Skip to content

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…"

By emilycreighton


I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland the weekend of St. Patrick's Day. Despite the heightened tourism, the city was absolutely incredible. I left a piece of my heart there and plan to return someday.

If you can't tell from my pale skin and rosy cheeks, I come from Irish heritage. I remember shamrock decorations and pictures of roaring hills scattered throughout my grandma's house. I remember a lamb stuffed animal from my childhood singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." Therefore, I was so excited to be able to travel to my homeland.

The weather, however, was not that great. As per usual, the days were cold, rainy, and cloudy. But that didn't stop my adventures. The first day, I set out to visit the Cliffs of Moher. The weather report loomed cloudy but no rain (unlike the rest of my time there). So, I figured it would be the best day to visit the cliffs.

...continue reading "Ireland!"

By kennatim

When it comes to coursework at Dublin City University, the phrase “different from GW” is definitely an understatement. Final exams are pretty comparable to GW here, with normal planning but a focus on the individual: expecting outside research and inaccessible professors. The strangest part of exams to me is that many of them are taken in the basketball gym.

If you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) like I am, you have no exams. Instead, you suffer though a host of 3,000 word essays all due in the same two-week period. Although being a native speaker of English definitely puts me at an advantage over my foreign peers, jumping into third-level Irish classes in the Spring semester gives you no indication of the correct way to format, cite, write, research, and just about do anything the Irish way. And with the inaccessibility of professors, you are left guessing and praying that you get a passing grade.

The most difficult thing to get used to is the grading. 70 out of 100 is a very good grade, and 60 is decent. But you can also apparently get up to 100. This boggles my mind. If 70 is so good, what does it take to get a 100? These are the types of questions I will not miss upon my return to the states.

With some easier classes and some more difficult classes, there have been challenges in how independent the learning comparably can be. But by far, the biggest challenge has been getting accustomed to being, thinking, and acting like an Irish student in producing your work. I have approached this by spending a ton of time researching, writing, fact-checking, and doing just about everything I can think of, spending entire days in the DCU library. Now my time will be spent patiently awaiting my results, due out in the early summer. Pray for me.

By kennatim

As our study abroad experience winds down before we can even blink, my friends and I have already been discussing how much we will miss this sights, sounds, places, foods, and basically everything except school. This is much in part due to how fortunate I have been to travel a few weekends, the family I have met in Ireland, my great group of friends, but mostly due to how amazing my adopted city of Dublin truly is. Dublin has everything: a walkable inner city, a lovely coastline, beautiful suburbs, one of Europe’s largest inner city parks, and awesome attractions like the Guinness Storehouse, Christ Church Cathedral, and Kilmainham Jail. And with easy transportation to every corner of Ireland, and cheap flights going across Europe each day, it is really the place to be.

One of my favorite parts of the city has been the restaurants and pubs. Dublin is nothing without its good food and famous nightlife. The Irish often spend hours at a restaurant and even longer at the pub. There are three spots in particular that I really enjoyed.

  • Brasserie Sixty6 is a restaurant in the City Centre with outstanding food and a great atmosphere. It was something my cousin’s wife recommended for us while my parents were in town. While it was not a spot where I would come for an average meal with my friends, it was a great place to share with family. My two course meal ended with a huge burger and fries (or “chips,” a classic Irish accompaniment to just about every meal). But what really made this place one of my favorites was my first course: duck confit. The meat fell off the bone and the taste rivaled that of the same dish that I had in Paris, when my friend nudged me to try it and I was hooked. I think what really set this meal apart was that I was able to spend it with my family: my cousin and my Irish family, and my parents who came and visited for the week! And the icing on the cake (no pun intended) was that it was my mom’s birthday, and the staff wrote a message in chocolate on a plate with a dessert for her!
  • Skinflint was a tiny restaurant in an alley in the City Centre that I was dragged to by my foodie friends. I am really glad they brought me along. In the small, trendy dining room, with mason jars full of lemonade and personal pizzas all around, I was treated to a goat cheese pizza with red grape and pork meatballs in béchamel sauce. It is probably still my favorite meal in Dublin. It was so good that on the very first night my parents were in Dublin, I brought them there. As they say don’t fix what ain’t broke. I ordered the exact same meal. Luckily, it was buy one pizza, get one free Mondays, so on top of all that, I got to try something new and got a doggie bag to take home for the next day’s lunch!
  • No list of Dublin establishments would be complete without mention of a pub. The Palace Bar is my favorite. If you are looking for that authentic Dublin pub experience, avoid the tourists in Temple Bar because this is it. It has been operating since the early 1800s and the interior largely has remained unchanged.

