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

The Nicest People in the World

Time April 14th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

I’ve mentioned before, I did very little research before deciding to study at University College Cork. I didn’t have a ton of options for schools that met my engineering course requirements; I knew I wanted to study in Europe. And I was adamant that, whichever country I ended up in, the citizens of that country spoke English.

People encouraged me to drop this restriction; it cut out France, Spain, Germany, Italy– so many countries in Europe do not first and foremost speak English, and what if I was missing out on a crucial experience by going somewhere that did? Read More »

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This Can’t Be Real

Time January 20th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

I think I attend the most unreal school in the world.

Coming from an 800-person, STEM liberal arts college, I would think it’d be hard to find a less real-seeming school. But I found it in University of College Cork (or Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh in Irish, which I’ve learned is also an unreal language).

On my first day, after crossing the River Lee twice to arrive on campus, I was directed to the “Hogwarts Building.” So named because, sure enough, this building could have materialized straight out of a J.K. Rowling novel.

And sure enough, UCC has a flourishing Harry Potter Society, in addition to fashion, drama, musical, music, fermentation and about 100 other clubs and societies (the ones listed got my enthusiastic approval and signup). I found it very interesting that every society advertising itself had a bin full of gummy candies to entice passerbys. Every single one. Gummy candies must be like mints in the United States? Investigation pending. Also, Fermentation Society? A society dedicated to cheese, bread, wine, and all things fermented? How can you not sign up for a society like that?

As it turns out, the creative societies throw a ball at the beginning of this semester. Not a dance, a BALL. With an ORCHESTRA and BALLROOM DANCING and LONG DRESSES. I approached the ticket booth and asked if I would need to know how to ballroom dance to attend the event. One of the people behind the counter hopped up and cued music, “I’ll teach you how to ballroom dance, right here, right now!” And he did. In the middle of the academic basement.

I’m telling you, this school can’t be real.

In fact, this whole city can’t be real.

As someone hailing from both Northern and Southern California, I don’t see many bodies of water that aren’t the ocean. The fact that the city center of Cork is surrounded by two substantial rivers still blows me away. The buildings and bridges are straight out of fairy tales, and all Cork residents seem to accept this otherworldliness as the norm.

And they’re the friendliest people on Earth! Always eager to answer questions, lead to destinations, recommend the best pubs, give the in on the live music around town. Cork is an easy city to navigate, not because of the winding streets and alleyways, but because of the walking friendly roadmaps that every citizen seems to be.

I’m busy planning trips across both Ireland and Europe: Kilkee, Ireland, a busy summer location but absolutely empty in the summer; London, England, where a friend of mine is studying at QMU; Glasgow, Scotland, for the beautiful hills and social atmosphere; Paris, France, for wine- and cheese-tasting; Venice, Italy, for the food and the beautiful canals; Zurich, Switzerland for the landscapes and castles; and anywhere else that is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. This continent is so dense with culture, and the close proximities of other countries makes it easy to see it all.

Next post will be about my trips to Kilkee and the Ring of Kerry, so stay tuned!

 

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Last Big Trip for Awhile — London and Brighton, UK

Time November 4th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

Ok, so this will be my last jetsetting-across-Europe post for awhile (I’m exhausted and getting a bit tired of my weekly trip to the Dublin Airport). But what a weekend to end on! I got to London very early  in the morning on Friday and met up with a friend of mine who is studying there at Royal Halloway (not sure if that’s spelled correctly). She showed me some of the big sights of London, including Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, before bringing us to a really cool tea house called Sketch (definitely recommended! See the picture below of a room that looks like it’s full of giant eggs, that’s the bathroom). But the main part of my trip was visiting some family friends about an hour outside of London, or rather about 15 minutes from another big British city: Brighton. After getting my first good night’s sleep in weeks, we took a beautiful walk through the South Downs, a preserved area near where they live. I was able to get some great shots of the British countryside (as well as some of my new best friend, Otis the Water Dog!) Later that day we took the train to Brighton, which sits right along the English channel. Brighton is known for its artists and its proximity to the beach, so we made sure to see both before the sun went down. You can see some graffiti and some shots of the pier/beach below. All in all it was great to see my family friends, as well as see such a cool and different city in Europe.

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Copenhagen!

Time October 28th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

Another weekend, another trip to a new country! I met up with my two best friends from the US who are studying abroad and we spent the weekend in Copenhagen, and I have to say it was probably my favorite weekend trip so far. We quickly figured out the metro system and the first day visited Freetown Christiania, a subsection of the city known to be full of artists and have independent laws from the rest of Denmark. You can see some photos of the area, plus the arch that specifically denotes entry to the neighborhood.

 

Next, we climbed to the top of the Our Savior Church (the black, spiral tower) where we got an amazing view of the city. We then walked to the edge of the city to find the famous mermaid statue along the water.

The last thing we wanted to make sure to do that first day was go to Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. It was decorated for Halloween and there was even a small parade!

The next morning, we insisted on finding Danish danishes for breakfast, and they didn’t disappoint! Last but not least, we took a canal tour of the city, where a tour guide pointed out many of the city’s landmarks, and we also got a chance to see a well known area in Copenhagen called Nyhavn. This is the area along the canal with the colorful houses, which looked so beautiful on such a sunny day!

I’m so glad I’ve been able to travel around Europe a lot while studying abroad in Galway. Once November rolls around I won’t be doing much travelling, but then I’ll be able to do some more exploring of Ireland!

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