Taking A Trip to the North


I have missed you guys! Unfortunately for me, I have all of the education getting in the way of me being able to write.

Today I wanted to talk briefly about the relationship between North and South Korea, truly the most controversial subject that you can get into! I think that foreigners (specifically Americans) have a very one sided opinion about North Korea because of the way that we receive news, history — maybe you had family in the war, maybe you just love democracy so much that the very idea of communism shakes ya to your bones — I don’t know. All this to say, EVERYONE  I talked to before coming here had some questions about North and South Korea, and mainly how I was going to stay safe, and why would I go since they’re such a huge threat.

While I totally understand these concerns, and yes it’s something that I spent brain power on (I also highly support being aware of safety), South Koreans, I have found, don’t consider the North a threat at all. The only time I talk about North Korea is when I’m in class, and outside of class it never crosses my mind that I’m an hour and a half from the border.

All this to say, I went to the DMZ! This was also the day that North Korea fired missiles in South Korea’s direction, so I thought the tour was going to be cancelled, but everyone was really happy and excited to tell me all the facts about the North without any concern that we might be in danger. I have also found that the opinion of the North is skewed because despite the fact that there’s democracy in the South, post Korean War had several painful dictatorships that turned many people’s attention toward the progress of their own country and not the threats from the North.

Younger people don’t really care since they’re living in a time where the economy is thriving, and for the most part everyone else is empathetic with the North Koreans and the way they live now. I think this is because people are taught about the history of the country as a whole and there’s quite a bit of nationalism here in Korea that contributes to their viewpoint of the North. Also it’s taught in class that the Korean War was a proxy war between the US and Soviet Union (this is a fairly consistent teaching but as I believe I mentioned, what you learn in classes here is heavily dependent on your professors personal feelings towards the subject) .

Fun fact! Conservatives here in the South care more about fighting for North Korean rights than South Korean rights!

Okay. So the DMZ.

I thought I was going to be scared but I wasn’t. It was a really sunny day, the tour guide was extremely kind, and (this is going to sound weird) but the North is so beautiful. Our second to last stop was the outlook where if you look through binoculars you can see people walking around in the North. It was a really weird experience to be people watching another country.

We also went to one of four infiltration tunnels that North Korea dug during the war to attack the South. It’s about 300 meters down, and the stone and earth has yellow and black on it — the North, when confronted about building the tunnels denied that they built them at first, blamed South Korea for building them, and then the second time they said that they were looking for charcoal (which is a weird/dumb excuse in my opinion). The story is kind of ridiculous, but the explosives made the earth yellow, and they painted the walls black to prove to the South that they weren’t intending to attack.

I don’t recommend that you go down if you are claustrophobic. I went down and was VERY stressed out that the walls were going to cave in. At the end of the tunnel though you can look through and see directly to the North. You’re 80 meters from the border at that point.

Remember when I said the North fired missiles? So the place I was most excited to visit was Happy Village, the nickname for Panmunjom, the village where the North and South come together for their summits. When you visit you can go to a room that’s half North and half South Korea and take a picture with a very rigid North Korean Guard. I was really looking forward to doing that, but when North Korea fired the missiles that was the one area that was taken off the tour so South Korean and American soldiers can prepare themselves for a potential attack.

After we went to the newest train station built off of the donations of North and South Korean citizens that donated on the promise that they will be united with their lost family members from the war (there were over 444,000 refugees from North Korea during the war and many of those families were unable to stay together). Due to the intensity of the two countries political relationships, the building hasn’t been put into use yet on the North Korean side, but you can take the train from Paju (where it’s located) to the heart of Seoul.



Birthdays and Trips

Hey hey hey!

About a week ago, I went to a celebration for Buddha’s birthday!

It was a massive later festival and it lasted for roughly a week. Here is Korean Buddhism is a large part of Korean society. Although it is the second largest religion (behind Christianity), quite a few families still operate under Confucian and Buddhist teachings. Needless to say, the festival was amazing. It was massive, several thousand people coming to the temple, to bow and show respect.

