Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I’m back in the US. My time in Ireland went by so fast… it really doesn’t feel like I was there for nearly two months.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered from my previous posts, I had an amazing time in Ireland. I met some great people and saw really interesting places in Dublin and elsewhere.  And, of course, I learned lots from my internship.

Even though I’m happy to be home, I’m sad that I had to leave. I could have spent another year there. There’s just too much to learn for just 7 weeks. Plus, my coworkers had a little goodbye celebration for me – they made brownies and gave me a card and everything. It made me feel all fuzzy inside, and it also made me realize how much I was going to miss Dublin.

So if you have the opportunity, study abroad. It will be one of the best decisions of your life. Try to go for a semester or a year, but if you can only fit a small, international field study into your schedule, that’s okay too. Just get out there and explore the world!

Now, here are some final pictures from my trip. Some are from my last day, and others are just random ones.

This was one performance at the Street Performance World Championship, on July 12 in Merrion Square.

All these people were watching a performance at the Street Performance World Championship, on July 12 in Merrion Square.

 

SPWC

A bunch of these Scrabble-like signs were attached to trees throughout Merrion Square. Behind the sign, some guy was lifting up an elaborately stacked set of lawn chairs.

 

A few weeks ago, I went to the Little Museum of Dublin after work. This is a picture of the museum, which is located in a Georgian building across from St Stephen's Green.

A few weeks ago, I went to the Little Museum of Dublin after work. This is a picture of the museum, which is located in a Georgian building across from St Stephen’s Green.

 

I took this picture on a run one evening; I decided to run along the canal and discovered a beautiful park area surrounding it.

I took this picture on a run one evening; I decided to run along the canal and discovered a beautiful park area surrounding it.

 

Now it’s time to think about school again! The summer’s almost over for me; in less than 3 weeks I’ll be back in Muncie.

But don’t worry, I didn’t get arrested or anything.

Today, my last Sunday in Ireland, I went to Kilmainham Gaol, a prison-turned-museum that has much historical significance. I used the Traveler app to record my journey. The end of the path gets a little crazy because the GPS couldn’t really keep track of me inside the building.

View my path here.

I started at one of the bus stops near my apartment early this morning and got off at the O’Connell Street bridge. Then, because there weren’t any buses going in the direction of the jail for at least 20 minutes, I started walking. I ended up walking the entire way to the jail. I probably didn’t take the most direct route, but I only had a vague idea of where I was going, so I just followed the attraction signs posted for tourists.

The jail itself was awesome. It was built in the late 1700s and was used up until 1924; after that time it fell into disrepair – until the 1960s, when volunteers restored it and transformed it into a museum. Today, the jail has a small museum section that you can wander around on your own, and there are guided tours through the jail itself. I went on the tour, and it was probably the best €2 I’ve spent here. The building is really gloomy and creepy. Part of that probably has to do with it being abandoned for so long. But prisons are not cheerful places, and even the architecture from the prison reform period has an eerie quality to it. I suppose modern prisons are that way as well.

 

This prison cell door is located in the west wing of the building. Everything in this part of the jail looks like this.

This prison cell door is located in the west wing of the building. Everything in this part of the jail looks like this.

There is a huge skylight that lets in natural light to this part of the prison, making it feel less creepy than the west wing.

There is a huge skylight that lets in natural light to this part of the prison, making it feel less creepy than the west wing.

Anyway, the history behind this place is crazy! A lot of leaders from the 1916 Easter Uprising were held and executed there. It’s also interesting to see the different architecture of the prison; part of it was built after the initial construction in 1796. Being in the jail was a little surreal; thousands of people, including children, were prisoners there in the past. A lot of the prisoners were common criminals, but some were thrown in there for “crimes” like begging for food. One six-year-old girl was held there for a couple of days because she was found on a train without a ticket. And many political prisoners were held there, which is why the jail is so famous. I’m really glad I got the chance to visit Kilmainham Gaol before leaving. It’s been somewhere I’ve wanted to go since my first day here. This was definitely an excellent place to go!

