The Aran Islands

After looking back (and with some help from Wendy), I realized that I forgot about a post!

The week before we went on spring break and the week after Dublin, we went on an overnight trip to the Aran Islands, specifically Inis Mor, off the coast of Galway. When we are standing on the shoreline near Park Lodge, you can see them very clearly across the bay.

We spent two days at the Aran Islands and those two days were kind of crazy. To get there and get back, we had to ride a ferry to the islands. It was a pretty nice day out so I stood outside on the deck with a few other people. I was soaked by the time I got there, but I was weirdly happy after that boat ride. The first thing we did when we got there was we went to our bed and breakfast to drop off our bags before we went on a short bus tour. After the tour, we hiked up to an ancient, prehistoric hill fort called Dun Aonghasa. Not only were there the ruins there, but also a beautiful cliff view. After we were there for a while, we hiked our way to something called the Wormhole or the Serpent’s Lair. The Wormhole is a huge, natural pool and is basically a perfect rectangle in the ground. It is absolutely amazing. There are some pictures and videos of it on my Facebook if you want to look! It was also used for the Red Bull cliff diving championship. I couldn’t imagine diving into that thing. It would be absolutely terrifying!

After our hikes, we went back to the bed and breakfast to dry off and warm up. It was wet and cold out by the cliffs so we were glad to be back. After, we went to a pub to eat. The food was good and there was live music, so we couldn’t complain about anything.

The next day, we ate a delicious breakfast. Most of us rented bikes for that day, but that turned out to be a mistake. If you thought the weather in Ireland would be bad, then just wait for the Aran Islands! The weather there is crazy and not in a good way. On our last day there, the weather went from cloudy and windy to sunny to hailing to downpouring rain and back to sunny. It was awful, especially the hail. The hail stones themselves weren’t big but they were blowing so quickly that it felt like you were getting stung by a bunch of wasps. I ended up having to wait it out a few times, once behind someone’s trailer and another time behind an outcrop of rocks on the beach. I went far enough into town to stop at a gift shop and bought a few things before I made my way back. The others went up on some sort of path but I didn’t feel like torturing myself any longer. Once I got back, I sat in the lounge and had a nice conversation with Wendy, Dennis, and Jenna. Later, we walked down to the football pitch and watched a game of Gaelic football, which was really fun to watch. I can only describe it as a mix of soccer, American football, and (weirdly enough) basketball. It’s difficult to explain but if you want to learn about it, I would say that you just need to Google it. You could also find some YouTube videos on it.

After the game, we went to town. There, we stopped at a little cafe of sorts before going to a pub to wait until we had to board the ferry back. There, we met some of the guys from the football team from Spiddal who were also heading back.

The trip back was much more rocky at the beginning but was fine after the first 15 minutes. The Aran Islands were nice, but I think one visit was enough for me!

The End

Well, here we are. The end. I’m a bus ride and two planes away from home. Last Thursday, we said goodbye to our history professor, Jackie Uí Chíonna. Yesterday, we said goodbye to our literature professor, Gerard O’Brien. Today was our last culture class, where we learned about the tides and how to identify seaweeds. My last two days in Ireland will be filled with packing and saying goodbye to the people I’ve met along this road. I’m excited to be coming home but at the same time, Ireland has become my second home. I know that I’ll cry when I leave and I’ll cry when I get home. It’ll be a relief to see my family again, even though I know my brothers will get on my nerves right away.

Looking back, I don’t think that what I expected is what I got. This trip gave me friends, life experiences, the want to travel more, and the need to see more amazing places. I’ve been the oddball out, the secret-keeper, the observer, and the intellect. I’ve found facets of myself that I didn’t realize existed. I found myself wanting to do things that I never would have wanted to do if I never left Nebraska.

I’ll definitely be glad to be home. I’ll get to see family and friends and my dog. I’ll get to start a new job and hopefully make friends there. Summer holds adventures for me as well, and I look forward to those adventures.

