Lisa goes to Ireland: Week 12

This last weekend I went to Edinburgh, Scotland and I’m so glad that I did. It was the more beautiful country I’ve visited since being here, though no one could have prepared me for how cold it was. It even started to snow  

The city was small, but gorgeous. It was also freezing! I thought Ireland was cold, but coming back to Ireland from Scotland felt like summer-I was ready to put my flip-flops on! I don’t feel like I saw a lot of Scotland, it was more of a realizing trip than anything. I spent both my days there going into the city walking along the streets, and soaking up the beautiful architecture. There was also an adorable Christmas market going on with ice-skating, street food, and vendors/booths. It was magical experience.  On our first morning there my friends and I tried haggis for the first time…NEVER AGAIN. It was awful, but a good experience for sure. We also met two guys one from Portland and one from Salem. I’ve been in Europe for 3 months and aside from one other girl studying at DCU from Western, I haven’t met anyone from Oregon let alone the small city of Salem! It was nice to talk to people from my state.. I didn’t realize just how much I missed Oregon until then. 

I feel like I’ve emotionally checked out a little bit since I’ve been here. There’s so much going on back home. I have an apartment, two cats, a job, and a boyfriend that I’m just really ready to get back to. Though I certainly will miss this beautiful place. After visiting Scotland, I’m seriously regretting my decision to not study there.. Seriously, if anyone gets the chance to visit GO! It was a great experience. 

In other news, there’s a student from Western who I connected with who’s studying in London and she’s coming to visit next week. I’m excited to connect with someone back home and share with her some of the great things about Ireland. 

I’m not so much looking forward to going back to school back home. I registered for classes coming in at 20 credits and I’m dreading it. Classes here are very easy. There’s no continuous assessment. You’re given one or two projects at the beginning of the term that will account for your entire grade and you then have all term to work on it. In other words, I never have to go to class. Unfortunately, that’s not how classes work back home and I actually have to attend them. I’m a little bit nervous just because of how relaxed I’ve gotten when it comes to my studies and I wont be able to “slack off” as much as I can here.

That’s all for now. Here are a few pictures of my trip.


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Week 9 perhaps? – Classes, Dublin, and an Hour Glass quickly running out of sand

It’s mid November and I’ve been too afraid to count how many days I have left in this lovely country, but I’m growing more aware of my time left (four weeks, I just checked). School is getting more demanding now and all my class projects are in full swing and all due at the same time. I’m becoming more worried about having regrets when I get home about things I wanted to do here and didn’t. While I’m becoming more busy the weather is getting colder, the days shorter, and my money tighter. Things are pretty against me getting out and seeing more of Dublin and the country. Despite that, I still have one more program excursion to look forward to (they’ve been a great benefit of CIS abroad just like Lisa mentioned recently) and this weekend I have a very good friend coming to visit from home for several days, and we’re going to adventure! Four weeks is still a lot, and I can and plan to do a lot with it.
I haven’t been homesick much here which has been so nice, but I’m wondering how much of it has been because I’m comfortable here, and how much because I’m here with someone I’m comfortable with. Either way, it’s been a blessing. Studying abroad has given me the chance to grow in completely new and unexpected ways, some of which I don’t expect to fully realize till after I’ve been back home for a while. But I’ve also noticed myself growing in smaller ways, toward things I’ve been aiming toward for some time now but was not able to reach at home, where I was beginning to feel a bit stuck. I needed a catalyst to move forward and studying abroad was it for me. I’m already starting to look at things back home in a new light, appreciating things and people more and becoming more hopeful and excited for things I wasn’t before. I’m really excited for the chance to reflect more over the break on my experience here.
I don’t have much else to say now, not much has been going on besides school and the occasional excursion into the city center, but I have a few photos to share from the last few weeks from the Jameson tour, holiday lights, and other random things. Enjoy!

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Lisa goes to Ireland: week 11

Sick in a foreign country alone… Not exactly something I ever prepared myself to experience, nor did I want to.

About a month I started to have severe eye pain  and blurriness of vision, so I called my doctor back home and scheduled an appointment for when I got back, thinking that I would be fine until then. The pain continued to increase so I finally made an appointment with a general practioner here in Limerick. That was scary in itself, as I’m a skeptic when it comes to most doctors that aren’t my own. After seeing the GP she said I needed to go to the emergency room immediately. I begged and pleaded with her, hoping there would be some other way to get this resolved, but there wasn’t so I took her advice. The hospital is pretty far from the city centre where I normally go, so I called for a taxi and headed off into the unknown. 

