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Slan Go Foill

Time July 8th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I have been back from Ireland for a little over a month, and I
miss it terribly. It seems that everywhere I look there is something that
reminds me of Ireland or the other countries I visited. Just walking through
the bookstore yesterday, I accidentally came across at least three books on
Ireland (and I was not even looking!) While yearning for Ireland can be
depressing at times, for the most part I find that whenever I think of Ireland,
I think of all the wonderful memories I have made. I will sometimes break out
laughing over a funny memory I have had, except I will be at the dinner table
or the mall or work, and nobody will have a clue what I am laughing at. I also
seem to be constantly planning “my next European adventure”, thinking
about all the places I want to revisit (Greece, Germany) and all the places I
want to see that I did not get a chance to (Sweden, Norway, Turkey). Overall, I
have to say studying abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life. I
have seen places I never thought I would see, and have made lifelong friends
faster than I ever thought I could. If anyone reading this is ambivalent about
studying abroad, I would whole heartedly encourage you to go. It may be a
little scary thinking about going to another country without any one you know,
but you have to realize that everyone else is in the exact same position that
you are. I have honestly made some of the best friends in Ireland, and I would
not change anything about my trip if I could. I wish any future travelers the
best of luck, and hope that everyone else’s journeys are as wonderful and
fulfilling as mine have been!


Would you like some Haggis with that?

Time June 27th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

On the weekend of March 5, my friends and I headed to Edinburgh, Scotland! We caught a bus to Dublin at 1 am on Saturday, and our flight left at 6:30.

Me and my super-cool passport pouch. Needless to say, I am the epitome of cool 😀
We arrived in Edinburgh around 9, but could not check into our hostel until 1 (they did give us a locker for our bags though!). No naps for us! We found a nice cafe and had breakfast and some much needed coffee. Then we walked around the city center for most of the day. We found some crazy shops (my friend Maddie bought an eggplant sweater!!), and a few secondhand shops. We spent about an hour in the one secondhand shop just looking at all of the books they had (we found an English Harry Potter book!). Then we wandered to a nearby cemetary, and saw the infamous Grayfriars Bobby. The name sounded familiar, but we could not for the life of us remember who Grayfriar Bobby was! Outside the cemetary was a statue of a dog that everyone was taking pictures next to. It was then that we realized that Grayfriar Bobby was a dog (who sat by his masters grave for 9 years!).

Me and Faithful Grayfriars Bobby!
At 1 we were finally able to check into our hostel and take a quick nap. Around 5, we got dinner and then walked around the city some more. At night, we headed out to a bar called Rush bar, which had really cheap drinks! Maddie and I were really tired and wanted to head back to the hostel around 11, but were convinced to go to one more club (you are only in Scotland once!). About 10 euro’s later, we are even more tired, and hungry! Luckily, Maddie and I spotted a Subway. Never have I been so happy to eat at a subway. The workers were really nice, and drew a map on a napkin of how to get back to our hostel (I think they were relieved to have someone who was not drunk to talk to!). Maddie and I headed back, while the others stayed out for a little while longer (it only ended up being 30 minutes). Somehow, Maddie and I found our way back without having to pay for a cab!! We easily fell asleep. At 9 the next morning, Maddie and I woke up, ate breakfast and headed to Arthurs seat in Holyrood park. It was about a 2 hour hike to the top (with lots of photo breaks), but wasn’t too difficult (we got passed by a lot of little kids). The view was spectacular! We spent at least half an hour at the top just taking pictures and enjoying the sites.
Me at the summit
The path to the top

Maddie and I at the top of Arthurs seat

Edinburgh Castle!

After we climbed down Arthurs seat, we caught up with Ariel, and forced the guys to get out of bed. We headed over to Edinburgh castle to explore. Edinburgh castle is seating on a sort of cliff/hill in the middle of the city and is HUGE. It is a great way to get your bearings in the city (just remember which side of the castle you are on!). We spent about two hours just wandering around the castle.

The castle

Maddie and I had a game where we would ambush each other’s photos

At night, we decided to take a ghost tour throught the South vaults under the city. They had plenty of gory stories about brutal hangings and ghost sightings. The tour guide was really good, even though the stories were more gruesome than scary. Going into the vaults under the city was cool though!

