Tourists in Palermo

Chloe McDaniel, a senior majoring in Exercise Science wrote today’s post.

Because we had arrived at our new hotel in San Guiseppe Jato late last night, it was too dark to see much of it. This morning, we all emerged from our rooms and were delighted to see a gorgeous view of green hills blanketed by the glowing orange sun. After being awoken by the blindingly beautiful view, we made our way into the dining room for warm croissants and cappuccinos for breakfast. On the agenda today, was a day trip to the nearby city of Palermo. We were all excited, as it was our last day to visit a big city and just be tourists for the day.

The bus ride to Palermo was about 40 minutes. For tonight, we had planned to do a big group antipasti dinner in true Italian style. Each person volunteered to contribute something. For this to happen, our first priority in Palermo was to go to a market.

We went to Mercato di Ballaro, one of the two famous markets in the city. “Ballaro” was likely named after the city “Ballhara,”where Arab merchants lived when they occupied Sicily. The merchants would go to what is now called Palermo to sell their goods, similar to what Mercato di Ballaro is known for today. It was overwhelmingly loud, with stand owners shouting bargains at you. It was lively, crowded, and especially colorful. Fruits and vegetables were the star of the show, but there was also bread, clothing, flowers, street food, and more. After a stroll through the market and purchasing things for dinner, we split up into smaller groups to explore the city of Palermo.

An array of vibrant fruits and vegetables at a stand in the market.Mercato di Ballaro, Palermo, Sicily.
An array of vibrant fruits and vegetables at a stand in the market.

My group and I walked just under a mile to a street with lots of cute shops and cafes. Many of us purchased some souvenirs, clothing, and jewelry to take home. The city was gorgeous, with colorful buildings and cobblestone streets. It seemed that each new street we walked had a different feel than the previous. We sat down for lunch and, before we knew it, it was time to head back to the bus. I was sad to leave Palermo, as it seemed there was so much of the city I didn’t get to see.

After returning to the hotel, we all met up again for our group dinner with foods we gathered from the market. We feasted on bread, crackers, an assortment of meats and cheeses, olives, fruit salad, and sauteed vegetables. The market food did not disappoint. We all enjoyed trying the array of yummy foods, and then finished with a small pastry. I can’t believe our trip is nearing the end!

bread, crackers, an assortment of meats and cheeses, olives, fruit salad, and sauteed vegetables.
Our group antipasti dinner!

Picking Up some Food and Culture at the Market

Hello everyone!

My name is Giselle, I am  a sophomore majoring in psychology and minoring in communications and neuroscience, and I am in Sicily.

I am currently abroad on a wine studies Jan Term program about volcanic vineyards, and I am here to talk to y’all about what we did today (being January 17th, 2021).

Real quick though, I wanted to address the following:  for those who are thinking about doing a jan term or studying abroad but feel like you don’t have the pre-reqs or the “right major”, what it takes is passion!  I care about wine, I love Italy, and I love traveling.  While on paper it may seem like my major does not fit the syllabus, but let me tell you, it doesn’t matter if you are invested in the subject.  So, if the person reading this has heard about a program that sounds interesting, and you care, and let’s say you have no experiences with the affiliated classes (like me), let me be the first to say, do not let that stop you from applying. I have never taken a wine class but this has been the best adventure and I am enjoying learning everything I have been given the opportunity to experience, and I am an aspiring personality neuroscientist loving learning about volcanoes and grape varieties.

So, onto the point of this blog post. We are in Italy (Sicily specifically) and today was our day to be immersed in Sicilan culture by first hand walking the Catanian fish market. A little background information:

Fish market decorated with hundreds of umbrellas located at Alonzo Piazza, Sicily, Italy.
The colorful Pescheria Catania

This fish market is located in the Alonzo Piazza by the Ameanno Fountain built in the 1800s. This historical fountain was dedicated to the Ameano river that once flowed beneath the city before the Etna explosion of 1669. and happens every Monday-Saturday from morning to afternoon. While it is called the fish market, seafood galore is not only what is being sold. Cheese cashiers, spice sellers, and vegetable vendors alike line the streets to sell their wares. Let me just tell you, you have never seen such fresh food. The fruits and such had been picked that day, and were every color of the rainbow. And most of the seafood was so fresh, it was still alive. 

