My room in Thomond Village once had ample space compared to several typical college dorms, but now looks like the winds of Ireland entered in full swing piling clothes, various Irish cuisine, and magazines cut up from my craft projects. I can’t stand mess in my room, especially when acknowledging the reason behind the chaos.
In only two short days, I will be reluctantly dragging my feet back onto a United Boeing plane destined for Newark, New Jersey and then on to San Francisco.
I have quite a bit to look forward to, namely my 21st birthday, but even though I’ve been dreaming about the epic shenanigans to be had on such a fateful birthday, I sincerely can’t imagine the celebration without my close knit group of friends made here in Limerick. Luckily we’ve had several house parties and good craic at the last TGIF of the semester, but even so, it doesn’t make the parting any easier.
Some power food for the overload of information.
Exams were quite a struggle since the ora of studying abroad revolves more on the cultural side of the spectrum. We’re traveling to separate countries, other counties in Ireland, and suddenly an exam worth more than half your mark expects your memorization of all the material from the semester. I must say, I feel like I was the only ‘study abroad kid’ who chose quite difficult classes. All 4th year level, the subjects certainly challenged me. I was worried at first, but having flatmates who tirelessly spent mornings into evenings at the Kemmey business school inspired me to progress despite my mental blocks.
Inspired is an understatement when referencing my Robin 59 family. Their dedication to their schoolwork is impressive, but the mere fact that they’re learning these difficult subjects in another language is beyond my comprehension. Having taken Spanish for five years, and encountering the extreme obstacles proves how they possess brains of wonder. Having that level of motivation as an everyday occurrence surely will be missed in these coming semesters back in the States.
Of course my iTunes playlist is being puppeted by the Universe seeing that every song has a theme of leaving, being sad, and finding those we leave behind again at another time. I knew this day would come, but I never thought it’d be so soon.
Less than 2 days. Oh my.
I sure would have missed an experience unavailable in any other context.
I find myself chuckling when reflecting on my initial adrenaline inspired ‘regrets’ anticipating a semester worse than a sister school found within the urban capital of Dublin. Continuously justifying to myself that the classes would be more related to my creative major of Advertising & Graphic Design, my educational cap of reasoning cupped my head maybe a bit too tight. The mere fact that I would be entering an entirely new world, though comforted by the compatibility of English communication, conjured a bipolar stream of emotions altering from fear to excitement in a balance act.
Will I be able to make friends? Will the classes transfer back to Chapman? I feel confident in my bright purple Marmot jacket right?…Right?! Right.
The first day[s] spent traveling to the emerald isle requested my attention for upwards of 48 hours, quickly acquainting me with the frigid cold weather, extreme caffeine of their breakfast tea, different voltage systems(sad day when my iHome lit up to turn on, but began sparking in seconds), and indistinguishable accent(note: I was looking forward to a similar language, but the Irish honestly sound like their speaking another…at least when first arriving), however, after a day of rest in a notably comfortable double bed, I was soon to be introduced to my roommates for the semester.
Robin 59 of Thomond Village did not assemble all at once; Kelly was already in the apartment when I arrived, but Ben, Sofia, Vicky, & Yves all arrived at different intervals. It’s funny to think about my original desire to have ‘Irish roommates’. Boy, am I glad I didn’t~ not to generalize, but to generalize, they are messy, loud, smoking, drunkards who just like to sing and shout. Not to say I haven’t enjoyed being in their vicinity from time to time, but the thought of living with them? Not a chance.
A beautiful day under the bridge looking out over the Shannon to this village of mine.
While I honestly can not imagine having attended a more gorgeous school being privileged to peer over the breathtaking Shannon river every morning, pass fields of green along every path, attend lectures in architecturally beautiful and complex buildings, and have access to several Irish restaurants and pubs within each reign of the campus[it’s HUGE], I must say, the aspect of UL that I will miss the most are the people I have become acquainted with.
Individuals that study abroad come back with stories of running to make a 1:10am bus to catch a back breaking flight on RyanAir, hesitantly sampling the ‘delicacy’ of a market merchant, or ‘finding themselves’ along some magical international journey, yet in simple terms, I’ve enjoyed reuniting with my social well being, and being accepted for the dork that I am.
I think what makes our melting pot of nationalities flow so effortlessly is the fact that we’re all dorks and not a day goes by without a heavy dosage of laughter. Stemmed from the coined accents and phrases of said individuals, I don’t think I will ever hear these strings of words without smiling to myself:
‘All the best for your future!’-Yves
‘I think it is not ok’-Ben
‘I can’t believe it!’-Yves
While to a pair of outsider ears these colloquial phrases seem quite ordinary, I will forever remember the unique voice attached to each of the above.