I walked into the emergency room and I can’t think of a time where I was more scared. I was in a foreign country, I didn’t have my mum, and I was about to get medical attention from a doctor that I wasn’t familiar with. I waited in the emergency room for five hours before they finally called me back. Luckily, I met this darling old couple who stayed with me the entire time. It was comforting to have someone there to “look after me” so to speak. After seeing the doctor who performed an eye exam, he told me I was fine but that I needed to see an optometrist. I figured I would just suffer through the pain for another few weeks and would deal with it when I got home. It had just been too long of day. I headed back to to my apartment and wasn’t planning on stopping anywhere, however I knew that I had a sinus infection and should probably stop at the pharmacy. Reluctantly, I stopped at the pharmacy and much to my surprise, there was an optometrist… they closed in 15 minutes but were willing to see me anyone. Within 15 minutes I was in and out of there with a diagnosis and a pair of glasses and what a relief it was!

I’ve since been in bed since, as I have a terrible sinus infection/ flu. Being sick has certainly made me more homesick though. It’s tough being alone in a foreign country without anyone to take care of you when you’re sick.

If there’s one thing this experience has taught me though, it’s that I am capable of doing far more than I think I can. I live alone back home so I’m already use to doing things on my own, but it’s different because when I get sick, or when something goes wrong, I know that my family and boyfriend are but an hour away. It was scary in that the only person I could rely on getting me better was myself. It was a good experience in that I learned I am very capable of taking care of myself, even when I have no one else to fall back on. 

I’m off to Edinburgh, Scotland this weekend and I could not be more excited. Until then, I will be in bed.


Dublin, Ireland week 7 – Hard times traveling the UK

(I’ve had problems with photos and uploading so this sounds outdated, I wrote it Nov. 6 – sorry)

We’re in the middle of reading week, a class-free midterm break, and it’s been off to a very interesting start. Nathaniel and I traveled to Scotland and London, which was really exciting, but we cut our week long trip by four days after we learned some things about international travel. Personally, I learned that I have too organized a personality to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, my stress levels are high when traveling and it doesn’t take much to throw me off balance, and that, because I’m new to traveling sort of alone and to international travel entirely, it’s okay for me to have not learned all the important things about both overnight, as I must have expected I had after living in Dublin for a month.
We talked about traveling Europe during our free reading week for awhile, but only just decided on a schedule last week. Then we didn’t get anything booked till Halloween, and at that point I knew I was going to regret something, if nothing else but that I was only going to get four hours of sleep that night because of our Halloween celebrating and early morning flight. I did later regret not planning this trip weeks before. Through the course of our three day trip and our one day of prebooking, we made four calls to the bank because of a declined card, accidentally bought two sets of tickets for the same flight, had a night train (with beds) cancelled and instead had to take an overnight, nine hour bus ride to London (no beds), got moderately harassed by a crazed, flower-wielding Londoner, missed a bus, missed a plane, and paid probably over three hundred pounds more than necessary and still didn’t make it to Paris and Italy as we originally planned. But that was just the bad stuff. I learned some other things too.
I learned that Scotland is beautiful, and there is a lot of it to explore. We decided to do one of those day tour buses, which I have mixed feelings about because I despise the idea of “photo stops” which feel like the epitome of tourism, but at the same time, I love being able to see so much of a place in just a day. We saw several castles, of which there are 70 in Scotland, and got to explore Doune castle where they filmed some of Monty Python’s Holy Grail. I really enjoyed being able to openly explore that castle and have the audio guide to get more information where I wanted. I tried to imagine living in that castle, sleeping in those cold stone rooms and navigating the narrow spiral staircase in a big dress, being short enough to comfortably fit though the small doorways, and looking out at the gorgeous fall scenery. Two of my other favorite places in Scotland were these two small towns on lochs (lakes) called Inverary and Luss. Both were neat, quiet, and beautifully serene. I would love to stay at either on holiday, twenty minutes at each was not nearly enough.