Throughout the day, there were several performances, from children, to grandparents, professional choirs, and people just wanting to have a good time. There were some performances that made you want to cry, and others that had fire shooting off the stage as a 10 year old girl sings a rock song. It was mildly overwhelming.

so pretty!
Lanterns after they were lit up at sunset. This was only half of the area

The “ceiling” was made out of thousands of lanterns strategically put together to make a different patters and pictures. Every single one had a different prayer from someone on it, and at sunset, the lanterns lit up and bathed the entire space in this beautiful golden light. All of the lanterns had different designs, some being simple, and some extremely elaborate, massive lanterns.

mucho cool huh
These three Buddha statues are massive, quite intimidating, and you can feel the energy in the room when you walk in

When you go into the temple to bow, you have to take off your shoes, go into a specific space (usually it’s an open space but they divided it because so many people were there) and bow if you’d like to. I bowed next to a very old Korean woman and she looked extremely happy that I was making an effort, so if you visit don’t wear anything potentially revealing, bow three times (if you’re not sure just follow the people around you), and lose yourself to the energy in the room. It can knock you off your feet a little bit — the three giant Buddha statues make you feel like they’re looking at you, and although it’s usually looked down upon, if you asked, people would let you take one picture of the room.


I went to Jeju! Okay I have a few things to say about my trip. Yes I had a great time. Yes I would go back again. Yes I never want to get on a bus again.

Allow me to clarify:

Jeju is an extremely beautiful place. It’s much more temperate than Seoul is, so the weather stays within a 60-80 degree range. The flight to Jeju was extremely easy, it takes about 50 minutes to get there, and they have something called the Jeju tour bus that will take you to all of the cool places in the North.

it was very cool
This massive bridge covers a canyon where three giant waterfalls are able to be seen. Fun Fact! Don’t go on it if you’re afraid of heights.

The main issue is that Jeju doesn’t have the best transportation system, they have busses, but you end up sitting on there for about two hours in one direction and that can be extremely exhausting. I know it’s not recommended that people drive while abroad, and I agree because I would die here, it’s so different than the US,  if you’re going to Jeju, having someone over 21 with an international drivers license will make your entire trip easier. I stayed in the South (I really recommend it) and my hostel was sooooooooo cool. Everyone was extremely nice, it was right by the ocean, the staff was friendly, they gave you breakfast, and they had an incredibly rooftop where you can hang out in hammocks, beanbag chairs, and couches. I picked a weekend that was supposed to be sunny, but it ended up raining for three of the four days I was there. The rainstorm was intense but also really fun — I enjoyed the fact that it was like a warm shower and was dancing in the rain like a crazy person.

why pickles though?
This is my favorite piece of art in the Museum. It’s just several different pickles and it’s to demonstrate how everyone in the world is the same, but we all have our own individual differences.

While in Jeju, I went to an Art Museum, the Chocolate Museum (it’s the second largest in the world), a Teddy Bear Museum (they tell history through different bears), briefly visited an interactive Kpop Museum (I didn’t think it was worth it, just listen to the songs and feel good), went to a beach to swim and surf, and visited these waterfalls that were in the middle of a forest, that is known historically to be the place where the gods went to bathe.

So. Korea has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, and it has been concerning for the Government that the population has gone down, and Jeju is also famous for the Loveland Museum, which students at Hongkik University (it’s pretty close in Hongdae) made, with permission from the Government, to encourage Korean couples to want to procreate if you catch my drift.

The entire park is hilarious, and shocking, and kind of freaked me out. I was torn between “wow what a beautiful piece of sculpted art!” to “WHY would anyone think of making that?” Everything was related to sex, and I was very confused because the country is so conservative and then you come to Loveland and there’s nothing that can prepare you for how explicit some of the statues are.

Wow! Rated R!
Speaking of explicit… just so you guys have an idea of what was happening there


Also the people that went threw me off because it would be like a bus full of very old Korean people going there for entertainment and acting like little kids, and then younger couples casually strolling around, to parents and their children, and then foreigners looking around with humor and shock. I think it was fun? I still haven’t figured out how I feel about it yet. I think if you find yourself in Jeju you should check it out.

come to LoveLand!
This is the only sculpture in the park that isn’t overly sexual haha. It’s also very sweet

On a more PG note, Jeju is famous for its black pork dishes, and tangerines. I don’t eat pork so I didn’t try any, but I heard it was life changing, and the tangerines I can safely say were one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had in my entire life. Very much recommend both! There’s also a really cool pasta place in the South that I went to two nights in a row because it was so good. The man was very nice, he did everything himself, from cooking, to bussing, checking people out — I really wanted to support him because he was so kind and so busy, and the food was absolutely delicious.

