Our last week

April 22 – 26

Now that our classes are over, it has really set in that I am leaving this week. Sunday and Monday I was sad and didn’t want to knowledge that I was actually leaving. Now, its Wednesday and I’m in full panic mode. I’ve already packed my bags and I’m just sitting anxious waiting for my departure on Saturday.

In the meantime, we are still staying busy. Monday we all shared our community service projects that we were required to do. Alana, Emily, and I all took the initiative to pick up trash. We did this for three days, walking along shorelines, around Park Lodge, and the main road in front the the hotel. While doing this, we noticed that were no plastic bags to be picked up and it was mainly cans and bottles. Here, you have to bring your own reusable bags to the stores, so it goes to show that it does make an impact to ban plastic bags. This has inspired me to use only reusable bags when I go back home. While littering is enviable for some, I think doing this back home too can and will tremendously help our planet. Tuesday, we took the last day trip to Yeats Tower, Cool Park, and the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher surprised me in the aspect of how touristy it was. There were tons of shops to stop at before even getting to the actual cliffs. TONS of people were there and in every direction you look. Despite the crowds, I still loved seeing it. The views were once again amazing. Following our day trip, we went and had a fancy dinner at the owner of Park Lodges house. The women served us delicious food and I was stuffed leaving. I don’t think I ate that much the entire trip.

Today is Wednesday and I finishing up the rest of my coursework, the blogs and feedback forms for the excursions. Tonight we will a potluck with everyone to say our goodbyes as people start leaving tomorrow. It is crazy to think I’ve spent the last 3 months with these people and I may never see them again. I have grown so close to everyone and learned someinteresting – things about everyone here.

The potluck will unfortunately not be getting one of cottage 4’s famous meals. Every night I cook for Alana, Emily, and I. I think this is one of my favorites things I can look forward to about the day. Each night someone plays loud music while I cook and we spend the time singing, laughing, and dancing. The fourth roommate probably dreads dinner time, hearing our musically declined voices attempt to hit every note in the songs. Believe it or not, I didn’t do much cooking before I came, so taking the initiative to cook for us was intimidating in the beginning. The pans are not non-stick so you can imagine how the first week went. As you can see below, we ate pretty good (in my opinion) most nights. We eat our veggies almost everyday along the main thing. Cottage 4 favorites include loads of pasta, tacos, spring rolls, and putting BBQ on pretty much any and everything possible.

The rest of the week will be us finishing up things to leave our cottages. I have loved staying in the cottages at Park Lodge and hope to return one day! Thanks for reading along with my adventures ~ XOXO Erin in Ireland


Journal Entry – Week 9 & 10

April 7 – 13

It’s Monday and we’ve just gotten back from our Northern Ireland trip. Today we visited the Knock Shrine, which I surprisingly found fascinating. Since religion isn’t a huge factor in my life right now I didn’t think I’d take much interest in this, but I did. In the basilica, there’s a mosaic with over 1.5 million pieces to it. Supposedly at this sight, it’s the only place in the world that witnessed an apparition of Mary, Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Lamb and cross on an altar at the wall of the Parish Church.

Tuesday we had our final literature class. Now I just have to type a paper and it will be over. Wednesday we were back on our tin whistles! I am still having trouble switching my fingers this fast, but I’ll keep practicing. Thursday we had our final history class. We spent the majority of the class finishing up Irelands more recent history; but got to share our iMovie for our professor and directors. We were all worried that our professor wouldn’t like it or could be offended since we tried to make it humorous. Luckily, she thought it was hilarious and wants to show her colleagues. At the end of class, both the class and our professor exchanged gifts as it was our last time seeing each other. I genuinely hope she is able to come back in the following years for other UNK students because she had so much knowledge and was very passionate about us learning it. Thursday night, 9 out the 10 of us went to Galway to celebrate being done. This was our last night in Galway and it makes me sad to think I won’t experience it again. Us girls had uncoordinated planning wearing the same few colors: yellow, black, and olive green. Sunday through Wednesday we were traveling through southern parts of Ireland.

April 15 – 19

Sunday we left for the last excursion of the entire trip. The end is approaching fast and I am not sure how to feel about it. Sunday we visited a number of places. Starting with the Kerry Writers Museum, followed by a sheepdog farm, famine cottages, and a blasket centre. At the sheepdog farm we got to feed donkeys, hold baby lambs, and see sheep get heard by dogs. I found it amazing how well the dogs were trained to listen to their owner and heard the sheep. Growing up family friends had Border Collies as dogs and I always would see them “herding” balls but this time I got to see Border Collies herding an actual herd. This is was my favorite part on this excursion!

