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.”


“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.


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.

Last Week of Classes!

It’s official: I’m finished with classes for the week!! Now to pick up where I left off…

Last Thursday night was Orla’s birthday party, so Katie and I went out with all of her friends! Orla’s real birthday isn’t until Saturday, but she wanted to have her party a week early while everyone was still in town, since a lot of people have already left for Easter weekend.  The whole lot of us pregamed at the apartment (if you’ve been keeping count, that makes for four parties thrown at our place for the week), and Katie and I were the only Americans there, which was really fun… although there was a bit of trouble when one of Orla’s friends broke our couch, oops. We then went out to Carbon and had a great night.

I had a very chill day and night on Friday, and on Saturday morning the API group embarked on our final excursion to Dublin! We first checked out the Book of Kells that was on display at Trinity College; it was so cool! Especially for a history nerd like myself. Then, some of the group took a bus tour through a lot of the city. There wasn’t any room on the lower level, so we all had to sit on the top of the bus, which was only partly covered and therefore ABSOLUTELY FREEZING. After about an hour of being driven around, our group got off right outside of the old Jameson distillery! All of the tours were booked for the next hour, so we all bought our tickets and had a drink (or two) at the front bar. I got this almond flavored whiskey sour and it was so delicious. The tour itself was great; quite possibly my favorite of all of the breweries/distilleries that I’ve been on so far. After that, we all went back to the hotel, where Katie, Amanda, and I had dinner. I got this really good tomato and coriander soup with duck spring rolls, and a Bailey’s coffee for dessert. I passed out around 10 pm and was ready for the next day! 

Sunday, we had a girls day full of SHOPPING and good food. Corinne, Alexis, Evita, Liz, Kyle, Katie, and I all went to Topshop (where I bought yet another article of clothing, a gorgeous tie dye maxi dress). We walked down Grafton Street and saw this really cool band called Key West playing live for a big group of people. We stayed and watched them for a bit, then went on to our next destination: the cosmetics store Lush, aka my new obsession. The company makes all totally natural products that are tested on human volunteers instead of animals. Although the products were a bit pricey, I ended up buying a facial cleanser, moisturizers for the face and body, and dry shampoo (and, after nearly a week of use, it’s safe to say that my skin absolutely loves me… I cannot recommend this brand enough, everyone go out and buy their products! There’s a product for everyone). After all our shopping, we had definitely worked up a good appetite and found a Lebanese restaurant to eat at. It had a great ambiance and really reminded me of my favorite restaurant back in Memphis called Casablanca. I got stuffed grape leaves for an appetizer, and chicken shawerma as my entree. I totally loved this meal, and it made me realize how much I love Mediterranean-style food. After lunch and a drink at the pub called the Bleeding Horse, we all met back at the hotel to wait for the bus back to Galway. Overall, the trip to Dublin was one of the most fun and relaxed excursions thus far!

The beginning of this week was full of finishing up assignments and essays for my classes (why does it always seem like professors assign the most work right at the end of the semester? That’s what exams are for). So on Wednesday, the last day of classes, I was all finished up and ready to celebrate. It was Amanda’s 21st birthday, so our API group went out to celebrate. Alysse’s family was in town to visit, so they had all of us over to their hotel that had this great rooftop view of Galway; it was a really classy affair. We then went out to Hole in the Wall, McSwiggans, and the Skeff. Definitely such a fun night.

Thursday night, Katie and I went out with Alexis, Evita, Peter, and Ryan (and Ryan’s dad!) to McSwiggans, Taaffe’s, and the Quays for a couple of drinks. Katie and I ended up at McDonalds (where I got my typical double cheeseburger… oops) then went back home! Today, I’ve been getting ready for Katie’s and my Eurotrip this week! So get ready for that blog post 🙂 

Image Ready for my trip, 2005 style.



Literally…. this week has been way too insane. It started out with me losing my iPhone at the silent disco last Tuesday, which was a traumatic experience in itself. Wednesday, I went out with Alexis, Evita, Katie, Alysse, Kyle, and Kyle’s sister and brother-in-law to the Skeff and Karma and took it easy for the night. It was super fun to dance with my girlfriends, although I had to elbow multiple aggressive boys in the chest for trying to bump into us. On Thursday, Katie and I went out to our Irish friend’s birthday party, then went out with a bunch of other Irish friends to Karma (again), but this time–apparently someone thought this was a great idea–there were people shooting green slime from giant squirt guns onto people dancing in the crowd. Katie and I tried to wash all of it off in the bathroom of the club, but to no avail. This slime nearly ruined a brand new Topshop dress, and I had to go home early to shower; I’m not sure the last time I felt so disgusting.

