to go without a cell phone! I know I will be scoffing at all these fears in a matter of weeks, but at the moment I’m an anxious ball of stress with a to-do list a mile long!