Wandering around the streets of Catania and stocking up on the best food I have had the privilege to buy, was awesome. We also had a sense of the culture of the fish market. You could tell who sold the best foods, and for the best prices by the size of their lines. The more people, the better the food. Everybody there was also the nicest people I have met. All they wanted to do was talk and feed you, not a bad situation if you ask me. I especially loved it because I am Sicilian and it felt like I was finally experiencing first hand what my mother would always describe her grandmother’s house to be like:  full of life, good food, and good people.

So overall, this little day trip held more genuine cultural experience in three hours than most full day guided tours or sightseeing bus rides. So, 10/10, I would recommend, and for me, all it took was taking the chance to apply. Me, a psych major in a wine studies course!

Giselle G

Adventures on Mt Etna

This post was written by Caitlyn Connely, a senior accounting major.

I never thought that one day I would be able to say that I hiked up a volcano, nor did I think I would want to, but here I am! My name is Caitlyn Connely, I am a senior accounting major with a love for wine. On our first full day on the island of Sicily, Italy, we got to hike up Mt. Etna and learn all about the volcano and its surroundings. For some background, this volcano is located on the east coast of Sicily and is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Just this last year, it erupted fifty times, the most recent one being this past December.

view of mt Etna from cable cars, showing bright blue sky, snowy mountains.
The view from the cable cars up Mt. Etna.

We started off today’s adventures by grabbing some gear that was needed to head up to the top of the mountain. Luckily, it was blue skies and sunny all day which made the day even better. We hopped into some cable cars that took us to the top which was about a thirty-minute ride and let me just say, the views were incredible, you could see the whole city! From there, we drove some sort of a tank to the most active crater on the volcano, which had been smoking all day. The smoke is typically white which is a good sign, once it shifts to a greyish black, that can be a sign of an upcoming eruption. The tank (snowcat) we rode in was very interesting as I had never seen anything like it, it was definitely prepared for any and all weather conditions. When we made it to our destination, we met with a volcanologist who shared all about the volcano and the crater we were stopped at.

Cable car climbing up the mountain.
The “tank” that took us up the mountain.

I learned that Mt. Etna, unlike other volcanoes, is a mix between windy and cold desert environments that allows for many plants to grow and creates very fertile soil, which is especially good for wine grapes. There are more than three hundred craters on the mountain but only four of them are active. One thing I found particularly interesting is that even though there are eruptions every few weeks with emergency plans set in place, the eruptions really aren’t something the citizens are worried about. The eruptions are typically very controlled and if there is any lava flow, they can create a path for it so the surrounding villages are safe. My favorite part was playing in some Italian snow, which is surprisingly different than our stubborn Oregon snow!

Student posing in front of snow-capped Mount Etna.
The most active crater on Mt. Etna.



Let the Learning Begin!

Today’s post is written by Jakob Longbottom, a senior majoring in applied physics and math, and minoring in wine studies

With the jet lag finally getting towards the end of its course, it was set to be a perfect Monday. To start the day off we took a short stroll down the road to theUniversity of Napoli Federico II, here we were able to listen to a couple of lectures given by professors as well as members of the Department of Agriculture. Weheard about research into different tressling systems and how they affected vines at a cellular level, how they were looking back in time to how vines were adapting in the past, how they were using 3D imaging of seeds to predict their effectiveness, as well as information about Mount Vesuvius, the great volcano that destroyed Pompeii.

Students facing a screen while sitting at tables, studying.
Professors and researchers from the University of Napoli Federico II shared information about their research.

