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Home Sweet Home…

Time January 3rd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well I have been back in the States for about a week now, and have been loving every minute of it. With all of the craziness of the holidays, family, and friends, I haven’t really had time to come to terms with the fact that I’m actually home. It’s great to be home, in my own bed with home cooked meals, my dogs, and my friends and family! But…when can I go back?

Over the past four months I have fallen in love with Ireland, and being forced to leave a place you love is hard. As much as I love being home, my heart will always be in Ireland. Even though this adventure may be over, I know that a lot still lies ahead. No matter where I go in life, what I experience, who I meet, or what I see, a part of me will always be in Ireland.

Thanks for reading! Slainte!

xoxo, Maggie

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The Top Ten…

Time January 3rd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It’s hard to believe that my four months of studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland have come to an end. It feels like just yesterday I was getting on the plane, scared, terrified, but extremely excited. Now I am heading back to the states as a different person, with new friends, amazing pictures, and incredible memories. So much can change in such a short amount of time. As my second-to-last blog post (I’ll post one last time once I get home), I thought a top ten list of my favorite memories would be appropriate. In no way can I express all of my amazing experiences and stories in a meager list of ten, but I’ll do the best I can. So, here goes, in no particular order, my top ten memories while studying abroad:

  1. Eating spaghetti in front of the Pantheon while an Italian man serenaded us, and then finishing off the meal with gelato in front of the Trevi Fountain.
  2. Buying a Russian fur hat from Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park in London (and seeing my best friend from preschool on that same trip!).
  3. Almost dying on the way home from Barcelona (that is no exaggeration). I’m not sure if those of you reading this have ever heard that you can find really cheap flights throughout Europe, but if you have, those cheap flights are usually found through Ryanair. And Ryanair is a death trap, to put it nicely. Although I did enjoy finding cheap flights (and my bank account did too), I did not enjoy the cattle call, bright yellow and blue seats, and near death experience. On our way back from Barcelona, we experienced some turbulence, which is not uncommon for flights. But then we experienced a 15-second free-fall, which is very uncommon for flights. Everyone around us was screaming and crying, because we all honestly thought the plane was going to go down. And since that happened in the first 10 minutes of the flight, I was on-edge for the rest of the 2 and a half hour flight back to Dublin. The bright side of that experience is that I learned just how close people could get when they think they are going to die. A woman sitting next to me, who was a complete stranger and barely spoke English, grabbed my hand during the fall and we sat there crying for a solid five minutes after it happened. Let’s just say that’s something that I will never forget.
  4. Going to pubs during Christmastime and seeing grown men and women dressed head to toe in Santa suits and Christmas attire.
  5. The Northern Coast of Ireland. I know a lot of people say that the Cliffs of Moher are gorgeous, and I don’t disagree, but I would argue that the most beautiful place in Ireland is the northern coast and Giant’s Causeway. Words cannot do justice to the amazing feeling you get when you are standing on the causeway looking out at the waves crashing on the shore (and if you’re lucky, you even get to see Scotland from the Northern Coast!).
  6. Drinking a Guinness and eating beef and Guinness pie all while watching Irish dancing and listening to live music in a pub.
  7. Hearing my lecturer telling stories about what the best places to go for a pint in Dublin are (that would never happen in the states).
  8. Running through swamps and lakes of mud, zip-lining through the mountains of Connemara, abseiling down a six-story building, and overcoming my fear of heights by jumping off a cliff into a lake of freezing cold water!
  9. Seeing Irish Riverdance with my dad at the Gaiety Theater and then going on a classic pub-crawl.
  10. Becoming friends with people who live all over the world-L.A., San Francisco, Maryland, St. Louis, Rhode Island, Boston, NYC, Connecticut, Sweden, Australia, Spain, and of course, Ireland.

Of course this list in no way does justice to all of the experiences I have had, people I have met, or things I have seen, but it does demonstrate just how amazing the last four months have been for me. As sad as it is to see it end, and believe me, it is very sad, I am excited to see where I’ll end up next. The next time you’ll hear from me, I’ll be back in the states!

Until then, xoxo, Maggie

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A note to future study abroarders…

Time December 16th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

If you are still deciding whether or not you should study abroad-just go. If you aren’t sure where you should study-just pick a place and go there. If you aren’t sure if you can afford it-go anyways, you will find a way to make it work. If you are scared-good, that it makes the whole experience even better! Last April when I was deciding whether or not I should go abroad, I wish someone would have just told me to stop worrying about it and go. It may not seem that simple, and at times it is certainly not easy, but you just have to do it. And once you do it, you will be so happy you did.

I know everyone writes about their study abroad experience in typical, cliched terms like “It was the best experience of my life!” or “I have grown more than I ever thought possible!”. But honestly, that’s all so true-at least for me it is. Sure, there were times that were tough-times where I just wanted a hug from my mom and dad, times where I wanted to be back at Hamilton with my friends, times where I just wanted to be in my home country-but I can honestly say that I have enjoyed absolutely every second of my time in Ireland.

The people I have met, the beauty I have seen, the things I have learned have changed me. Of course you can learn about a country by reading about it in a book or watching documentaries about it on Netflix. But there is absolutely nothing like getting of the plane knowing absolutely nobody, immersing yourself in another culture for four months, and realizing that you never want to leave. I have learned more about myself in the past four months and I know that I have grown immensely as a person, and I owe it all to Ireland and this incredible experience.

So for those of you who aren’t sure if you should go abroad, ask yourself this: when in your life will you be able to live in another country for four months, immerse yourself in a different culture, and travel around the world? Most of you, like me, would probably not be able to answer that question, and that is why you should go abroad. You should go abroad for the experiences, for the people, for the culture, for the places, but most importantly, you should go abroad for yourself. If you are unsure or scared like I was, trust me, it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

(And remember, if you’re ever stuck, just think of the Irish saying “Don’t worry, it’ll all be grand!”)

xoxo, Maggie

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What’s the craic?

Time December 16th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It’s hard to believe that I have been in Ireland for four months now. It’s even harder to believe that I’m leaving in five days. Over the past few months my friends and I have compiled a list of the 10 main differences between Ireland (and Irish people) and the U.S. So as one of my last blog posts, I thought it might be interesting to share! Here goes (in no particular order):

1. Craic (pronounced “crack”)- It’s not cocaine, don’t worry. I’ve heard the saying “what’s the craic?”, “that was some good craic last night”, and “let’s have some good craic” more than I can even count. It basically means “what’s happening” or “that was good fun”. It is pretty much a universal term that people use to designate fun times (which in Ireland, is a lot). There is no direct translation between “craic” and a term we would use in the states, but if anyone from Merriam Webster is reading this, maybe they can think about including it in the dictionary?