I stayed in on Friday to get ready for my parents to come in the next morning, which coincidentally was my 21st birthday! It was so great to see them after two and a half months. I met them at their hotel and napped in a big, fluffy hotel bed–a huge step up from the single bed in my apartment. I then met up with my friend Margaret, who is currently spending a semester in Glasgow and decided to spend the weekend with me. All four of us went out to dinner at Martine’s Wine Bar, where I got delicious chicken and mashed potatoes. I also bought a replacement phone to tide me over for the rest of the semester… a pink plastic brick phone that looks like it’s come straight out of 2004. It’s actually grown on me, but I’m pretty sad I no longer have a camera to document my time here. Ah well. Later Saturday night, I had a party at the apartment and invited both American and Irish friends; it was really funny to watch the Irish girls beat a couple of Americans at beer pong… I was pretty proud. We then went out to Carbon (FINALLY!), and I got a free bottle of champagne since it was my birthday. Overall it was such a fun night! A very successful 21st.

The next day was quite possibly one of the biggest days of the year… St. Patrick’s Day! Margaret, my parents, and I made it over downtown to get lunch at the Skeff, and I got a chicken quesadilla, tea, and soup. We watched some of the parade, which was full of Irish dancers, brightly dressed groups of people, and cars moving slowly to loud music. We tried to get inside a few pubs, but everywhere was so crowded that we gave up after a while and took a bit of a siesta before getting dinner. We all met back up at my parents’ hotel and got drinks and dinner there, and then Margaret went back to my apartment, where my housemates were throwing a St. Paddy’s day party. Margaret decided to go to bed early since she had to get up at 3 am for a bus, so I stuck with Orla for most of the night, ending up at the Front Door for ages and staying out super late.

The next day I accidentally slept in super late but met up with my parents for dinner at the Spanish Arch, which was delicious. I took the parents to a couple of pubs that played traditional Irish music and they loved it! I then went back home and hung out with Katie and her friends who had visited for the weekend for a long time; it was such a great, chill night. Tuesday I had to get back in the swing of things with classes (a rough transition after such a busy weekend), and last night my API friends and I went out to the Roisin Dubh for the silent disco, yet again. Tonight I get to celebrate two more friends’ birthdays…. My life is so busy. Thankfully I only have one more week of classes before Easter Break, and I’m looking forward to my Eurotrip with Katie, which is fast approaching. Hopefully you guys could follow all of the crazy events of the week, cheerio for now! xx

Another Week, Another Blog Post

Time is flying by over here! It’s almost halfway through March, and halfway through my semester here. Unbelievable.

This week has been relatively low key and normal, complete with attending classes, going to the gym, and cups on top of cups of tea. After receiving a generous grant of birthday money from my grandmother, I bought a few (more) clothes, although my fingers are crossed that this will be the last shopping binge of the semester, otherwise I will have absolutely no room left in my suitcases. I’m very excited for the package to come in the mail; I’ve hit up all the new spring trends that are all the rage in Europe!

Tuesday night, my API friends and I went to the weekly silent disco that goes on at a bar called the Roisin Dubh. Every person that attends is given a pair of headphones with a choice between two different DJ stations. The two Djs at the front of the dance floor played a variety of music that ranged from songs like “American Pie” by Don Mclein to “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent. We all stayed and danced like no one was watching and stayed until after 2 am before walking home; it was so much fun. Thursday night, our friends Matt and Anthony had a bunch of people over for an American-style pregame, and I played a round of Kings and flip cup (still a beast at that game). We then made our way over to the Skeff, which was classy as always, before trying our luck to get into Carbon. After waiting in line for at least 10 minutes, the bouncers closed the queue, saying the club was full. Ever since the first week of school, it has been Katie’s and my dream to go to Carbon, but somehow all of our attempts have been foiled. At this point we’re pretty sure we’ll never make it before the semester is over 😦 ah well….

All day Friday I bummed around the house, and Saturday morning I made an early walk to Salthill to take in the views and snapped some lovely pictures. I had the apartment all to myself this weekend, so I’ve taken advantage of my alone time by doing the dishes, washing clothes, and catching up on some TV shows. So, like I said, a very low key week, which has been great. This coming weekend, I’ve got a lot to look forward to, including my parents coming to visit, my birthday, and St. Patrick’s Day! I’m so excited for all of it, so get ready for next week’s post! I’ll leave y’all with a couple of pictures from Salthill 🙂

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Excursion to Connemara!

Hi again! This past week has been pretty uneventful, since my wallet (and body) have been in recovery from Rag week! Lots of going to class, getting work done, and going to the gym. I’ve been focusing on ab work for the week due to my sprained ankle (although it’s very well on the mend). I’ve determined to come back to the States totally toned and ready for summer, so we’ll see how well the exercise and eating healthy will go 🙂 … I went big for food this weekend, but I did take a trip to Connemara–described in detail later–so I decided, why not treat myself?