The university is the oldest public university in the world and is housed in an old palace, so it had amazing architecture with wonderful views. The grounds housed at least 12 cats (we had a short walk, so I am sure there are many more) that roamed freely around. We then proceeded across the street to the Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Agriculture of Naples. This was home to plants from allover the world and allowed for a beautiful walk. Inside the greenhouse, there were more cacti than I think knew existed.

Cacti in a greenhouse.
The university’s greenhouse contained more types of cacti than we ever knew existed

For lunch we had some delicious food at a pizzeria that was life changing. I think everyone was able to leave both happy and full. Our perfect first Monday of the trip was finished off with a beautiful sunset that we all enjoyed.

students eating pizza
We have eaten a lot of pizza, but it’s unanimous that this was the best!
Students basking in the sunset over Herculaneum
Soaking in the sunset over Herculaneum

A Day in Ancient Rome

This post was written by sophomore Kate Stamper,  who is majoring in Wine Studies and minoring in Studio Art

Today was a gorgeous day in Ercolano. For me, the day started with a delicious Italian cappuccino and cornetti pastries. Our first stop: The Archeological Museum of Italy in Naples.The entrance was a gorgeous ornate wooden door, followed by rows upon rows of ancient Greekand Roman sculptures. Every room had anoverwhelming amount of works, eachsculpture more life-like than the next. The ethereal beauty started to fade after a couplerooms and the sculptures actually started tocreep me out a bit.

A statue of a female warrior who was slain on her horse.
A statue of a female warrior who was slain on her horse. I loved that this statue depicted a woman in a role which is perceived as male most often.

A nice break from the sculptures was a modern art exhibit comparing ancient roman children’s toys to Barbies and Disney characters throughout the past couple decades. I spent a solid half hour in that room because of an interactive art piece that used pegs to create a pointillism style art piece.

Many of the sculptures and artifacts depicted vessels like amphorae which were used to store wine. It was interesting to see them outside of a textbook and see the pottery up close and in person. Many of our winemaking techniques and technologies have evolved from Greek and Roman winemaking. The process is largely the same, but the materials we use are a bit more refined now.

This Roman statue of a lion carved out of marble.
This Roman statue of a lion carved out of marble. This statue guarded the staircase to the second floor.

After the museum, we stopped for lunch at a pizzeria with a stunning view of the sea in Ercolano. This was only a short walk from our next destination:  Herculaneum. This ancient city was preserved by the same eruption which coated Pompeii in pyroclastic material. The key difference between the sites is the nature of the materials which coated each city. Herculaneum contains many wooden objects like doors and furniture, which did not survive in Pompeii. The structure of the city is very different as well. Herculaneum used a brick-laying method involving diamond-shaped stones which were much sturdier and more earthquake-resistant than the architecture in Pompeii.

Stone ruins along the original coastline of Herculaneum, Italy.
This is the original coastline of Herculaneum. Many of the citizens of Herculaneum fled here during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius but were unable to escape.

Walking through Herculaneum felt like taking a walk through the past. The grooves in the roads from ancient chariots are still visible in the cobblestone streets. Ancient paintings and mosaics help mark important buildings and give hints about their purposes. It was fun to imagine the streets bustling with life thousands of years ago.

A tunnel leading to a city.
This tunnel leads from the original coastline and docks to the higher ground where most of the city was built.

Between the sculptures at the museum and the ruins at Herculaneum, I was able to understand the purpose and role wine played in Roman life. Wine was important, and it was consumed by everyone in Roman society. In American society less than half of us drink wine, but that isn’t truein many European countries. Wine is much more than a beverage, it is a product of culture and holds an incredible amount of traditions in cultures across Italy and the world. Wine is a way of life for many Italians today, just as it was for many Romans and Greeks.

paintings in Herculaneum, Italy
Many of the paintings in Herculaneum are still intact due to the type of volcanic material which coated this side of the volcano.

