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In the midst of finals season and studying for my last final, I have decided to take a break in order to reflect on the past four months.

I guess I knew my time in Ireland would go by quick, especially given all the fun I've had and new memories I'll be able to keep with me forever. Being in Ireland has not only allowed me to become more independent, but it has demonstrated to me that there is more to life than just work, work, and more work. It has given me a mind set which incorporates hard work and relaxation. In other words, a balance.

In Ireland I was able to make time for making new friends, partaking in different cultures, relaxing on the weekends, all while still managing to take four engineering courses and labs. The work was not easier or less demanding, it was just that having the opportunity to be abroad for four months would not allow me to dwell on the idea of how difficult heat transfer or biomedical signal processing were to understand.

I was able to meet a multitude of different, interesting people, that I hope to stay friends with for the rest of my life. They will forever be a part of a memory which I will never forget. I have seen incredible landscapes and nature, all while learning about so much history my classes back in the states did not teach me. Traveling to Budapest, Prague, and Vienna was not only a fun experience, but one in which I got to learn in as well.

...continue reading "It's A See You Later Not A Goodbye"

By danirendon9

So it's almost December, and I am here wondering where did the time go?

I have honestly lived out each day of study abroad as if it were my first day in a new country, yet one semester does not feel enough. It is already my final week of classes, finals start in two weeks, and then after that I am headed back to the States. So where did the last few weeks go?

Well, November was a month of more Irish travel for me. I visited Kilkenny, Cork, Giant's Causeway (again), Dun Laurigoh, Bray, and a bunch of other little neighboring cities. I was excited to visit KIlkenny and Cork because I got to go inside castles that have been standing for thousands of years now. I got to kiss the famous blarney stone and am hoping to receive that some eloquence rubs off. In Kilkenny, I strolled through Medieval Mile in which there is an abundance of history and landmarks along the mile.

In Dun Laurigoh, I gathered the courage to go into the notorious Forty Foot. The Forty Foot is a Dubliner's right of passage and is a small bathing area into the cold, cold shores of the Atlantic. So at 6am, me and a couple of friends, got ourselves out of bed and headed towards the coast to jump into freezing cold water. Within seconds the water felt fine, but that was only because my body went numb. There were even seals that swam up to us and came over to play! If you're ever in Dublin (yes, at any time of the year), make sure to do this right of passage!

...continue reading "Almost December"

By danirendon9

I've been living in Ireland for almost two months now, and it still feels surreal that I am not in the United States and won't be for another two months. It's the longest I've been outside of the country, and to be honest, I have yet to become homesick. Once you get past the fact that home is across the Atlantic ocean and about a six hour flight away, you realize how much closer to the rest of the European world you are.

Since I've been in Ireland, I have traveled within the country, as well as to Iceland, London, and Paris. Next weekend I will travel to Brussels and Amsterdam, and later on to Budapest and Prague. Without trying to make anyone too jealous, I'd like to document my travels in hopes of inspiring everyone to maybe get out of their comfort zones and start traveling! Traveling is the best way to gain new experiences, meet new people, take part in different cultures, eat good food, and make unforgettable memories.

The first place I visited outside of Ireland was Paris, France. I was there for a weekend and got all the essentials in which included the Louvre, Versailles, Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and of course macarons and crepes. The entire experience was all so surreal, I'm still in awe I was there to witness all the landmarks. Here are some tips when visiting:

...continue reading "Across the Pond and Beyond"

Although everyone in Ireland- and most of Europe- speaks English, there are so many other phrases, habits, and common knowledge every American should know before crossing the pond.

For example, it’s very common for the Irish to get excited about something fun and call it ‘good craic.,’ which in English sounds like ‘good crack.’ Obviously, coming from the states and never having heard this term so loosely before alarmed me before realizing its actual translation. Thankfully for me, there weren’t too many other phrases I came across that could be interpreted differently. Most of the phrases that are new to me and aren’t too common back in the states include ‘cheers’ or ‘that’s grand.’ Trust me, these phrases catch on quickly.

Other aspects of Irish culture that were new to me included getting used to calling fries ‘chips,’ and the abundance of flavors of Doritos with their respective salsa dips not available back home. You would also be shocked to find that the stereotypical potato, cabbage, and beef stew, aren’t as common as you initially thought. While yes, these are staples to Irish diet, it is more so popular in tourist restaurants. Instead, if you’re looking to try unique Irish meals, you should order lamb and cheese considering it’s all from fresh farms. Or even seafood- Ireland is an Island after all! There is an incredible variation of good food in Ireland almost anywhere you go, not just Guinness.

...continue reading "Things to Know Before Visiting Ireland- or Europe!"

Ireland is visited and loved by thousands of visitors each year, most of whom do not have any complains. No one really tells you about the rainy weather which plagues Ireland almost every day, they only tell you to bring a raincoat. Well let me tell you now, it rains a few times a day, every day.

Despite the notoriously bad weather, the Irish are hopeful, cheerful, and fun loving. They're charming and almost everyone is willing to help a lost American trying to read her map in downtown Dublin. It's exactly the type of warm welcoming you need when you're 3,000 miles away from home.

I arrived at The University College Dublin in Ireland as part of the GW Exchange program about two weeks ago and have been enjoying it ever since. There were several receptions which allowed for international students to mingle and take part in traditional Irish dancing- which is something everyone should try at least once. I have also enrolled in several clubs since the beginning of classes which include the engineering society, food society, and mountaineering club. Clubs are the best way to meet the locals and not only are they fun and social, but they come with a ton of benefits as well! For example, each club you join (only 2 EUROS) will give you a membership card that provides you with discounts at several stores and restaurants, and comes with weekly trips to take part in.

...continue reading "Ireland! Where it rains 16/7 days a week…"