Without making you swear off cheese for the rest of existence, I truly could not have imagined the immense impact and meaning each roommate has imprinted on my heart. Sure I could have said ‘life’, but each day has caused it to skip several beats when acknowledging these developed relationships. I felt like I personally was worth something seeing that my American upbringing suddenly was something of intrigue. I thought I was the one looking for cultural immersion?
Living in one state for twenty years doesn’t really gather worth until others shed an even brighter beam of light on it[& I’m from California!]. Parting ways at this point just shouldn’t be an option. We were fatefully joined as a unit physically, but within only a span of four months, our unit has mentally manifested as well.
Through the continuous banter, playful kickboxing fights, late hour chats, random dance parties, introducing of ‘healthy’ food to these lost lost Europeans, initiating Snapchat wars, taking DJ Ber’s predictable loop of hits at the Stables Club pub on campus, & supporting each other enough to never go to bed angry when disputes did arise, I can confidentially and regretfully begin anticipating the end to this truly wonderful experience.
Cheers to next five days~ this is going to be rough.
I haven’t posted my adventures in quite some time. I’m sorry. Again. Moving on.
As a noob in terms of Irish culture, I wouldn’t hesitate to claim any American in their right mind still is aware of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland’s coining of the color green. Granted that any form of celebration justifies reasoning to make inebriated fools of ourselves, I still never could have imagined Macklemore’s lyrics within ‘Irish Celebration’ would hold such truths. I mean he’s a rapper; how trustworthy can his words be?
Having experienced the shamrock shots, and red-headed jokes in the States, I must say, our style of partying is quite weak.
To remark on my recent travels to Ireland’s most noted city on said national holiday, I must first comment on the presence of green. Did St. Patrick really intend to drown his country in an explosion of flubber? With no intention to exaggerate, the congested streets of Dublin harbored the entire lot of Mother Nature’s forgotten family sporting ranges of neon[if clothing managed to remain worn] green and orange.
Festive with a simple sequined bow for my high ponytail, I quickly realized I was swimming in the deep end of Irish culture without the comfort of a life saving vessel. Luckily my adventure was accompanied by fellow abroaders and Eramus students similarly flabbergasted by the immense celebration.
Benny was a tad tired having to wake up at 6am for the Dublin bus!
In good spirits as we headed toward the Land of the Green!
Even my espresso was festive with green sprinkles.
Standing together in the frigid air, we bared the cold to watch drunkards walks in the parade taking over the main streets of Dublin. Luckily, Sofia and I were in close proximity to several coffee shops and several times took cover in the warm borough.
Hitting up one of Dublin’s many ‘Costa Coffee’ chains.
and even more green…
And more green…
walking the streets clad in Green!
Once rejoining our colorfully snazzy[if I say so myself] company, we ventured to Bobo’s Gourmet burgers which made a mean Portabello burger to my Pescatarian liking.
Once fueled up on pints of Guinness, meaty burgers, and a jolly ora, our determined eyes displayed our similar mindsets: our next stop could only be one place:
Hosting an array of ecceltic beings ranging from rosy cheeked Irish lads chasing the orange faced women of the district to casual tourists desiring to experience the country’s renowned national holiday, we certainly never could have anticipated the verbal and visual treat we received.
While some may be disappointed that I actually remember St. Paddy’s Day, I’ll leave you with this farewell picture: who ever would want to forget this?
Vogue is a callin’.
Obviously the timely documentation of Irish adventure was inevitably going to falter at some point. Sorry to prick you with that sharp end for an unacceptable period of days, yet hopefully by acknowledging my recent inconsistency, we can follow a road paved in my deepest and most sincere apologies for those closely following what now have been termed suspenseful ‘episodes’ of my life abroad.
To put a positive spin on this dampened introduction, the pictures have been edited, the memories are in tact, and I sit here sipping a warm cup of Lyons Gold Blend tea with several splashes of Hazelnut milk. Aka, I have updates for you all.
Recently one of the several words inquired about by the curious minded Vicky, my Greek flatmate, was spontaneous. Contextually directed toward the spur of the moment decision made by four members of Robin 59, the use was definitely holding up to its definition. After a taxing week of modules, homework, and lack of slumber, we sat together in our family room simply enjoying each other’s silent company. Shattering the mood of the room however, Yves opened with the proposal of spending the next day, Sunday, in Galway. Since arriving in this polar bear residence typically termed Ireland, this city has been featured in several conversations expressing its magnificent contribution to the isle.