I think I’ll miss the small things of Ireland the most: sitting in the dining room with a hot cup of tea and rain falling down outside, standing in front of the fireplace on a cold and windy day, sitting at the shoreline on a warm afternoon. The adventures we had here were fun, but I always found myself being happy to get back home, and by home I meant Park Lodge. I’ll miss the good times in Galway and Spiddal, like going to the market on Saturdays or going to An Nead on Friday nights. I’ll definitely miss the locals. I’ll miss the Foyle family the most: John Paul with his vulgar language but funny comments, Jane and her friendly personality, and the kids of the family who are adorable.

Leaving home to come to a new place has lead to me coming home but leaving a new home at the same time.

Thank you, Wendy and Dennis. Thank you, new friends. And thank you, Ireland.

Southern Ireland – Cork and Dingle

During our penultimate week of Ireland, we went to Southern Ireland and watched a really good movie with Dennis and Wendy.

The movie we watched was called Michael Collins. It has Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Julia Roberts, Charles Dance, and Jonathan Rhys Meyer. I definitely recommend watching it if you get the chance.

Our trip to Southern Ireland was really cool. We went to the Kerry Writers’ Museum, a sheepdog demonstration, which was by far the best thing we’ve done in Ireland, and did a scenic drive. The sheepdog demonstration was amazing though. There were donkeys, ponies, and sheep on the land and there were two really cute dogs called Captain and Sailor. Sailor had to wear a muzzle, though, because apparently, he was very good at doing the thing where dogs grab bulls by the ring in their nose and pulling them around. So good, that he tried doing this to the sheep, which could definitely pull their nose off their face. It was good fun to watch the dogs and we also got to feed the animals AND hold a lamb!

I’ll be honest, I thought I was going to cry when I was holding the lamb. That’s how excited I was!

That night, we stayed at the nicest place we’ve been to in Dingle. It’s called Heatons Guesthouse and it was like staying in heaven. There were candies on the pillows, robes that you could use, and free chocolate cake in the lounge. Not to mention that the beds were comfy and the shower was hot. It was absolutely amazing, and the breakfast was really good as well.

The next day, we went on a scenic drive of the Ring of Kerry, which was really cool, stopped at a waterfall, and stayed at a hostel, which was sad because we stayed at a much nicer place the night before.

The day after, we went to a place called Ross Castle, visited the Blarney Castle and Gardens, went to St. Anne’s church, and saw a really good play at the Everyman Theatre. I definitely recommend going to the Blarney Castle. The grounds are gorgeous and there’s more to do than just kiss the Blarney Stone.

The final thing we did was go to the Rock of Cashel, which was pretty boring, in my opinion.

Northern Ireland and Community Service

So this week, we went on a long trip to Northern Ireland. Also this week, I went completed my community service project.

For my project, I decided to pick up trash on the shoreline and around Park Lodge. When I was picking up trash on the shoreline, I found mostly plastic water bottles. At Park Lodge, it was all beer bottles and glasses. I even found a bar glass that belonged to Park Lodge. It was really frustrating because it’s obvious to me that most of the trash is not thrown away or recycled because of laziness. So I hope that everyone reading this tries to be conscious of what they throw away and recycle. Call me crazy, but global warming is a real thing. This is our one and only Earth, and we need to take care of it. Let’s all try to be more planet friendly for the time. Even the small things can make a huge difference!

Anyways, let’s get back to the trip! We went to Northern Ireland, and if you know anything about Ireland from the 60s to present, then you know that the most turbulent areas of Ireland are in the north.

Our first stop on this trip was at Drumcliffe, where W. B. Yeates was buried. Our literature professor LOVES Yeates. A lot.

Anyways, after Drumcliffe, we went to the Lissadell House, which was a cool Victorian home of some of Yeates’ friends and a woman was very much a nationalist activist, Countess Markievich. Look her up in Google, because she was pretty cool.