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London, I learned, does not quite meet the idolized standard everyone seems to hold it to in America. Like Paris or Rome it is endlessly romanticized, and so especially after getting there from our nine hour bus ride, it would have taken a lot to meet or exceed my expectations. It wasn’t bad though, and I’d certainly give it another chance to go see more that may interest and impress me. While there we saw two excellent plays, Photograph 51 with Nicole Kidman, and The Woman in Black. Not only were they both excellent shows but they were very reasonably priced. After Photograph 51 we talked with a writer from the New York Times looking for Americans to get insight into differences between European and American theatre. He might use some of our conversation for his travel section article in mid-December, so that was fun. We saw some of the sights in London, the London eye and Big Ben, and those were neat, and found a beautiful park and went to the Natural History Museum. The museum, which was huge and really interesting and where I got to see dinosaur fossils for the first time, was free, and we thought that was wonderful. Museums have always seemed like such a strange thing to pay admission for, and I wonder if that’s just a common American practice.
So, we cut our trip short and headed back to Dublin to relax and watch a lot of the X-files before getting ready for our program trip to Belfast this Friday. Even though we don’t get to go to France and Italy, at least we’re getting to see more of Ireland just like we wanted, and thank goodness this trip is already planned and paid for. Traveling is exhausting.

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Week 9: Lisa goes to Ireland

How is it possible that it’s already week nine and my time here is almost over? It seems like it just began. I apologize that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve last written, some weeks there just not much to report on.

When I made the decision to study abroad, I was prepared to just stay in Ireland. I didn’t have any expectations of visiting other countries, that way I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t. I wanted to fully submerge myself in Ireland and soak up every piece of it before I even began to think about traveling. However, I did take a trip to London this last weekend and it was phenomenal. On the first day in London my friends and I saw all of the touristy things such as Big Ben, London Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and Buckingham’s Palace. The second day my dream came true and I saw the performance of The Lion King at the famous Lyceum Theater in London. I could have died that day and been a happy woman. Later that evening we met up with my friend’s cousin who lives there and he showed us some of the less touristy parts of London. It was a great experience to see the best of both worlds. We were there for two full days and I really feel like we covered a vast majority of London. Standing in front of these famous places didn’t seem real. I’d spent so much of my life seeing these monuments on television, hearing, and reading about them that to finally see them in person was surreal. There’s so few words to describe what it was like to see those monuments, the only thing I can say is that it really did not feel real: it was phenomenal.

The two things that took some adjusting two in London was the transportation and currency. I’ve almost mastered the bus schedule within Ireland, however public transit in London is a completely different story. They have trains, the tube, busses, etc. It was a chaotic mess. I’m thankful to have been with friends who have traveled internationally before and actually understood how it worked. The currency was also a bit of an adjustment. I’d finally gotten use to  Euros when all of a sudden I had to switch over to pounds. The exchange fluctuated between 1.5 and 1.9 during my time there, which made everything so expensive.  All in all though, it was an incredible trip!

When I left to study abroad I left my boyfriend behind. Because of that, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time counting down the days until I’m reunited with him. I think that I’ve been very preoccupied with the idea of coming home, that I missed out on otherwise fun opportunities. I’m thankful for great man who I have in my life, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder how different this experience would have been if I didn’t have one-if I wasn’t so focused on coming home.

I’ve had incredible adventures and opportunities while I’ve been here, but looking back on the last 9 weeks, I don’t think I’ve taken as full advantage of the experience as I necessarily “should” have.

On a less depressing note, I have not managed to get sick while I’ve been here which is an absolute first, seeing a last year along I had the flu 3 times. It also hasn’t rained NEARLY as much as I expected, in fact, it’s been clear skies almost every day. My red rain boots won’t be coming into use after all. I also booked a trip to Scotland AND I changed my plane ticket to come home a week earlier as I’ll be done with finals. Two things I’m very excited about.

Here are a few pictures of my trip to London

Buckingham's Palace

Buckingham’s Palace

I'm probably the only person who thinks this, but I aboslutely hate hostles. Instead we used Air bnb and got this adorable little room. For three nights it was only 64$ for each of is.

I’m probably the only person who thinks this, but I absolutely hate hostels. Instead we used Air bnb and got this adorable little room. For three nights it was only 64$ for each of is.


Buckingham's Palace

Buckingham’s Palace

Big Ben

Big Ben

London Tower Bridge

London Tower Bridge


As mentioned earlier, trying to understand the tube was aboslutely chaotic. I think I'll stick to my car.

As mentioned earlier, trying to understand the tube was absolutely chaotic. I think I’ll stick to my car.

Lyceum theater where I saw the performance of The Lion King

Lyceum theater where I saw the performance of The Lion King

If there was one thing I was missing more than Starbucks and my boyfriend was Chipotle. I made it my mission the moment I stepped off the plane to find one AND I DID! It was the best 17$ burrito I've ever had.