Classes and Cork

An Irish bus, orange in color.
An Irish bus

Hello from Ireland! I have officially completed my first two weeks of school at NUI Galway! Figuring out how to register for classes was a hurdle, but luckily even though it’s a pretty big university, professor email responses were timely and I made it to every class I intended to.

With my class schedule now set, I’ve had the ability to figure out the quickest route to campus and my five classrooms in particular. The next step regarding school life is joining clubs to try and get more involved on campus and meet new people! So far I’ve joined the mountaineering club and the soccer club.

McCall jumping for joy after we found a field to play at.
McCall jumping for joy after we found a soccer field to play at
Students walking down the street in front of colorful row houses and shops in Cork, Ireland.
Exploring Cobh

While classes are my priority during my time across the pond, that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun on the side– right? That being said, my roommates and I recently took a day trip down to the southwest coast of Ireland known as Cork. I didn’t know much about Cork or its surrounding area before we departed, but that honestly made for a more exciting experience.

Cork is about a three hour bus ride from Galway, and the bus fare round trip is just about 35 euro– very affordable! Once we made it to our bus stop we called a cab and made our way to Cobh, which we chose as our main stay for the day. The town of Cobh is absolutely beautiful and I would go back in a heartbeat. It’s small, but filled with brightly painted buildings and sits right on the harbor.

Clock tower in Cork, Ireland, looking out over the harbor under a bright blue sky.
By the harbor

We specifically chose to come to this part of Cork as Cobh Harbor was actually the last place the Titanic stopped before making its way to America. We were able to get tickets to the Titanic Experience which is an interactive experience about the Titanic and the 123 passengers that got on at this port.

Our tickets as real Titanic passengers
Our tickets of real Titanic passengers
Tall, stately, and very ornately carved Cobh Cathedral
Cobh Cathedral


After the Titanic museum, we spent the rest of the day roaming around by the water, the colorful streets, and up the hill to the Cobh Cathedral. It made for a great place to watch the sunset before heading back down to call a cab. The cab took us back to the station and from there we hopped on our bus back to Galway. I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Cork and Cobh, and it’s safe to say I’ll be back to see more!

Colorful 3-story row houses line the streets of Cobh with a tall church spire in the background.
Streets of Cobh

Below is a list of dos and don’ts I learned from our outing to Cork:

  • Do book your bus ticket online the night before, as ticketing may close or sell out by the time you get there in the morning. It’s also cheaper online!
  • Don’t pay the extra 0.40 euro for them to text you your ticket information… you won’t need it. 
  • Do call your cab before the bus drops you off, otherwise you’ll be standing around waiting for Richard in a midsize taxi for an extra 30 minutes.
  • Don’t speak in an American accent or else Richard will stop for gas and a light snack while your cab fare continues to rise.
  • Do go to the Titanic Experience museum. It was a really cool presentation and you’ll leave with your head filled with facts about the Titanic.
  • Don’t get too distracted by the sunset and wait too long to call a cab; internet connection is spotty and cabs become a delicacy in the early evening.
Selfie with the Cathedral
Selfie with the Cathedral










Laney Green

The Modern Wines of Campania

This post was written by sophomore Greyson Monaghan-Bergson, a wine studies major.

A group of students visiting a vineyard to learn about ongoing research.
Dr. Antonello Bonfante explains ongoing research in this vineyard that will help growers make adjustments for climate change. This vineyard is in the Greco di Tufo DOCG.

At the vineyard with the professors from the University of Naples, we were able to see some of the stuff we were lectured about firsthand. Namely the soil that Dr. Antonello Bonfante of the Italian National Research Council spoke of and the pruning methods that University di Napoli Federico II Professor Veronica de Micco touched on. On top of that, Arturo Erbaggio, also from the CNR,  showed us the experimental arch trellising method designed to create shade for the berries. They went on to explain that their goal for the project was to preserve the “freshness” of the wine which basically means keeping the acids high.

