Three Cheers to Three Months Abroad [read: please, someone, take me back]

I spent the past three months studying abroad in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Sometimes I forget because I’m already back to my normal routine of vacuuming sand out of my car Geo from beach trips (or really asking my dad to do it because love is unconditional) and it seems like it all went by at the speed of light. Not to be melodramatic or anything.

There’s no way to touch on all the wonderful parts of the summer, the silly mishaps and the cringeworthy moments, without writing an essay book on it nostalgically crying, so I’ll do it as minimally as possible, with snapshots. Which means this will probably be the longest post on this blog, but bear with me here I’ve gotta catch you up on months of information. Readers who stick around to the end of the post send me a message and I’ll enter you in the drawing for a surprise! Maybe! Who knows?

First stop, Dublin:

Pints all around.
Pints all around.

This is a pretty special city. It’s small and walkable like Boston, so I think our group of about 20 students felt right at home once we got past the crippling jet lag and initial shock at hearing Irish accents everywhere (one thing that’ll never get old).

We studied James Joyce’s Dubliners [read: how fitting for Dublin] and Irish film including movies such as The Guard, The Quiet Man, Six Shooter, Cowboys & Angels (not seriously), The Snapper, and The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Situated in the Irish Writers Centre and the luxurious private cinema of a fabulous hotel for these classes, respectively, we made our way into the city each morning from the campus of University College Dublin out in Belfield.

We traveled to Galway for a weekend, watched a storm roll in at the Cliffs of Moher and touched the Irish Sea in the Aran Islands. Definitely felt like a dream, especially as we met well-known figures in Ireland such as Senator David Norris (#MarRef) and authors such as Paul Murray and Belinda McKeon who we’d run into all over the city since Dublin was so small. We’d ask them what they were doing there, what a surprise!, and they’d respond with the obvious fact that they live there. Of course.

Enjoy some moments from the month of Dublin:

Love Lane, Temple Bar. Funny sayings all over the wall, with a couple additions by Kira, Haley and yours truly.
Love Lane, Temple Bar. Funny sayings all over the wall, with a couple additions by Kira, Haley and yours truly.
It really does look like that. A tunnel of green enchanting fairy magic.
It really does look like that. A tunnel of green enchanting fairy magic.
Extreme bog-jumping.
Extreme bog-jumping. Causey Farm.
I still don't know any of their names, but thanks for getting in my Cliffs of Moher pictures.
I still don’t know any of their names, but thanks for getting in my Cliffs of Moher pictures.
Gaelic Games at Croke Park. Terrifying sports, really. Major props to the players!
Gaelic Games at Croke Park. Terrifying sports, really. Major props to the players!
Kira, Haley and I went to Howth and were followed by this dog Blondie for a new Christmas card picture (sorry, Lela).
Kira, Haley and I went to Howth and were followed by this dog Blondie for a new Christmas card picture (sorry, Lela).
I don't really know why people ever leave Ireland.
I don’t really know why people ever leave Ireland.

This summer, I fell just a little bit in love with Ireland (okay, a lot a bit, it took much convincing to get on that flight to Paris) much as I fell in love with Rome last summer. What a heartwarming place it was. {Reasons why I went back to Dublin for a weekend while studying abroad in Cambridge.}


I had a short break in between the two study abroads, so I went to Paris and Barcelona (hairflip, hairflip):

They found another bridge to do this to.
They found another bridge to do this to.
Frequented Shakespeare & Company 3 times, so I had to buy 3 books, and suddenly packing became more difficult.
Frequented Shakespeare and Company 3 times, so I had to buy 3 books, and suddenly packing became more difficult.
A lot of walking, but Paris is always special.
A lot of walking for you, Paris.
This beach was the first beach I've seen in months. Barcelona slays.
This beach was the first beach I’ve seen in months. Barcelona slays.
Don't even get me started on the food. You will be dearly missed.
Don’t even get me started on the sangria or the cava or the tapas or the paella. You will be dearly missed.
A place for me to practice my Spanish, learn a little Catalan, but I finally made it to Spain. It warmed my heart.
A place for me to practice my Spanish, learn a little Catalan, but I finally made it to Spain. It warmed my heart.

Traveling with one of my sorority sisters and her friend was a nice cure for the occasional tinge of homesickness that happened, regrettably, in Dublin. Recharged for the next leg of this summer!