If there was one thing I was missing more than Starbucks and my boyfriend was Chipotle. I made it my mission the moment I stepped off the plane to find one AND I DID! It was the best 17$ burrito I’ve ever had.

Dublin, Ireland Week 4 – Classes and adventures

I haven’t talked much about classes here, so I thought I should. I’m a communications major at WOU, and here at DCU I’m taking Press & Public Relations, Issues in Multiculturalism, New Media & Society, and Ireland Sex & Text, which are all working great toward my com/social science degree. I’m enjoying the content of all my classes, so that’s going really well. Classes are less often than at WOU, many are a single two hour session per week, and they all have less assignments throughout the term, usually just one final project, essay, or exam at the end of the term. This seems to give students less incentive for attending class, or, more incentive for grudgingly attending class, and then talking, texting, arriving late and leaving early, and sighing loudly and disapprovingly throughout. Lectures are fairly normal, always led by powerpoint, and involve group work and class discussion (though much less discussion than at WOU). Overall, classes have been easier and allowed me more free time than any I’ve taken since freshmen year, and this is both wonderful and dangerous. I’m struggling to make sure I don’t fall behind with the work I do have, and to not overbook myself later in the term when I have much more work to do in all my classes. Something each of my classes have done is teach me, indirectly, more about Ireland, about its current political and social issues, its organizations, and its role and position within Europe and the larger world, among other things. At the same time it’s brought attention, sometimes directly to issues, similarities and differences with the U.S., and has at times made me feel a bit ashamed to come from the U.S. This was a surprise, because in the U.S., we tend to think we’re pretty great, but because of where I am and why I’m here, and because of recent news and the ongoing presidential campaign, more attention has been brought to the fact that that just isn’t true. The realization of the sheer number and magnitude of educational, social, and political issues faced in the U.S. today was first brought to my attention when I began community college four years ago. In the last few weeks I’ve been given a new perspective on it all, and more importantly something to compare the U.S. situation to. I don’t want to get into it too much, that’s not what I intended my blog to become and it’s a bit depressing besides, but I needed to bring attention to it. I think this national reflection, if that’s what you want to call it, is one of the most important and impactful outcomes of my sojourn so far.
So, anyway, about my fourth week here in Dublin. I went on a few adventures during the week, small and large, and I’d like to talk about those.

First we went to one of the many Dublin parks, St. Stephens Green, and had ourselves an unexpected pigeon adventure! We walked by a man feeding dozens of pigeons on a bench and when I stopped just to take a picture he told me to come over. I said no because they kind of freaked me out, but I felt myself walking over at the same time because I told myself before coming here to do things I normally wouldn’t. He showed me how to hold my hand out and gave me some bird seed, then all of the sudden pigeons starting landing on my arms and eating from my hand. It was so weird. I had the phone in my hand and thought “Take pictures! Take Pictures! There are birds all over you!” and I watched as they flew on to Nathaniel too, and I felt them pinching my hand as they grabbed some seed, and one tried to land on my scarf, and I tried to pay attention as Daniel (the pigeon man) told us about the pigeons and how he nursed many of them back to health. The whole thing was very surreal and ended all at once as the several dozen birds, including the ones still on my arm, flew off in a loud and beautiful flurry that blew my hair back and made me literally gasp. Daniel said they warn each other and flock like that when they see a falcon around. The whole thing was strange and fun and taught me to be more okay with making unexpected decisions. I loved it, and the park by the way, was beautiful.