Our tour guide, Emma
Maddie and I in the vaults. We don’t look too scared!


Gallavanting in Glendalough

Time April 12th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well after a two week break, I am ready to blog again! Two weekends ago I went with the OPC to Glendalough (the Wicklow Mountains). On Friday night we embarked on a 3 hour bus ride to the hostel. As soon as the bus pulled away, people started partying! All the study abroad students were really surprised, but it was quite fun to watch! About two hours in, we stopped at Lidl to stock up on food for the weekend. It was about 20 minutes before it was supposed to close, so the workers were not very happy to see three coach buses full of hungry students.

The food me and my friends bought for the weekend
We arrived at the hostel around 9 pm, and began the arduous task of figuring out rooms. I ended up with my two friends, Maddie and Sarah, a girl I met caving and her friend, and Maddie’s flat mate. Over the course of the weekend we got to be good friends, and had a great time! On Saturday, we awoke around 8 and split up into groups. You could either go on a hike, or take a bus tour around Glendalough. I opted for the hike, while my friends all chose the tour (boo having to make new friends :p). Luckily my two roommates (from caving) went on the hike as well, so at least I knew someone!). After the tour bus left, the hikers were split into another two groups, a hard hike (you needed hiking boots) and an easier one. Since I had just bought some new hiking boots, I opted for the hard hike. The first leg of the hike was the hardest. We literally were climbing up at 50% grade incline. I must admit, for the first hour or so, I regretted choosing the hard hike. Once we actually got up the mountain, the hike got a little easier, and much more relaxing. As we were walking along the top of the mountain, I couldn’t help think of the Sound of Music and “Climb Every Mountain”. I swear we were actually in the movie! I shared this thought with a few others, but clearly they were not as excited as I was…

Picture taken from the top of the mountain. The lake is where the hike started and ended.
At the top of the mountain we took a variety of group pictures, including the Creeper photo!

After the hike we had a bit of free time, and then we had a giant party! It was a lot of fun. We sang karaoke (Sarah and I did an amazing rendition of Living on a Prayer), danced, and then headed out to the nearby pub around 12. The next day we had a later start, packed up and loaded the bus, and then went on a short walk around the lake. We walked through an old church and graveyard, and then headed to the chipper (fry place) up the road for lunch.

The graveyard by the hostel. Thanks to Sarah Eberle for spotting this great shot!
All in all, the trip was a great success, with plenty of great sights and lots of new friends! However, I was very happy to get back to my own bed and shower, as the one’s in the hostel were sub par.

That is a load of Blarney

Time April 12th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So the weekend of the 23 of February, a few of my friends and I wandered down to Cork (about a two hour bus ride from Limerick). We arrived late Friday night, and instead of going out on the town, we decided to get sundae’s at Eddy Rockets, and go to sleep early.

My friend Dan, and I waiting for our Sundae’s

We woke up the next morning around 9, and decided to try and walk into town (our hotel was by the airport, a few miles from town). The map showed it being pretty straight forward, so we didn’t think it would be a problem. Plus we would save 9 dollars on a cab fare. We packed all our gear for the day into our little backpacks and purses (including clothes to change into for the Cork nightlife!). We were correct in that it was a relatively straight forward walk, however, the signs were not very well labeled for pedestrians (Rightly so, I would think that not many people walk to town from the airport…). We followed car signs, and ended up on the Irish version of the highway. We finally made it to a bus stop…two hours later, and the nice bus driver took pity on us, and drove us to the bus station (to catch a bus to Blarney) for free.

We finally made it to Blarney castle around 1, four hours after we started out. I must say, it was the most fun being lost I have ever had. It was an adventure in itself, and we spent about half the time laughing our butts off.

Blarney was awesome, the castle is huge and has so many hidden rooms and caves. We started out by going under the castle, into some sort of cave. It was really small, so we had to literally crawl through. It was really dark at the end, and the only way we could see was by taking pictures! Next we headed up into the castle, and started looking at all the rooms. This castle was once quite a mansion. The view from all of the rooms was absolutely gorgeous! Finally we made it to the top, where we got to kiss the blarney stone (which would give us the gift of gab!).

Me kissing the stone. They purposely have someone in the way of your picture, so you will buy the nice quality one taken from the other side.

After kissing the stone, we wandered around the castle grounds. They had a lot of beautiful waterfalls, and giant rocks and trees to climb!