I am excited to hopefully add to this list as I see what my final two weeks in Ireland have in store!

Grave of my great-great grandfather's gravesite in the village of Cloonfush
Grave of my great-great grandfather's gravesite in the village of Cloonfush

One of the main reasons behind my decision to study in Ireland was my family background. Although I never had any contact with my Irish relatives prior to this trip, they have made my semester so much better. As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, my cousin Joe has taken me on trips exploring much of Ireland. A few weekends back I got the surreal experience of visiting the village of my ancestors.

My program of 34 Americans here at DCU was scheduled for a bus trip exploring the West of Ireland. It was a great time where we got to experience everything from the eclectic Galway City to the barren but beautiful Achill Island. At the end of the excursion, Joe met me to explore a bit more of Connemara and go on our way to Tuam, Co. Galway, about 40 minutes outside of the city.

Tuam is a small village that only recently has been connected easily to Galway City and henceforth Dublin with the advent of EU money funding new roads in Ireland. As we were about to enter the town, Joe made a quick left onto a long, narrow road. There was not much to this area except a few old houses, some new houses, a lot of land, and a couple sheds. As Joe’s brother Maurice told me later that night, even though the family home was no longer standing, this village known as Cloonfush is “where is all began.”

At the very end of the road, there was an old cemetery. We searched the graves until we found the grave of my great-great-grandfather of Cloonfush in the picture shown. Being in the footsteps of my ancestors and seeing this cemetery was unreal and an experience I will never forget.

We then carried on to Tuam, where I was shuttled around to a few houses to meet cousins, aunts, etc. Pictures were taken, stories were told, family trees were drawn and analyzed, and of course there was plenty of tea. That night I then had the pleasure of enjoying a couple pints with my distant cousins at a local pub. I spent the night at my grandmother’s first cousin’s house. Although we had to leave early the next morning, I was so fortunate to get such a grand welcome into Cloonfush, Tuam, and the whole west of Ireland. “Where it all began.”

By Ashlyn

I've been in Copenhagen so long that I had forgotten that larger, louder cities exist on this planet. Case in point: Dublin. My communications class made the trip out to Ireland two weeks ago for our long study tour. We visited a number of interesting sites -- including Europe's Google, Facebook, and Amazon headquarters -- and learned about how new media influences communities in Dublin (as opposed to Copenhagen or the United States).

If you're thinking about making a trip to Dublin, here are a few can't-miss stops. We were only in the city for a few days (and most of that time was devoted to academic visits), but I still felt like I was able to get a good feel for the city and its culture!

The Guinness Storehouse. Any visitor to Dublin must go here. Guinness is ubiquitous in Ireland, especially in Dublin where the big storehouse stands. The museum is enormous with several huge floors, multiple bars and restaurants, and interesting activities around every corner. Tickets come with a voucher for a free pint -- try learning how to pull your own pint, or head to the top floor for a beautiful bird's eye view of the city at the Gravity Bar.

Malahide Castle. This 12th Century castle is the perfect destination for a half-day trip from the city. Situated in the midst of a beautiful botanical garden, the castle is a fascinating glimpse into the world of old Ireland. Take a tour inside the castle and hear about the Talbots, who lived there until 1976 -- and the ghosts who are said to haunt the castle to this day.

Temple Bar. The best way to experience Irish culture is to go to an Irish pub -- and the best place to do just that is in Temple Bar. Temple Bar is itself a bar, but it is also the name of an area of the city famous for its Irish pubs. We visited several pubs, including the Brazen Head (the oldest pub in Dublin), and O'Donoghues, which features traditional Irish music. Be sure to order a pint and some Irish food -- I recommend mussels, bangers and mash, and Irish stew.

The Book of Kells. Now on display in Trinity College in the heart of Dublin, the Book of Kells is a beautiful illuminated manuscript that is well worth the cost to visit. The book is thought to have been created around 800 A.D. and was hand-crafted by monks. After viewing the book, you can take a walk around Trinity College's gorgeous library. Bibliophiles will not want to miss this!