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The following day, I got lost. We had tickets to see a play, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Nathaniel was out of town late for a class trip. He got dropped off at the city centre and I had to get there by myself, which I hadn’t done before. I should have just taken a taxi right to the theatre since it was getting late, but I wanted to save some money so I decided to take the bus instead. I don’t have a smart phone and the Dublin bus app though, and I forgot which bus number to take. I tried to call and text Nathaniel but my phone ran out of minutes right then, figures. So I walked to the bus stop and guessed which number and got on the right one. I was already worried about time, the show was at 7:30pm and it was a quarter after when we got into the city centre, and I still had to walk from my bus stop. I got off at the wrong stop, as far as I could tell, but close enough to my marker, Trinity college, and I thought I should be able to find my way to the theatre on Grafton street if I’m quick. But I walked down the wrong road, still in the right general direction, but I didn’t exactly know what I was doing and it had just gotten dark which complicated the issue. I saw some signs toward the pigeon park and knew I could get where I needed to go if I just got to the park. So I kept walking down small busy streets I’d never been on, walking in no particular pattern, so that I was definitely going in circles, and walking past dozens of people all of whom I thought I should ask directions, but I think I must be close, and they look busy and I don’t want to ask, etc. I stopped on one corner and rubbed my head, sure I wouldn’t make it, and an elderly man asked if I had a head ache, and said to leave the suffering to the saints, so I told him I would and kept moving. After another circle around a block, at least I think it was a circle, I stopped in a small clothes store that was still open and asked where Grafton street was. To my surprise, she said turn right outside and walk all the way down, that’s Grafton. I was close, somehow. So I walked as fast as I could down that street and then on Grafton, shooting past people and trying not to trip and fall, and I noticed it was 7:29pm, no way I’ll make it now. But I turned the corner toward the theatre and saw Nathaniel who caught my eye and then ran toward the still open doors where other people were filtering in for last call. We made it. I was exhausted and frustrated with myself, but luckily the play was fantastic and did a perfect job of distracting me. From this fun little escapade alone in the city, I learned to trust my instincts more (after all I had the right sense of direction), especially if it means doing something I don’t want to like asking for directions, because it’ll make my life a lot easier. Also, I’m getting a paper map to carry with me before I go out alone again.
That weekend, we went on another adventure to Northern Ireland all on our own. Planning this fairly simple trip was surprisingly complicated, and took me two weeks to finally do and our originally two night trip turned into one night and a lot of travel time. We wanted to go to Giant’s Causeway on the coast, a beautiful and popular area I had heard about before. Nathaniel knew nothing about it so I was really excited to show him. So Saturday morning we caught a bus to the airport where we (after a lot of searching and running) found our booked bus to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. After a two hour drive we had just enough time to catch a train from Belfast to Coleraine. So far we were doing great, it was only 11am and we didn’t need to be at our hostel by the causeway till 4pm, so we should have plenty of time for exploring. But, once we got to the small town of Coleraine we were slightly disappointed to find that, because the season was over, bus ran infrequently to Bushmills and the causeway, and the next bus that day was at 3:45. So, we waited. We ate at a cafe in town, and walked all over and asked three different people in town where we could find an atm. We finally got to one and took out pounds, because we were now in the U.K. I thought euros were interesting, pounds are even cooler. They have many interesting people, the bills are nice colors, and the coins are so many different shapes and sizes. American money is going to seem so boring to me now. Eventually we caught the bus to the even smaller coastal town of Bushmills. Now, we still had to get to our hostel and weren’t sure how, but with the help of some nice locals, we got a taxi in twenty minutes and arrived at Finn McCool’s hostel, recommended to us by our program coordinator. It was now 5pm and we had just enough daylight to go explore the beach. There were still other late tourists out walking the trail down to the grassy hills and beach below where they gazed and awed and snapped photos, and we joined them. It was still pretty warm out, and the tide had come in around the big boulders where waves crashed. It was lovely. We stopped at a sandy area for awhile, Nathaniel drew a picture of the beach in his little notebook that goes everywhere he does, and I took some pictures and sat and looked around, listening to the ocean and the conversation in different languages as people walked past on the path. We didn’t get to the famous hexagon-shaped rocks of the giant’s causeway because the sun set, it started to get cold, and we headed back up the trail to The Nook restaurant that promised hot food, just halfway between the trail and our hostel. It was delicious and there was a cozy fireplace, a great end to our long day. The next morning after breakfast in the hostel, we headed back down the trail and just a little farther till we got to the great, geologically-puzzling rocks. They were so impressive in person. We wandered around, amazed, and wondered at how the rocks were formed, how long ago, how many more are hidden in the cliffs or washed away by the sea, and how they will one day be gone long from now. We realized to our amazement, that we were in view of the rocks the night before, and had no idea. They are entirely different from a distance. So, we spent a few more hours there and finally headed back up to The Nook for lunch, and got ready to catch the bus and start the long and tiring journey back home. We left Bushmills at 4:30pm, and eventually arrived in Dublin at 12:30am. Even though it was complicated and short and stressed me out, I was so glad we went on this little trip on our own. It showed me that we were capable of traveling without someone holding our hand, and I think the next trip we plan will be easier. I was also just so happy to see more of the country and experience how close so many lovely and interesting things are in Ireland. I can’t wait to see more. At the same time, I’m getting more of an urge to explore home when I get back. I love Oregon, it is such a gorgeous state and I live so close to so many great places that I’ve never explored. This is helping show me that I can go explore them more easily and cheaper than I thought before.