One of the exercise yards. Yeah, some guy's backpack is in the picture too.

One of the exercise yards. Yeah, some guy’s backpack is in the picture too.

I also discovered this weekend that I have slowly been morphing into an Irish person. On Saturday, I spent a lot of time walking around in the city, and it felt SO HOT outside! But it was only in the mid to upper 70s, which is pleasant weather by midwestern standards. The summer temperatures at home will probably cause me to melt.

Another week, another trip to a different part of Ireland! This weekend, I went to Galway and the Aran Islands with one of my roommates and a few of the girls who live across the hall from us. I spent more time sightseeing on the Aran Islands, so that’s today’s blog topic.

The Aran Islands are 3 islands off the west coast of Ireland: Inishmore (the largest), Inishmaan, and Inisheer (the smallest). They have some historical significance, and a lot of traditional Irish culture lives on in the islands. For example, most signs were exclusively in Irish, and I heard several of the residents speaking Irish. We went to Inishmore by ferry, and it was a rough ferry ride. The waves were strong, and we were sprayed with sea water several times. But we made it to the island in one piece.

A view of the sea behind our ferry.

A view of the sea behind our ferry.

 

We decided to rent bikes and see the island that way, and I’m glad we did. It was tough sometimes – there were lots of hills we had to ride up – but it was a fantastic way to see the island.

There were lots of animals on our route - cows, chickens, horses, and even seals!

There were lots of animals on our route – cows, chickens, horses, and even seals!

We rode along the ocean on our way to Dún Aonghasa, an ancient fort situated on top of a cliff. The history of the fort is really interesting; look it up if you get the chance. Inishmore has a lot of hills and is very rocky, so the ride up there was tiring. We only rode to the base of the cliff, though; the rest of the way, we had to walk.

When we reached the fort at the top, it was absolutely stunning. It’s amazing that the fort managed to survive that long (with the help of reconstruction), and the view was unlike any I have ever seen. Maybe these sights are nothing special to the people who live on the islands, but to someone from the midwestern United States, these sights were awesome. It can’t get much better than an ancient clifftop fort.

Part of Dún Aonghasa.

Part of Dún Aonghasa.

Yep, that's me, sitting on a cliff.

Yep, that’s me, sitting on a cliff.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time up there because we had to return our bikes and catch the last ferry back to the mainland. We made it with plenty of time to spare. We stayed in a hostel in Galway that night, and we were all so tired from biking and hiking that we went to sleep around 11.

Inishmore was fantastic. I’m really sad we didn’t get to spend more time there, but I know that I have to go back someday. It’s not an option. I’ll travel there again and spend a few days on Inishmore and the other two islands. There’s just too much to see and too much to learn to only spend a few hours there.

In other news, I only have 2 more weeks in Ireland. That’s it. :( Tomorrow’s already the first day of July…

Hola! I hope you all had a great week since my last post. During the past week, I went to my internship, as usual, but on the weekend I traveled to Belfast! Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. There’s a lot of history to the city – much of it rather troubled, especially recent history – so it was an interesting place to go. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see many historical landmarks, but some of the other BSU students did.

The scariest part about going to Belfast was going alone. The other Ball State kids decided to do a guided tour up to Belfast, but I just hopped on a bus and went there. So it’s not like I was really going to be there by myself, but for a few hours I was entirely on my own in a country I had never been to before. I felt a little nervous on the bus ride up there, but I got over it once I had made it to the city.

One of the first things I saw once I left the bus station in the city.

One of the first things I saw once I left the bus station in the city.

 

Belfast isn’t a very large city, but it was still an interesting place to go. There’s some cool architecture within the city, and the city itself is surrounded by mountains. The drive up to Belfast was beautiful – the mountains and the farmland were amazing to behold. I wish rural areas in the Midwest looked like that.

I’m not sure what this building is, but it’s part of Queen’s University in Belfast.

 

Anyway, once in Belfast I explored City Hall, walked along the river, and walked all over the city center area. Once my friends on the tour made it to the city, we went to some historical pubs, and that was pretty much the whole trip. I came back to Dublin on Sunday morning and just cleaned the apartment and did laundry for the rest of the day.