Thanks for coming on this wild ride of my brain put on paper!


Ireland Until the End

After my trip to Israel with Kristen, I had to face the reality that I had less than two weeks left in my study abroad experience. I started applying for summer jobs and making appointments back in the U.S. rather than booking flights to new destinations. While I was excited to return home and see my friends and family, at some point I  had fallen in love with Ireland. There are so many places I wanted to go back to and even more I didn’t get to see. But my life and bank account said it would soon be time to go back home.

However, I wasn’t about to leave Ireland without visiting a few more of its historic sites. Luckily, Kristen hadn’t visited me in Ireland yet and decided to tag along for the last leg of my journey. After landing in Dublin, we visited the Hill of Tara, a site that I’d wanted to visit since learning about it in my Celtic Mythology class. The Hill of Tara dates back roughly 5000 years, with various modifications over its long history, and has long been associated with kingship in both mythological and historical contexts.

Kristen Huth at the entrance to Tara
Kristen Huth at the Banquet Hall, entrance to Tara

At the Hill of Tara, we followed the coronation path with which begins over the Banquet Hall and ends at the Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny. In Celtic mythology, it is said that when a true king touched the Lia Fail at his coronation, the stone would cry out. Kristen and I both touched it, but sadly, it looks like neither of us will be the next king of Tara.

The Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny at the top of the Hill of Tara, Co. Meath, Ireland
The Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny at the top of the Hill of Tara, Co. Meath, Ireland

After visiting the Hill of Tara and Dublin, Kristen and I headed back to Galway, so I could give her a tour of where I’d been living for the past five months. Since she hadn’t seen the Cliffs of Moher, we had to go there again. We got lucky, as it was remarkably sunny and clear. I will admit though, I kind of missed the foggy, Irish aesthetic.

The Cliffs of Moher round two! This time O'Brian's Castle and further out, Hag's Head are clearly visible
The Cliffs of Moher round two! This time O’Brian’s Castle and further out, Hag’s Head are clearly visible

However, we didn’t only stop at the cliffs this time. Since I wanted to experience more of Ireland, we took a tour that also showed us a variety of other sites around the area. If I hadn’t already been in love with the Irish landscape, this trip would have convinced me otherwise.

Dunguaire Castle outside of Kinvara, Ireland
Dunguaire Castle (tower house) outside of Kinvara, Ireland
Poulnabrone portal tomb Co. Claire, Ireland
Poulnabrone portal tomb Co. Claire, Ireland
Galway Bay cliffs
Galway Bay cliffs

Saying goodbye to the place and people was hard. No way around it, I didn’t feel ready to leave and truthfully, I don’t know if I will be able to return, although I hope I will. Because of the latter, I felt more homesick leaving Ireland than I had leaving the U.S. However, it is comforting to think about the people I have back home and the opportunities I’m looking forward to upon my return to Linfield.

Now that I have experienced traveling abroad, I know that should there come a time when I can return to Ireland or travel to another country, I will be ready for it. I have already been planning to teach abroad after college, and this experience has just shown me how incredible an opportunity like that can be. This is not the end!

Goodbye Ireland!
Goodbye Ireland!
Oregon bound
Oregon bound

Weekend Adventures


This was written a MONTH AND A HALF AGO so sorry I’ve been stupid busy

Hi everyone!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend. If you’re anything like me, you’re looking forward to the coming weekend already (and it’s Monday for me haha).

This weekend I went to an island very close to the North Korean border called Ganghwa. It’s about an hour, to an hour and a half bus ride north of Seoul. We left early Saturday morning and made it back around seven pm so it was a much longer day than usual.

Ganghwa is a much older area, you can tell the moment you step off the bus. The people are older, the pace of the city is much slower, clothes, style of buildings, everything. It’s kind of like taking a step back into 2009. It was really interesting to see such an immediate contrast to Sinchon, where Yonsei is located, a place filled with people all the time, where no one is really looking out for anyone else because you don’t have enough time, to this smaller, quaint town where the restaurant owners come out to comment on how cool you are, provide details on the food, and which ones they consider most delicious.

