Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Roaming the Countryside!

While I know that it’s exciting to use Ireland as a springboard to other locations in Europe for exotic weekend getaways,  I think there’s also a lot to appreciate about the island I’m currently calling home.

One of the great things about going to a big school like UCD is that you’re inundated by a lot of information; through various societies I’ve found out about sponsored trips that can take you almost anywhere you could want to go or major events.

For instance, one of my favorite memories of my time here was participating in Culture Night. Culture Night is an island-wide celebration of what makes Ireland Irish—I went to events that were held by the Parliament building, Dublin Castle and Christ Church and had an amazing time with friends watching musical performance and watching some historical cartoons. This year, being the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, means that the streets are awash in reminders of independence, adding an extra layer when reflecting upon the past.

Later on, I went on a trip with my friends to Howth, and it was really peaceful and lovely in that “small coastal town” way. We talked to cliff divers who told us the proper ways and times to jump off some of the small cliffs that jutted around the harbor (though I’d still be way too terrified), and found a secret overgrown garden whilst hiking. I always find that I’m most reminded to slow things down and appreciate life for what it is in the moment half way through a hike—something about the tangible mix of landscape and serenity that can be so hard to find.

The next trip was inspired by my suitemate saying, “You haven’t been to Ireland if you haven’t taken a picture at the Cliffs of Moher”. (Not really, but that quote did push me over the edge). The trick with the Cliffs of Moher is to go when there’s no rain and minimal wind so that you feel safe going beyond the protective area! That’s where the best views are, and not so coincidentally, the best pictures that you can use for Facebook. (Though I promise the Cliffs will still be stunning even on a drizzly day). For another fun fact about the cliffs, that I didn’t know until AFTER I went, that the Princess Bride movie filmed on location to create the mythos of the infamous Cliffs of Insanity. So not only are they a national landmark, but an excuse to rewatch a hilarious movie with newfound appreciation. (http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/about-the-cliffs/moher-at-the-movies/)

There’s also a sense of perspective that goes into enjoying these trips. Growing up in Arizona, any road trip I was on of consisted of brown and yellows, lifeless desert for as far as the eye can see. Because of that, I’m always appreciative of the startling hues of green within the Irish landscape, the ocean in the distance, and the astonishing amount of animals you see grazing.  I’m pretty sure there’s a new bunch of cows grazing ever kilometer, but it’s just another reminder of how grateful I am to get to be here! Check out my gallery pictures to see what I mean :)

Rachel

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