After touring around Blarney for two hours, we headed back into city center and walked around Cork for a bit. We met up with a friend who is from Cork, and he and his friends showed us around and hung out with us at the pub. We ended up getting back to the hotel around 1 am, 17 hours after we had left! The next morning we got up at 9, and caught our bus back to Limerick.


So Basically…Belfast

Time April 12th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I just got back from the Northern Ireland trip, and had the time of my life. The first day we set out to the Carrick-a Rede bridge. Not only was the coast line gorgeous, but we got to cross an actual rope bridge over the water. Me and my friends were the last ones over, so we got to spend extra time taking photos crossing the bridge. Lets just say we got creative :p
Me falling while crossing the bridge
Me being a Flamingo while crossing the bridge


Photo 3:Here are me and a few friends after crossing the bridge.

We actually spent so much time taking photos that we almost missed the bus back. oops

After the bridge, we got back on the bus and headed over to Dunluce castle. The castle was abandoned after the kitchen fell into the sea (due to erosion and all that jazz). Below is a picture of my friend Ashleigh saving me as I reenact the kitchen falling.

The castle was great for taking photos! You could walk up into the towers, climb into the windows and everything. Unfortunately we only spent 20 minutes here, and were not able to go underneath the castle (there is a path).
After Dunluce Castle we went to Giant’s causeway. If you love rock scrambling, this is the place to go!
It was raining, which made walking on the rocks even harder. There is no easy way to describe Giants Causeway, so I am just gonna put in a bunch of pictures :)


Ashleigh, Chris and I climbing the rocks. It was a lot harder than it looks. This picture does not show how far we actually climbed.

The IFSA-Butler Clan on top of the rocks

A lot of rocks…
I also took an video of the waves coming in. Unfortunately I got too close…
Due to all the rain, by the time we left Giants Causeway we were soaked. Also, the last bus up to the top was full, so we had to walk 20 minutes up the large hill. This is not fun when you are wearing wet jeans (heck, I don’t think it would be fun with dry jeans either).
On Sunday we toured Belfast city. We took a Black Taxi tour, which talked about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and showed us all the murals painted in the city.
Above are pictures painted in a West Belfast neighborhood. No matter where you stand, the man is always pointing the gun at you (its an illusion). We also saw the Peace wall in Belfast. The peace wall is a wall requested by the citizens of Belfast, to separate the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods :(
The peace wall is covered in signatures and quotes, and I made sure to leave my mark.
Below is a picture of the graffiti on the peace wall
After the Black Taxi tour, I was able to meet up with some family friends! We spent the day shopping around Victoria’s square, and catching up. It was loads of fun, and I hope to make it up to Belfast to visit again!
At night, me and some friends went to a real Irish pub, for some live Irish music and dancing. One guy who was a little drunk, pulled me and my friends up from our table, and made us dance. It was tons of fun, and crazy drunk guy will always have a place in our hearts (we don’t know his name…).
Overall, the Northern Ireland trip was a huge success, and I must say, that I have fallen in love with Belfast

Bloody Guts

Time April 12th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So last Wednesday I saw a side of Ireland not many people see…namely underground! That’s right, I went caving (with the OPC). All nine of us met at the boathouse near campus at 6 o’clock. We gathered all of our gear: suits, wellies, hats, belts etc. We then drove for about an hour and a half to the Burren. I must say, the roads in Ireland are VERY small, so it can be a bit scary when you are riding in the car, and another car is headed right towards you. We arrived at the burren around 8. Basically we were in the middle of nowhere at night. We got all of our gear on, which was harder than you would think (mainly because I was given two right boots…). I got the boot issue sorted out though (and was called crazy multiple times in the process).

Don’t I look snazzy?

 After finally getting into our gear, we began the trek to the cave (it was about a 7 minute hike from the road).

The cave was way cooler than I imagined. We climbed down into it, as opposed to walking into it (which is what I imagined we would be doing). There were many narrow parts, where we could only walk sideways, and other portions where we had to crawl and crouch. We even had to crawl over and under a few waterfalls.