After that, we arrived in Derry. The first thing we did there was the Tower Museum. The next day, we went to the Museum of Free Derry, which was heartbreaking to see. So many people were not only killed in the crossfire, but murdered during riots. When I say murdered, I don’t mean shot by the police with a weapon in their hands. They were unarmed and either running away or something similar. One of them was even waving a white handkerchief. All of them were shot down by a man know as Soldier F. That’s right, soldier. The British Royal Army had to get involved. We even met the brother of one of the men (who was 17 at the time) who was murdered by Soldier F. After the museum, we went on a short walking tour of the murals im the Bogside of Derry.

After Derry, we went to the Giant’s Causeway, which was super cool. It is made up of stones that are nearly a perfect hexagon (I think that’s the right one). They are so perfect, in fact, that you can walk them like stepping stones. They’re really fun and you should definitely visit if you ever get the chance.

After that, we went to a small village called Ballintoy. This is where we stayed but there’s something much more important about it, specifically the Harbor. If anyone who is reading this watches Game of Thrones, then you would recognize Ballintoy Harbor as the place were the Lordsport of the Iron Islands was filmed. There’s also a beach there were Theon was baptized in the name of the Drowned God and where Melisandre burning burns Stannis’ bannerman who refuse to convert to the Lord of Light. It was so cool to be there and I even recognized some of the places. It was a bit hard to tell though, since it was a little rainy and gloomy that day.

The next day, we went to Belfast. There, we went on a driving tour and saw AND signed the peace wall, which was pretty neat. We also had a free afternoon, which I spent by going to the Ulster Museum. While in Belfast, we also went to the Titanic museum. It was really cool, but I was kind of sad because I found out that there was going to be a start of tours for the Game of Thrones filming studio in Belfast.

The last thing we did in Northern Ireland was go to Knock Shrine, which would have been a lot better if I was Catholic, but I’m not. It’s the place where there was a big apparition of Mary, Joseph, and John the Baptist (or the Evangelist, I don’t remember) with an altar of the cross and a lamb.

My favorite part was definitely Ballintoy Harbor. There was even a little cave on the beach where I sat for a while.

Strokestown and the Great Famine

Wow this is late! I feel bad for no posting in a timely fashion but it’s too late now. I’ll upload these as fast as I can though! Let’s just pretend that I posted these on Sunday like I promised.

After spring break, our first trip was a day trip to Strokestown. Strokestown was the estate of a rich family but it is now also the home of the Famine museum. Strokestown itself really didn’t have much to do with the famine at the time, but, like most rich families, the owners were greedy and, instead of giving the food they had to their tenants, they sent the food off to England. Now, before you start saying, “but Shileigh, if it’s a famine, then NO ONE has food.” Well, yes this is correct. However, when you study the great potato famine, you find that it really wasn’t a famine because people did have food.

In the potato famine, a blight came and basically wiped out almost all of the potato crops overnight (in different areas each time). The little folk, who ate only potatoes all the time, were screwed. Irish men ate upwards of 30 pounds of potato A DAY while women ate around 20 pounds and children around 15 pounds. So next time someone tells you that potatoes aren’t healthy, go ahead and rub that little fact in their face. You have to eat the skin though, since that’s where the nutrients are at.

Anyways, this lack of potato crops hit the little Folk hard, but the rich were fine. They had plenty of food for themselves and for them to send over to England on boats. If that is frustrating to you, then good because it should be. Nearly the whole population is dying of starvation and the one percent that has more food than they can eat themselves are sending the food that can help their people to England so they can make more money.

During this time, a lot of monetary donations were made, including from the states! A Native American tribe called the Chocktaw donated $170 to the Irish, which is huge considering a) the native Americans had just endured the Trail of Tears and b) this was a lot of money for a people that basically nothing. There is even a sculpture in County Cork that commemorates this donation. Another donation we were told about was from the Sultan of Turkey, who had originally planned on donating upwards of £3,000 (if I remember correctly) but was told not to since the Queen of Ireland, Victoria I, had only donated £2,500. So, because of their pride, the English denied the Turks the ability to donate a large sum of money, making them cut it down to £1,000.

