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

First Weekend of Sightseeing: The Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher

Time September 21st, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

A group of my IFSA friends and I decided to spend last Sunday on a full day of sightseeing. A tour bus from┬áthe Galway Tour Company spent almost 12 hours driving us to the Aran Islands and then the Cliffs of Moher, giving us a break in a cute pub in a fisherman’s town called Doolin.


Our first stop was the dock where we took a 40 minute boat ride to the smallest Aran Island called Inisheer. The Aran Islands are a group of islands off the west coast of Ireland and collectively have around 1,300 inhabitants. They can only be accessed by ferry, and therefore have kept much of their original charm without as much globalization from the rest of the world (or so our tour guide said). Below you can see some photos from Inisheer, including along the shoreline and from the top of a cliff where O’Brien’s fort sits, and the beautiful view over the cliff. Unfortunately, I have to wait until I get home to put together my panoramas, so if I remember I will add those to this gallery in January!



After ┬áthis we took the ferry to the bottom of the Cliffs of Moher, known to be the most visited tourist attraction in Ireland, and rightly so! Many movie scenes have been filmed here, including one in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (you’ll know which one after seeing the photos below). It is hard to describe how awe inspiring this view was, and the photos don’t begin to capture it, but hopefully they convince you to take a trip here yourself! After sailing around the bottom of the cliffs, we had our lunch in Doolin and then drove to the top of the cliffs. Once again, I was incredulous at the views. My fellow IFSA friends and I walked the edge of the cliff for about a half hour before we begrudgingly realized we had to turn back in order to catch our bus, but I promised myself I’d be back here soon!



“There is no room for idleness.”

Time November 7th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It has been a pretty exciting week.

After a very lazy weekend and feeling like I needed to do something, since after all I do live in Ireland, one of my roommates and I decided to go on a tour of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Even though we had to get up at 8 am on a Sunday and it was freezing outside (literally, it was 32F…) and of course, its western Ireland, it was raining! Regardless, it was actually a really good tour. Dublin Tour Company has deals for students so we’re able to buy one ticket and go on tours of Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher as often as we want, which is a deal, and the tour guides are always informed and entertaining.

Picture of a fairy ring- or as historians know them: ancient rings built by people as forms of protection. They built trenches around the ring and dug into the ground for safety from enemies and wind.

A portal tomb on top of a cairn: basically an ancient/Neolithic burial ground where bodies were normally cremated and buried, although this one had partial remains found in it. You can also see the rocky landscape of the Burren surrounding the tomb.

Me, in front of the Cliffs of Moher, aka those cliffs you see in Harry Potter, The Princess Bride, and a bunch of other music videos and movies. Also known as: the most breathtaking place ever.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Then of course, there were was the US presidential election.

It was interesting viewing things from Ireland’s perspective, and Europe in general. People here love Obama. I mean LOVE. I’m used to being around politics and having involved debates over political ideals as an International Affairs major in Washington, DC, but you usually have a good mixture of opinions and a whole lot of passion when it comes to those debates. I’m not however being used to having people randomly ask me who I voted for or if I’m a Republican or Democrat as soon as they find out I’m American. Not that I mind exactly, I loved talking about politics with people who are somewhat removed from the debate (although the campaign and election were followed closely by the news here and as the US is such a big power people are invested in who wins, regardless of whether they’re US citizens or not). It was just overwhelming how much people love Obama in Europe and Ireland!

I’m taking a few political science classes at NUIG and I love them. One of them is a large lecture class on European Politics, but my professor really knows how to make things relatable to students, especially international students, and regularly brings up America as an example or as something to compare a case study. It’s kind of fascinating viewing how Europeans see us, especially since I always had this idea that Europeans thought all Americans were loud and fat and patriotic and a little stupid. Yes, they do think we’re loud (and that’s not really a stereotype because in general we actually just talk louder) and we are definitely very patriotic especially compared to many European countries, and maybe they think all of those other things but aren’t going to tell us. But they by no means hate us. They know a lot about us. They watch almost all of the same movies and television shows we watch, their news has a regular section on America, and they keep up with our current affairs much better than a lot of Americans do. If an Irish person came to America they would probably be much more culturally comfortable than any American is coming to Ireland because they just know more about us than we know about them.

In general Europeans tend to pay more attention to the political activity of other countries. This makes sense since they’re geographically close to several other nations that they constantly interact with and are part of the EU with and share currency and open borders. They also seem to know more about even South America or Eastern Europe or Asia’s political activities as well though. I’m a little biased since I’m around a lot of political science majors here, but it’s still pretty evident that most average Irish people are more internationally aware than most Americans. Maybe it’s because Ireland is a small country population and border wise and because they’re geographically and politically connected/reliant on more countries than the US is, but I wish more US citizens would take on this mindset of reading up on current affairs. It’s something I definitely plan on taking home with me and spreading!