Monday we drove the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 100 mile scenic view. While we were driving the route, we got to experience rain, rain, and more rain. While meandering through the very windy roads we were able to see mountains and lakes. The weather was a bit of a damper but the views were still amazing and I would recommend everyone to take this drive. The fog setting over the mountains made it very ominous.

Tuesday we took a spontaneous trip to the Ross Castle, as our lovely bus driver recommended it for the views. I can assure you that it did not disappoint. Following we visited the infamous Blarney Castle. Of course I had to kiss it for good luck. The Blarney Castle was – thankfully – much easier to maneuver around than any other castle we’ve been to. Wednesday we left Cork, and went to the Rock of Cashel and a workhouse. The workhouse was a very humbling place to visit.

Thursday we had our final music class. We all believed we had mastered the song Galway Girl, from the movie PS I Love You. However, after hearing the recording of us playing a few days later, I don’t think we actually came anything near mastering it. Friday, the weather was beautiful, so all the cottages took advantage and had an impromptu day party! I even got sunburnt – so don’t let anyone tell you you can’t get sunburnt in Ireland because I’m living proof. Everyone came to our cottage for the day where we listened to music and shared stories with each other.

Journal Entry – Week 8

April 1-5

Classes continued on as normal this week. In the Irish culture class we are learning to play the tin whistle. Our class elected the song Galway Girl from the movie PS I Love You. The beginning of the song is repetitive and easy to learn. The second part has become more difficult but I will be practicing before the next class. Playing the tin whistle reminds me of playing the recorder in elementary school.

Thursday we left for Northern Ireland. Being completely honest, I was not looking forward to this excursion because I was tired and the length we were going to be gone was longer than any other we’ve taken. Thursday we visited Drumclif Parish Church, where Yeats, the poet, is buried. Our literature professor loves Yeats but I cannot say I feel the same about him, or his writing. Our second visit was the Lissadell House. The tour guide was role playing one of the girls that once lived there. However, it took some time for me (and everyone else) to figure this out. Piecing it together really caused me some confusion. After the tour we talked and laughed about us figuring it out. What really set me off, was the guide saying her sister had died in 1927, but the guide looked around 30; the rusted over tools displayed, among other things. Our last visit was to the Tower Museum in Derry. We had the night to ourselves, where a small group of us got Mexican food and ventured around Derry. For never being in this city before, we never got lost on our walk back to the hostel. This I would say, is something we have become good at doing – not getting lost in the unfamiliar cities. Friday, we visited the Museum of Free Derry and took a walking tour afterwards. On the walking tour we got to see many of the murals painted around the city. I found this part of the trip interesting because they talked a lot about Bloody Sunday, and the museums main focus was Bloody Sunday. I previously looked at the art from Bloody Sunday in a humanities class I took in high school, so it was interesting to learn more about the history. After, we got to go to the Giants Causeway! I loved seeing this! The formation of the landscape amazed me once again. The outdoor parts of the field trips are my favorite so I knew I would love this – it was what I was looking forward most to on this excursion. The Giants Causeway is now on my top 5 favorites in Ireland. Saturday we had another tour, but this time in Belfast. I particularly enjoyed this tour because it was a bus tour (if you know me, I hate walking). We had a free afternoon, so we went to the Ulster Museum and Rose Garden. Right now at the Ulster Museum they have an exhibit displaying Leonardo Di Vinci’s sketches. Now I have seen multiple pieces by Di Vinci, which many people cannot say and am so very grateful for that. In the Rose Garden there was two greenhouses, where we spent lots of time admiring ALL the plants. Alana, Emily, and I sat in the park for a couple hours taking advantage of the nice sunny weather Ireland was giving us. Sunday, we visited the Titanic Museum. This museum was the one I was looking forward to the most, however it wasn’t my favorite. While inside the museum, they had a ride that took you around the building of the titanic. I found this exhibit in the museum refreshing since no other museums have yet had that. My favorite part of the Titanic, was listening to the recordings of people recalling what happened as well as the section displaying the timeline of SOS calls being made. Check into next weeks blog to see what happened Monday!

Journal Entry – week 7

March 25 – 29

Sorry to those reading this journal in advance because it will be a little scatter brained. This week was a calm week – which was very much needed. We had our 4 classes during the week and took a trip to Strokestown on Friday. Strokestown was a history museum about the famine, however the museum seemed to focus on a specific family rather than the actual famine. Below is a picture with arches of a nearby monastery. Saturday we got to go back to Galway for the market.