This fish sculpture was near the river.

This fish sculpture was near the river. 

 

It was definitely cool to go to Belfast, but I really regret that I didn’t go on a tour of historical places. I would have learned a lot about the city’s history on one of those tours. Oh well… I guess this just means I’ll have to go back someday. So, my travel tip of the week: when you travel somewhere, learn about that placej! It doesn’t matter if you go on a tour or if you just wander around. Learn about the place you’re visiting so you can get the most out of your time there. If I had learned more about Belfast while I was there, I think the trip would have been more meaningful.

So the other day, I used the Traveler app to record the route my bus takes every day. This bus ride takes around 40 minutes, on average, though on rainy days it takes a little longer. But that’s not all; I have a 10 minute walk from my apartment to the bus stop, and then another ten minute walk from the bus stop near my work to the building I work in. One hour each way.

You can view my bus route here. I struggled a bit while getting onto the bus, so I started recording my path once I had been on the bus for a couple of minutes. It’s really not that much of a distance, but because traffic in Dublin can get pretty bad, it takes forever. Plus, the bus has to let people off and pick people up, so that slows the commute down as well. Riding the bus gives me time to listen to music, read, or talk with friends, so it’s not completely awful.

I get off the bus at Merrion Square, a beautiful park that I cut through on my way to work. On Friday, I took some pictures of Merrion Square, though I only had my iPod with me so the picture quality isn’t great.

One of the paths through Merrion Square

One of the paths through Merrion Square

 

Not really sure what was going on with this tree - this gigantic sheet was stuck in its branches.

Not really sure what was going on with this tree – a gigantic sheet was stuck in its branches.

I have to take the bus since I’m living in a suburb of Dublin, but if I were living in the downtown area, I would definitely make use of the public bike system. The city of Dublin has this system where you can pay to ride a bike from one bike station to another. It’s a great idea! A lot of people actually ride bicycles to work.

Walking to work, school, or the store is also common in the city, though being a pedestrian can be a little scary. Dubliners like to dart across the street whenever there’s a break in traffic, no matter how small. People pretty much cross the street whenever they want even if cars are speeding towards them. I must admit that I have adapted this dangerous lifestyle, but when I first came to the city I was reluctant to cross the street without a crossing sign.

Ah, the joys of traveling through a city.

Another week gone! I’m almost halfway through my time here, and it feels like I’ve barely gotten used to looking the right way when crossing the street. Sometimes I look left first anyway.

I’ve been noticing a lot of the differences between Irish and American culture. So far, I haven’t suffered from any major culture shock, but I’ve still noticed a lot of minor differences. This isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it can get a little weird. Take today, for instance. I was at work, typing an email, and I typed the word color. I was momentarily surprised when the red squiggly line appeared beneath color. Then I realized — it’s colour in Ireland. Wow. I felt pretty stupid since I had known this fact for many years.

The Irish use this one word, craic, which means fun/enjoyment/good times. But the first time I heard people saying this, I thought they were saying crack. It sounded like they were saying “That was some good crack last night!” I thought everyone was on drugs. It was immensely relieving to discover that people were just talking about having a good time.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that food comes in smaller packages/containers. I’m used to buying gigantic bags of chips and gallons of milk; here, the chips come in much smaller bags, and the biggest container of milk is 2 liters. We go through food so much faster here, which means I have to go shopping more frequently. It’s actually a good thing food comes this way because you’re less likely to waste anything; it’s just something I’m not used to yet.

Yep, this 2 liter container of milk is the biggest I've seen at any grocery store.

Yep, this 2 liter container of milk is the biggest I’ve seen at any grocery store.

Honestly, I feel like I should be getting culture shock, but I haven’t felt angry or extremely frustrated at the culture at all. Maybe it’s because I’m living with other Ball State students; our apartment is like an American bubble in the middle of Ireland. I might be feeling more culture shock if all my roommates were Irish. Whatever the case may be, I have to say that I love Ireland. The people are fantastic, the landscape is beautiful, and the culture is both familiar and unfamiliar. Even the rain doesn’t bother me, but that will probably change after it has been rainy for weeks on end.

