Final Thoughts on Galway

What an eventful final week! One 4000 word essay, hours of cleaning and throwing things away, a few nights out, and a day of packing later, I guess I can say I’m ready to head back to the States. But honestly, I’ll never be ready. Galway has become my home.

Wednesday night, my friends and I went to our last silent disco of the year, and to my huge surprise, we ran into my friends from William and Mary! It was so fun to see them and hangout, and we made sure to make a trip to Charcoal Grill at the end of the night. It was such a great way to end the year and transition by seeing a few friends from home. Also, I never realized how much I appreciate khakis and Sperrys. Seriously, Irish lads, it would be really beneficial to take a fashion lesson from America (Hollister tees and sweatpants are not turn-ons, sorry I’m not sorry).

Thursday was our last API dinner, and we got a complimentary three course dinner at the Galway Bay Hotel. The food was pretty good, and the wine was great! Afterward, I went to the Roisin Dubh to watch a few friends’ band’s gig, which was amazing. Overall, it was a pretty bittersweet night, and a lot of us got emotional, but it was so great to hang out with all of my Irish and American friends for one last night.

Flash back four and a half months ago, I remember being thrown into a foreign country with a group of twenty-four other students led by an extremely charismatic and chatty Irish woman. A number of overwhelming thoughts were flying through my mind, one of them being, Well, I guess these are my new friends for the semester. In a way, I was right, but in another, I was completely wrong. These people became my family. I’ve never known a more accepting, down-to-earth, fun group before. These people not only put up with me in spite of my flaws, they love me for them. I’ve learned that it is not necessarily a certain place, but certain people, that truly change your life. My API family has stood with me through the laughs, the tears, the stressful times traveling, late nights, and early mornings. I’ve grown to love these people that I’ve only known for a few months, but I’ve also been through so much with them, and my life has been changed forever.

We came to Ireland for adventure. But Ireland also came to us. It challenged us with rainy weather, a country in recession, a new way of living, and an ocean in between us and our loved ones. We rose to and met the challenge, and we succeeded, if I do say so myself. We adapted. We accepted that this was our new life now. The fifteen minute trek to campus, 2-euro cab rides into town, Ryanair flights, drives on the left side of the road, Bulmers, Tayto crisps (gotta be Cheese and Onion), tea and biscuits, very friendly and very drunk people that could talk your ear off at any time of the day, Dunnes runs, and so much more, became second nature to us. Our roots were ripped out of our American soil that was the only life we knew, and we were planted in this wonderful country. Now, the reverse process is about to happen. We all are going to have to readjust to the life we were used to, but as completely different people. Our cohesive group is about to be scattered all across the United States again, but we’ll be stronger now, as a family, instead of strangers that just stepped off a plane at the Shannon airport almost five months ago.

To my API family, I know everyone of us will go great places in life, and I can’t wait to stay in touch with everyone to hear about your future adventures.

To Ireland and the Irish people, never change! You gave me so much more in this experience than I could have ever hoped for. I’ll be back, and soon.

And finally, to my parents, all I can say is thank you for giving me the world and expecting nothing in return except to hang out with me for a few days when you came to visit. You guys are the best and I want you to know how much I’ve appreciated getting the privilege of this opportunity.

This is not a goodbye, but a see you later, to all of the people and places that I’ll be leaving.

A few last key phrases:

“Ah, fer fuck’s sake!”

“All right, so.”

“He’s a sound lad.”

“Cheers.”

“I’m just here for the craic, like.”

We’ll Always Have Galway

Well, it’s official: I’ve pretty much only got a week left here. Sorry I’ve been so bad about blogging the past few weeks, I’ve gone through a few papers, an exam, and a bout of unproductive behavior.

But I’ve got to catch you guys up on my few days in Florence and all the shenanigans I’ve been up to in the past weeks. So, Sunday morning of my week of Eurotripping, I boarded a train headed to Florence from Paris. I was delayed a bit because there was a casual marathon going on right down the street from my hotel, which was stressful since I was forced to cross the throng of runners in order to get to the metro. But I was able to make it to my train and spent the day glued to the window taking in views of the French countryside and the Alps; it was definitely a lot more worth it than taking a flight. I arrived in Florence around 9 pm and met up with Rose, a good friend of mine in my Theta pledge class, to go back to her apartment, where I would be staying for the next few nights. Her apartment was gigantic and only about 50 yards away from the Duomo.

The next day, I met up with Katie and Shelby to tour the Duomo, see the Ponte Vecchio, and walk around the city. It kind of surprised me to see how small the city was, especially with the crazy amount of tourists that are there. In all honesty, it was a little bit underwhelming considering the other cities I’d been to, but beautiful nonetheless, plus the weather was beautiful. Later Monday night, I met up with my friend Matt, a fellow William and Mary student, for dinner at a pretty authentic Italian restaurant that had to-die-for gnocchi with truffle oil. After dinner, I went out with Laura, a friend of mine from camp, to a pub called the Lion’s Fountain, where I ran into Shelby and another William and Mary student named Hannah.

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The next few days in Florence were filled with eating way too much food and walking around the city taking in the sights. My last night there, Rose and I went out to a Spanish themed bar called Salamanca and had a great time! Then, Rose and her housemate Sabrina came back to Galway with me for a few days. I showed them around the city center and my campus, took them out to Carbon, the Front Door, and the Roisin Dubh, as well as the Cellar Bar for dinner one night. Overall it was a great week spent with great friends!

The past couple of weeks have been spent taking advantage of my time left in Galway, hanging out with, and sadly saying goodbye to, some really awesome people, and thinking about how my abroad experience has affected and changed me as a person. I’ve started making friends with the staff of the Roisin Dubh, my all-time favorite bar with a really cool indie scene, hanging out at gigs with DJ’s and band members, and getting to know the locals in new environments. I feel like I’m really getting acclimated to this part of Galway culture, but it sucks because it’s happening so late in the semester with so little time left. I’ve met some really cool and inspiring people that I hope to keep up with on my return to the States.

This city has become my second home. The people, the atmosphere, and yes, even the weather, have earned extremely special places in my heart. It really saddens me that in my heart of hearts I know I probably won’t ever see a lot of these people again, but my outlook on life, ideas of culture, and own personality have been irrevocably altered in some really awesome ways. While I am really excited to be reunited with my friends from home and at school, some part of me has turned into a Galway girl. And though I’ve got to leave this place in a matter of days, I know I’ll always have Galway.