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

Holbox Island, Home of the Whale Shark

Time September 15th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

These past four weeks in Merida have sure seemed to fly by! It is almost crazy to believe that I have already been here for a whole month! Many of my weekends are filled with planned excursions. This up coming weekend is extra long in celebration of Mexico’s independence day. I’ll elaborate more on the excursion next week when I come back.

However, last weekend we went to Holbox island off the coast of Mexico. My IFSA-Butler group and I went with other students of the Merida area on a five hour bus ride to the coast. We arrived at the coast at 7:00 A.M. to take a boat to the island. When we arrived, we went to the hotels and then split off into groups to experience the wonderful activities the island. Some students could swim with whale sharks that are native the island. Like Catalina Island, Holbox is a nature preserve. Other students went on a boat tour of three other neighboring island. Everyone else, including me, could choose to enjoy the beach and explore the many shops the little town had to offer.

holbox-scene

While I did not care for the sand roads because they were very dirty for my shoes, I loved the white sandy beach. I’m still getting used to the warmth that the Golf of Mexico has to offer because I’ve only ever swam in the freezing Great Lakes, the Pacific ocean, and the Atlantic ocean. I’m not sure if I like the warmth or if I miss cooling off during a hot day. However, the island did offer a little reprieve from the intense humidity in Merida.

The beach and the sand was definitely my favorite part of Holbox. The shoreline is very shallow for a very long time, and at night when we had our bonfire, I was able to walk out on the shallow sandy bottom because of low tide. Usually, I absolutely hate having sand stick to me, but in Holbox it was a different case. Not that it could be avoided. It was in the shower, the floor, the bed, our skin, clothes, and bags. But, the softness and pureness seemed to make up for dirty feeling I usually associate with sand after a day at the beach.

holbox-beach

Every excursion I’ve gone on has been a wonderful experience. I find myself anticipating the weekends because not only do I get to meet new people, but I also get to experience things I would never have in Ohio. Hopefully, next week I will have more to write about my experience here and more photos to share.

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The Blog Where I Try to Describe a Month’s Worth of Activities…

Time December 3rd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“Travel is at its most rewarding when it ceases to be about reaching your destination and becomes indistinguishable from living your life.”

Let me start off by apologizing for how long it has taken me to write this post. I went from having almost no homework throughout the year to having 6 essays due within 2 weeks. Not only that but I was sick for about a week and am still trying to shake it off.

So what have I been doing this past month?

I went to Dublin for a few days to show my old roommate from GW who is currently studying in Paris for the year, Casey, around. While in Dublin we went to a Bon Iver concert with a bunch of people from the Butler program, but not before yet again hitting up the Guinness Storehouse and enjoying Dublin. I finally saw the Book of Kells and the library at Trinity College. We even went on a pub crawl and got to go into the bar where they filmed Gerard Butler singing “Galway Girl” to Hilary Swank- a scene the Butler Galway Girls frequently watch while we’re here.

Bon Iver Concert at the O2 Theatre in Dublin. One of the best concerts I’ve been to and I had so much fun with Casey!

Bon Iver performance: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QGzFFMmIOo&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

Live music at the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vr1o0t9VaM&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

The next weekend was our Belfast weekend. The Butler staff picked us up Thursday and we drove to Belfast and enjoyed a free dinner. The next day we visited the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, a rope bridge that leads you to a small island on the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. It was pretty rainy and cloudy that day so we weren’t able to see the coast of Scotland but it was breathtaking nonetheless.

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, even with my fear of heights I managed to not just walk across this but jump up and down and scare some of the people around me. The island was scarier to be on since people kept slipping and falling from the mud!

Rocks at the Giant’s Causeway…either formed by cooling of volcanic rock, or the broken remains of a bridge built by the giant Finn McCool who just wanted a friend.

Do you see the top of that cliff all the way over there on the other side of this second Giant’s Causeway inlet? Yes, well I climbed up the side of the mountain (ok there was a path) and walked all the way to the tip of that cliff. Yea, I know.

And this is where we climbed to. It basically felt like being on the edge of the world.

A view of the Giant’s Causeway: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWyWaMtSaCs&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

On Saturday we took a Black Taxi tour and learned about the Troubles. We visited Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, learned about the history of the area, and signed our names on the Peace Wall. Asking our driver about his experiences during that time and hearing about how he and his brothers used to be routinely dragged out of their house for questioning by the police, and hearing how he had seen a friend of his killed in front of him is something that I will never forget.

Learning about the Peace Wall and when it will come down, which according to our guide probably won’t happen in the near future since the people want it there.

Later that afternoon we went to the Titanic Museum and learned all about how shipbuilding and other modern industries affected Belfast, as well as everything you could possibly want to know about Titanic (the ship and the movie).

Some of the Galway Girls in front of the Titanic Museum in the Belfast Harbour near the shipyards.

That night the Belfast Christmas Market opened and the Christmas lights turned on. Although we weren’t able to get tickets at such late notice to the  Lighting Ceremony, we did get to enjoy the Market.

Belfast Christmas Market: where kangaroo is a delicacy, obviously.

Beautiful Belfast.

As much fun as Belfast was, I was pretty sure that I got the flu while I was there because upon returning, even though it was our last week of class, I struggled to do anything besides sleep and take hefty amounts of Sudafed.

By the time I got around to feeling any amount of better I had so much work to do- and it was Thanksgiving! My apartment cleaned and cooked all day and borrowed tables from the nearby hotel in order to host Thanksgiving at our place. Everyone showed up with their favorite family dish (or if they couldn’t cook- some wine, store bought food, or plastic utensils). Even though a lot of us were feeling homesick after seeing all of our friends and family talk about the fun they were having at home, it was a successful night. We feasted and all said how thankful we were that our families supported us enough to let us have the best semester of our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving! Half of our food (yes there’s much more) laid out under our very creative sign.

Me and my fresh out of the oven apple pies! Not as good as at home and definitely not pumpkin but still delicious.

Everyone enjoying our delicious Thanksgiving feast.

After this I had a few hours of rest before I hopped on a bus to the Dublin airport and flew to Germany to visit my cousins and have a second round of Thanksgiving feasting. It was nice to see some family especially since Thanksgiving seemed to wipe my immune system and make me sick yet again, on top of the twinge of homesickness I was still feeling. Plus my cousins had brought over the coveted pumpkin (which we could find NOWHERE in Galway, and pumpkin pie is my all-time favorite food), along with other American delicacies to enjoy (and by delicacies I mean Velveeta, Chili mix, cornbread and pumpkin).

Since I returned from Germany it has been nonstop work. All of the essays are due around the same time and I leave for my last trip, a 6 day adventure to London, in just 3 days.

It’s been a hard week all around. Realizing that I have a dozen days left and half of those will actually be in Galway is hard to accept. It seems like yesterday that I arrived in Europe, excited and anxious for what the semester would bring. This semester has been so amazing and rewarding; it felt like it could never end. But the first of our group has left to return to America today, and I feel like there is so much I have yet to do or experience and that these 4 months were nowhere near enough time.  I’m so excited to see my family and friends in less than two weeks, and the fact that I have my 21st birthday, Christmas, New Years, and spring semester to look forward to is comforting. But I am not even close to being ready to say goodbye to my Galway home.

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