If you want to learn more about the Famine, check out a movie called Black ’47. It’s really good!

Spring Break Part II

After St. Patrick’s Day, I went solo for the rest of spring break. I flew into Amsterdam, which is a very lovely city. If you ever get the chance, I definitely recommend going there. There are tons of great museums to go to, like the Royal Palace, Madame Tussaud’s, the Anne Frank House, and the Van Gogh Museum. The only problem, however, is that Amsterdam is a huge party city. Or maybe that’s a good thing, depending on who you ask. The food there is a delicious too. They have things like tostis, which are basically just grilled cheese sandwiches, and Dutch pancakes, which are like crepes, but a little thicker. Not as thick as an American pancake, but not as thin as a crepes. They’re the same size as crepes though. Besides good food and cool museums, I also got to see a friend who I hadn’t seen since he left the States, Joran! It was great to see an old friend, and I even made some new friends that he brought along. I met three other guys, JJ, Jimi, and Miguel. So I can now say I have 4 Dutch friends, rather than just one. But anyways, Amsterdam was definitely one of the highlights of my whole trip thus far. Another great time from the whole trip would definitely be walking to the rectangular pool on the Aran Islands, despite the crappy weather there.

This trip has had its ups and downs. I’ve lost people I never expected to lose. I’ve had my own issues with body image and my weight. Yet, despite all of it, I’ve been able to enjoy myself on this trip. I’ve been able to smile and laugh and have a good time with people who I think I can call friends, even if there are people here who I can’t. It’s been an amazing journey to look back on and to deal with. I think that, despite all the times that I’ve been sad or angry or just a feeling that isn’t good, I can say that all of the positives severely outweigh the negatives.

Spring Break Part 1

Our spring break started a little earlier than others, due to the fact that our teachers were willing to be flexible and move classes around so we could depart early. I’ll keep this and the next post short since I’ll be posting them so late compared to the dates of spring break.

The beginning of spring break found us flying into Manchester and taking a long bus ride to Edinburgh (pronounces edin-bruh). I went to my first live comedy show, and went on a few walking tours with the other girls in my group. I treated the whole of my spring break as a chance to unwind from our normal schedule, especially with a bit more tension running for me personally.

We went on a ghost walking tour and a Harry Potter walking tour, since Edinburgh is where J. K. Rowling wrote the first book in the series. Edinburgh is a beautiful city, though a little scary when walking the rather steep streets with rain or snow on the ground, which we had on the very last day we were there.

We flew back that Saturday to Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. We stayed in an AirBNB in a town just outside of Dublin. That Sunday, we went to Dublin

We were able to catch the last leg of the parade, which was very fun to watch. We were disappointed to hear that the UNK marching band was not able to make it to the parade. After that, we went to a few different pubs, but nothing crazy. That night, we were able to sleep in the airport. How fun! Not really.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin was not as enjoyable as many would think. It is overcrowded with tourists and it’s hard to enjoy the Irishness of it when there are no Irish around to enjoy it. I would have preferred to be in Galway or even Spiddal rather than Dublin, but it’s too late now to change it. The parade was fun, even though we missed the first half of it.

Maybe another time, I’ll be able to go where I want for St. Patrick’s Day.

A Weekend in Dublin

First of all, I’d like to apologize for not posting sooner, but we arrived home on Sunday and I didn’t have time to write any of my blog this weekend.

Last Thursday, we left scenic Spiddal for a trip to the big city. We spent our weekend in Dublin, going sightseeing and meeting locals and tourists alike.