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Lisa Goes to Ireland: Week 7

Week seven has come to a close and I’m already embarking on week eight. It’s hard to imagine that this journey is already half way through when really, I feel like I’m just beginning.

When I made the decision to study abroad I wasn’t prepared for how much this experience would change me. As mentioned in a few of my other posts, I had this ideology in my head of what studying abroad would like , and so far, It’s been nothing like I could have imagined. Studying in in Ireland has been a beautiful experience, but it’s not all roses and daisies like I expected it to be. Some days are really hard, I get home sick and begin to regret my decision to come here.  Some days are very exciting-I do exploring and learn more about this gorgeous country, and other days are just normal, where I watch Netflix and burry my head in homework. I also feel like I’ve learned so much about who I am through this process. I’m in a foreign country, alone and it’s kind of bad-ass. I’ve learned how to live a much simpler lifestyle, to be far more appreciative of things I have back home. I’ve learned that doing things on my own is not as scary as I thought and that traveling alone is extremely fun. I think I was very narrow minded in how I thought this experience would be, so to discover it’s nothing as I imagined was a beautiful and eye-opening realization to come to.

I’ve very much enjoyed reading through the blog posts of other students on here. It’s nice to see that I’m not alone in my experiences and that other people share in the similar things I’ve faced. It’s also been a great source to connect to people who understand what I’m going through this process. In fact, I connected with a girl from WOU who’s studying in London and we’re meeting up this weekend! I couldn’t be more excited!

This last weekend I had the chance to visit Dublin. I spent much of my time going back with Sarah before I left for Ireland trying to decide if I should go to Dublin or Limerick and after having the chance to visit Dublin this weekend, I’m SO glad I chose Limerick. Dublin is a gorgeous city, but it’s huge.  It didn’t have the “Irish-feel” I would have expected. Even while I’m Ireland I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if I should have studies in Dublin instead {I play a lot of ‘what iffs’ but visiting Dublin solidified how happy I am with my decision to be living in Limerick. Don’t get me wrong through, Dublin was a blast!

Limerick is fairly small and in the countryside, it has mountains and lush greenery everywhere you look. Dublin city is just much larger. Though they have far more shops and stores that Limerick does. They also have Starbucks and after going nearly two months without it, I was in Heaven! I had the chance to see a lot of iconic and quasi-touristy places while I was in Dublin too. I saw the Book of Kells, Trinity College, and The Guinness Factory. When my made the decision to study abroad I didn’t have my hopes up to visit many other countries in Europe because I wanted to be present in Ireland. I wanted to learn, visit, and see Ireland. Though I am traveling during my time here, I do feel that I’ve gotten very acquainted with Ireland and have seen much of what it has to offer.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be traveling to London, Belfast, which is in Northern Ireland and Scotland. I absolutely LOVE that that program I’m studying abroad through has trips included in the program. It’s a great way to see Ireland when I may not have otherwise had the opportunity.


Lisa goes to Ireland: Week 6

It’s hard to think that week five have already passed me by, and I’m embarking on week six. My journey is almost half way over and yet I feel like I’m just beginning. I had this ideology in my head of what studying abroad would look like and if I’ve learned anything over the last few weeks, it’s that things aren’t always how they appear.  Although I’m an introvert who doesn’t drink, I imagined that would suddenly change while I was here. That would suddenly go out to parties all the time, meet new people constantly, drink in bars till all hours of the night and that regardless of what I was doing, it would always be an adventure. That too is not the case. Studying abroad has been a beautiful experience, I’ve met new people, I’ve had adventures, but I’ve also spent quality time inside, with my self. I haven’t drank or gone to bars that many times while I’ve been here, and though that was how I imagined it to be, I’m okay that it’s not.

The last few weeks have been stressful, hence my lack of writing on my blog. I’ve more or less quit my job back home, have been applying relentlessly for new ones, while also trying to find a new place to live (bless my sister’s heart who has taken the reigns on finding me a place to live and moving me in while I’m gone). I was also offered a job, but because I’m in Ireland I had to decline. I’ve felt as though my life was passing me by in Oregon, and here I am in Ireland unable to do anything about it. I almost began to regret traveling abroad. I’d see pictures of my friends back home and I so desperately wished I was with them. It was as though I was trying so hard to live my life as if I was back in the states, that I forgot about the life I have here in Ireland and the incredible opportunity I have to be studying over here. A friend of mine has a tattoo that says, “breath in the moment”. I use to mock him relentlessly for it, but now I finally understand the meaning behind it. It’s the idea of being present wherever you are,to soak in and appreciate the here and now.  Since coming to that realization, my outlook on this experience has certainly changed.