2. They drive on the left. This one is pretty self-explanatory, and surprisingly not that hard to get used to (if you’re not the one driving). The first time my friends and I left Ireland was when we went to Italy, and I unintentionally sat in the taxi driver’s seat at first because I thought it was the passenger seat! Hopefully I’ll be able to readjust and drive on the right side of the road when I get home!

3. You don’t tip! Dublin is a very expensive city to live in, so saving every little bit helps. Apparently, it is socially acceptable not to tip here, so I have saved quite a bit of money by just paying the bill and nothing more. It was weird at first not to leave a tip, but the waiters and waitresses are paid a normal salary, so they do not need the tips like they do in the states!

4. Hailing buses. The first time my friends and I were trying to get on a bus, we waited about 15 minutes in the cold rain just to watch our bus drive right by us without stopping. We quickly learned that you have to hail a bus, as you would a taxi, in order for it to stop. Let’s just say that we only made that mistake once.

5. The drinking age is 18! Enough said.

6. Hollister is the main fashion trend-everyone wears it! It’s like being back in middle school. Irish kids wear Hollister clothes to class, to the gym, and even out to pubs!

7. The people are nicer and friendlier. Bottom line. I mean sure, there are nice, friendly people in the States too. But here it’s a way of life. It is not surprising to strike up a 15 minute conversation with the bank teller, or to have a taxi driver tell you the top 20 things you have to do in Ireland, or to have a waiter try to convince you to stay in Ireland longer. The people are genuinely nice, they are friendly, and they make you smile-that’s more than I can say about most people from the States. I’m going to miss getting into a taxi and spending the entire 20 minute ride learning about the driver’s family and what he got his kids for Christmas-that stuff doesn’t happen in the States.

8. There are usually two faucets on every sink, one for cold water and one for hot water. This may not seem like a big deal, but it took a while to get used to. There was no way to get warm water, you would put one hand under the hot faucet (and it would be burning) and you would put one hand under the cold faucet (and it would be freezing). Even in my kitchen sink, which has only one faucet, half of it is cold water and half of it is hot water!

9. It’s gray here (or as they spell it, grey). Sure, it’s sunny sometimes. But most days it’s just gray. It’s gray all day and then it’s dark. It would be pretty depressing, except for the fact that the people are so cheerful! And this may come as a surprise to many people, but it actually doesn’t rain that much! I’ve only worn my rain boots three times during the entire four months I’ve been here, and I didn’t even actually need to wear them! Before I came here, all I heard was about how much it would rain or “spit” (drizzling rain and wind), and I could probably count on two hands how many times it has rained! So don’t let the rumors fool you-yes it’s gray, but no it doesn’t rain!

10. That’s grand! Thanks a million! As I have (hopefully) made pretty clear, the people are friendly here, and with their friendliness comes certain terms that can’t help but put a smile on your face. If you do something as simple as holding a door for someone, they will almost undoubtedly respond: “That’s grand! Thanks a million!”. Every time I’ve heard those phrases, I couldn’t help but smile. The Irish people have a way of making you happy, whether it’s with their kind gestures, extremely gregarious behavior, or simple phrases such as these.

So as I spend the next few days studying, saying goodbye to friends, and drinking my last few pints, I can’t help but think that I am so accustomed to these 10 differences that it’s actually going to be very strange going back to the states. I’m sure I will try hailing a bus or two; I’ll be shocked when we have one faucet with warm water; I’ll be annoyed when I have to tip again; I’ll miss hearing “thanks a million”; and most importantly, I’ll miss the people.

But as I’ve learned since being here, don’t worry about anything- it’ll all be grand.

xoxo, Maggie

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Mind the Gap!

Time December 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past week I was lucky enough to go London for a few days with my friends! I have been to London before, but never during Christmastime, and it was a completely different city! I thought Dublin went all out with their Christmas decorations, but London put them to shame! It was absolutely beautiful! I really loved the city, and it made me seriously consider spending time there when I’m older (possibly working there?). The pace was much faster than Dublin, there were so many more people, and it had a completely different atmosphere. Even though I absolutely loved London, it made me really appreciate the culture and small-town vibe of Dublin.

We were only in London for two days, so we had a lot of sights to see in a short amount of time. Of course, we did all of the touristy things like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, London Eye, National Gallery, Camden market, Harrods, and Hyde Park!

img_2255 (Parliament and Big Ben!)

We also met up with one of my best friends from home who is studying in London for the semester, so she showed us some of the off-the-beaten-track things like an obscure little pub, a neat used bookstore, and a great place for afternoon tea for two!

img_2354 (A picture of my friend, Sarah, and I at a pub!)

A trip to London would not be complete without a visit to King’s Cross Station where Platform 9 and 3/4 is located! Although I’m not a huge fan of Harry Potter (I’m sorry!), it was still a lot of fun to pose at the cart that was half-submerged in the wall! The line to take a picture was pretty long, and we had to wait about five minutes before it was our turn!

img_2353 (Just going to Hogwarts through Platform 9 and 3/4!)

And since we went to London during Christmastime, we had to visit Hyde Park, which was decorated as a winter wonderland! It was the biggest Christmas carnival I have ever seen! There were hundreds of little shops, food stands, and rides! There was Christmas music playing everywhere you turned, and there was a whole area dedicated to ice skating and ice sculptures. There were rides for the little kids, a beer garden for the older ones, and even roller coasters for the particularly adventurous. We walked around for about two hours and still didn’t see everything! The amazing Christmas atmosphere was the perfect ending to a great day in London!

img_2286 (Christmas in Hyde Park!)

Even though we weren’t there for that long, I am so happy that I was able to see London during Christmastime! I was very impressed with our ability to figure out the tube (it was not hard at all!), and we actually made it to everything we wanted to see WITHOUT a map! Clearly, London is a very easy city to get around, which made our trip a lot less stressful! Our trip home was pretty long, it took us about six hours to get home even though the flight was only one hour! We had to take two tube rides, a train, a plane, and a taxi, but eventually we made it back to Dublin! Although Dublin is a lot smaller than London (with about 7 million less people), the trip made me really appreciate how much I love Dublin. Dublin has such a unique culture, incredible people, and an overall amazing atmosphere!

