Well, honestly not a lot has happened since I last wrote here. I will highlight a few things but try to keep this one short.
Over the past week and a bit, my friend Kirstin and I have been doing a lot of planning for our trip which will be happening very soon. If I haven’t mentioned it, or you don’t know, Kirstin and my brother will be coming to Ireland at the end of May. I will then show them some of my favourite places before we set out to travel Europe for a whole month!
It’s quite daunting, but I couldn’t be more excited. We are going to see so many amazing places and have wonderful experiences together. I know that it will be great. Taking it in steps of planning definitely makes it much easier as well. So far, we have all our places planned, and plane tickets bought to travel between quite a few countries. Then we will take trains and buses for the rest.
On Sunday May 3rd, quite a bit happened. It was my friend, Carlos’ birthday. So, the day before, I had helped a few of my friends to bake a cake for him. For his birthday, he cooked a lot of Spanish food and invited a large group of us over to his apartment. We ate and hung out for a while, and it was a lot of fun! The food he made was delicious, and the cake was a huge success.
I ended up being late to the party however, as my friend, Alexis, was coming to Waterford! After a little mix up, I found Alexis at the bus station. We walked back to my apartment catching up on everything that had gone on in the months we hadn’t seen each other. It was really nice to see a familiar face from home.
Alexis and I went to Carlos’ for a bit, before she headed back to my apartment to sleep, as jet lag sucks. I went back to the party after making sure she was settled, and hung out with everyone. Then, a few of us helped Carlos clean the apartment afterwards. It was a lot of fun!
The next morning, May 4th (or Star Wars Day), Alexis and I got up and walked to city center for an Irish breakfast along the Quay. It was delicious. We wandered down the Quay and ended up going into Reginald’s Tower. I had already been through it, but decided to go through again with Alexis. It has so much history throughout it! We walked part way to WIT before giving up – it was a long walk and she didn’t really need to see my campus.
So, we went to the bus stop to catch a bus to Tramore. Some of my friends were going to be there, so after we walked along the beach and took lots of pictures, we met up with Nathan. We ate lunch while some friends finished surfing. Yes, surfing! It was fun to watch them. (You can see pics and read about it on Brittany’s blog if you’d like.)
We came back to the apartment, and while Alexis slept and Brit studied, I did the dishes and made dinner. Later, Alexis and I met up with Anna, Eva, Nathan and Sarah to go to Katty Barry’s pub for a pint and some live Irish music. It was a lot of fun! It was my last chance to hang out with Eva before she left for Germany, so I really liked going out with them.
On Tuesday, Alexis and I ended up starting later than planned and missed the first bus to Dublin. Instead, we got a hot drink and bite to eat in city centre, before relaxing in the giant book store. Then we caught the bus and were on our way to Dublin!
We found our hostel, which had been recommended by my friend, and checked in. It was a cool hostel, and just across the river from Temple Bar and the main attractions. We decided to look for food, and ended up at a Mexican restaurant for a burrito called Pablo Picante – on Cinco de Mayo! It wasn’t even planned, but it was a really good burrito and we ate in Temple Bar.
We walked to Dublin Castle and saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral and its park, before heading to the Guinness Storehouse. It was really cool! We got to learn how they make Guinness, and I got to drink a pint of Guinness while overlooking the entire city of Dublin. It was a great experience! I will probably learn to pour a pint when I go back at the end of the month.
After wandering back through the city, we tried to decide where we would go next. We finally decided to just go straight for dinner at a pub which Carlos had recommended. So, we got dinner and spent the evening at O’Neill’s. The food was delicious – I had an Irish beef and Guinness stew and it was so good! Then we grabbed some beers and relaxed watching the football (soccer) game before the live Irish band and dancers came on to perform. They were really good and it was interesting to see! (I have no photos of this because my phone had died…)
After a packed couple of days, we were both pretty tired. However, Alexis had to get up the next morning to catch a bus to her ferry for the UK. I got up to say goodbye before we parted ways. I ended up hanging out in Dublin for part of the day, shopping and wandering, before catching a bus back home. Needless to say, I was pretty tired and slept pretty well after I Skyped my family.
On Friday, I had my first exam here in Ireland. It was a very odd experience for me. Usually, anything within the academic world stresses me out a lot. But, here, with everything being so relaxed, I was not super worried at all. I studied the few days before, and felt pretty prepared. It was interesting that being an international student, I had no idea what I was doing – but the Irish didn’t seem to know much more than me either. They seemed just as lost. Luckily, the few Irish lads I know, knew exactly what to do.
Walking back from my exam, it rained ridiculously hard. By the time I reached home, I was absolutely sopping wet. My jeans were completely soaked through, and my socks were squishing in my boots. I quickly changed before walking with Bruna to meet Brittany and Evelyn at a small restaurant close by. We went to a little diner (Rockin’ Joe’s) for lunch where we ordered a ton of food! I was so full, but it was delicious and totally worth it – a burger, fries and onion rings, and a chocolate milkshake! It was fun to hang out with the girls before Evelyn was leaving to go back home.