This last week I decided to take full advantage of being in Ireland. My roommate and I visited the sweet little town of Ennis on Friday which is about an hour away from Limerick.  My favorite part about visiting new towns is the bus ride getting there. I love driving through Ireland and seeing the beautiful scenery. Ennis was a picturesque town with colored houses and adorable shops. Everyone was so nice too. Correction, everyone in Ireland is nice period, not just in Ennis. We visited a small coffee shop that had drinking chocolate. {if you don’t know the difference, I highly recommend you try it. It’s like hot chocolate but it’s made with real chocolate. Once you try it, you will never drink regular hot chocolate again}. The owner also set out complimentary blankets outside so you could drink your beverage outside and still be warm.   On Saturday my study abroad program went to Kilkenny which is about two hours from where I live.  There was only 2 people from my school going (the rest go to Dublin University so the taxi driver was so thoughtful and made stops along the way so we could see more Ireland. We stopped at a couple of castles along the way, which was fun. In Kilkenny we went to Kilkenny castle which a phenomenal sight to see. We also visited the Smithwick’s brewery. Smithwick’s is a very popular beer here. Personally, I thought it tasted like Bud Light, which is gross. No thank you! We did however get a free pint so I don’t have much to complain about (: The great thing about doing a study abroad program is that there are trips included in the cost. It really gives you the opportunity to see places that you may otherwise not have the chance to see.

I’ve made it a point to start exploring more of Ireland. It hit me the other day that I only have two more months is this beautiful country. The way of life is just completely different. It’s a slower pace, people are so friendly, friendly, generous, and always happy to strike up a conversation. People are traditional in their ways, and the kindness that is shown to strangers is unreal.  I’m feeling nostalgic for it and missing it already.

The most adorable little coffee shop in Ennis.

The most adorable little coffee shop in Ennis.

The sweet little town of Ennis.

The sweet little town of Ennis.


I have never seen anything as beautiful as Ireland in the Fall.

I have never seen anything as beautiful as Ireland in the Fall.

A few of my friends from Dublin University. It's crazy to think that at the end of this journey I will have friends froma all over the word.

A few of my friends from Dublin University. It’s crazy to think that at the end of this journey I will have friends froma all over the word.

Smithwick's brewery. The beer wassn't so wonderful, but it was awesome to learn about its history see the facility.

Smithwick’s brewery. The beer wassn’t so wonderful, but it was awesome to learn about its history see the facility.

Killkenny Castle

Killkenny Castle

Rolling hills of Ireland. This is exactly how I imagined Ireland to be. The pictures don't serve as justice to how beautiful this country is.

Rolling hills of Ireland. This is exactly how I imagined Ireland to be. The pictures don’t serve as justice to how beautiful this country is.

Lisa goes to Ireland week 4/5

I’ve struggled with the motivation to sit at my computer and write about the last couple weeks, simply because nothing terribly exciting has happened.

It’s persumed that you’re going to have so many crazy adventures and experiences while you’re abroad and some weeks just aren’t excting-some weeks are normal.

I feel like I’m settled in am finally “home”. I’ve learned how to take the bus on my own, how to use public transportation, where the best places are to get groceries, and most importantly, I’ve found my favorite pubs.

Classes are going well. I find that classes here are significantly easier than back home.  As an education major, the sole purpose for me to come to Ireland was to learn about their academic system and I feel like I’ve acheived that goal. The downside however to classes being so easy, is the lack of motivation I have to actually study.

I guess when I pictured myself studying abroad, I imagined that I’d have tons of friends, crazy stories, adventures, parties etc. I imagined it never being a dull moment and much to my surprise, that’s not the case. I’m an introvert learned extrovert who doesn’t drink. I enjoy my solitute and staying in on the weekends. Lately I’ve been torn between being in Ireland and wanting to go out and experience new things, but also wanting to stay in, in the comfort of my “home” and just relax. I don’t want to look back at my time here and have regrets because I didn’t do anything. I guess this experience just wasn’t how I pictured it.

Homesickness has also taken a bit of a toll on me. There have been so many changes back home and it’s hard not being there. I feel as though my life is changing, yet I’m half way around the world and there’e nothing I can do about it.  Though I’m thankful for this experience and am excited to be here, I’m equally excited to be home.

I wish I had more to report on, but that’s all for now.

