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I’m at a really weird point. I have less than a week left, and when I go back home I have to jump right in to my life at home. I just finished up my classes here but already started an online course back home. I’m filling out transcript request forms here and I’m setting up interviews for internships and planning my work schedule. I can’t explain it, but it’s just really surreal to be in this situation. It’s like a travel limbo.

A bunch of my friends and I went out last night to celebrate a birthday and to bid our two Canadian girls farewell… As the week goes on, our “group” is dwindling as everyone makes their way home or to Europe or wherever. The question keeps coming up whether I’m excited to go home or not. Of course I’m excited to go home and see all my friends and family, but I know things aren’t going to be quite what I expect or how I remember them. It’s been nearly 5 months and a lot can change in that amount of time. I’ll be sad to leave her; I love the lifestyle I’ve been able to have and all the amazing people I’ve met. But we’re ALL leaving, or mostly everyone. All the other international students are going home, and a lot of my friends here are graduating and moving away from Belfast so it wouldn’t be the same if I stayed anyway.

I think a run along the shore is in order.

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So I spent the last week or so traveling around Ireland with my friend Jenna! She got a direct flight from Philly to Dublin so I met her at the Dublin Airport and we set off from there. We had one night in Dublin to wander around and to give her some time to recover, then we set off on a Paddywagon Tour to go south! We went on the 4 Day South West Tour and really lucked out with our group! There were about 20 of us and we were all around 20-25 so it was a fun-loving group to say the least… A lot of the tour repeated sites that I had seen with my mom and sister on the 3 Day Southern Tour but it was a totally different experience and I was happy to get to see it all again one last time. (more…)

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Off I go again!

Okay, super quick post from the Dublin airport while I wait for Jenna’s flight to land! We are staying in Dublin tonight, then heading farther south tomorrow and traveling around for a few days… I’m so excited to have her here and I can’t wait until we go back to Belfast and I can show her around and introduce her to some of my friends =)

Okay, I know I haven’t recapped my previous travels, STILL, so in the meantime here are my pictures from my trips:

Amsterdam

London

Greece

Italy

Enjoy!

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I’m back! I actually got back yesterday evening but have been too lazy to do much of anything. I have my first of 2 exams tomorrow morning at 9:30 but can hardly bring myself to study for it. In face, I’m quite seriously contemplating a nap instead. Hmm.

The trip home was uneventful and I didn’t run into any issues with the volcano or any other unforeseen travel delays… My mom got stuck in Rome for a while with a flight delay and then they had to reroute her flight around the ash cloud or something so I think her actual flight time was around 10 hours! My friend is flying from Philadelphia to Dublin in a few days so I have my fingers crossed that there won’t be any problems with her flight.

I’ll update on the specifics of my trip later, but overall it was a GREAT trip! Amazing last hurrah in Europe =) I am glad to be “home” though… Living out of  suitcase gets old and I was missing my friends in Belfast. We were talking about when everyone leaves and it’s hard to believe that the other international students will be gone soon =( There’s realistically only one girl that is close enough that I’ll be able to see semi-regularly, but I have no idea when I’ll see some of the other ones. Three of my friends are Australian so I think I need to plan a trip there ASAP!

Ah, well, no more talk of that because it makes me sad. Time to go “study”… 40% to pass, hooray!

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Okay, now that you’ve absorbed how incredibly good-looking I am in the above picture… let’s talk Paddy’s Day!!!

Where to start? Well, there were about 15 of us who all traveled down to Dublin together on the morning of St Patrick’s Day. Our cab picked us up at 6:15, bus left at 7:00, and the drinking began at 7:01. Needless to say, it was a very long and fun day.

We stayed in Brown’s Hostel, which was an interesting experience. The common room was through all these winding hallways and staircases, and they overbooked so our entire group was put in the “Apartments” part of the hostel, which was really nice and we had our own bathroom and kitchen and everything. We dropped our bags off and hung out and drank a bit in the common room, then headed to watch the parade around 11:00.

By the time we got to the area where the parade was, it was already packed 10 people deep on each side, so we just hung out on the fringes. From what I saw of the parade, it wasn’t what I expected. I’m also a bit spoiled by the parades we have in the US, though, so it’s hard to compare. The costumes/dancers/floats were all a lot more whimsical and nonsensical than what I’m used to. There were giant insects and people dancing in colorful outfits that made little or no sense. Still, interesting to see what a parade is like in another country. And me and my friends definitely had fun in the streets during the parade anyway!