That’s it for now!

xoxo, Maggie

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There’s a lot to give thanks for…

Time December 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now it’s officially Christmastime! I have to admit, it was very strange coming to terms with the fact that they do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland. It was even weirder when I had to take a final exam on Thanksgiving! Even though I was not surrounded by my family, eating delicious homemade food, and watching marathons of “Christmas Vacation”, I think this is one of the most ‘thankful’ Thanksgivings I have ever had. Usually I am surrounded by my family on Thanksgiving, but this year I was surrounded by an amazing group of new friends. Usually I eat turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and all of the other “typical” Thanksgiving food, but this year I ate pasta, frozen vegetables, chicken nuggets, and our version of apple crisp. Usually I end the night by gathering around the fire watching “Christmas Vacation”, but this year we all piled into my little twin bed and watched “Love Actually”. Even though it was certainly not your typical Thanksgiving, I think this is the most thankful I have ever been.

img_2173 (A picture of our make-shift Thanksgiving table!)

Not only am I extremely blessed for all of the amazing opportunities and experiences I have had since being abroad, but I am so grateful for all of the incredible people I have met. My family came to Ireland over the Thanksgiving holiday, but they were traveling around the Emerald Isle during Thanksgiving, so I was left to celebrate with my friends and my brother. As is tradition at my house, I made all of my friends say something that they were thankful for after we sat down to eat. Even though we each came up with different things, we all agreed on the one main thing that we were thankful for: each other. We have helped each other through all of the rough patches of stressful schoolwork and homesickness, we have celebrated with each other at pubs and clubs, we have traveled together around Ireland and Europe, we have laughed together over the stupidest/funniest things, but most importantly we have always been there for each other. It is not until you are thousands of miles away from home and completely out of your comfort zone that you realize the importance of having good friends by your side. And this Thanksgiving, I realized how grateful I was for all of the new friends I made.

And since Thanksgiving is a time to think about ALL of the things you are grateful for, it would be amiss of me if I did not express my gratitude for being able to study in Ireland for the past four months. By studying and living in Ireland, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of possibilities, and my lust for traveling has increased immensely! I am so grateful that I was able to study in Ireland, a country that I have grown to love, and I am so thankful for all of the people who made this possible (I’m talking to you, Mom and Dad!). To add to the list, I am so grateful that my family was able to visit me while I was here (my mom, aunt, and cousin came in October, and my parents, brother, aunt and uncle all came for Thanksgiving)! The list of what I am thankful for could go on and on!

I have always loved the spirit of Christmastime, the bustle of the city, and of course the 25 days of Christmas movies on ABC family, but I think Dublin (and Europe, in general) takes Christmastime to a whole new level! The Christmas lights on Grafton Street have been lit since about the middle of November, and the stores all have their Christmas displays up! I love walking down the streets in Dublin, listening to the street musicians perform Christmas carols and enjoying the Christmas spirit of the city!

img_2156 (Chloe and I in front of the lights on Grafton Street!)

Unfortunately, I only have 10 days left in Dublin. It’s honestly so hard to believe that my semester abroad has almost come to an end. And I know the next 10 days will fly by! Between exams and final goodbyes, I’ll be home before I know it. But for now I am going to continue to be thankful for all that I have experienced, all of the amazing friends I have made, and all of the incredible places I have seen!

That’s it until next time!

xoxo, Maggie

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Tu español es…horrible!

Time December 2nd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A few short days after our adventures in Northern Ireland, my friends and I headed for Barcelona! The weather was much warmer, which was a nice change, but the language barrier proved to be a bit difficult at times. Even though I took Spanish for eight years, I struggled understanding the rapid conversations that I overheard. We got to Barcelona at about 10pm on Friday night, and since we had not had time to eat dinner, we were hoping that there would be some place we could grab a quick bite to eat. Little did we know, Spanish people do not usually eat dinner until at least 10 or 11 at night, so there were many places to choose from! After a delicious dinner outside (because it was so warm!), we headed to our hotel, which turned out to be an apartment! Hotwire is our new best friend! We got a two bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, bathroom, and living room (and even a balcony!) for a price that was cheaper than most hostels!

The next day, we decided to walk around the city and see what we came across! Of course, our first stop was a mall that was in an old bull-fighting arena! We all spent way too much money, but at least I came home with a gorgeous leather jacket! Next, we stumbled across la market de boqueria, which is a massive outdoor food market with tons of different stalls offering all types of food you can imagine! From fresh fruit to vegetables to pasta to candy to fish to meat and even to cow skulls, la Boqueria had everything you could possibly want to eat.

img_1979 (Just one of the many food stands at La Boqueria)

We ate so much at the market, and we’re even able to buy two bottles of wine for less than 7 euros! We just couldn’t say no to good Spanish wine at that price! After walking around the market, we made our way down to the pier. We were lucky enough to have gorgeous weather for the day, not to mention the fact that when we got to the pier, there was a pretty big rowing race going on. We spent a lot of time at the pier, soaking in the sun and enjoying the culture around us!

1470419_10200986512287511_523528738_n (A picture of me by the pier in Barcelona!)

After a wonderful day in the city, we decided that it was time to get ready for a fun night out. We started the night at a place called Chupitos, which is a very touristy bar, but also very fun! They have hundreds of different types of shots, all for 2 euros each. The shots were all very unique, some of them were flaming, some had whipped cream and chocolate on them, and some of them even used a marshmallow as a chaser. We met some very friendly people there, some who actually studied at UCD for a year! However, my favorite person I met there was William, the bouncer. I tried to speak to him in spanish, but he kept telling me that my spanish was horrible! Even though he made fun of me for my spanish, he did save my friends and I from getting buckets of water thrown on our heads. Apparently, the people who live in the apartments above Chupitos do not like it when it gets loud, so they dump buckets of water out of their windows! Luckily, William warned us just in time, and we were spared. After Chupitos, we headed to Opium, a club on Barcelona Beach. After we were all tired of dancing, we went outside the club for a walk on the beach! The water was so warm, and felt so good on my feet that were in so much pain from my shoes! Overall, it was a very fun night out, but unfortunately we could not stay out as late as the spanish do. We went home at 3:30am, but most people don’t leave the clubs until 7 or 8 in the morning!

The next day, we headed to La Sagrada Familia, a massive church in the middle of Barcelona. We took the metro there, but we got a little lost so when we asked a man in a store for directions, his response was “straight, straight, straight, then big!”. We were a little confused at first, but once we got there, we understood exactly what he meant. The church was absolutely massive! There was no way you could miss it. Even though we didn’t go inside, I still felt a complete sense of wonder and awe looking up at the intricate designs all depicting biblical scenes. It was absolutely gorgeous.

img_2033 (La Sagrada Familia!)