Coming to Ireland to study abroad was probably one of the best decisions of my life. :)

On that note, be on the lookout for another update within the next few days! It’ll be about my journey to and from work — some earthshattering stuff

Hi all!

Since my last post, I’ve traveled out of Dublin and started my internship! I can’t believe I’ve been here for two weeks already.

On Monday, I went to Howth, a town outside of Dublin, with some of the other students in the program. We accidentally hiked down a trail that was overgrown with bushes even though there was a much wider, cleaner trail available. Oops. Anyway, as we were hiking along this trail, we saw a beach far below us at the bottom of the cliffs. So, much to my horror, the group decided to walk down to the beach. I’m afraid of heights, so I was nervous the entire way down. We made it, though, and it was beautiful! After our hiking adventure, we walked along the ocean. My whole body was exhausted at the end of the day, but I had a blast. I used the Traveler app for this trip, but I accidentally deleted the record of the path I traveled that day! :( Luckily the pictures didn’t get deleted along with it.

This is the beach we went to in Howth. It looked like most of the beach is actually underwater during high tide, but we caught it at the right time.

This is the beach we went to in Howth. It looked like most of the beach is actually underwater during high tide, but we caught it at the right time.

I started my internship on Tuesday. It was really intimidating because I was a solitary, inexperienced student among dozens of professionals. But the people I work with are really nice and helpful, and I’ve learned a lot since Tuesday. I’ve been to official meetings with other employees, and I’ve been able to look at traffic statistics for the organization’s website. It was a good first week, definitely. The only hard part about it is my commute – it takes an hour, so I have to get up pretty early to make it to work on time. I’ve definitely been spoiled by my college schedule.

Yesterday, some of the EUSA students took a day trip to Newgrange; it was great to travel outside of the city after a busy week at work. Newgrange is a structure that was built around 5000 years ago; it’s basically a small chamber that people used for some purpose during the Neolithic period. The cool thing is that the chamber was built to align with the winter solstice. Around the first day of winter, the rising sun lights up the chamber, and this doesn’t happen at any other time of the year. It was amazing to actually go inside such an old structure.

Newgrange from the outside. The exterior had to be reconstructed because it had deteriorated, but the interior remained completely intact.

Newgrange from the outside. The exterior had to be reconstructed because it had deteriorated, but the interior remained completely intact.

I’d say this was another successful week! I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable with my surroundings, though a lot of things are still new and unfamiliar.

Well, I’ve been in Dublin for about a week now, and it’s been an amazing week. I’ve been hanging out with the seven other BSU students who are also in the EUSA program. Three of them are my roommates, which I’m happy about because it’s easier to adjust to a new place when you’re with familiar people. Even though I didn’t know any of them before we landed in Dublin, it’s good to know that there are other people from the same school.

Our internships begin on Tuesday, so this week we went to a lot of tourist spots. I actually had an interview with the organization I’ll be working at, and it was cool to see the place and learn a little about what this summer will hold. I can’t wait to start on Tuesday!

These pictures show some of the places I’ve visited.

This is the River Liffey in Dublin.

This is the River Liffey in Dublin. 

All the people in the EUSA program went to a welcome dinner at the Merry Ploughboy Pub. The food was delicious, and we saw Irish dancers and a band that played traditional Irish music. It was fantastic.

All the people in the EUSA program went to a welcome dinner at the Merry Ploughboy Pub. The food was delicious, and we saw Irish dancers and a band that played traditional Irish music. It was fantastic.

We tried to visit Dublin Castle, but it was closed. We went to the gardens and library that are located behind the actual castle; this grassy area was part of the gardens.

We tried to visit Dublin Castle, but it was closed. We went to the gardens and library that are located behind the actual castle; this grassy area is part of the gardens.

 

We went to St. Patrick's Cathedral one day, and it was absolutely gorgeous inside.

We went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral one day, and it was absolutely gorgeous inside.