We all started to get pretty hungry around 2:00 so we made our way to the Temple Bar district to try to find a pub with food. Most places weren’t serving food, so we resorted to food from takeaway shops. By this time, we had lost 2 of the members of our group… One boy had to be taken back to the hostel for a nap/to sober up, and one girl couldn’t be persuaded to go back to the hostel so we propped her in a corner of a pub and forced water upon her. Yeah, this was between 2 and 3 in the afternoon… I’m pretty happy with my drinking abilities and being able to stay coherent all day. Hooray for responsibility!

The rest of the day was just filled with pubs, dancing, meeting up with friends, more pubs, etc. I’m not sure what I expected out of St Patrick’s Day in Dublin, but it was better than I expected. Everyone was in great spirits and just out to have a good time. I think I saw ONE bar fight move out into the street, but that was it. Pretty good considering how many tens of thousands of people were in such a confined space… Temple Bar was a great place to spend the day, too, because it is just full of pubs and cars can’t get into that area so I didn’t have to worry about friends drunkenly walking out into traffic.

Early in the day, the pubs were playing all kinds of popular “American”-type music, so that was fun to get to dance to, but around 10PM the music stopped in the bar we were in and a live Irish band came out and played. It was fun to see a live band playing, even though by that time most people probably would have dance to just about anything. By midnight, myself and another girl were ready for bed so we headed back to the hostel and the rest of our friends got back around 1:30 in the morning. What a day…

I missed out on green beer [not sure if any of the bars even had this], but the next morning I DID track down a McDonald’s and get a Shamrock Shake in Dublin! The whole trip was so much fun… I was exhausted on the bus home the next morning and spent more money than I would have liked [6 euro for a pint?!] but it was worth every penny and ounce of energy.

Here’s the album of all my photos from the day: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2055969&id=1419840075&l=2506dfe61d

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So I figured I better recap my trip down to Cork with the University athletics team before I leave for Dublin to celebrate St Patrick’s Day… I went down this past weekend, and I’m really glad that I went. It was weird to be racing cross country in March but that’s how their season is set up. I asked one of the boys on the team, and he said they race cross country from November until March, and then track is from March until August. All the University competitions are squished into a 3 month period in spring, though.

The conditions for the race couldn’t have been any better. I started to panic a few weeks ago because I realized that I was potentially going to be running a rough cross country course without racing spikes… One of the other girls brought an old pair of spikes for me to wear, but the course ended up being super dry and super flat [we did loops around athletic fields; there wasn’t even a proper hill]. The course itself must have been short because I ran a 19:22 for a 5K and there is NO way that I am in that kind of shape. Judging by the other times, I think it would be safer to say it was around 21:22 but there’s really no way of telling. It’s interesting that a competition like this could be so horribly off, though. If that happened at the championships at home there would be outrage… I guess everything is just so much more laid back here, and they just don’t have the resources to support a more professional atmosphere.

The girls team didn’t score as a team. You only need four to score, but our fourth girl dropped out because she was sick but wanted to try to run it anyway. The boys, on the other hand, did SO well! They got 2nd and only lost to first place by 2 points, which surprised just about everyone I think. After the awards and everything, we went back to our hotel and the hosting University had a dinner and night out planned for all the participants, which was a ton of fun… Reminded me of being out with my team at home =) It was so weird running with another team, though. It was hard to be motivated to compete on behalf of the University here because it really means nothing to me compared to my University at home. That sounds a lot worse than I mean it to sound; it’s just that I am so close to my team at home and feel responsible to my teammates, but it’s just a different dynamic here. Definitely missing my team back home…

Okay, so there’s the recap in a nutshell! Getting the 7AM [!!!!!] bus to Dublin in the morning so I need to be off to bed before the long day tomorrow! Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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happy daaaays!

I’m taking a break now from my coursework [I’m determined to make some real progress on my assignments before Easter break], but I can’t get over what a great mood I am in today =) Despite looming research papers and a mild hangover, I am so happy. Just really pleased with how things are going over here, thankful for the friends I’ve met so far, thankful for my amazing friends and family back home, and so excited for everything that I have coming up in the next couple months.

I love days like these.

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