After the vineyard, we drove to Feudi di San Gregorio. The drive was only about half an hour but felt longer as the temperature of the bus slowly climbed to 30℃. At the winery, we got to look at the fermenting equipment. They had the biggest barrels I have ever seen! Their largest ones could hold 3000L. For comparison, the standard barrel used holds 255L, so those were pretty large. After that, we got to taste some of their wines. I’ll spare you the tasting notes but needless to say, they were very good. The wine they talked up the most was their Greco di Tufo. This wine is one of the most desirable abroad from Campania and for a good reason. This wine was just beautifully elegant yet took over your palate. On top of that, since it had high acidity it could be laid down and aged. I am definitely going to try that.

Next, we went to Quintedecimo to see Luigi Moio. He is a big name in southern Italian wine and certainly earned that reputation. Not only is he a professor at the University of Naples, the president of the International Organization of Wine and Vines (OIV), but he is also an amazing winemaker. We tasted four of his wines and once again the Greco took front stage. The best way I can describe it is as a wine whose depth keeps increasing with every sip. The thing that stuck out to me the most from all the wines today was that they were the opposite of anything people say about Southern Italian wines. They are usually described as big and jammy wines with no depth; but, these wines were insanely light and acidic making them taste super fresh!

students sitting around long tables tasting wine.
The wines of OIV President and winemaker Luigi Moio we insanely light and fresh, despite Campania’s repuation for wines that are the opposite

Strolling the Streets of Pompeii

Today’s blog is guest-written by Sarah Mainwaring, a senior majoring in business

Today we went to the ruins of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city that was covered in ash by the 79 CE eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Since the city was buried in volcanic ash, it was hidden and therefore preserved for centuries.

The entrance to Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background
The entrance to Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius looming in the background

The city wasn’t unearthed until the 1700s and then it’s historical value was revealed. The ruins provided historians with an accurate picture of what life was like in the Roman empire. It showed that the Romans were a sophisticated society with things like amphitheater’s, markets and extravagant villas. Pompeii is also home to a significant number of ancient skeleton replicas from those who perished in the volcanic eruption. The originals reside in the national museum of Naples so they can be properly preserved. These remains give us even more clues about the lives these ancient people lead. From what they ate, to their social status and physical biology.

We began our tour at the city’s colosseum, where ancient gladiators fought to the death for the entertainment of spectators. Our tour guide took us through the ruins and explained what the different rooms were used for, and who would have lived there 2,000 years ago. We learned what was original and what parts of the city have been patched up during the ongoing restoration.

In addition to our human tour guide, we had a local dog join our group and accompany us through the tour. The locals call him Lupos and he’s apparently been living in Pompeii since he was a puppy. He was quite popular among the group.

A dog wandering the streets of Pompeii, Italy.
Lupos, a modern resident of Pompeii, stayed with us throughout our tour

My favorite element of Pompeii was the artwork. Some of the walls had beautiful mosaics that have survived the eruption and the course of history. The thing I was most surprised by was the sheer size of the city, which covers almost 170 acres. Not only that but also the amount of detail and sophistication that went into the construction of the city. It was truly remarkable for a society as old as the Romans.

Mosaic floors.
Elaborate mosaic floors are still intact in some villas. This was one of our favorites.


A serpent depicted in a stone wall carving.

Graffiti in Pompeii… from a Roman graffiti artist
Phallic symbols and graffiti at Pompeii…not so different from the Italy we know today.

The missed flight home: A study abroad horror tale (and what I learned from it)

Thursday December 16th, 2021, 12:26PM EST, JFK Airport NYC

I missed my flight back to the US.

Well, I guess study abroad wasn’t quite ready to get rid of me yet. And I did say I wanted to stay in Spain longer…

But really? Did it have to be THIS big of a CURVEBALL?

The day began yesterday at 5am Spanish time. I got up, said bye to my host family, and hailed a cab to the Alicante airport.