“Galway is the the best city of Ireland; you must go!”
“Galway. Wow, just go.”
“You haven’t been yet?!”
After an hour long debate about logistical aspects of the possible day outing, we gleefully went to bed with our Bus tickets purchased. Little did I know this particular Sunday would entail a frozen Annie.
Since venturing to Limerick, the impressively biting winds have lessened, and the air doesn’t seem to tie an icy blanket around your system…to an extent. Let’s be clear: it’s still flippin’ cold, but this increase in temperature certainly contributed to our optimistic outfitting when traveling to Galway. Clad only in a long sleeve blouse, light sweater, and ‘leather jacket’, of course the one time I leave my double-lined Marmot jacket at home, Ireland quickly targets the struggling Californian as a cruelly performed joke. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to say, “Well the jokes on you Ireland!…” Initiate self-pity…
Despite the frigid nature of this coastal city, Galway was especially vacant on Sunday morning leaving ample imagination for our tourist minds. With an entire main district lacking the lively population of the previous evening, our group strolled along the cobblestones taking note of its history + shops.
After about an hour and a half sleeping with a gaping mouth, our team arrived!
Seeing that this event definitely is classified as being spontaneous, I was a bit apprehensive our visit wouldn’t be as meaningful seeing that no designated tour guide had been appointed. However, to my satisfied surprise, Yves had taken the time to outline various sights the previous evening while also providing energetic commentary and facts for our delight. That’d a boy!
First Stop? Eyre Square. A large perimeter featuring Ireland’s iconic green grass, as well as the fountain, one of the more modern additions to Galway’s artistic and architectural heritage. As the backdrop to our eventual modeling contract, the copper sails represent the Galway Hooker, a traditional fishing boat, important to the port, and used as a symbol for the county of Galway appearing in the coat of arms[emphasizing the maritime influence on the community].
So Vogue should be knocking on our resident door any minute.
Adjacent to this sculpture was the The Browne doorway, originally the doorway to the Browne family mansion on Lower Abbeygate Street but was moved in 1905 to Eyre Square. I wouldn’t mind staying a few nights in such accommodations. Whose unopposed to time travel?
Impressive even from a tall 5’11″er like myself.
After oo-ing and aw-ing at these sights, our group headed toward Grafton Street, apparently the ‘it’ strand of pub crawls galore, but quite dead when we entered. While heavily sprinkled with mainstream department stores, and souvenir stops, we also noted the quaint colors and homely exterior of various restaurants and mom-and-pop shops. I should mention at this point, my mind was picturing a sweltering expanse of grainy desert for my entire body could have been mistaken for a snowball. Let’s face it, I was miserable, yet good ole American culture taught me if a camera is present, ‘Smile and say cheese!’ No sightings of hardship would be permissible; in good spirits, Galway’s coastal winds would not rain on my parade[metaphorically because it always rains in Ireland].
One of the many catherdrals I have stumbled across…interior photos later in this post.
“Be yourself; every one else is already taken.” My all time favorite quote spoken by the dapper Oscar Wilde, I was privileged to become quite close with him & his brother.
Typical shopaholic, Sofia couldn’t be more obsessed with one of Ireland’s infamous upscale department stores, Brown Thomas.
Lynch’s Castle, located on the corner of Abbeygate Street and Shop Street, fuses the past of Ireland with its modern ties. Town castles were once popular homes for wealthy merchants in 15th and 16th century Ireland and Lynch’s Castle dates back to this time. Over the years the castle has been modified, even though the original structure remains intact and beautifully preserved. It is particularly notable for the quality of stone carving on the exterior which features the Lynch coat of arms and a number of decorative windows.
The building is now occupied by AIB Bank and features a mini-museum at the front which is open during normal banking hours.
Representing my membership to Alpha Gamma Delta, a squirrel sighting meant throwing up the paws!
In line with my new obsession for doors, this one was painted just for me: Annie Green 🙂
One of the restaurants I found to be pleasant to look at.
Reluctantly heading further into the gusty sea water winds, my frozen knees followed the others toward an open view of the River Corrib extending out toward a fogged horizon. Yves was set on walking past the bobbing harbored boats to the edge of the angsty waves, but with four women outnumbering his decision, we snapped a few photos, [one exception to my rule showcasing our sheer suffering] and luckily stumbled upon an open cafe.
Bundling myself up as best as I could, I still appreciated the cutesy houses bordering the waters.
The Spanish Arch neighbored this white building feasting on the eerie fogs.
Yves reviewing our agenda on his iPad…such a Swiss man.