The first thing we did on our trip was visit Clonmacnoise Monastery. We then went to Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced jail). These two places were by far my favorites. They both have a very deep and rich history, especially Kilmainham Gaol. It is strange how old and ancient a country like Ireland can be, but the Ireland I am in isn’t even 100 years old. The Republic of Ireland only gained independence as it is now in 1937.

The next day, we went on a walking tour that started at the Christchurch cathedral, where it is said that the remains of Strongbow are kept. Strongbow was an Englishman who was brought over by an Irish king to assist the king in regaining his lands after being banished from Ireland. After that, we went on a short tour of the Irish Parliament building, which was pretty cool. It was very short but we saw quite a bit, including where their Senators work. We also learned quite a bit about about Irish politics.

The next day was our free day. That day, a couple of the other girls and I went to Trinity College to see the old library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a Bible that has very Celtic illustrations and writings, even though it was written in Latin.

The final day, we visited two different places outside of Dublin. The first was Newgrange, which was an ancient burial ground of sorts. It’s true purpose is still unknown. There is so much unknown about this place that any theory could be correct. Why don’t you leave some of your own theories in the comments below? Anyways, we went to this ancient place (built around 3,200 BC) and then went to somewhere a bit more modern called Trim Castle. It is a castle built in the medieval times, specifically in 1174. It would have been much more exciting if it wasn’t so cold and rainy that day. It was absolutely freezing and the wind and rain definitely did not help. I guess I shouldn’t complain though, considering the amount of snow Nebraska has been getting recently.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and I’m really sorry for posting so late. It definitely was not my plan but I just couldn’t figure out what to say, but I guess I figured it out. I promise I’ll have the next one up a whole lot sooner.

The Locals

Since this week was much more uneventful than the last, I’ll only post a short summary of the week’s activities towards the end.

This entry, I would like to talk about all of the locals that I’ve met so far. First, there is Jane Foyle and her sister Aisling. Jane is one of our “professors” even though she isn’t actually a teacher of any kind. She helps run the hotel we are staying at with her brother John Paul, who I will talk about later. Jane teaches us about the Irish language and culture. Technically, she sets up classes with other locals who either have more experience or are just better in those areas. So far, she has taught us about the Irish language, which can be called either Irish or Irish Gaelic. She is a super nice person and loves helping us with anything we need. Her sister, Aisling, is someone I’ve only met once but she is just as kind and helpful as her sister. The man who owns the hotel, John Paul (or JP as I will call him for the rest of the trip) is extremely kind as well. He offers us plenty of advice on pubs in Spiddal and Galway and even gives us free alcohol if we help him with some of the chores around the hotel. For instance, us girls helped him decorate the chairs for a wedding reception that was held in the hotel. He also has the cutest kids, one named Oshee (who we did get to meet). Another of the locals that we’ve come to know very well is John, who is one of the drivers for the cab company in Barna, a town close to Galway. He drives the bus, which we take if the whole group is going. If he is taking us in to Galway, then he usually tells us of many different places we can go to. He even shows us around, telling us good places for college students. We’ve very much come to enjoy his company. He also owns a bunch of horses, which he tells us we can go pet any time as long as we close the gate behind us! Those are the main people we’ve met so far, but everyone has been very kind to us so far. When we are at the pubs, most people are friendly and willing to talk to you. When we were climbing Croagh Patrick (which will be talked about at the bottom), many people talk to you or offer support to get up the mountain. On the way up, one small group, made up of two older gentlemen and one older lady (in their 40s or 50s), offered me lots of advice, telling me to take it at my own pace, and even gave me one of their extra water bottles, which I was very thankful for later on. Another gentleman told me I was doing great on my way up while he was coming down. On my way down, I stopped to talk to a lady and her kids. Even the kids were nice! They told me that I did good, even though I didn’t make it to the very top (though I was close enough – only 20 minutes or so from the top), and that they were glad that I pushed myself. It’s very empowering to have complete strangers help or encourage you in your journeys. Also, the people who had dogs were more than happy to stop and let me pet their dogs for a moment. I saw a husky, a pug, a beagle, a Labrador, and some fluff ball named Rocko, who had done this more times than I write Croagh Patrick in this entry! It was a bit strange to see dogs climbing mountains, but they all seemed like they were enjoying themselves and even knew exactly where they were going.