After walking around La Sagrada Familia, we went to Montjuic Castle, a castle that offers gorgeous views of the city of Barcelona as well as the surrounding ocean. We spent a lot of time there taking in the spectacular views of the city!

965386_10201866593722994_311027533_o (Tracy, Chloe, Vanessa, and I at Montjuic Castle!)

The views of the city and the surrounding water was a great way to end our trip to Barcelona! Unfortunately, to say that our return flight on Ryanair was horrible would be a complete understatement. Not only were the people at the gate extremely rude, forcing people to pay to check their bags even though they fit in the overhead, but we went through a lot of turbulence and even a 10-second free fall! It was one of the scariest experiences of my life, and by far the worst flight I have ever been on (and I have flown quite a bit). Luckily, we made it back to Dublin safely, and have so many amazing stories and memories from Spain!

That’s it for now!

xoxo, Maggie

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Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, and the Titanic!

Time December 2nd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A few weeks ago, IFSA took us on a trip to Northern Ireland! Not only did we see absolutely gorgeous scenery, but we also learned a lot about the troublesome history of Belfast, a city split between Catholics and Protestants. We stayed in the center of Belfast, which is the capital of Northern Ireland, part of the U.K. The first day of the trip, we took a tour of the Northern coast and Giant’s Causeway. The drive along the coast offered some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen! Not only were the views of Ireland’s coast amazing, but we were also able to see over to Scotland! The first stop on the drive was the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, a world-famous rope bridge that is about 30 meters above the rocks and water below. It was actually very exhilarating walking across the bridge, even though I was focused on the gorgeous scenery surrounding it!

1463164_10200987264066305_2125654075_n (A picture of me walking across the rope bridge!)

After the rope bridge, we headed to lunch at The Old Bushmills Distillery, the original distillery of Bushmills. The lunch was absolutely delicious, not to mention the Irish coffee after! After lunch, we went to Giant’s Causeway, which was a place along the coast that is absolutely breathtaking. The rocks around the area formed circular patterns, which can be accounted for in two ways. The first is the scientific explanation, that a volcano erupted millions of years ago and the overflowing lava caused the rock to form a circular shape. But the much more interesting explanation is one of the numerous legends surround it, my favorite being the one about the Irish vs. the Scots. According to legend there was a giant from Ireland and a giant from Scotland who decided to fight, so the Irish giant built the causeway and ended up winning the fight! The causeway was absolutely breathtaking, and in my opinion, it rivaled the Cliffs of Moher. It is even deemed one of the natural wonders of the U.K., and for those who have visited, it is no surprise as to why. The sea comes right up to the columns on the causeway, with the waves of the Atlantic crashing over them, soaking them in saltwater and sea foam. Pictures cannot do justice to the scenery, nor can words.

img_1834 (Giant’s Causeway, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!)

Even though we spent about two hours at the causeway, I easily could have spent an entire day. But next we went to an old castle that was absolutely massive, and built right along the coast. Looking out the window-holes, you could see the sea crashing against the rocks. Even though the castle was built hundreds of years ago, you had the feeling that people actually lived there, and used it as a fortress from enemies.

The next day, we took a Black Taxi tour of Belfast. The Black Taxi tours are famous for showing tourists the conflict between the Protestants and Catholics, conflict that continues today. It was incredible to hear stories of how the Catholics and Protestants fought each other, and even killed each other. What was truly amazing was when our taxi driver told us that even today if you were a Catholic, you would not be welcome in Protestant neighborhoods. Luckily, a lot of the conflict has been resolved, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done. One 0f the stops on the tour was the Peace Wall, a wall that many people have signed in hopes of helping the people of Belfast live together in unity.

1450978_10200987828160407_1798141905_n_0 (A picture of me signing the peace wall!)

After the Black Taxi tour, we went to the Titanic Museum! Ever since I was little, I loved learning about the Titanic (and watching Leo and Kate in the movie)! Since the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to go to the museum that was dedicated to telling the story of both the ship and the people on it. Not only was the museum very informative and interactive, but it was actually very emotionally provocative. The stories that were shared were heartbreaking. It was humbling to read diaries of people who were on the ship, and actually understand the atrocities of class distinction. Even though James Cameron’s movie may be fiction, I’m sure there were people on the ship who had stories similar to Rose and Jack’s, and I am so happy I was able to experience them.

img_1922 (The Titanic Museum! Very reminiscent of Kate Winslet in the movie, The Titanic!)

After a long day, my friends and I finished the night right, with three pizzas delivered to our hotel! The next morning, after a two hour bus ride, we were back in Dublin. The whole weekend was absolutely fabulous, and I am so grateful to have seen and experienced all that Northern Ireland had to offer. The scenery was spectacular, and the history of the city and its people was incredible!

That’s it for now!

xoxo, Maggie

 

 

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Grazie, Prego, Ciao!

Time November 18th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to Italy for five days with four of my best friends here! It was an amazing trip that left us with so many incredible stories. We flew from Dublin to Rome where we spent a day and a half, then took a train to Florence, and then took another train to Venice. The adventure began at 3:30am when our taxi picked us up from our apartment to take us to the airport for our 6am flight. Needless to say, we had plenty of time to spare at the airport, so we enjoyed a nice breakfast while two people sitting next to us enjoyed their Guinness (at 4:30am!). The flight to Rome was only about 3 hours, and when we got there, we immediately had our first experience with the language barrier. While waiting for the taxi, someone came up to us and started speaking rapid Italian, and between the five of us, the only words we knew were “grazie” (thank you), “prego” (if you please), and “ciao” (goodbye), which didn’t really help us too much. Luckily, a woman translated for us, so we were finally able to get into the taxi and head to our hotel!

We only had about 24 hours in Rome and there were so many things we wanted to see, so we went on the rapid tour of Rome! As soon as we checked into our hotel, we headed out for our first Italian pizza. While we were eating lunch, we asked the waiter if we could have tap water (instead of the bottled water because it was more expensive), and after trying to explain the meaning of tap, he said okay. He ended up coming back to the table with a cap from a bottle. The whole time we were trying to explain that we wanted ‘tap water’, he thought we meant the cap from the water bottle! We were all laughing so hard, that we had to take the cap as a souvenir.

The first tourist attraction we hit after lunch was the Trevi Fountain! We had all seen it in movies (The Lizzie McGuire move especially!), but it was so different from what I was expecting! It was absolutely gorgeous, with the white marble and bright blue water, but it was completely surrounded by other buildings. And there were tons of people there! There were so many people, you had to fight and push your way up to the fountain! Of course, after we pushed our way to the front, we had to make a wish in the fountain (and no, I am not saying what I wished for!)

img_1407 (Tracy, Vanessa, and I making a wish in the Trevi Fountain!)