The author, in a maroon hoodie and navy blue shorts, posing for an early morning photo with his host brother, right, and flatmate, left.
An early morning photo shoot with my Argentinian host brother, right, and my Japanese flatmate, left. I had no idea what the next 50+ hours would have in store for me…

Our plane in Alicante arrived 15 minutes late, which is why I’m still not home with my family in Salem. From Alicante, we flew to Madrid, where we only had 40 minutes to run through passport control and to our gate. 

The problem is that the airport in Madrid is huge, so by the time we got to the gate it was already closed. A woman even got on right before me, which just added to my frustration.

Two Linfield students managed to board the plane, so I was stuck with a classmate from New York and another Wildcat. We called our wonderful program director in Alicante and she told us what to do.

So, what did we do? We walked to help desks, waited in long lines, called our families, and contacted Linfield IPO. Thankfully, we managed to change our flight from Chicago to New York City. This meant that we didn’t have to worry about staying in Madrid and getting another COVID test.

We got our new flight tickets an hour before the scheduled departure. Plus, our gate was nearby so we were feeling pretty optimistic as we speed-walked.

And then we got to passport control. The line for non-EU residents was ridiculous. People were crammed in and pleading with airport employees to speed up the line. Some people were crying, others were cutting in line, and lots of boos and jeers were hurled towards the cutters. All of this unfolded as we watched the time tick past our scheduled flight time…

Defeated and discouraged, we made it through passport control five minutes after our flight was supposed to leave. The three of us sprinted to the gate in hopes that there was some kind of delay…

And there WAS a delay!!! Apparently 20 other passengers hadn’t yet boarded the plane, causing the delay. We boarded the plane breathing heavy sighs of relief because we knew that we would be back in the US that night.

The author and his travel companions minutes after boarding their plane to New York. They are all wearing masks with expressions of exhaustion.
Minutes after we boarded our plane in Madrid to NYC. We thought we were going to miss this flight too, so when we boarded we were literally sweating and shaking. What a relief.

Upon arriving at JFK airport, we sorted out our situation. Linfield IPO reserved and paid for a hotel, dinner, and transportation for me and my fellow Wildcat (super grateful). And we hugged our friend from New York goodbye. We were glad to see her make it home that night, even if we didn’t. 

We ended up taking a taxi to our hotel, which was only a couple miles from the airport. Exhausted and hungry, we collapsed on our beds and put in an order for delivery pizza.

New York City is a strange place. Our pizza was arriving late, so we called to check the status of our order. The guy who answered had a really thick New York accent, which made it hard to understand him. Honestly, I would have understood him better had he been speaking Spanish, but I did catch the words “in a few minutes.” 

We ate our pizzas and slept, although it was hard to sleep because of the noise from the heater and the street. This morning we got up, ate our leftovers, and called a cab. After 15 minutes of waiting for the cab we called a Lyft, which arrived 2 minutes later to take us back to JFK airport.

After some navigating around, we arrived at the terminal to get our boarding passes. The line was hectic and after waiting around, we were told by an airline worker that it was too early to get our boarding passes.

JFK NYC airport. The floor is white and reflecting a dim sunlight. Some passengers are seen walking around. A sign says NY.
Where I wrote this part of my post in JFK airport. Yes, on the floor…

And that leads us to where we are now, on the floor of the JFK NYC airport. Airline bureaucracy has been a pain but in spite of our challenges, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. I have a wonderful support system (Linfield IPO, Spanish Studies Abroad, and my family and friends) and there are nice airline workers and fellow passengers willing to help out.

I’m coming home, Oregon! With patience and time. More updates to come.


Sunday December 19th, 2021, 1:57AM PST, Home in Salem!!!

After over 50 hours of intense international traveling, I arrived at my house in Salem, Oregon on Friday morning. Things went smoothly on Thursday, but I had to do a lot of waiting: waiting eight hours to board the flight, waiting seven hours on the plane, waiting to file a claim for my luggage (stuck in Madrid for some reason), waiting an hour for the car ride with my parents to end at our home…

But hey, I made it!!! At 1:30AM Friday…in Salem.  Home.