At one, point, when climbing up a waterfall, I slipped (though luckily, and talented caught myself with my elbows). This, along with all the squatting, caused me to pull a muscle in my lower back, which made the return hike though the cave a little painful. Overall, the caving experience was awesome, and I look forward to hiking through more difficult caves later in the semester (with rope work even!).
Me crawling through the cave (courtesy of Barbara, who was next to me throughout most of the experience)
Me climbing over some rocks in one of the chambers in the cave
By the way, the cave was called Bloody Guts (Cullain 2) because of the iron in the rocks, which caused red streaks

Into the West

Time February 14th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today I headed out to western Ireland with the International office at the University of Limerick. Our first stop was the Cliffs of Moher. It was a foggy and rainy day, but the cliffs were still magnificent!
It was incredibly windy and cold, but we still hiked the whole length of the cliff (the part we had access to at least). Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out, so all of my pictures were taken with my video camera (which is why they are blurry). Luckily I can snag other people’s photos off facebook (and I hope to return with either my mom or Brooke).
Next we headed to the Burren. The Burren is a rocky area next to the ocean. Burren literally means great rock in gaelic (or Irish, as it is called here). We only spent 20 minutes there, so there really isn’t much to report.  After that we headed to Ailwee caves. The caves were awesome, but due to the darkness, I could not get any picture :(. It was very slippery, because the rain would seep down into the cave. Since it was raining, the natural waterfalls in the cave were really visible. I recommend going to the caves when it is raining, if you decide to go.
I went to the club and society fair on Monday, and joined a bunch of great clubs. On Thursday, I went to the Kayaking club’s meeting…in the pool! We brough all the kayaks into the olympic sized swimming pool, and just paddled for and hour. I learned to how to evacuate when your kayak flips (good thing, cause it flipped later). It is incredibly fun, and I look forward to kayaking on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I also joined the outdoor pursuits club, and international club. The outdoor pursuits club is going to take us caving and rock climbing. This is a club I am really excited for. They have even gone climbing in the Alps

Good Craic

Time January 31st, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, I have been in Ireland a little over a week, and it has been AWESOME (such an American term, I know). I flew into Dublin on Sunday the 17th, and met up with the program I was traveling with (IFSA-Butler). We spent a few days in Dublin, learning about Ireland, and seeing the sights (Guinness factory!). It was great to see Dublin, and to meet a lot of people before heading to the university. It was nice being able to go to Limerick and know you will know people there.
While in Dublin, my group caused a bit of a stir at the Guinness factory. None of us really liked Guinness, so we put our full glasses back on the bar table. The bartender gave us the worst look, as if he was thinking “who on earth would not drink their full pint of Guinness?!”.
On Wednesday we drove down to the University of Limerick. I absolutly LOVE the campus. It is set up like American schools (a real campus), as opposed to the rest of the Irish Universities, which are spread out over the city. My dorm is amazing. I have my own room, with a huge desk, a full size bed, and MY OWN BATHROOM!!! Needless to say, I was very happy to discover this. I got lucky and was put in the best dorm! I share a living room and kitched with 5 other people (all Irish), who are very nice. I have spent many a evening watching Friends with them in the living room.
I have just finished the first week of classes, and so far I like them. I am taking Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Irish Language, Irish Music and Dance, and Renaissance Literature. In Irish Music I am going to learn how to play the bodhran, the Irish drum! I am really looking forward to that.
Today I am heading out to Limerick city to explore with some fellow IFSA students. There are a couple of free museum we are going to check out. Then tonight we may head out to the pub (there is one on campus called Stables).

By the way, Craic is the Irish word for fun. Hopefully today will be full of lots of Craic!


Ireland in T-25 days

Time December 23rd, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I am going to Ireland.
It is still a few weeks away, and I can hardly contain my excitement. I feel sorry for anyone who has to hang around me in the few days before I leave, I am going to be off the charts excited. I am starting to get a little overwhelmed with all the preparations in the next few weeks. I keep worrying that I am going to forget something. At least I have 25 more days to remember things not on my list…

I have been corresponding with the coach and captain of the Rowing team at the University of Limerick. Hopefully I will be able to row there! It will be so much fun to be a part of an Irish team, and go to regattas in Ireland!

I am so eager to plan trips to other european cities, but I can’t, because I do not know what weekends I will be able to go during. I don’t even know what classes I am taking! I guess for now all I can do is figure out where I want to go. That will probably take me the 25 days left… Better get started!