The market in Galway is one of my favorite things about Ireland. I love going and seeing what all the vendors have, especially since almost all of the items are homemade. The market is very similar to ones back home, ranging from purses, to jewelry, to doormats and much, much more. In class on Monday, we had to set goals on something we wanted to accomplish before we left. My goal was to try the homemade empanadas from the market. Alana, Emily and I all tried the empanadas. I’m so glad that I did get one because it was delicious and the woman working was so sweet. She made them to order so it was hot and fresh when we got them. Typically people pair a sauce with them, but we were unknowing which to choose, so she let us try them all for free. I tried the vegetarian empanada, so it was filled with vegetables and some type of sauce. Alana and Emily both got the Irish beef one, which they let me try, and it was equally as delicious. The three of us typically let each other try everything … everywhere we go. Also while we were in the market, we stopped at the donut stand! Again it was made fresh in front of us. The guy making to donuts even was joking around with us. Lastly, there is a chain coffee shop, throughout Europe, called Caffe Nero and I am obsessed with the caramel iced lattes. The rest of the day we just walked around enjoying the city.

I included some pictures of Ireland I have taken around Park Lodge. The picture with the green plants captures the essence of all the green around the Emerald Isle.

Now that spring break has ended, it feels the like entire program is ending tomorrow. I am sad and don’t want to go home quite yet. Fortunately, I haven’t felt homesick while being here. We have only a few weeks left and not many of the days will actually be spent at Park Lodge. This coming weekend we will be going to Northern Ireland.

As the program is coming to an end, this means our final grades will soon be due. In our literature class we are writing a paper over our choice from previous readings. In the history class we are creating a movie depicting Irish history from what we have learned in class. I love when classes allow you to do projects/etc. rather than the standard test at the end of the chapter. I am very appreciative to have loads of support on the movie from both Wendy (the program director) and Jackie (the history professor). Overall, I am a little anxious to see how the grades will be determined because we don’t do any assignments, so there isn’t any physical work to base it off of.

Spring Break pt. 2

March 18 – 22

Monday morning Emily, Alana, and I flew out of Dublin to Krakow, Poland. Poland is what I was most looking forward this entire trip. Monday night, Alana and I tried Indian food for dinner, and it only cost 3.13. Poland is dirt cheap and that was very nice. When we were at our hostel, there was only 1 other person in the room and it was a male in his underwear. This man walked around the whole hostel in just his underwear, but it was only one night so it was manageable. Tuesday, we visited Auschwitz. On the tour, you were given headphones to wear so you could hear what the guide was saying if you weren’t next to her. With the knowledge I have about WW2 I am slightly surprised that the tour wasn’t more gruesome with what was happening. For example, the guide said the prisoners would work at the camps, but didn’t go into detail what the work consisted of. At the museum, I bought a book about clinical and psychiatric studies performed and I am very excited to read it. After the tour, we walked around in the city square and tried chocolate covered fruit. Wednesday morning we had an extremely early flight to Paris, so we had all to wander the city. During the day we saw, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffiel tower. The metro system was difficult to understand, but we managed to figure it out and even knew where the different routes went by the end of trip. Thursday we went to Disneyland!! I’ve never been to Disney so why not start in Paris?! We spent the whole day there riding every single ride and even taking awkward pictures with Darth Vader, finishing the night watching fireworks and the light show. Friday, we went to the Louvre and got to see the Mona Lisa. After, we got to go to my pick, Versailles! The gardens were beautiful and it was such a nice day that we spent a few hours just sitting in the garden talking. After all the traveling, I was excited to get back to Park Lodge on Saturday.

Spring Break pt. 1

March 11 – 15

The week started off with class Monday and Tuesday. Immediately after class on Tuesday the 8 of us girls took off for the Airport. Wednesday through Saturday all the girls, except Alana and Emily (who I met up with for part 2) went to Edinburgh, Scotland. Before arriving in Edinburgh I was very skeptical and hesitant to why we were going and if I would even like it. Surprisingly enough, I loved it. The architecture of the buildings were beautiful. They use pounds as there currency, which is more than both Euros and USD. However, most things we did were free. We visited the National museum of Scotland and it is easily the largest museum I’ve ever been in. There were so many wings and floors that I don’t know how anyone could finish it all in one day. In the picture below, you can see the main room that allows you to access the other exhibits. Each exhibit was dedicated to its own theme; clothing, instruments, etc. Other free things we did included an Edinburgh city walking tour and a ghost tour. We also went on two pub crawls which was a fun experience that let us meet other people that were traveling from around the world. I would recommend this for anyone to try! I wish I tried them in the other cities I wen to. We walked to the Edinburgh Castle to see the view of the city. On the Royal Mile, which is the main strip in Edinburgh, there’s a stone heart. I took the picture the first day we were there because I thought it was cool that it was in the sidewalk. The next day we took the walking tour of Edinburgh and learned that theres a tradition of Scottish people spitting on it because of the prison that was once there.

