It has been wonderful getting to know the members our Linfield program, other international students, and Irish students while at NUIG. However, sometimes, it is also nice to see a familiar face, and I was lucky enough to connect with several friends who are studying abroad in other countries in the last few weeks.
My first trip out of Ireland took me to Alicante, Spain, where my close friend and sorority sister, Kristen Huth, is studying.
It was so much fun getting to hear about Kristen’s experiences and see first hand where she has been spending her semester. Between catching up and her acting as my translator, we enjoyed the sights of the beautiful city, and I got to meet several of her new friends.
Not to mention, after several weeks of rain (think Oregon in the fall) the sunny Spanish beach was a welcome break. Although it was a little too chilly to swim, it was nice enough to spend the day on the sand, watching the sailboats and playing guitar.
During the trip, we also explored The Castle of Santa Bárbara, perched over the city. The castle has a long history and boasts a museum, restaurant, and most importantly, stellar views. Photos can’t do justice to the watching the sun set over the city.
Sadly, we had to part all too soon, but I’m looking forward to showing her around Ireland in April! One of the great things about studying abroad at the same time as my friends is that making travel arrangements with them is both simpler and has the added benefit of great company. Just ask Phoebe Whittington and Micaela Levesque, high school friends of mine studying abroad in England, who came to visit me in Ireland the following weekend.
Day to day life in Galway is great on its own. It’s a new city, my classes are great, and there is always something going on. But having visitors encourages me to try out the journeys I might not always think to take on my own. For example, Phoebe, Micaela, and I decided to venture out to the Aran Islands for the day.
We selected Inis Mór for our destination and decided to take a bike tour around the island. Now, I won’t say how long it’s been since I’ve ridden a bike, but let’s just say I was a little intimidated. I quickly got the hang of it though, and I’m so glad I decided to try it out! This trip provided the perfect blend of scenic views and outdoor exercise. I don’t hesitate to say it was my favorite adventure yet, a testament to what can happen when you try something new!
Our target landmark for the day was Dún Aonghasa, the oldest stone fort in Western Europe. Dún Aonghasa sits at the top of a cliff and is a comfortable bike ride away from the docks. On the way, we enjoyed the beautiful coastal views, paused for some dramatic photos, and left a small mark on the island.
When we finally arrived at Dún Aonghasa, it was incredible. It was a clear day, so we could see the cliffs extend for miles around the island. The wind whipped at our clothes and whistled over the water, and in the distance we could just make out a bit of Galway.
The sun hid beneath and broke through the clouds in cycles, gracing the sea with light. It was truly a spectacular experience, and well worth the trip.
Once again, the weekend came to a close, and I had to say goodbye to my friends. But even last year, I never would have thought I would get the chance to travel around Europe with them or share these experiences together. The memories we have created are what I came here for: fun, educational, lasting.