Our rapid tour of Rome continued with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the ancient ruins. We actually stumbled across the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, because we weren’t actually looking for it, but it turned out to be absolutely breathtaking. The marble was so white, the statues were all so intricately detailed, and there was an air of reverence around the entire building. We weren’t actually sure what it was at first, but after learning about its history, the building seemed to be even more important.

img_1444 (The five of us in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.)

After strolling through the ancient ruins, and watching a guy run around dressed in a toga, we headed towards the Colosseum. The ancient ruins were amazing, but the Colosseum was incredible! We were in awe at how massive it was, and couldn’t stop taking pictures! We ended up taking a tour of it, and learned that in the Middle Ages people were actually allowed to quarry marble from it to use in their homes. And during the ancient times when there were gladiator fights, women were forced to sit at the very top of the arena. It was incredible to be in a place that has existed for such a long time!

img_1478 (The Colosseum!)

Our next stop on the rapid tour of Rome was the Pantheon. As a philosophy major, I was very excited to go there, as it used to be a place of pagan worship and it reminded me of something Aristotle would have strolled through. The 40 foot circle at the top of the Pantheon was the biggest of its time, and even today, the building is massive in scale. The inside was ornately decorated with statues and engravings, but the center of the Pantheon was blocked off because the marble floor was wet from the rain.

img_1500 (The Pantheon!)

After walking around inside the Pantheon, we decided to eat dinner at a little cafe in the plaza surrounding it. We ate pasta while listening to a man serenade us and looking at the Pantheon! It was a classic dinner in Italy. A night in Italy would not be complete without gelato, so we went back to the Trevi Fountain where we ate gelato and admired the fountain adorned in lights!

The next day our rapid tour of Rome continued with a trip to Vatican City. We were not really expecting Vatican City to be so big with so many people! St. Peter’s Basilica was massive, and the whole city was beautiful. We went into the Vatican Museum so we could see the famous Sistine Chapel, but all of the other rooms in the museum were decorated with such incredible artwork, that it was actually difficult to take it all in. There were paintings, tapestries, and wall murals throughout the whole museum, and I was in awe with all of them. The most touching art that I saw had to be the Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. I had learned about it in art history class and looked at pictures in books, but to actually see it on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was amazing. I was in absolute awe looking at it, knowing Michelangelo painted the entire ceiling with his bare hands over 400 years ago. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel, but that image is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

img_1541 (A view of St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City.)

Vatican City was the last stop on our Rome agenda, since we had to catch a train to Florence. The train was actually very enjoyable, as it was fast, comfortable, and very clean. Amtrak should take after the Italians! For the whole 2 hour train ride, the scenery of Tuscany, the rolling vineyards, and the huge villas passed by us. After we got to Florence, we decided to take a bus to our hotel, but not speaking Italian made that pretty difficult and we got off at the wrong stop. Not only did we get off at the wrong stop, but we took the bus in the wrong direction, so we had to take a taxi all the way back to the train station and then to our hotel. Even though we don’t really have the best luck with transportation, we finally made it to our hotel! We decided that we would go out in Florence and experience the night life, so after a wonderful pasta dinner, we went out to the clubs! The first club we went to was a karaoke bar, and since we were only there for one night, we decided to sing! None of us are good singers, and I’m actually tone deaf so it was not a good combination. We decided to sing “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, and even though we were so bad, we had so much fun! The crowd actually loved us, but we were so embarrassed that we ended up leaving right after we sang! Needless to say, it was an amazing night that we will not forget!

img_1671 (The five of us on an amazing night out in Florence!)

The next day we decided that we needed to do two things: shop and see Michelangelo’s David. We spent a long time looking for anything leather: boots, wallets, purses, coats. We all ended up spending a lot of money and buying a lot of leather! After our shopping excursion, we went to La Academia where we saw David. It was absolutely beautiful. I cannot believe that Michelangelo was able to look at a block of marble and create David out of it. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but I think that made it even more incredible because I was forced to actually look at it and appreciate it. After La Academia, we went to El Duomo, which is a building with gorgeous architecture designed by Brunelleschi. Learning about it cannot even come close to actually seeing it in person. This massive structure was so intricately detailed that it almost looked fake. The building was absolutely breathtaking!

img_1675 (El Duomo in Florence.)

After a long day of shopping and walking around the city, we had to leave Florence and take the train to Venice. Before we left, we took one final stroll by the river, admiring the mountains in the background of the city!

img_1688 ( A view of Fiernze!)

Florence was absolutely beautiful, and could possibly be one of my favorite cities! The first part of the trip was amazing, but in Venice things took a turn for the worse. Venice absolutely destroyed us as a group! The first bad thing that happened was when we arrived in the city. Our train was about a half hour delayed, so we got into the city at 10:30pm.  The hotel we were staying at was outside of the city, and for some reason, we assumed that the train would stop outside of the city so we could take a taxi to our hotel. Well, the train ended up stopping in Venice, and for those of you who know a thing or two about Venice, there are no cars there. So, after about a half hour, we finally realized that we had to take another train out of Venice to get to our hotel. Needless to say, we did not end up checking in until well after midnight. The next morning I woke up with a really high fever, and was way too sick to leave the hotel. So while my friends spent the day in Venice, I spent the day in the hotel room eating room service and watching Netflix. As if that wasn’t enough, the next day we took a taxi to the airport, but it ended up being the wrong airport! Apparently there are two airports in Venice, and after spending 120 euros on taxis, we finally made it to the right one. Oh, and then after we got back to Dublin, we could not get to our apartment complex because the Dublin City Marathon just happened to be taking place there.

Although the last day and a half of the trip was very rough, the first four were absolutely incredible! I love Italy, the food, the people, and of course, the wine! It was an amazing trip that I will never forget!

That’s it for now!

xoxo, Maggie

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Mom visits the Emerald Isle!

Time November 5th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

These past few weeks have been insanely busy, with essays, assignments, and most importantly, a visit from my mom! A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have my mom, my aunt, and my cousin visit! It was so nice seeing familiar faces, and it was great to be able to show them around Dublin! They spent the first few days of their trip in Dublin, where I was able to take them to a few of the best local pubs. I am proud to say that my mom’s new favorite beer is a Smithwicks, which I made her try! After a few days in Dublin, I was able to go with them down to the southern coast and the Ring of Kerry. My cousin, Jamie, drove, while my aunt and mom freaked out every time he made a right-hand turn into what they thought was oncoming traffic. Even with all of the yelling and back seat driving, Jamie did an awesome job driving!