I can’t really tell which one I like more. I love Seoul much more than I thought I would, everything is exactly where I need it and there’s never a moment of pausing to ask “what else can I do” because there’s always something new you could be trying. Conversely, Ganghwa is a place where you have to have a plan when heading there. There isn’t anything that you could do other than sightsee and even then it doesn’t take long. The appealing part of it is that everyone seems much more interested in getting to know you (that might just be because we’re foreigners but whatever). It felt nice to be noticed by Koreans when usually you’re looked past or looked at with disdain). Majority of towns outside of Seoul are like this because so much money is pushed into the big cities, there is less support and infrastructure in smaller towns.

They candies were delicious! I don't know what they called but I keep looking for them
These very smiley old men took our picture and then gave us candy because they were impressed that we could say some things in Korean

We went to Ganghwa because of the rich history. In Ganghwa there used to be several palaces — most of which were burnt down by the Japanese — but some still stand, or they have reconstructed where the palaces would have been if they were once standing.

Ganghwa Island is the fifth largest island in Korea, and is considered the first line of defense for the nation, as every foreign power that has came to Korea — Russia, the US, Japan, and China — have all had to get past Ganghwa, considering it originally stood as a fortress to defend Joseon (that’s the name of the longest dynasty in Korea). The historical museums and the palaces aren’t as large as the original buildings of course, but it was very cool to see just how much history is in this country that I have yet to learn about.

you can also see all of Ganghwa from here!
This is where the largest palace stood until the Japanese had it destroyed in the early 1900s

There’s also a lookout where you can see North Korea but it was too long of a bus ride to get there and back in order to get home in time so we didn’t go (I think we’re going to the DMZ which is cooler anyway).

Also I would go when it’s hot because it was VERY WINDY AND VERY COLD AND WE ALL WERE DYING.

Thanks for tagging along,


Wanna know what’s up?


Hi everyone!

Sorry for the long break between writing, I have been SO busy. Midterms are coming up so everyone is just living with their heads shoved in their books haha.

A few really fun things have happened.

First we had the Korean Cultural Fair — it was amazing! There were performers that came to Yonsei to showcase traditional music and dancing. After the event there were areas where you could try on hangboks — Korean traditional dress, and play games for prizes (I beat this kid Ryan in arm wrestling — go me!)

He also loved to dance! He had everyone dancing during the performances
Ian and I with one of the performers. He performed songs about homesickness and missing your family. Everyone was sad, but it was beautiful

Then after school and then school and then school and then school….It was sunny! On a weekend! When I had free time! Wow!

it also happens that the weather aligned perfectly with the Cherry Blossom Festival that’s famous in Korea and Japan 🙂

It was 22 degrees Celsius, everyone was at the Han River celebrating, and I decided I would put off the festival until Tuesday when I wasn’t bombarded with people — so my friend Jake and I went to Inwangsan — a place where you can hike up a mountain to see the wall that once surrounded Seoul to protect the palace.

It was so much fun!
Check out Jake and I seeing all of Seoul

It was amazing! The steps were old and you had to climb up weird ways sometimes, but it was amazing to stand on top of Seoul and just acknowledge how small you are compared to everyone else. I recommend it to everyone that comes to Korea — it’s been my favorite part of my trip so far.

While on top of Seoul, we met this married couple and their three year old. They’re in the Air Force and are stationed in Ilsan, and they invited us to come stay with them so I might do that one weekend haha.

My friend, Nouria. isn't she pretty?
This is Nouria! There were so many people but it was totally worth it

When I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival, I went to my friend Nouria. She’s Indian and Ethiopian (wow! cool! I’m Ethiopian btw), she lives in France, and she’s here in Korea attending Ehwa Women’s University (across the street from Yonsei) for her Master’s degree. I have the biggest friend crush on her — she knows where I can get Ethiopian food, she took me too a really cheap sashimi place, and she did my hair (woot! woot!). After we went to the festival, we went and got bubble tea then went dancing — it was truly an amazing day.

한국의 삶

안녕하세요 !

테스트가 끝났습니다!

Hi friends,

there are a thousand of these photos
My roommate and I on the first sunny day

Testing is over! Wow do I love not having midterms anymore. I feel like I can finally breathe again.

To celebrate, I went to HipHopPlaya, a Korean hiphop festival that’s thrown in Seoul every year. It was crazy! I was really close to the front, and I got to dance with one of my favorite rappers. I was there all day Saturday, totally got Sunburnt (I didn’t expect it to be hot) and had a blast. I could also rest in hammocks and just listen if I didn’t want to be close to the stage.

I’m gonna link a video, but I’m not sure if it’ll work.