So this week, we had our first “field trip”. So this weekend, we went to the Country Life Museum, Pearse Cottage (Pearse was one of the rebels against the English), stopped at Kylemore Abbey (even though we didn’t go inside, we still stopped at the café and shop outside of it), and passed through a few of the more scenic spots in Ireland like Wild Atlantic Way. Most importantly, however, was that we climbed Croagh Patrick (pronounces as “crow” Patrick). Croagh Patrick is a holy mountain where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days. Many people make pilgrimages up that mountain, especially in days like Good Friday or other days for special masses. It is .47 miles high, so not even half a mile, but it was still pretty crazy to climb a mountain. However, I didn’t do it for me.

In case you didn’t know, my baby cousin, Charlie Stephens, passed away at the age of 5. She battled leukemia for 3 years and lost that battle early in the morning of January 10th. I loved her like she was my baby sister and I have a feeling that she would have loved something that was as majestic as Croagh Patrick, or just Ireland itself. So this climb was for Charlie, and I know that she was watching me and cheering for me as I climbed that holy mountain.

Thanks for keeping up with me and I hope everyone else has had a great week.

My First Week in Ireland

Hello all! Just for the sake of continuity and scheduling, I’ll post every Sunday, hopefully late enough for everyone in the States to be up. This first post will be very long so for the sake of everyone who doesn’t want all the details, I’ll post a short overview of the week.

On Monday, we had a historic walking tour of the city of Galway, which is the closest city to our location. We also visited The King’s Head pub, bought groceries at a place that was, sadly, pretty expensive. Tuesday, we had our first class on Irish Literature. After that, we walked to the town of Spiddal, which is the closest town to us. We visited the grocery store, the beach, and a coffee shop/pub. On Wednesday, we had our first class for the Irish Language and Irish Culture. After class, we went to a college pub called Hole in the Wall. The next day was our Irish History class. It was, by far, my favorite class. After that, we went to two pubs, one called The Front Door and another called Coyotes Ugly. Friday and Sunday were spent relaxing and doing homework. On Saturday, we went to the city to do some shopping. I bought a Claddagh ring, which has a very rich history that I will explain below, and a cardigan, along with some groceries from Aldi’s.

To begin with, I’ll describe the cottages. The only word I can think of to describe these cottages is as homey. When you first walk in, you will find yourself in a small living room. There are two small couches and a chair with a footrest. The fireplace is right next to the footrest and it is the warmest part of the small building. Directly to the right is the room taken up by Alana and Emily, the older two in our cottage. They were glad to share a room so this made splitting up the other two rooms very easy. When you pass their room, you will reach Erin’s room, who is the girl I traveled here with. Then you will reach the kitchen. It is very small, about the width of the refrigerator which is on the opposite end of the stove. There is a sink next to it, but the kitchen is loaded with appliances, like a panini press and a kettle of sorts. Then there is the dining room, which is simply an extension off the back of the house with a table and five chairs. It is very nice though since the upper parts of the wall are glass windows that overlook the other cabins and what we can see of the “backyard”, plus a picnic table that we will hopefully be able to use someday.  On the left side of the dining room is first my room. It consists of a nightstand, a bed that is about the same size as my college bed, a small closet, a wicker chair, and a heater. Its really pretty nice considering the bed has two thick comforters, a wool blanket, and sheets. I won’t be going cold any time soon. Secondly, there is the bathroom. When you walk in, there are two doors, which is kind of odd. There is a rather large closet for towels and the boiler. Next to it is the sink which has two faucets. Not two handles, but two separate faucets for hot and cold water. Next is the shower. It is far too complicated for me to try to explain here, but just know that showering has been by far my least favorite part of the place so far.