On our way down to Killarney, we stopped at an ancient castle called Cashel. Apparently it was built in the 1200s as a monastery, and there are still funerals held there today. The castle was situated on a hill, overlooking fields and the nearby town. The views from the castle were beautiful, and we were fortunate enough to visit on a very sunny day!

img_1238_0 (A view of Cashel!)

After visiting the castle, our GPS decided to take us a very roundabout way to the hotel, but we eventually made it. The hotel we were staying at was beautiful! It was an old manner house called Cahernane, with large fireplaces and quaint drawing rooms. We met a lot of interesting people at the bar in the hotel, including one local man who was in the process of writing an autobiography. The stories he told us were absolutely fascinating! The next day we headed down to the Ring of Kerry, which is about a four hour drive along the southwestern coast of Ireland. There was a single road that led us around the coast, which was curvy, narrow, and at some points it even turned into one lane (with two lanes of traffic). We made a few stops along the way to get out and enjoy the scenery. One place that was absolutely remarkable was an area along the coast with thousands of small rocks stacked on top of each other.

img_1286_0 (Amazing place along the Ring of Kerry with tons of rocks!)

After stumbling across this unique place, we walked around and noticed that some of the rocks formed different shapes, like people and animals. It was amazing to just stumble across such an interesting place! On our way back from the Ring of Kerry, we actually had to slow down to let sheep cross the road! A trip to Ireland would not be complete without at least one sheep sighting, so I’m glad that they were able to experience it!

img_1317 (A sheep just hanging out on the side of the road!)

After a wonderful weekend along the coast, I had to head back to Dublin for classes while my family headed over to Galway. I was lucky enough to see them one last time before they had to leave. We had such a fabulous time together, and it was very sad to say goodbye! But luckily my mom is coming back with the rest of my family over Thanksgiving! I’m already counting down the days until I can see her again!

1379857_712484425447098_799807650_n (Mom and I by the River Liffy!)

Even though it was such a whirlwind seeing familiar faces and then watching them leave, I’ll be very busy traveling over the next few weeks! I’ll keep you updated on my journey!

xoxo, Maggie

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Mountains and Mud!

Time October 14th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well I can officially say that I have been zip-lining, cliff jumping, abseiling, and covered head to toe in mud, and it’s all thanks to Adventure Weekend in Killary! Last weekend, IFSA butler took us 3 and a half hours away from Dublin to the middle of nowhere where we met up with all of the other people from the IFSA Ireland programs. We spent Saturday and Sunday doing very adventurous outdoor activities, and we spent the nights doing very typical Irish things: hanging out, dancing, and drinking.

After a long, bumpy ride down to Killary, we finally arrived at the hostel, which was miles from the nearest town. My friends and I were craving a late night pizza, but unfortunately the nearest pizza place was over 20 kilometers away, and no matter how much begging, they wouldn’t deliver. Friday night was pretty relaxed, with the exception of a very intense trivia game. Part of the trivia game included a scavenger hunt, which my team won, so we got a shot of beer for our victory!

The real fun began on Saturday morning when we started doing the outdoor activities. My friends and I all did zip-lining and the high ropes course first. The spectacular views combined with the nonstop adrenaline made the whole experience surreal. The zip-lining course started from a 3 story tall structure, and ended right before a huge pine tree. I was going so fast near the end that I thought I was going to hit the tree! After you stop at the tree and slide back to the middle of the course, you are supposed to drop your rope about 50 feet to the people on the ground so they can steady you while you let yourself down. I forgot to let my rope down, and once I finally did, it was all tangled up, so the people on the ground couldn’t help me. After the instructor trekked through the grass and mud to pull me back, I was finally able to get down. Even though I was really struggling, it was so much fun, and I was laughing so hard by the time I got to the ground!

1276415_10202277345114501_477867414_o (A picture of me trying to get down after zip-lining!)

Our next activity was the high ropes course, which was absolutely terrifying. The actual ropes course wasn’t too bad; it was exhausting, but after making it to the top, the adrenaline rush was worth it! The scary part was the trapeze. Basically, you and your partner are each attached to a rope, and you climb a 25-foot free-standing pole. Once you both make it to the top, you reach out and jump for a trapeze that is floating a few feet in front of you. I went with my friend Sarah, who is deathly afraid of heights, and I’m not too good with them either, so we were both freaking out. Once we both made it to the top, the instructors counted down for us to jump, but when they got to the Jump! part, neither of us went! We were so terrified! After some cajoling from everyone on the ground, and promises that we wouldn’t die, Sarah and I both jumped off the pole, but instead of reaching out for the trapeze, we just grabbed on to each other and hung 25 feet in the air. At the time it was terrifying, but once we were hanging in the air, it was incredible.

980248_10202277373395208_366386289_o (Sarah and I hanging on to each other for dear life!)

Saturday afternoon was possibly one of the most bizarre three hours of my life. After we put on our wetsuits (which took awhile), we began the “Turf Challenge”, which is basically a mud run. Now, a mud run might not seem like a hard or daunting task, but it was intense. We went through obstacle courses in mud, swimming pools of mud, mountains of mud, and tunnels of mud.

img_1189 (Just chilling in a mud pool!)

After each mud course, we would do a water course, so we could rinse off our wetsuits, but no matter how much water we went in, we were still covered in mud. At one point, my friend Vanessa got her leg stuck in the mud. I was the only one near her, so I tried to help her, but then we both got stuck. Our instructor, Jono, thought it was funny to just watch us, but after struggling for about 5 minutes, he finally took pity on us and got us out of the mud. The last part of the mud run was probably my favorite because it was also the scariest. We jumped off a cliff that was about 10 feet above the lake. I am very afraid of heights, so the 10 foot cliff felt a lot higher. I wasn’t going to jump because I was so scared, but my friends convinced me, and it was so worth it! Although the water was freezing, it was so refreshing, and the perfect way to end a day of being covered in mud!

img_1195 (The mud run got pretty intense…)

After all of the amazing activities on Saturday, we were all exhausted, but there was a disco that we could not miss! My friends and I danced for most of the night, which was a blast. We met a lot of other people from the different schools in Ireland, which was fun too. On Sunday morning, my friends and I were able to go abseiling and on the giant swing. Abseiling was scary at first because the only thing holding you four stories high is a rope that you control. Even though it was scary at first, it was also exhilarating!

img_1185 (Abseiling: one of the scariest, most exhilarating things I’ve ever done!)