Pure Vida may as well have been renamed ‘Annie’s Salvation Sanctuary’ right on the spot. It’s got a nice alliterative ring to it wouldn’t you say? Certainly, you reply, but what made it so special? A barista with the dashing wise ora of a Richard Gere type welcomed us into the cozy cafe, genuinely engaging in conversation as he manufactured our various drinks. As an avid tea drinker[they don’t call me Annie Green Tea for nothing], their surplus of FairTrade teas ranged in exciting flavors instantly brightening our rather darkened day.
Chocolate Chai Rooibos Tea. Uh, yes please?! Sadly I didn’t snap a photo for its subtle taste of cocoa dancing with hints of soft ginger, cardamon, & cinnamon couldn’t be accurately captured in a photo, I present to you Vicky’s choosing: A Hot Chocolate with mini Marsh mellows and chocolate swirl.
Yes, I’m an instagrammer. Follow me at
Not sure if it was the tea or the pure heat emanating from the cup that stole my heart.
After departing from a spot of warm air, we continued our journey in the direction of Ireland’s National University. Walking along the river canal, we again were intrigued by the architectural beauty of the city. Vintage lampposts, stone encapsulated waters, and naturally dispersed greenery slightly distracted from the crisp air, but only slightly. Again, still smiling for the benefit of you, my much appreciated reader!
Imagining the warm comforting arms of my Irish prince, I was taken away for a moment.
Could Russell Crowe be in these waters?
Yet another glimpse of their distinct buildings.
If only this referenced the weather…
I wasn’t about to dip my feet in these waters…
I definitely thought at first glance this read, “McSwaggin’s” I got a bit excited.
After the short walk along the river, we had arrived Ireland’s National University featuring several aged buildings, and meticulously gardened fields. As any tourist would do, the iPhone’s were retrieved yet again to capture the sights. If Vogue doesn’t call us, I think the University will for our dashing good looks, and obvious charm, perfect for applicants considering their enrollment at this fine Institute.
On the model: all her own pieces.
Are we at a Castle or the School?
We know where we are finally!
Keeping me warm! 🙂
My absolute favorite photo. From left: Chloe, Sofia, Myself, Vicky, and Yves sprawled on top.
From the University, we realized the Cathedral’s Sunday mass would have ended and that our presence would be allowed. Having seen a few glimpses of the remarkable church, we were excited to see what lied within.
Impressive domed roof, and sectioned seating again made this stop unforgettable.
At this point in the day, our rumbling stomachs could be heard over the roaring waters surrounding Galway. Yves and Chloe had insisted we dine at an eatery apparently known for their assortment of Fish & Chips varieties, but not open to the public until 2:00pm. The arms of the clock were pointing close to two signifying less torture from the cold, and most importantly food for our ravenous bodies. When we arrived, we still had to shelter in the doorway for about ten minutes causing my sincere empathy for those who are homeless. You’re cold, you’re hungry, and there is nothing you can do to relinquish these tortures.
The raved about eatery featuring the best of Fish & Chips.
Our huddled group waiting for FOOD.
As one who simply is not a fan of Fish & Chips, I was satisfied to consume anything at this point. Distinctively different from other restaurants specializing in this dish, McDonagh’s allows customers to choose from an assortment of fish meaning I could have Salmon basked in the fried batter exterior while also opting out chips for their mushy peas.[Yes they call them mushy peas…quite the appetizing name huh?] And that’s what I did.
Enjoying our meal in the drafty, yet slightly warmer restaurant.
After fulfilling my bodies dire wish for food, our group’s level of energy was inevitably elevated ironically when the locals and tourists alike were venturing outside their homes to join us.
I will say Sofia was the most excited of all of us: can you guess what was next on the agenda?
From Galway itself, I couldn’t resist buying a pinky ring.
The Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring representing love[the heart], loyalty[the crown] and friendship (hands) The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old city walls of Galway, now part of Galway City. The ring as we know it was first produced in the 17th century. (Wikipedia for the win.)
We ventured into a few of Ireland’s well known clothing shops, particularly Topshop which really excited Yves and Sofia…enough to spend 170 euro. But hey, whose counting the price tag when you look fashionable?
To finish up our day trip in Galway, we spotted a popular Cafe on the corner featuring seats in the sun[eventually coming out to say hello in grand fashion], and an Americano for my delight. Bidding Galway farewell with this extra boost of caffeine, our group settled into the packed bus for Limerick; for a spur of the moment outing, I’d say the days in front of us were off to a good start. All and all, we agreed our presence would again be had when nightlife was on the agenda…the question still remains however, when the return of Robin 59 will occur. Until next time…
Annie Green Tea.