I almost joined but they ran out of room
This is Alan! He came to Yonsei to compete on their fencing team

Lately the weather has been getting much better. I don’t think enough people talk about how many bugs are here, but it’s something I didn’t realize was going to be a big thing.

A few of my favorite things!

Aix en Provence is a small town that feels like it is much bigger. Many people live outside of the city in nearby villages and commute in to go to work or attend school. It is a wealthier town, many older people retire here from Paris, so it is a little on the expensive side. City center is completely walkable and there are a ton of parks. It is a university town with several schools in the area (Bradley Cooper also studied abroad here). This means there are lots of young people, a youthful energy, and businesses aimed at young people. The town is filled with restaurants and cafes. You will never be out of options for a place to eat. Cours Mirabeau is the main drag just south of the city center. Walking along this wide open street you will pass many nice restaurants.

I have begun to pick some of my favorite places I have been to this semester. I hope if you study abroad in Aix you can put these places to good use.

Some of my favorite restaurants include the Mew Cat Cafe (for your furry friend fix, and a good pastry), Book in a Bar (the best bookstore in Aix, also serves coffee, scones and tea), La Table du Maroc (easily my favorite restaurant here. Delicious and authentic Moroccan food (try their mint tea!), SNF (Senegalese restaurant off the beaten path), Pizza Capri (late night slice of pizza to go).

On one of the many sunny days here you can grab a picnic and take it to the IAU art school campus, Marchutz, for a view of the city and some time in nature. Set yourself a scavenger hunt to find all the fountains in Aix, a city known for its many fountains. Parc de la Torse is another great spot for an afternoon lounge, or use their free gym equipment for a workout after a run along the trails. If you’re looking for a more challenging day, you must climb Mt. St. Victoire. Features a gorgeous view at the top and the public bus takes you right to the trail head. Of course with your student ID you get access to all sorts of events and free entrance into most museums.

If you’re looking for an easy day trip hop on a bus or train to a nearby day trip. Nice is great if you’re looking for a larger city with a great beach (perfect for a sunset promenade). Marseille is only a 30 minute bus ride away and is one of the coolest cities in France. It feels more urban and melting pot than other cities. Great museums and a port city. Known from the movie The French Connection. Cassis is one of my favorite coastal cities. Take a boat tour of the calanques, hike from one beach to another, and maybe take a dip in the Mediterranean sea. Going north if you’re looking for a historical trip, try Nimes or Avignon for that Roman feel. When you’re going to all these smaller French towns look out for some local festivals. Some festivals I enjoyed included the Citron, Mimosa and the Carnival de Nice.

Doing all this travel can be stressful. Downloading some of the following apps can help you plan your journeys and find good deals: Go Euro, Skyscanner, Flixbus, Ryanair, Hopper, and Rome2Rio.


Packing for the trip of a lifetime!

By now you probably know if and when you are studying abroad. Before you go abroad you  have to deal with figuring out what classes you will take, your visa application, and what to bring with you when you go. In fact, packing can seem like the most daunting part. How can you pack your entire life into one suitcase? How do you know what exactly you’ll need when you’re abroad? My goal with this post is to help provide some advice on this aspect so that the process goes smoothly for you all.

Hike overlooking village in Cinque Terre.
Hiking Cinque Terre in Italy. One example of an accessible trip from the south of France.

Before you leave, I advise meeting with the Registrars Office and your advisor(s) to figure out what classes you should take while abroad and how to ensure that those classes transfer back to Linfield in the way you want them to. Get your schedule approved prior to going abroad. This will lead to a lot less headaches later and keep you on the right track for graduation (which is the goal, right?). Make and bring copies of everything when you go. This includes your passport, travel insurance, course approvals and similar documents. This will help in case any issues arise while you’re abroad.

Cinque Terre Italy, national park on the coast.
Colorful houses fill many European cities.

The biggest thing to do before studying abroad is to save your money. This seems obvious but it is important to be candid with yourself and family about how much you plan on spending. Establishing a budget is key. Generously speaking I advise saving for 100 Euros a week excluding travel costs, or at least 2,000 for the semester. I got a second / third job to help save for this. Tell your credit and debit cards you will be leaving the country and what dates you will be gone. Other prep that should be done is with the language. Some of the easiest ways to do this outside of the classroom is by watching Netflix in the language you’re studying with subtitles in that language, listening to popular music from the country, or downloading a language learning app.