That night, a group of us got together to hang out, play some games, and say goodbye to Evelyn. It was great fun, but really sad as it became all too real that our time here is ending. There were tears and lots of hugs. After some people left, I ended up chatting with a couple friends until really late into the night. We talked about everything: gossip, politics, our lives, reasons we studied abroad, cultural differences. It was so great! A few of us stayed up almost all night just talking about everything. It was so great to have a conversation and really connect with people who I have known for only a few months. We have so much in common, and found out that we really understood each other.
On Saturday, after getting up quite late, Brittany and I met up with Anna, Nathan, and Sarah to go to city centre. We went to Blackfriars, a coffee shop, after wandering around Penny’s, the clothing store (kinda like Forever 21). It was great to relax, drink some tea and coffee, and just chat!
Later, we all decided to pitch in and split Chinese food for dinner. Again, we had a great time just hanging out together. I feel like we all get along really well, and I sincerely hope that we can stay close and in touch over the next while – until we meet again for a reunion. 😉
Honestly, although not a lot happened this week, I feel like I learned a lot about myself and just life in general. Goodbyes are hard – but for me, not saying goodbye to these wonderful people is even harder. And if you lads are reading this, get ready for a post that will make us all tear up coming in the future.
“I am thankful for nights that turned into mornings, friends that turned into family, and dreams that turned into reality.” – Pinterest quote.
May the road rise up to meet ya
I love the fact that life here in Ireland is so different from home. Brittany and I have had multiple conversations about how odd it will be to try to get back into a regular routine again.
Last week, we went to a pub on Monday. And Tuesday. And I couldn’t help but think that I would never do something like that at home. Tuesday, we didn’t drink at all. Merely went for the company and the amazing music. Our friend found a Jazz Jam Session that occurs at a local pub every Tuesday night. I was really curious, as I had never been to anything like that before! The music was really good, and we all had fun just hanging out.
Friday night was the real “party” night. A party had been planned at a bar for the international students of WIT. Basically all the international students were going. We decided to go to check it out, even though neither of us is really into the bar or club scene. There was going to be a pre-party, so we decided we would check that out too. When the night came, we found out our friend was having a pre-pre-party. So we ended up going there first. I think, for me, that was the best part of the night. It was a smaller crowd and we knew basically everyone, so it was fun to just hang out.
We walked through the cold, dark streets to get to the actual pre-party at someone’s house. Walking through the door of the house, you were instantly hit with the smell of smoke. It was disgusting. Our friend remarked that we were literally breathing in cancer. We couldn’t even get into the room where the party was happening because it was already crammed with people. A bunch of us decided that we would just head to the club earlier than the others.
The club was exactly what I expected. Big bouncers at the door, and loud EDM (electronic dance music) playing. I’m not a huge fan of that kind of music usually. So I wasn’t overly excited. But my friend grabbed mine and Brittany’s hands and pulled us onto the light-up square dance floor (yes, it looked like it was from the seventies, and yes there was a disco ball on the ceiling. 2 actually). Dancing was so much fun. It was great to see how my new friends danced, and I think it was good for all of us to let loose a little.
Sunday was probably the best day though. Around mid-morning, Brittany and I met up with our friends, Carlos and Bert, to go to Tramore. Tramore is a city along the coast, and the beaches are supposed to be really pretty.
Man, did it exceed my standards. Even though it was misty and grey when we arrived, the sand and water were beautiful with the surrounding cliffs. It was breathtakingly beautiful, albeit quite windy and cold. But we started walking, and the cold didn’t bother us anymore.
We walked along the beach, below the cliffs, and goofed off on the rocks along the bottom. Brittany and I found the remnants of a staircase, venturing to climb up it for a better view, while the guys climbed boulders and things farther down the beach. We walked through part of town, only to find the path to the top of the cliffs. The view was even better from above. And the sun peeked out through the clouds too. The grass was so green and lush, exactly how you would picture the Irish coast.
We had lunch at a restaurant that was recommended to Brittany. I went for the typical beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips, and it was really good. After lunch, we walked along the beach again – but the opposite way this time. The tide had gone far out, and we could walk a long ways out to the water. With the sun, it was amazing. We decided that we will go back one day when the weather will be warmer, and stay to watch the sunset. I really hope we do.
We wandered through town, searching for the cathedral. We followed the steeples that reached high into the clouds. First, we found a small church. It was surrounded by a graveyard, but the stained glass was really pretty. When we found the Tramore Roman Catholic Church, the clouds had rolled in again and obstructed a view of the very top of the steeple. It gave the cathedral an eerie feel. Inside was amazing though, with more high ceilings, gothic architecture, and stained glass windows throughout.
Heading back to Waterford, we ended the day by meeting up with some friends to see The Imitation Game. It’s a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightley about the solving of the Enigma machine, used by the Nazis in World War II. It was a little slow, but for someone who loves history and had never learned about this, I found it really interesting.
I came home to messages from my parents about various bank issues, but nothing was going to ruin the day I had.
Thankfully, most of my technology issues are dealt with now, and I am looking forward to getting a few other things done so I can relax. Hopefully, there will be more travelling soon, as we have a few trip ideas on the horizon.
May the road rise up to meet ya.