Experiencing Ireland with IFSA
“Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep.” –Dave Barry
One of the brilliant parts of studying abroad with IFSA-Butler has been the opportunities to see Ireland. So far we’ve had two excursions, one where we were able to explore Belfast more thoroughly, and anther were we adventured in Dublin.
For the Northern Ireland Weekend, there was a trip to see the Antrim Coast (unfortunately, I missed this portion of the trip because I had classes) and then then we had an opportunity to go on a Black Taxi Tour of Belfast. On this tour we were taken to different parts of the city to places significant to the Troubles. Our taxi driver grew up during the height of the Troubles and was able to tell us not only the history, but also his personal experiences. We saw some of the famous (or infamous) wall murals of Belfast, as well as the “Peace Wall” that separates some of the more sectarian communities. At the end of the tour we were given the opportunity to sign the Peace Wall where figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Bill Clinton have left messages encouraging peace in Northern Ireland.
The Dublin Weekend began with a train ride down to the city after classes ended on a Friday and were then given a chance to explore the nightlife of Dublin. The next morning we had tickets to ride a City Sight-Seeing Bus which allowed us to hop-on and hop-off at many major sights in Dublin. On the tour I saw classic landmarks like Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Laney–the other First Generation scholar in my group–and I went to the Jameson Distillery to take a tour and sample some of the famous Irish Whiskey. Sunday morning before we left, we went to wander around St. Stevens Gardens, a lovely part in the heart of the city, and then to the National Gallery of Ireland, where there were numerous beautiful paintings, including an early Van Gogh. The weekend ended with another train ride, though it was much quieter seeing as most of us were asleep.
There is still one IFSA Weekend to go–the “Adventure Weekend”. I can hardly wait to see what’s in store for that, though I’ve been told to expect lots of climbing, swimming, and becoming completely covered in mud…
I plan on seeing some more of Ireland on my own–as much as I can–but with IFSA I’ve gotten off to a great start!