The author, wearing a black mask, receiving kisses from his golden retriever at home.
There was no better feeling than returning home to the kisses of my beloved dog, Comet.

I’d never imagined that my study abroad experience would end on such a hectic note. I thought that if anything, there might be a problem with COVID.

However, I think that my study abroad experience has been one of those “expect the unexpected” kind of deals. COVID delayed my study abroad twice. A volcano on the Canary Islands erupted on my third day. I got stitches for the first time. Missing buses and trains. The Omicron variant. And then, my flight.

One could say that the unexpected has been a curse to my study abroad experience. And while I could dwell on the occasional (or frequent) misfortune, I’m choosing not to. I had a WONDERFUL experience: made lots of friends from all over the world, improved my Spanish, gained a lot of intercultural knowledge, and traveled. 

In short, the curveballs were a test in resilience, moral fortitude, and compassion. It was easy to get overwhelmed by mishaps, but I managed to pull through. And I’ve got to admit, I feel pretty proud of myself for doing so. Before studying abroad, I didn’t know that I was capable of solving such complex real-world problems. 

So here I’ll say it: studying abroad is a GREAT experience. Not just when things go well, but also when the dookie hits the fan and you’re left trying to clean up the mess. It’s all just about learning and growing, living and loving, smiling and laughing…

Well, it’s 2AM now. My sleep cycle is messed up, but at least I’m home. I’d hate to end my blog on such a bummer note, so I’m going to get some rest and do a post about my last month in Spain (excluding flight stuff).

Hasta entonces,

A very tired David Magnello




Touched down in Ireland, 2022

What’s it like getting the opportunity to study abroad? A dream coming true. But, what’s it like traveling across the country within the third year of a global pandemic? Less than ideal.

Dolls with masks.
Dolls following the mask mandate

So far my idealistic fantasy of traveling abroad hasn’t been as luxurious as say the Netflix series Emily in Paris makes it out to be. Instead, I was faced with a sudden flight cancellation, lost luggage, and naturally, sleep deprivation. The irony of it all is that I am still 100% certain this journey will be worth all the mishaps that occur along the way, and I’ll explain why.

After touching down at the Shannon airport and navigating my way through the passport check, airline baggage customer service, and a surprisingly smooth customs encounter, I walked with my fellow Linfield students to our taxis as the sun began setting. We could finally catch our breath with just one last transit until we were at our new home for the next four months. Our arrival there is a messy story in and of itself, but I’ll spare the details as eventually everything worked itself out and we were able to get somewhat settled.

City centre of Galway, Ireland.
Exploring the City Centre

While we went trekking through some of Galway that night, it wasn’t until the next morning that we could really see all the city has to offer. My roommates and I decided to take a walk to the City Centre to do some exploring. The walk over only took about 15 minutes and left our eyes lusting to see more of the city. The cobblestone roads were already bustling with locals walking to work and I’m sure our foreignness was obvious by the lack of urgency in our pace. We spent the rest of the morning navigating our way around the city, recognizing that even in its natural day-to-day state it felt magical. I can’t help smiling and thinking, “How lucky am I?”

Students in a pub drinking Guiness beer.
Our first Guiness

After our outing to the centre, we returned home and hopped on Zoom for our first orientation session for school at NUI Galway. We met one of our roommates later that afternoon who is also from the States. We all decided to head out on a mission to get lunch until we stumbled upon the university’s campus. Our impromptu campus tour left us instantly in love! We eventually made it to a restaurant for a late lunch before finishing the day with a grocery haul. All of our mini adventures so far have helped the stress of getting here fade into the background, and for that I am so thankful. We have a few more days of free time before classes officially start and hopefully they will be filled with more adventures.


Laney Green