The giant swing was also a lot of fun, and you even feel like you are free falling for a few seconds! It doesn’t look like it would be that scary from the ground, but once you are raised up, you realize just how high up you are. The best part is right after you pull the string when you and your partner just free fall! Even thinking about it now, my stomach starts to drop!

Adventure Weekend was probably the best weekend I have had in Ireland so far. Between laughing with my friends, freaking out over the heights, and overcoming my fears, it was an incredible experience. I will probably never be able to go zip-lining in Ireland again, and the chances of me abseiling down a four story building are also slim to none. The combination of the gorgeous scenery, the pure adrenaline rush, and the sense of serenity made this a weekend I will never forget.

That’s it for now!

xoxo, Maggie

 

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Cliffs, Hills, and Sheep

Time October 1st, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past weekend I headed to the west of Ireland where I saw incredible scenery, ate delicious food, and met some amazing people. My three friends and I took a tour of Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Galway, and the Cliffs of Moher. Since Ireland is a fairly small island, it only took about three hours to travel from Dublin to Galway. The countryside was almost completely undeveloped, with animals grazing in the pastures. There were rolling green hills, just as I had expected, but there were also a lot of fields that were partitioned off by stone fences. Apparently, many centuries ago, when the father died, he would leave the farm to the whole family, instead of leaving it to the eldest. The remaining family would then divide up the land,  resulting in the stone fences that still exist today.

Our first stop on the tour was Connemara, which is basically a large, undefined area in the west of Ireland with spectacular views. After driving for about 2 and a half hours, the bus driver pulled off the side of a gravel road on the top of hill, allowing us to see an amazing view.

img_0965 (A view from a road in Connemara)

The weather was absolutely perfect, and the crisp breeze made the view that much more enjoyable. The drive through the rest of Connemara was just as beautiful, especially when we had to stop and wait for three sheep to cross the road. At one point the sheep were actually walking in a single-file line down the side of the road! But most of the sheep we saw were just grazing or lounging around under the shade.

img_0987 (A sheep just hanging out under a tree)

After our three hour drive, we went to a place called Kylemore Abbey. It was built in the late 1800s by a man who wanted to show his wife how much he loved her. A few years later she died of dysentery, and the legend has it that the husband was so heartbroken that he sold the castle. The castle, surrounded by rolling green hills and overlooking a gorgeous lake, is now one of the most popular tourist destinations, as evidenced by the many different languages we heard spoken.

img_1012 (Kylemore Abbey)

The last stop of the day was Galway, a quaint coastal town. We spent the night in a hostel (our first one!), and had the chance to explore the town. Walking down the cobblestone streets, listening to the street performers, and admiring the different pubs and shops, it was almost like I was in a dream. There was so much culture packed into the few streets making up the city center that it was hard to believe it was real. One street had over 50 pubs on it, while another had over 30 restaurants. After a fabulous Italian dinner and a pint at the local pub, we headed back to the hostel to prepare for the Cliffs of Moher the following day.

Although I have heard how gorgeous the Cliffs of Moher are, it is hard to comprehend their true beauty unless you are actually there. After visiting Ireland’s largest cave dating back millions of years, we finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. We were all stunned by their overwhelming beauty. The cliffs themselves are so large, so powerful, yet so serene. They exhume a sense of tranquility, despite the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against them.

img_1099 (The Cliffs of Moher)

We sat on the side of the cliffs for what seemed like forever, but it was still too short. I knew the Cliffs would be beautiful, but I didn’t realize that they would be that powerful.

img_1143 (Tracy, Chloe, Vanessa, and I sitting on the side of the Cliffs of Moher)

As beautiful as the countryside was, I was happy to arrive back in Dublin. Coming back to the city after being away for a few days makes it feel like home! That’s it for now!

xoxo,

Maggie

 

 

 

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Adventures Outside of Dublin!

Time September 30th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I have officially been in Ireland for over a month! It seems so surreal that it is going by so fast. Last weekend I finally got the chance to explore the countryside around Dublin. The international program at UCD took about 100 study abroad students to Glendalough and County Wicklow. The day began with a hike around the beautiful hills and lakes of Glendalough. Glendalough is a glacial valley that was settled by monks in the 6th century. There was a tower built in the 500s that was used to call the monks to prayer. It still stands today, surrounded by a cemetery where people are still buried.

img_0002 (Tower built in the 6th century)

The two hour hike took us past two gorgeous lakes, numerous hills, and spectacular views. Although there were a lot of people walking around, it was still very peaceful. We took our time taking in the views and enjoying the beautiful weather!

img_0038 (Chloe, Vanessa, Katherine, and I at Glendalough)

After the hike around Glendalough, we headed into the town of Wicklow for lunch by the water. The town was so quaint and picturesque, reminiscent of what I expected an Irish town to look like. Next, we went to Powerscourt Gardens, a couple-hundred year old estate surrounded by beautiful gardens and breathtaking views of the mountains. The gardens were designed by many different architects, all of who’s desire was to incorporate them into the surrounding natural beauty. After soaking in the views with a pastry and tea, we toured the gardens, taking in all of the beautiful scenery.

img_0893 (The gorgeous views from Powerscourt Gardens)

Inspired by the beautiful views of Glendalough and County Wicklow, the next day we decided to head to the beach. The weather was once again spectacular, making it the perfect day to be by the water. Even though the water was freezing, there were still a lot of people swimming, enjoying the last few days of summer. The views of the Irish sea and the surrounding land were beautiful!

11197_10200660883346991_1870312409_n (The girls at the beach!)

The small town surrounding Seapoint was filled with pubs and cafes. We stumbled across a pub that had delicious food, from the fish and chips to the quiche to the brown bread ice cream to the cappuccinos. After a long, relaxing lunch, we headed into the city to catch the last half of the Dublin vs. Mayo County GAA match. After Dublin won the match, everyone broke out in song and cheers. It was amazing to be surrounded by so much enthusiasm and pride!

img_0932 (A flag at the pub where we watched the GAA match)

Overall, it was incredible to be able to experience the beauty of the Irish countryside, as well as the excitement of the city. This weekend we are headed to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, which is sure to be spectacular! That’s it for now!

xoxo,

Maggie

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Don’t forget the “study” in study abroad!

Time September 16th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I have officially completed my first full week of classes at UCD! I absolutely LOVE all of my classes and lecturers. They don’t call the people who teach the classes “Professor”, but rather they refer to them as lecturers. A full course load here is six classes, which is a lot, but all of the work seems very manageable. The lecturers are all enthusiastic about their subject, and very engaging. As a philosophy and psychology double major with an emphasis on pre-law, my favorite class is definitely Philosophy of Law. It is co-taught by an Irish lecturer and an American PhD student. It is interesting to learn how the law in Ireland differs from the law in the US, and it is especially interesting to learn about the philosophical aspects behind the creation of the law. All of my other classes are equally interesting, which I am very excited about!