On Saturday, we flew back to Dublin so we could celebrate St. Patricks Day the next day. We all felt we HAD to go back to the Emerald Isle to celebrate since it’s a once in a lifetime chance. Here we caught the end of the parade and then just adventured around the city for the rest of the day. At the end of the night, we went back to the airport since we had an early flight Monday morning. I have learned the lesson the hard way, you cannot get any sleep in the airport. Incase you were wondering, the McDonalds staff did not let you sleep in booths even if you bought food.

Journal Entry 4

March 4-8

During the week, we had our typical literature class. This professor has us doing the same as the previous weeks, where we read over the week then just discuss what we read. At times, I wish he would switch up the routine because doing this for three hours is difficult to stay focused. The history class took a trip to pub called the Kings Head for the days lesson. After we took a trip to University of Galway (where our professors come from) to have a debate over the legacy of Oliver Cromwell. The Gaelic class this week had a lesson over Irish football and hurling – where we got to go outside and try it for ourselves!

This past weekend we went to the Aran Islands. As of now, I would say this is my favorite place we have visited. We were on the main island, Inishmore. All three islands only have a combined population of 700, and I found this very surprising. The first day, we visited Dun Aonghasa. Here we looked over the steep cliffs down to the water. The water, overall, has been much bluer than I anticipated. I wish we could have spent more time here as I found it very peaceful. We then adventured over to the The Worm Hole which is a huge, natural rectangular shaped hole in the ground that is filled with sea water. The second day, we got to explore the islands ourselves, however the weather did not want us to. This didn’t discourage us, as 6 of us rented bikes to ride around the island. The first stop on the bikes was the beach. As we were walking along the sand, it started hailing. Throughout the day it was hailing on and off. When it starting hailing, we could hug one of the numerous walls to hide. In the picture, you can see the start of the hail beginning to form on the side of the rode. Attempting to escape the storm, we found a little cafe/gift shop and spoke to owner on what spots to visit – he suggested The Black Fort. At the Black Fort, we got to see another amazing view of the cliffs. While the weather was poor, I would do the same thing over again if given the chance because the memories are one of a lifetime.

Journal Entry 3

February 25 – March 1

Things in Ireland differ compared to our typical daily lives in the States. Day to day life is paced at a much slower rate here in Ireland. Time passes but you don’t feel rushed. I enjoy the laid back atmosphere here, as cliche as it sounds you really get to smell the roses and take everything in. The food items are pretty similar both inside a grocery store and restaurants. Since we cook most nights, we eat typical American foods such as mac & cheese, hamburgers, pastas, tacos, etc. All of the food doesn’t have the same preservatives compared to home. This is nice because it feels like we are eating genuine food vs. a bunch of processed things. Going off of the food, the lifestyle of the Irish people all around tend to be healthier. One of professors estimated about 25% of the population was overweight. However, I would have to disagree and say I have yet to see an over weight Irish person. He explained that this number was very high, and the country is teaching students at a young age that what you put in your body is directly correlating to your health and lifestyle. Looking around you will see people walking or out for a jog. I am curious if the laid back lifestyle is a factor in the healthiness; as I believe at home many are rushed, stressed and don’t even look at what they are eating they are just happy to get a meal in. Lastly, the clothing is what I consider to be a biggest difference. Many times back home, myself included, people will go out in what your lounging in at home. However, when taking trips into Galway and the past field trip, people do not do this here, whatsoever. I would wear leggings and sweatshirt out back home and feel comfortable and not self-conscious at all. Here, the people always look presentable. Females will have their have hair done and makeup on. As I have been told by the locals, we look American. This has been a challenge I am trying to overcome because I don’t want to stick out. Immediately after someone asks “You’re American?”, I ask how they knew. Each time the answer has been different, one time it was my belt. The first night we spent out in Galway, I met two very nice girls that said when we walked in they knew we were American. I wore leggings, a sweater, and a jean jacket. Again, I asked how they knew, their response was that leggings were to not be worn out, especially at a night out in a social manner, as we were in. Another girl was wearing a cardigan, headband, and small hoop earrings. This also appeared to be a dead give away to them, the headband is only allowed for working out and the hoops needed to be much bigger. I had noticed that lots of girls were wearing a full face of makeup. All the girls in this trip from Kearney stick to the “natural look” even when wearing makeup. The Irish girls wear full coverage foundation/etc., fill in their eyebrows, eyeshadow, fake eyelashes, and sometimes lipstick.

