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
Sitting in class, time seems to drag on as the minute hand slowly inches its way to a new hour. With a new hour, another class begins and the cycle repeats.
But outside of class, it scares me how quickly time moves. A day goes by in the whirlwind of school and going out with friends. And if you blink too long, it’s suddenly the end of the week. You do a little trip and some homework on the weekend and start again.
Nonetheless, I am making the most of all my time here, even the slow moments in class.
I am reading so many interesting books and articles! I just finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. An interesting read – my interest was only sparked when I started reading articles and looking at the depth of the novel in class. Last week, I began reading Great Expectations of the infamous Charles Dickens. I haven’t read Dickens before and am excited for this literary experience.
This past week involved a few nights out, with a few lazy days as well. On Tuesday night, I went with some friends to the Jazz Jam Session again. There were more of us this time, and it was a great night! I really enjoy the spontaneity and the idea of ‘jamming’ to create cool music.
On Wednesday, Brittany’s friend arrived to stay with us for a few days. Her name is Virginia and she is awesome. She is studying in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have really enjoyed chatting with her and getting to know her. It’s cool to get a perspective on study abroad from someone else who is participating, too, but in another country.
Thursday morning we wandered around city center before splitting off to go to class, do homework, or explore. That night, we wanted to take Virginia to a local bar in Waterford with live music. So, we headed to Kazbar’s after a short get together at a friend’s place. There was a big group of us, and it was a ton of fun to hang out with everyone! We all had a great time listening to the music and chatting.
After doing some homework on Friday morning, I ventured on the long walk to go climbing – as I really do miss being able to drive to the gym and climb whenever I want. That night was even more of an adventure, as Brittany and I tried to create a Spanish tortilla for Virginia. It was a little overcooked, but still great! We were quite proud of ourselves. Inviting a few of the girls over, we hunkered down for a movie night with popcorn and ice cream with Baileys. It was delicious.
The weekend was all about the day trips.
Now, most of our trips have been pretty mishap free, so I blame it on the Friday the 13th weekend. Saturday was our trip to Wexford. We planned to bus into town to catch a bus to a castle a little ways out. After some minor issues (including getting dropped off in the wrong place, and a friend hurting his ankle), we finally arrived at the castle and gardens of Johnstown Castle.
And man, was it worth it.
The gardens and grounds were beautiful. The grass was a luscious green in every direction, and the trees were a beautiful and tangled mess of branches. Honestly, the pictures don’t do it justice. I feel like in the spring, when everything is in bloom, it would be amazing.
We ate a mediocre dinner in Wexford before journeying back to Waterford, our temporary home.
This morning (Sunday), Brittany and I decided it would be fun to take Virginia to eat an Irish breakfast. We had a great brunch at Dooley’s Pub on the quay, where I finally tried Waterford Blaa (it is really just a bun/bap, but it was delicious)!!!! We then caught a bus to show Virginia the beaches and cliffs of Tramore.
I loved Tramore. And since it’s so close, I will probably visit it again before I leave beautiful Ireland. This time, it was less windy, sunny and cold; but it was a great day nonetheless! It was fun to walk along the beach and sit at the top of the cliffs and just talk with the girls. It was great craic!
Flash forward to a tired Julie, sitting in a cold room, writing this blog post.
And there is only more to come, as this coming week will be packed with amazing adventures (that I cannot wait for)! Spoiler alert: I’m in Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, so we all know that will be an experience all in itself.
I can’t believe I only have 2 months left here. I’m trying to grab hold of every opportunity and memory that I can. I don’t want to miss or forget anything from my time here. But I’m so excited for the adventures awaiting me down the road.
May the road rise up to meet ya
“die with memories, not dreams” [pinterest quote]
“Cada persona es un mundo – Each person is a different world.” – Spanish saying. (Thanks, Carlos!)
It’s funny. When you set out on an adventure or journey, you never know exactly what to expect.
Planning to come to Ireland, I never would have imagined that I would be out at pubs and clubs on school nights, going somewhere new almost every weekend, and experiencing some very different and crazy things from my life at home.
Last week, on Thursday, we ended up going out. First, we went to a friend’s house to all hang out and have a mini get-together. Later, we headed to a local pub, Kazbar’s, for some live music. It was so amazing! We had been told that it was “Irish music,” but it was funny to see when we got there that the signs said “Newfoundland music.” The band was brilliant, and even played a few Mumford and Sons songs that my friends and I loudly sang along to. Thankfully, there were people who were extremely drunk, and the music was loud, so no one cared or could hear us. It was a great night! I even got to talk to some more of the international students, and meet a few more.