And now on to Cambridge:

These are called punts. We went punting on the last day and seriously missed out on a pretentious way to relax in the afternoon.
These are called punts. We went punting on the last day and seriously missed out on a pretentious way to relax in the afternoon.

Cambridge is a pretty cool and weird little place. It is in fact possible to get lost in a 1-mile radius, we managed to do that for two months. {By ‘we’ I mean the squad, see Personal tab for more information.}

I took three courses on Bloomsbury & 20th-Century English Culture, Jane Austen: Life, Times, Works, and Infinite Variety: Shakespearean Drama. I’m not going to act like that didn’t sound pretentious, but I think that’s what anything related to my summer at the University of Cambridge sounds like. Au contraire, though, the people (aside from the swarms of tourists) there were so down-to-earth and charming that I think some of the pretentious sentiment decreased. Besides, it is an intellectual monastery and they’re good at what they do.

We worked during the week, and on random forms of transportation over the weekend, and it seemed like there weren’t enough hours in the day to do everything we wanted to do. But that made the days feel bigger somehow and I guess that’s what I miss the most. For me, having this experience enriched my college soul and challenged me to do what I wanted to do for 2 whole months, selfishly, but it made all the difference. It says a lot that this was the last leg of my full calendar year of classes (with a much-needed 2-week break in between, not enough) and while it’s easy to burnout, I actually enjoyed myself immensely.

Yes, I did get a Profile Picture and Bio picture here. First Formal Hall.
Yes, I did get a Profile Picture and Bio picture here #basic. First Formal Hall.
We went to London on a planned trip from the program that definitely stressed our program director out more than is necessary but it was worth it.
We went to London on a planned trip from the program that definitely stressed our program director out more than is necessary but it was worth it.
Weekend 1: Brighton. Some cliffs, a pier, surprise fireworks.
Weekend 1: Brighton. Some cliffs, a pier, surprise fireworks.
The mission of these two months was really to see if we could survive the intense allergies brought on by the U.K. Cambridge Botanical Gardens definitely did not alleviate the issue.
The mission of these two months was really to see if we could survive the intense allergies brought on by the U.K. Cambridge Botanical Gardens definitely did not alleviate the issue.
Weekend 2: Return to Dublin.
Weekend 2: Return to Dublin.
We went to The Vaults a lot until their Jenga set was stolen. If its thief is reading this, please return the Jenga. We beg of you.
We went to The Vaults a lot until their Jenga set was stolen. If its thief is reading this, please return the Jenga. Have mercy.
Formal Hall #2. 2 month mark in Europe.
Formal Hall #2. Double cheers to two months in Europe.
Weekend 3: Return to Rome. It's nice to have places around the world you can call home.
Weekend 3: Return to Rome. It’s nice to have so many places around the world you can call home.
Weekend 4: Phoebe and I went to Cardiff and endured a lasting food coma from savory pies.
Weekend 4: Phoebe and I went to Cardiff and endured a lasting food coma from savory pies.
The window from which Virginia Woolf looked out onto the lawn in A Room of One's Own.
The window from which Virginia Woolf looked out onto the lawn in A Room of One’s Own.
We saw As You Like It at The Globe and I tried to speak in Shakespearean English over dinner. Phoebe did not appreciate.
We saw As You Like It at The Globe and I tried to speak in Shakespearean English over dinner. Phoebe did not respond to almost everything I attempted to say.
Weekend I've Lost Count: Edinburgh. Hiking Arthur's Seat was significant because it made up for Dolly being dead.
Weekend I’ve Lost Count: Edinburgh. Hiking Arthur’s Seat was significant because it made up for Dolly being dead.
Hitchin on our last day. Named this sunflower Fred. I hope Fred is happy.
Hitchin on our last day. Named this sunflower Fred. I hope Fred is happy.

I think Cambridge will always have a special place in my heart. I turned 20 here. I jumped into a fountain in the middle of the night. I saw my first meteor shower. I had the courage to get back out there again (speaking of which, if you’re reading this, you know who you are, please FB message me although the two of us have agreed it’s a terrible form of communication). I read 23 books. I went punting on the River Cam and didn’t fall in. I got stung by a bee for the first time (buzz in peace). I started this blog. And it was all (definitely) a big deal.

A big thank you to the people who made Cambridge perfect. I love you all.
A big thank you to the people who made Cambridge perfect. I love you all.
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3 thoughts on “Three Cheers to Three Months Abroad [read: please, someone, take me back]

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