Dublin, Ireland – Week 3: Homesickness sets in

Week 3 : Homesickness sets in

This week was rough for classes, insofar as I felt behind in them even if I had no work to be done, and felt generally not in the right mindset for school. I’m getting back into it now though and I think next week will be better.

I realized some things during my classes this week too, primarily that the students are remarkably similar to home, and just as if not more generally apathetic towards learning. In every class, of 20 or 200 people, many students are on their phones and this has become extremely distracting and frustrating for me. I haven’t got much else to say about it, other than I’ll have to focus on staying even more engaged in the lectures myself if I’m going to get what I need out of them, because it doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone else. Classes are otherwise very similar to home and involve roughly the same amount of lecture, discussion, and group work, and I’m at least thankful I don’t have to adjust to a dramatically different system of teaching.

This week DCU had clubs and societies days and Nathaniel and I perused the over 100 booths to see what we might be interested in. This was important for me, because I’ve been told from several different sources and my own experience in school, that getting involved positively influences your college experience, especially abroad. I know this will probably be my best avenue for meeting and connecting with local students, which is one of my big goals here. I may have a bit of social anxiety about it, but I don’t want that to stop me from joining some of these societies. So, I’ve started out with Book society, which I joined with Nathaniel, and Harry Potter society. I had to pay to join so I hope that’ll keep me invested in actually going. Things start to happen next week so I’m excited about that. Nathaniel also joined the Drama society, so I’m glad we each have our own thing to do and be forced to spend some time apart, because I’m sure it’ll be good for our social lives.

I started to have some weird homesick feelings this week that were different than what I expected I’d feel. At one point I would think about the fun things I’d been doing in terms of, oh I can’t wait to be home next week and tell everyone about this. And then I’d remember I’m not going home yet, but maybe wished I were. I’ve done so much and it’s only been a few weeks and it feels in a way just like a fun and short vacation. Time to wrap it up and head home. And part of me is okay with that and excited to be on a plane again, because I think traveling is kind of fun. Then I’ve been getting excited, thinking, wow, if this is all I’ve done in two weeks think of what I can do in three months! And especially once I’ve met some people, it’ll be fun in a whole new way. Then I worry it’ll go by too fast, the whole thing will be over before I know it and I’ll be so sad, after all, I’m only here three months. Then I think about my friends, my family, and my three year old nephew Kole, who is changing all the time, and think there’s no way I can do this, three months is so long! And so it goes in circles. It’s since passed, but this was strange for me. It may be an indicator that I’ll have some new feelings here that I hadn’t anticipated.
I got a bit homesick this week for other reasons too. Last week was new student week and that got me missing PLUS Team. I was on it last year and had applied to be a returner this year and had to drop out to pursue this study abroad opportunity. That was hard to do, PLUS team was really important to me and I made some great friends from it, some of whom returned to it this year. I thought about them all a lot during the week, mainly how much fun they’re having and how exhausted they must be. I still haven’t been able to talk to most of my family at home and when I have it’s been through email, and even though I never planned to keep in constant contact because I’d be so busy, I expected to connect with them more by now. That’s especially hard because so many people studying here have had family already come and visit them and I’m just a bit bummed that my family are unable to make that trip. Then, the shooting in Roseburg happened yesterday, and that was hard. It stirred up a lot of feelings and I’ve been both sad and frustrated since I heard, which has made it more difficult to focus on my experience here, especially when it’s made Irish news as well. I don’t want to forget about it, but I need to not let it bother me too much. I’ve been struggling with all of that this week.

Some other things from the week: I’m getting more comfortable crossing the street like people who live here, trusting my own judgment, I’m making an Austrian friend, the beautiful weather will soon be gone so I need to get myself outside more to enjoy it, I need to stop buying so many clothes or I won’t have any way to take them home and might spend all my money, I’ve been craving a diner like Dennys where I can get every breakfast food, but that doesn’t exist here.


The theatre (the Helix) on campus is very nice, and has a cafe and a great view of campus.


There a lot of great trees on campus and I love trees!


The river Liffey


One night we went out and saw Arthur Miller’s “A View From The Bridge.” It was excellent! One of the best shows I’ve ever seen!


The Gate theatre, Dublin.


The set of “A View from the Bridge,” a Brooklyn dock in the 1950’s.


A night on the town. Bruxelles bar and restaurant.


One day I went shopping and picked some flowers on my walk home. A final reminder of summer as the weather starts to cool off here and the leaves begin to fall. I’m excited about the changing seasons, it’s just as beautiful here as home!