Thursday night was Will’s 20th birthday, so our API group had yet another surprise birthday party! The get together was held right next door to our own apartment, so Katie and I flitted back and forth to hang out with both our American and Irish friends for a while. We ended up going out with the Americans to the Skeff, which was chill. Since the party had started pretty early (around 8 pm) a few of us girls were ready to dance, so we went over to Karma… right as it was opening for the night. We pretty much had the whole club to ourselves, so we danced like maniacs on the dance floor, taking up most of the space. It was hilarious. Katie and I decided to head over to more pubs once the awkwardness of the fact that we were all literally alone in the club started to hit, and we ran into our friend Anthony on the way to the King’s Head and joined him for a while then went home. Overall it was a really fun night!

The next night for dinner, Katie, Orla and I went to Scotty’s Steakhouse for dinner. I got my first fillet mignon in AGES.. and although it was terribly overpriced, I definitely needed it. Although not the best steak of my life, it definitely hit the spot! Plus, the restaurant is a convenient two minute walk from my apartment, so there’s that.

Today, our API Galway group was joined by our Dublin counterparts as we travelled to Connemara for the day. Apparently it said on the itinerary that we were joining forces, but I was taken by complete surprise and was unprepared to hang out with people I didn’t know, so that kind of put me in a bad mood for the day. I had to sit across the aisle from a girl with the most annoying laugh in the world (putting in my earphones and turning my music on high barely helped), and she seriously laughed the entire trip. I don’t know what could be so funny to laugh THAT much. But whatever. Anyways, we stopped at a local market to take in the sights of normal Irish people selling produce, livestock, and other goods. They all kind of gawked at our big group of Americans, a bit unsure of what to make of us. Back on the bus, I got some absolutely gorgeous pictures of the scenery (it was unbelievable, very Middle Earth-esque), and we then stopped for an hour or two at Kylemore Abbey, a large manor house with a Gothic church and gardens, which were all very picturesque. We all took a nice walk through the grounds before meeting back on the bus. Katie and I also stopped for a quick bite to eat at the restaurant, and I got some tasty tomato basil soup with a savory scone. So good.

Image Image We then headed back towards Galway, but stopped at a place called Brigit’s Garden, which was a kind of modern homage to the ancient Saint Brigit and even older Celtic version of Brigit. The gardens were separated into four seasons and had both sculptures as well as trees and shaped earth to represent what the traditions of each season mean to Irish society. I stupidly left my camera in the bus since my battery was dying; I would have loved to take pictures. The place was a great blend of ancient and modern, otherworldly and natural, full of easy aesthetic. I’d love to visit the garden again when the flowers have bloomed so I can see it in it’s brightest stage. Even though I was super tired and reluctant to leave the bus when we stopped, I’m so glad I took advantage of the opportunity.

Once we got to Galway, we went to dinner on API. We each got to have a two course meal for free, which was great. I got penne pasta with tomato and basil sauce (tomato and basil was a theme of the day) and apple pie for dessert! After that, some of our Galway group went over to McSwiggin’s pub for a drink before heading home. That’s pretty much it for the week! I’ve got a crazy 8 page paper due on Monday that’s been causing me some stress, so I should probably get back to cranking that out. Until next time, xxx

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Edinburgh and RAG week

Man, oh man, what a week! It’s been a bit insane. Let me update y’all on what’s been happening. Warning: it’s going to be a super long post, so you might want to curl up with a cup of tea to read this one.

Friday morning, our API group embarked to the Shannon airport to fly to Edinburgh for the weekend! The trip over there was pretty uneventful, and we made it to our hotel, the Premier Inn, around 6 pm. Katie and I were roommates for the weekend, so we were excited that we didn’t have to adjust living with someone new. The room only had one giant double bed and an awkwardly small single bed, so we decided to switch off who got the double each night. We only had a few minutes to drop our stuff off before we had to meet Kevin in the lobby, but Katie and I managed to buy a little cup of Ben & Jerry’s Apple Pie flavored ice cream from our hotel vending machine… it was so good. We then left to grab a quick bite to eat before our nighttime tour of the Royal Mile, or the heart of the ancient city of Edinburgh. Here, modern met medieval, where department stores, tourist shops, restaurants, and pubs all took shelter underneath old stone facades that dated back as early as the 1300s. It was really cool to see the union of the times in the city and how Edinburgh still keeps its architectural integrity. Anyway, our tour guide was this really funny Scottish lady who took us around and told us the grisly stories behind every building which were all very interesting. After walking around the city for a few hours, most of us were famished, so we stopped at a pub where I got NACHOS. So tasty. Katie and I then headed back to the hotel to catch some z’s.