When it comes to packing your actual things, minimalism and essentialism is key. Don’t over pack because you’re going to inevitably buy stuff while over there. Try to stick to one checked bag and one carry on backpack, this will make your voyage through various airports much easier. Buy things like school supplies and toiletries abroad to save space and travel light. However, keep in mind that the notebooks and lined paper in other countries might be a little different from what you are used to. I found that having the city you will be moving to listed in a weather app a year in advance is helpful, so that you know the weather patterns. You can also look up the average weather at your time of being there. All of this will prepare you for what is to come, and help you know what to pack.

Now to be more specific to my experience in France. When packing, remember that Europeans dress differently than Americans, they’re typically more conservative in dress. It’s also warmer here in the south of France. Before I left, I asked some of the returning students two questions that helped me determine what to bring: what did you bring that you didn’t need, and what did you not bring that you wished that you did. The most important things I brought were sunscreen, my convertor/adapter, rain coat, and a good pair of walking shoes.

Train station under the blue sky.
Train station in Klosters, Switzerland.

Some classes (especially at IAU) take field trips or class excursions, be sure to plan your extracurricular trips around then. When it comes to travel, the earlier you make reservations or plans the cheaper and better. Travel by train and bus is very easy in the south of France. A perk of the Marseille airport is that it has one of the closest Starbucks,  as there is not one in Aix. This is surprisingly touching even if you don’t drink coffee, like a taste of home (or Riley Hall).

Starbucks cup with Lime written on it.
The closest Starbucks to Aix is in the Marseille airport for those of you looking for a taste of home.

Bon voyage!


The Celtic Experience

March has been packed with travel and cultural experiences, kicking off with a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. Another group of international students from NUIG took the same flight and happened to be staying in the same hostel, so it was fun to run in to some familiar faces. Kristen, Paige, and I stayed in Castle Rock Hostel which was super cute and right across the street from Edinburgh Castle, the first castle I’ve toured. We saved some money by making dinner in the hostel kitchen Saturday night, and it was bustling with other travelers. We bonded over shared cooking ingredients and a broken stove top, making us feel right at home.

Charming Castle Rock Hostel, Edinburgh, Scotland
A charming lounge in Castle Rock Hostel, Edinburgh, Scotland

The castle itself was also magnificent. We did pay to go inside which wasn’t my favorite part of the trip given that it largely felt like a war museum (not my thing), however, the chapel was beautiful, there were plenty of city views, and we watched the firing of a canon, so I suppose it was an explosive experience at the very least.

Edinburgh Castle, night
Edinburgh Castle, night
Outside the Edinburgh Castle Cathedral
Outside the Edinburgh Castle Cathedral

A museum experience that I thoroughly enjoyed was at the National Museum of Scotland. The museum is free, massive, and has a plethora of interactive exhibits. Not to mention, it is aesthetically stunning.

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

We also spent a good amount of time wandering, as we are prone to do. This led to several little adventures including an exploration of the University of Edinburgh, and my personal favorite, The Boy Wizard Harry Potter store. I will admit to exhibiting a little too much childlike enthusiasm and purchasing a cauldron mug (it’s so cool!). The employees were kind enough to let us borrow a few wands for a photo op too!

A rare shot with the Boy Wizard himself! From the left, Jordan Keller, Kristen Burke, Harry Potter, and Paige Phillipson
A rare shot with the Boy Wizard himself! From the left, Jordan Keller, Kristen Burke, Harry Potter, and Paige Phillipson

Amidst all of the sightseeing, the highlight was the ghost tour. We took a late night ghost tour down the Royal Mile, through Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetary and down into the vaults beneath the city streets. Our tour guide was absolutely hilarious and dressed in a ghostly period costume, adding to the immersive experience. The tour was a fantastic way to learn a little more about the city’s history and legendary characters, such as little Annie, who is said to appear in the corners of the very vaults we stood in…

A statue of Adam Smith and a street cone, passed on the ghost tour.
A statue of Adam Smith and a street cone, passed on the ghost tour.

The following weekend, we continued to get to know the modern Celtic world through the much beloved holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. This time, Paige, Kristen, and I ventured into Dublin to spend the day and see the parade. Luckily, Dubliners aren’t quite as inclined to camp out for parade spots, so we were able to get a front row view. A quick hop into a tourist shop, and we were decked out and ready to celebrate.