Friday turned out to be an interesting day as well. I have no classes, and Brittany finishes in the afternoon. So, we met up with Bruna and headed to city center. We decided to try a new café this week. We ended up going to O’Brien’s where I had a Nutella hot chocolate! Yes. You read that right. It was amazing!!! So chocolate-y and good. I don’t think it trumped the Chocolate Café hot chocolate, but definitely close.
Then we went shopping and picked up little things that we needed. I got a yoga mat so that I can finally do some workouts in my room. It was great! And I got a thing of four rings – for one euro!!!!! I was excited. (It’s a girl thing. Hahaha.)
We decided that we wanted a little day trip; so, around 11 on Saturday, a group of us met up to go to Dunmore East. Like Tramore, it’s a coastal town with beaches and the ocean. Except for one thing: the cliffs here were amazing. It makes me wonder how much greater the Cliffs of Moher will be next week.
We wandered around the beaches, climbing through tiny caves (and taking cave selfies), climbing over rocks, and exploring. Our group of 10 often found itself separated, but we always met back up. We followed a trail that ran along the cliffs and the length of the majority of the coast. The views were spectacular. The guys climbed up a hill to get to the top, so I followed along. We found out after that there was a trail, but it was actually pretty awesome to climb the hill – despite the sketchy, moving rocks.
The cliffs and ocean were beautiful. I honestly could have sat there for hours, just looking at the view. It’s moments like these that truly remind me that I am surrounded by a beautiful and amazing country. Sometimes, the monotony of school and life causes me to forget exactly where I am. These moments allow me to take a deep breath and soak up the naturally beauty and splendor around me. Ireland is gorgeous, and I’m excited to see all of its beauty.
We had lunch in a little café before heading back. I ordered a BLT Panini, forgetting that bacon here is not like at home. It’s so odd to me that when I order bacon, I am expecting bacon strips like at home; but instead, I am given ham. I seriously miss bacon (even though I don’t eat it that often at home).
But here’s the exciting news – Brittany and I have now seen two places within Ireland that sell Tim Hortons coffee!!! I kid you not. Like the coffee machines at gas stations and convenience stores back home, we have now seen signs for Timmy’s coffee in Kilkenny and Dunmore East. Honestly, it made me really want Tim Hortons. But for now, adorable cafes and The Bagel Factory will have to do (as our friends have never eaten bagels, I’m sure that I’ll get to go there a few times 😉 ).
One of the things I definitely did not expect was to be partying during the week. For people who know me back home, I’m not exactly a party person. Sure, I’ll have a drink or two and go out every so often. But getting me to Roosters or a night club is a challenge sometimes. (Sorry girls…)
But here, I have surprised myself. I loved going to the live music nights, especially because I had no school the next days anyways. (Somehow, I lucked out with getting only 2 days of school a week…) Monday night was a little more though. Here in Ireland, there is an event called Rag Week. Basically, everyone parties. Every day and every night. Drinking and going to clubs. And I was so not ready for that.
I had heard of it, but didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully, my friends aren’t really into the huge club scene either. I lucked out on that. But we were going to experience it nonetheless. So we bought our tickets for the Monday night.
We went to a friend’s apartment first to hang out (I’m sensing a pattern here). And then we went to the school. Now it’s so weird to me that the school is having a party week, hosted by the Student Union. But I guess that is the way here! It was actually a ton of fun. There was a live band that was awesome and played great music. Our huge group danced around and had an overall great time.
Technically, we had tickets that would get us a discount to a night club in the city that night. But we decided it might be too busy, so we might check out another one. We ended up at The Foundry. Again, a typical night club. Not necessarily my scene. But I was having fun, and I was with friends, so I didn’t care. We went onto the dance floor and danced around for a while before heading home.
Obviously there were many other things that happened, but I will spare you the details. Essentially, there were a lot of laughs, some awkward moments, lots of joking, drinking, and fun. For my first Rag Week adventure, I had a great time!
But here’s the exciting news: next week, my friends and I venture on our actual adventure. We get a week off for studying for school, but every one of us is basically just using our weeks off for travel. So, Brittany and I decided to plan a trip through the parts of Ireland that we most want to see. A bunch of our friends were interested, so now there will probably be a group of about 5-7 of us. (Don’t worry – we’ve already booked hostels for those of us who are sure we’re going).
I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to write for blogging next week. A post will probably go up the week after. But keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter, as I’ll try to update there. We are going to see many amazing things, from cathedrals to castles, museums to nature, and the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. We will pass through Cahir and Cashel, Limerick, Galway, and Inismore.
I am beyond excited for this adventure, and cannot wait to tell you all about it when I get back.
May the road rise up to meet ya.
“Little by little, one travels far.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
I have been asked many times why I chose Ireland for my study abroad.