Although I am very interested in all of my classes, it is still a little bit of a shock to actually go to class and study! The vacation aspect of my semester has ended, and now I have to get down to work. Even though classes have begun and I am spending more time in the library than at the pub (or at least I should be!), there is still plenty of time to experience Irish culture. No matter where you go or what you do, you can’t help but be reminded that you are in Ireland. As if the accents aren’t enough, most people are very friendly and exhume a contagious positive attitude. Since UCD is a huge school, with 26,000 students (much bigger than the  student body of about 1,800 that I am used to), there are a lot of people here from all over the world. Not only am I completely immersed in Irish culture, but I am meeting people from all over the world, (Italy, Germany, China, and Spain, to name just a few). This ensuing blend of culture, language, and way of life is fascinating, and I am so blessed to be a part of it!

That’s it for now, xoxo

Maggie

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Welcome to Dublin!

Time September 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, I have officially been in Dublin for two weeks now, and every moment has been incredible! I was lucky enough to arrive a few days early with my Dad, which was a lot of fun. We ate and drank in typical Irish pubs, saw Riverdance, ate baguettes in St. Stephen’s Green, admired works in the National Gallery, strolled through Grafton Street and Temple Bar, saw the Book of Kells, and met some incredible people along the way. However, one of the highlights of the trip was touring the Guinness Storehouse, where we both enjoyed a pint in the place it was brewed.

img_0716

As hard as it was saying goodbye to my dad, it was very exciting meeting all of the people I would be studying with for the next three and a half months! Orientation began with a Viking Splash tour, which took us by all of the major sites in Dublin, including U2’s recording studio! We ended the night with dinner at a sushi restaurant and a few pints at local pubs. The following day brought me back to the Guinness Storehouse (what a shocker!). We enjoyed pints of Guinness at Gravity Bar, overlooking the whole city. The view was spectacular!

img_0728 (Tracy, Sarah, Margret, and I at Gravity Bar)

We met some amazing people during orientation, and had some incredible adventures! Ger and Suzi from IFSA butler prepared us for life in Ireland (especially the social aspect of it), the many different people we had to ask for directions were all extremely friendly (except for the man holding a map who told us never to ask a person with a map for directions), and the bartenders were all very eager to tell us which pub or club we should go to next (the consensus was Dicey’s, one of the hottest clubs in Dublin, right in the city center). The most memorable person we met, was not even a person, it was actually a horse named Charles. After leaving the Guinness factory, we decided to take a horse drawn carriage ride back to the hotel. Sitting in the open carriage with Charles clopping ahead, we rode back to St. Stephen’s Green in style.

img_0730 (Chloe, Vanessa, and I in the carriage!)

While orientation was a lot of fun, the true adventure began when we moved into our flats on campus at UCD. The biggest shock of living at UCD is the fact that we don’t have a meal plan here. That means that I have to cook every meal for myself. Which I am NOT used to. Even though I was worried about having to cook for myself, it has turned out a lot better than expected. I learned that it’s fine to eat peanut butter at every meal, that frozen pizzas are the answer for everything, and that I have to make friends who can cook. The biggest struggle with the food situation is the grocery shopping, which they just call ‘the shoppe’. People in Ireland are very conscientious of the environment, so they do not give out plastic bags. Instead, you have to buy reusable bags to use when shopping. The key is that you have to remember to bring them with you to the store, which I learned the hard way, and had to buy more!

Even though some things are very different in Ireland, the currency, their accents, and just the general way of life to name a few, I seem to be adjusting pretty well. I have learned that you should NOT go to Dicey’s on a Monday night (because it is so packed that you cannot even move), that you should go out with your friends Sunday through Tuesday nights (instead of Friday and Saturday), that you should get to know that taxi drivers (especially those who make fun of your accents because they are the funniest), that you should have a coat, sweater, and scarf with you at all times (because you never know when the weather is going to change), and that you should say “What’s the craic?” (instead of “What’s up?”). I have also learned that one of the most important things in life is to have a great group of friends!

img_0742 (Vanessa, Chloe, me, Katherine, and Tracy before a night out!)

So for now, I’ll leave you with that. I can’t wait to see what Dublin has in store for me this week!

img_0768 Slainte! (Cheers!)

xoxo,

Maggie

 

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And the countdown begins…

Time August 26th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

In exactly one week from today, I will officially begin my semester abroad! I’ve dreamed about studying abroad for as long as I can remember, but I can’t believe that it is actually happening! When I was first deciding where to study abroad, I couldn’t seem to choose. Since I go to school in upstate New York, and was filling out my applications right after a huge snowstorm, I really wanted to go some place warm, preferably somewhere with a nice beach. But then I ended up choosing Ireland. Where it rains almost everyday. Where the average temperature in the fall is 55 degrees. Where going to the beach means bundling up in a coat and scarf. So you might be wondering why I ended up choosing Ireland, of all places? Well, my name is Mary Margaret McGuire, but I go by Maggie (In other words, I’m pretty Irish). My whole family is Irish, so it seemed like the perfect chance to learn more about my heritage and culture, all while embarking on a once in a lifetime experience. Even though the weather isn’t exactly what I was looking for, I think I’ll be fine considering I’m used to three feet of snow on the ground from October to March. Since I’ve had the past five months to mentally prepare myself for going abroad, here is a list of a few of the things that I’m looking forward to!

1. Meeting new people. I love meeting new people and making new friends, but now I get to do that with people from all over the world. (Not to mention the fact that I am obsessed with Irish accents. Seriously, I could listen to them speak all day).

2. Seeing new places. I love traveling and experiencing new things! Not only am I excited to explore Dublin, but I am looking forward to traveling to different places in Europe as well. A few cities on my bucket list: Rome, Munich, London, Belfast, and Prague. But most importantly, I want to experience everything that Dublin has to offer!

3. Adventure. I’m excited for anything and everything that I will experience in Ireland. I’m excited for experiencing my first rain/wind storm that everyone talks about (Although I would be totally fine if I only had to experience ONE storm, not three and a half months of them).

4. Challenge of being in a foreign country by myself. I’m excited to live in a new place, with new people, and new experiences!

5. Drinking Guinness in a pub. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.

So stay tuned as I get ready to leave on this incredible adventure! The next time you hear from me, I’ll be in Ireland!

xoxo, Maggie

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