From the left, Kristen Burke, Paige Phillipson, and Jordan Keller, ready for the Dublin St. Patrick's Day parade
From the left, Kristen Burke, Paige Phillipson, and Jordan Keller, ready for the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade

The parade itself was a colorful collage of dancers, floats, and a surprising number of U.S. marching bands. We made friends with a group of international students beside us who were studying in Dublin, taking photos and sharing trivia answers.

Adorable parade performers stealing the show
Adorable parade performers stealing the show

Following the parade, we faced the madness that is the Temple Bar area and met up with Kristen’s friend who is also studying abroad and wanted to visit Ireland for the holiday. The rest of the trip was spent exploring the pub scene, enjoying the revelry, and taking a spin on a nearby Ferris wheel in a truly memorable celebration.

Paige Phillipson and Kristen Burke atop a Ferris wheel, Dublin, Ireland
Paige Phillipson and Kristen Burke atop a Ferris wheel, Dublin, Ireland

I hope you enjoyed the latest update, and the larger photos! I’ll try to go back and modify the size of the ones in my older posts for your viewing pleasure. Stay tuned!

Jordan Keller

Parents in Town: A Culinary Tour

I’m not suggesting I eat better when my parents visit, but let’s just say their pocketbook is a smidge bigger than mine. At least, that’s how it felt during the week they spent visiting me in Ireland and traveling to Paris. But between bites of baguette and macaroon, we made time to see some famous sites as well.

It is difficult to balance family travel time and school when it’s only a vacation for some of us (not me), but it was so worth the extra effort despite the WiFi hunting tours and desperate essay writing attempts made over the course of the week. Traveling with family is a completely different experience than traveling with friends, even though neither I nor my parents had visited Europe prior to this trip.  My parents, being the culinary enthusiasts they are, naturally began their travels in Galway with dinner.

One of our main culinary adventures took place right here in Galway at Aniar. Aniar is one of those small portion, big price tag places you go to once every ten years, but they specialize in local ingredients–they harvest and source all of their ingredients in Ireland and modify their menu based on the day’s harvest. It was great to be able to connect with the landscape of Ireland in a new and delicious way!

A taste of the ocean at Aniar
A taste of the ocean at Aniar

After introducing my parents to the sites and sounds of Galway, we ventured into a new domain, Paris, France. After a bit of a steep learning curve, we figured out the metro system which is so handy! We were able to get everywhere we needed to go via public transportation. Our first stop took us to the Palace of Versailles which is an almost impossibly lavish destination. I felt like a real princess walking past the golden gates into halls decorated with elaborate paintings and chandeliers. The immaculate gardens follow a clear waterway into the distance as though they go on forever. I was ready to move in.

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles
Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

Of course, what first timer’s trip to Paris would be complete without world famous tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower? It is strange to imagine such a culturally ingrained landmark for so long and finally see it in person. It was quite grand!

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

We also toured the Notre Dame, my personal favorite landmark of the trip. I was quite surprised to find, upon entering, that a service was taking place. The contrast between the vast number of tourists and the actual service was a bit unsettling for me at first, but I’m grateful I got to hear a pair of boys sing for the crowd, and the experience on the whole was indeed heavenly.

Notre Dame, Paris, France
Notre Dame, Paris, France

As someone who is unfortunately not a museum person, I have to admit that the expansive collection at the Lourve is quite impressive. I also have to admit that I entertained myself by (internally and respectfully) making fun of paintings and statues. But in all seriousness, it is a truly remarkable collection of work and artifacts, and I envy the skill and patience it must have taken to create the world renowned works.

Classic art or a sassy family photo?
Classic art or a sassy family photo?

Last, but certainly not least, we took a break from the sightseeing and crowds of tourists to enjoy a picnic in the Paris sunshine at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. The park was a breath of fresh air situated just outside the bustle of Paris, and features a temple atop a re-purposed quarry with a lovely view.

Picnic goodies
Picnic goodies
First steps into the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
First steps into the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

As all things do, our trip came to an end, and my parents flew back to Oregon. But with one week of classes left, I’ll soon be off on my final and longest journey yet. I’m looking forward to meeting up with familiar faces in some spectacular new locations. Send good vibes my way, as I attempt to complete my finals in spite of the upcoming Spanish sunshine.

Jordan Keller