The language from the locals was a barrier at first. However, now after the third week I understand what people are saying most of the time. The first few days when someone would speak I would just stare at them trying to process what was just said. That was quite awkward, and thankfully doesn’t happen often.

Thursday through Sunday we went on an excursion to Dublin. Thursday, we visited Clonmacoise Monastery and Kilmainham Gaol (Jail). The jail was my favorite school-sponsored field trip. Friday, we took a three hour walking tour and a tour of the Irish Parliament. I then learned you cannot take a butterknife into the Irish Parliament Saturday, we had a free day, where I spent it at the Jameson Distillery. Sunday, we visited Newgrange and Trim Castle.

Journal Entry 2

February 18 – 22

This week some of the classes took a different approach to learning than the traditional classroom setting. Monday, we reviewed some Gaelic vocabulary we had learned the previous week. I find Gaelic extremely challenging to learn. Some of the phrases have a very long spelling but are pronounced in only a syllable or two. In the Special Topics class, also Monday, we each shared something we found easy/difficult/interesting/etc. When doing this, I find it makes the class better because of the connections between others and bonds are formed. Wednesday, we took a trip to Spiddal for the Intro to Gaelic class. In Spiddal, we had a local teacher show us around the town and tell us the history behind the buildings. So now, aside from knowing the history I know where and what the locals think about the places. Seeing the places in person vs. just talking about them helps me to get a real picture and take more interest into the topic. As an education major, I find this very important for classes to do things outside the tradition realm of teaching because of all the different learning styles.

Over the weekend, we traveled to Westport, Castlebar, and Murrisk. First we visited toured Pearse Cottage at Rosmuc. Pearse Cottage was built by Patrick Pearse, who was a writer, educator, and leader of the 1916 uprising. Second the cottage, we visited Kylemore Abbey, which was magnificent. The architecture is amazing to look at. While we never actually went inside, the outside and grounds were pleasing enough at all angles I don’t mind. Our third stop was at the Country Life museum at Castlebar. Here, I learned that you can preserve eggs, which they did during the winter months. As a class, and our lovely driver, John, ventured into the cemetery next door. Here we found a grave with the last name Kearney 🙂 While everyone else was still at the cemetery, I found some sheep in the yard next store. They were very standoffish and attentive to all the noises around them. I unfortunately didn’t get to touch them, but they were cute.

Journal Entry 1

February 11 – 15

I have now been in Ireland for one week! The first week of classes are completed. Monday, which is the Special Topics class, went to the city of Galway for a walking tour. I particularly enjoyed this tour because it contained both historical knowledge and a live look at the city. On the tour, we walked through the main streets of Eyre Square seeing live music and local shops. The other three classes consisted to be what I expected. After class, each day has varied. Some days we spent time napping, another we did our assignments.

Tuesday, we walked 2 miles to the closest town Spiddal, which only has about 1500 people. I always find smaller towns fascinating because my high school had a higher population. The scenery walking to town and once we arrived is beautiful. Everything is green and there are moss/plants flourishing everywhere. This is refreshing compared to the freezing cold and blanketing snow back home. While walking I tripped – more than once – because I was too busy looking at my surroundings rather than where I was headed. Attentive to what was around me, I noticed things were different than from what I am used to. The biggest being that the cars drive on the opposite side of the road. This at first, was frightening was going around the round-a-bouts because I kept thinking the cars were going to hit directly into us. Another obvious difference are the measurements. Nothing is measured in miles, feet, or even ounces and pounds. Mile markers back home are usually a green sign, whereas here they are large cement blocks engraved. Ireland uses Euros as its currency, but the difference in Euros and USD are not all the dollar bills are the same size and there is one and two dollar coins. All of these things are a bit different than what I am used to, however hasn’t been a that difficult of a transition.

Wednesday and Thursday, we headed into Galway as a group to try out a couple of the pubs. This week was called “rag” week where college students have a week off. During this week many of the Irish students travel to Galway for pubs. While out, I talked to many Irish students attempting to learn where the good spots were throughout the city for shopping, entertainment, and food. Saturday, we ventured back into Galway, but this time for the Saturday market we learned about in the tour. Bunches of local vendors were there selling their goods. The girls from my cottage tried the freshly made donuts and they were to die for. If we ever go back into town on a Saturday, I will certainly be stopping to get another fresh airy delicious donut.