The first Monday we were here, we went on a walking tour in Galway, which is the closest city, about the size of Lincoln (I think). It is really nice and one of my favorite places so far. We spent most of our time in the shopping district on a walking tour. It was a historical tour and I loved it. I learned a lot and it was really great bonding time with the girls in my cottage. We visited the Hall of the Red Earl, which is an excavation site, a pub called King’s Head, referring to the beheading of Charles I, and the St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, which is the oldest parish church that is still in service. After that, we were given two hours for grocery shopping, which was an adventure all in its own.

Since we had two hours, all eight of us girls decided to go to the King’s Head. Pubs are the only places where you can use the bathroom for free, so we went in to go to the bathroom and decided we had time to get a drink as well. This was my first real alcoholic drink and I was pretty excited. I wasn’t sure what to order but the bartender advised us to get some cider. My roommates and I decided to get an Orchard Thieve’s apple cider. It was absolutely amazing! One of the girls said it was “spicy apple juice” which is essentially the best description I could give it. The other four girls followed later after deciding to buy a ring at a store a little bit down the street. When they came, three out of four had a Guinness. We discovered that there was going to be a comedy show in town next Monday, so we plan on going to that. After a pint of cider, we finally decided to go get groceries.

So, each of us at different levels of sobriety walked to the mall where the grocery store is. We first discovered that you had to pay for carts. Whether it was paid in the same way you pay for a cart at Aldi’s and get your coin back or if you actually had to pay, we won’t find out for a while. We bought a lot of groceries and only forgot the seasoning, which was actually really impressive. Also, they have tags on their alcohol like we have on clothes, which was both weird but unsurprising to me. We ended up paying about 90 euros, which is equivalent to about $100. It should last us a week or two.

The next day, we met Professor O’Brien. He is our Irish Literature professor. He’s a really nice guy and is fun to listen to. I’m a bit excited to do the readings for his class since some of them have been extremely interesting so far. They also portray the history of this country very well. After class on Tuesday, we walked to Spiddal, where we found a dog that may or may not have been a stray and named him “Lucky”. We also went to the “beach” which is not a beach in the sense of being long stretches of warm sand. It is very rocky in fact.

On Wednesday, we had our first class on Language and Culture. It was taught by one of the sister of the hotel owner (John Paul), whose name is Jane. We learned a lot of the Irish language, also known as Gaelic. After class, we went to a pub called The Hole in the Wall, which is a very popular pub for college students according to John Paul. We had a good time there and met many college students who were around our age, including many Americans and even a Canadian.

Our final class of the week was Irish History with the very kind Professor Ui Chionna, or just Professor Jackie. It was definitely my favorite class by far, but I am a history major, so that is to be expected. That night, we went to seperate pubs. One of them was a bit more classy and more like a bar. The other one, we were told, was a last resort spot for people that went to the really nice clubs.

Finally, I will tell you about Saturday, since it was the next day where we did something exciting. Instead of going to Galway to drink, we went to do some shopping. My roommates and I first went to a jewelry shop. Most of us bought a Claddagh ring, which is a ring that can show if the wearer is single or not. I would share a picture, but my computer doesn’t want to upload any, so I’ll leave it up to you to Google it. There are two sides, one with a heart and the other with a crown. If you wear the heart side facing out, then you are single. If you wear it crown side out, then you are taken. Next, we did a bit of clothes shopping before going grocery shopping. While we were out on the town, we stopped in a little shop that had something amazing in it! I’ll give you all a few hints if you comment below what you think it could be. First, it is my favorite dessert/flavor of all time. Second, it comes from a classic childhood movie of mine. In fact, it was one of my many favorites. Finally, it was purchased at a proper sweet shop. Points to whoever can guess it first!

Thanks for sticking with me through this first week. I promise that the next update won’t be nearly as long.