Honestly, I don’t have an easy answer.
I wish I could reply: “Ireland was my first choice!” or “The culture is so amazing!” or “I came for the booze and partying!” as so many of my friends here can answer. Of course I am glad I came here, and of course I knew the culture and history was going to be amazing. That is definitely one of the aspects that drew me here.
But first let me tell you something.
I actually applied for a study abroad over a year ago, to a school in England. I have always wanted to go to the UK, with it probably being at the top of my list of places to travel. I was so excited to live there, to have a chance to be immersed in the cultures of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte’s, and so many others that I had studied for some years. To be in the place of the monarchs, the wars, and the center of the 19th century world.
I guess it wasn’t meant to be though. The school decided that they weren’t going to do an exchange with ours, as their students weren’t really coming to Canada, and it wasn’t worth it. I was super upset.
But I really wanted to do a study abroad. For the experience, and the change of scenery and life. In the years leading up to this idea, I had gone through a lot. I was changed as a person by events that happened in my life, and by a new perspective of the world. In a lot of ways, it made me stronger; but also weaker. I wanted to know that I could do things on my own.
So I tried applying again.
This time, I applied to go to school in Wales. I got accepted and was going through the process of picking classes, when I realized that it really didn’t feel right. I was far too stressed and honestly, wasn’t very excited.
That really worried me. So I left the program.
After a lot of thinking, I decided to try one more time: I applied for Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). I had debated somewhere warmer, like Australia, but Ireland appealed to me more. It has a lot of similarities to home.
The whole process of applying, being accepted, and getting ready to go, I felt nothing like I had the other times. I felt calm, excited. It was so refreshing.
WIT looked like the perfect school. Although they don’t offer many classes for my program, and don’t really have a history department, it seemed right. The classes are small, like at home, and the campus is really great. My professors are amazing and the classes are interesting. And the atmosphere at the school is so relaxed, something you don’t experience at home. At home, the focus is on attending class, learning as much as you can. Here, there is no attendance. Classes are cancelled in a moment’s notice.
I’m so glad that I ended up here in Waterford. It was definitely the right fit for me. I have gotten to do so many amazing things, and I have met some wonderful people. And I’ve only been here for less than a month.
For those asking, I am loving my classes so far. I am taking 19th Century Fiction, where I get to read classics by Twain, Austen, Bronte, Dickenson, and Shelley. In another class, I am getting to write – about so many different things, about whatever I want to write. I was excited, as I hadn’t taken a creative writing class before. And my last class, Literature of the Family, is my hardest class – but it is super interesting. We are reading multiple books and sources, and examining the representation of family and familial dynamics in literature. I can’t find courses like these at home.
I can’t wait for more adventures, even if that means taking exams which are worth 100% of my final grade. It is all new and exciting.
I have even adopted a new mentality and lifestyle. I am nowhere near as stressed as I usually am at home, finding the atmosphere here relaxing and calm. It’s the change that I truly needed.
So, there is my long-winded explanation of my choice to come to Ireland. I am so lucky to be experiencing this.
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam
P.S. – this is sort of a bonus post for the week. A friend mentioned it might be cool to have a post about why I chose Ireland. I will normally only upload 1 post every week or so. But stay tuned, as I have a trip planned for this weekend. And sorry if this post was too long or deep…
My name is Julie Huff, and welcome to my blog.
I am a student, rock climber, avid reader, movie fanatic, and hopeful world traveler.
At least, that’s my usual tagline for social media and things. But can any one person be simplified by a few select phrases?
I love learning, about many different things. I enjoy the classics, whether it’s Shakespeare and Jane Austen, or more modern through the infamous Breakfast Club. I am a rock climber and hiker, often seeking adventure somewhere in the outdoors. And this next big change in my life is my attempt to become a worldlier person. I have always wanted to travel the world. And my opportunity came.
For my next semester of university, I will be living and studying in Waterford, Ireland. This is a once in a lifetime experience to immerse myself in another culture, learn and travel all at once.
And I couldn’t be more terrified or excited.
But that’s the best part of my adventure. Change isn’t something that comes easily to our human nature. We all seem to want to resist it. But fear is what makes something exciting, conquerable. That’s what climbing has taught me.
As Vanessa Redgrave quotes in a movie I love: “’What’ and ‘If’ are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What if? What if?” (Letters to Juliet, 2010).
Well, I didn’t want to be haunted by those words. And this was my chance to overcome my fears, and make a big change. Hopefully you are here because you are interested in my journey, or you just enjoy travel and the wonders of the world. I hope to provide all of that. It’ll be an intriguing ride for all of us as I find my way in a new place, both online and in the world.