The next morning, we toured around Mary King’s Close, one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh. It’s basically an area of city remnants from the 1600s underneath the City Chambers. Going through it was like a labyrinth of whitewashed rooms, one after another, with low ceilings that arched. Our tour guide was dressed in traditional 1600s garb (really reminding me of Colonial Williamsburg re-enactors) and showed us through the close, which was complete with statues of people depicting scenes from the plagues. Overall, it was really cool to see the place I’d seen on TV during ghost hunting shows (don’t hate, those shows were intense) and I admit I did try to see if I could feel any spirits around, but there was no such luck.

Our group then had a chance to look around the National Gallery which had a lot of really cool paintings and works of art. After that, we toured Edinburgh castle, a formidable fortress on a hill overlooking the entire city below. It was so old and such a beautiful building, offering great views of the city as well. We had no other scheduled tours for the rest of the day or night, so the group was left to its own devices. A bunch of us went to the Scotch Whiskey Experience, and, like the Heineken museum, we were taken through an amusement-park-esque ride that depicted the production and distillation of Scotch Whiskey. Let me tell you, it’s a complicated system at best, so I stopped really paying attention to the process and just took in the experience as a whole. They gave us a free taste of whiskey at the end of the tour, but it was a bit hard to stomach without any water or Coke to mix it with, so my throat burned a little (erm, or a lot). I took advantage of the gift shop and got some cool stuff for the folks back home (and me as well). Then a few of us walked over to the Elephant Cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote the beginnings of the Harry Potter series. The absolute best part of the Cafe were the bathrooms. People had written various messages to Rowling thanking her for putting magic in their life as well as a lot Harry Potter themed graffiti (including a large “Entrance to the Ministry of Magic” above the toilet and “Entrance to the Chamber of Secrets” above the sink). If you’re a Potter fan, definitely go there, it’s so cool.


IMG_0485 At the castle!

We went out to a couple of pubs later that night, which were very similar to the ones in Ireland, but Alysse and I bonded with a friendly blond bartender with dreadlocks who talked to us a lot about Scotland. Overall it was a really random, strange, but awesome night! We sipped some lovely 30-year-old whiskey in plush, red leather chairs, just living the dream. I felt kind of like an old man, but I loved it.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and went to tour the Royal Yacht Britannia. Mom, you would have loved it! It was huge, but very awesome to see where the Queen and royal family spent their time aboard the ship. I felt so close to royalty. Before I disembarked, I ordered a vanilla latte with brown bread and butter in the Royal Deck Tea Room. I sat next to large windows overlooking the wide river that hugged Edinburgh, sipping my coffee and feeling super classy. The ship was attached to a shopping mall (casual) so I did a bit of shopping at H&M (my clothing addiction has not slowed down since my Topshop spree) and waited to get back on the bus. Our next stop was at a little coastal town suburb where the first steel bridge was built. I snapped some nice pictures and got a late lunch/early dinner at an Italian restaurant; the food was superb. We then headed back to Galway to face the beginning of Rag week!



IMG_0514  IMG_0528

Okay, as a whole, Rag Week was not nearly as crazy as I’d expected it to be. Our apartment complex had implemented really stringent security measures to cut down on the partying, and downtown just had a lot more people out than usual, so the lines for the pubs and clubs were really long. People also went out every night (myself included) which is a bit of a change from the normal weeks. My Irish friends did a fair amount of daydrinking, but since I didn’t have the stamina or the money to do that, I just made it out at night. Overall, it was a very fun week! I did twist my ankle pretty badly on Monday night, but after a visit to the doctor and a bunch of aspirin, I was able to rally (although I sadly couldn’t wear heels). And I finally had great nights out at the clubs! We went to the Bentley on Monday and Karma on Wednesday and had an absolute great time dancing with my API friends. See, my purpose for going out is dancing, not just sitting around, so it finally felt like a really successful time, since most of the other times I’ve gone to clubs here I don’t end up on the dance floor that much in order to avoid aggressive boys. But with the security of a big group, it was fine.


A classy first night out for Rag Week!

 I do have to say, though, I’m looking forward to a calm week where I can actually save my money. I’m planning on laying very low this weekend and getting caught up on schoolwork (don’t worry, I was still able to turn in my assignments last week). So, on that final note, Ireland still continues to be amazing, and I am falling more and more in love with the country as my time here increases. I can’t believe it’s already been nearly two months since I started my journey… the time is going by so fast! I definitely want to come back to Europe again at some point in life (and I’m seriously considering living here still) and am looking forward to the adventures that will unfold for me while I’m still here! Thanks so much for holding out and reading this ridiculously long post, but it’s been quite the eventful week. Toodles!