More of the cathedral.

The sights have been beautiful so far. I’ve been taking pictures of a lot of buildings because we don’t have old, ornate buildings in the US. It’s so cool to see these old buildings next to modern ones.

I’m so happy that I chose to do this program. While I was doing laundry today, it really hit me that I’ll be here for 7 weeks and that I’m going to learn so many things and meet so many people. It’s really going to be an unforgettable experience. 

 

Well, hello there! Long time no see. :)

It has only been 2 weeks since I left Muncie for the summer, but it feels a lot longer than that. During this break time, I’ve been doing a lot of TV show-watching and novel-reading. But I’m also in the midst of preparing for my trip to Ireland, which is happening on SUNDAY!! That’s right… this Sunday, I’ll be hanging out at O’Hare, waiting for my overnight flight to Dublin. I’m getting more and more excited every day! But I’ve had to do a lot in order to get ready for my departure.

Here’s a breakdown of the various preparation activities I have undertaken in recent weeks. It’s all a bunch of little stuff, but that little stuff is rather important.

  • Exchanged dollars for euros – at an awful exchange rate, by the way
  • Made copies of all my important documents, credit cards, and IDs in case I lose them
  • Read lots of news articles about the happenings in Ireland
Here is my suitcase, empty except for an umbrella. What can I say? I'm a last-minute packer.

Here is my suitcase, empty except for an umbrella. What can I say? I’m a last-minute packer.

I haven’t gotten around to packing yet. My suitcase looks so sad being empty, but I really can’t pack until Friday or Saturday. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be thousands of miles away from home. That’s kinda weird to think about. I can’t wait to arrive in Ireland and to start my internship!

P.S. I forgot to mention this, but while I’m in Ireland, I’ll be trying out the Traveler app on an Android tablet. This app uses the GPS in the tablet to record the route of your travels. If I take a picture somewhere, the app records the exact location of the picture. The really neat thing is that the app was developed by people at Ball State. I did a test run of the app when I drove home from Ball State, and it worked well, so I’m ready to put it to good use in Ireland.

 

I’m finally getting around to talking about the end of the year. Finals week was busy; I had 6 tests and I helped people in Shively check out of their rooms. But now I’m back home and in three weeks I’ll be heading to Ireland.

First: East Side Bash! I had a lot of fun attending and volunteering at the event. There were all sorts of inflatables and games, food, and music. It was a great way to relax before finals week. Here are some pictures from that evening!

While waiting in line for the baseball pitch game, I took this picture of East Side Bash.

On the Sunday before finals (April 28), there was a banquet for the student staff of Housing and Residence Life. It was a nice event to celebrate the end of the year. And this leads me into what I really want to talk about: my time in Shively as an RA.

After two years of being in the same residence hall, RAs must transfer to a new hall; I’ve been in Shively for two years, so next year I’ll be living in DeHority. I came to Shively my sophomore year as a brand-new RA; at that time, it was the International Living-Learning Community, and that’s pretty much all I knew about it. Little did I know that the next two years would be full of memorable experiences that I would never trade for anything.

There were difficult times, of course. The elevators would stop working; the printer wouldn’t print; and people would get into all sorts of shenanigans. But for every jammed piece of paper, for every long night dealing with a situation, there were so many good times. There was the Shively choir, which sang beautiful renditions of “Happy Birthday.” There were late night orders of bread bites. We read bad fanfiction, watched bad movies, and created badly Photoshopped pictures. We played Mario Party and ate tons of pizza and cake.

I’m so happy I got to meet so many people in the last two years, RAs and residents alike. It’s been a blessing to get to know everyone who has called Shively their home. I will never forget the amazing times I’ve had over the past two years with so many fantastic people!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very excited to be an RA in DeHority next year. I can’t wait to make new memories with a new community. I’m just sad to leave the place that has been my home for two years.

This picture of Shively’s RA staff was taken at the end of the year banquet in April.

This may be the last post of the spring semester, but be on the lookout for more! I will be blogging about my experiences in Ireland this summer. Check out my blog later this month and throughout June and July!

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