By: GoEnnounce Student Sean Kirkpatrick
I’m Sean, a junior in college, and a first time study abroad student. I am studying abroad at London South Bank University for this semester. As I’m abroad, I’ll be sharing my adventures, experiences, lessons, (and maybe even mishaps!) as I venture through my semester across the world. Please be sure to check back in and follow my posts on Twitter with the hashtag #SeanAbroad.
So one of the main things people want to do when they study abroad is travel to cool and new places. Following this tradition, I took a trip to Ireland for a long weekend, as it has always been a place I wanted to visit. I went with a few friends from my study abroad program who always wanted to see Ireland as well. We used a tour company called Bus2Apls which planned and booked everything for us and I highly recommend them.
Leaving after my final class of the week on Thursday it was a quick flight from the UK to Ireland. One of my friends realized she left her passport in her checked bag. Border patrol let her enter the country illegally as long as she promised to come back with her passport to have it checked. All I could think was “this would never happen in the US”.
After hopping on a city bus, which was easy due to the practice I had in London, we made it to the hostel. It was my first time at a hostel and I was pleasantly surprised. Although, it did have funny bathrooms – No one could figure out if the bathrooms were co-ed or not which lead to weird interactions in the bathroom the first night.
The next day we were awake bright and early to go on a walking tour of Dublin. Now that sounded like fun, except for the fact that Dublin was having its worst rain storm that they have had in 16 years. So naturally we still went. Bad idea.
Although the information was interesting, it was pouring and extremely windy. My jacket, shoes, pants, shirt, socks, and just all of me was soaked and cold. My hands went numb a couple of times due to the rain and cold wind. I remember thinking that this was the worst trip ever, why did we ever come to Ireland. Once the walking tour was done, we got to eat and dry off at a really authentic Irish pub called O’Neil’s. Guinness, stew and a heater helped make the day so much better and after 2 hours of rest and some souvenir shopping we were off to the next part of our day. The staple no trip to Ireland is complete without, The Guinness Brewery.
We walked to the factory which is in the center of Dublin. Most of the things we were seeing were in the center of it and could be walked to in about 30 minutes at the most. We entered the factory through a giant gate that said “Guinness” on it. If you ever visit the factory make sure to see the lease that was signed by the creator of Guinness, Arthur Guinness for 9000 years.
I didn’t think it was possible to sign a lease for 9000 years and if it didn’t work out he would have been screwed. We moved on and saw how they make “the black stuff” (That’s what people call Guinness because it looks black… but it’s actually red). They showed us the brewing process, how they roasted the hops to get a better flavor and how they then got the final product. Just remember to keep your ticket though so when you get to the gravity bar, you get your free pint of beer. It was nice to get something for free for a change instead of watching my bank account being drained by the exchange rate.
Later that night was a pub-crawl that was offered by a local company in Dublin. I recommend going on a pub-crawl because you get to meet new people, as well as see the awesome nightlife Dublin has to offer. Most of the pubs had live music from local artists which was amazing and made it so much more fun. You might even meet a group of German’s on vacation who will act like you are celebrity and cheer every time they see you. You never know.
The next day was a trip to the Cliffs of Moher. All I can say is that these cliffs were awesome. They were beautiful, huge and just overall amazing. It was a nice and sunny day so you could see way out into the ocean. At the cliffs, you are supposed to stay on the path and not go near the edge. I decided to be a little daring and go to the edge to get a picture. Luckily there was no security/police and I didn’t fall.
We ended the day with a trip to Galway which is the cultural capital of Ireland. After a long drive through classic Irish landscape, we arrived. Honestly, this placed reminded me of my hometown in the way it looked. It was small with windy streets. I assumed there were going to be castles and old houses considering that this was the Irish cultural capital. All I saw was a McDonalds, lots of touristy places and a shopping mall. I was a bit disappointed but maybe we just were in the wrong area of the city. I found out after that we were in the wrong area of Galway, if we wanted to see classic Irish heritage. That was on the other side of town and I would recommend going there.
After shopping and strolling through the town it was time to go back home. My friends and I decided that we should go to the pub O’Neil’s again because we really loved the Irish folk music, and I loved the Guinness. We arrived right on time to listen to great live music, singing and got to clap along. We even got into a country clapping contest with the loser country having to buy the band a pint. On the way home we stopped for pizza and I accidentally covered my pizza in garlic powder (I thought it was parmesan!)… I had bad breath for almost 3 days.
The next day it was time to go home and I knew I would remember this trip forever. I was surprised at how trips and tours I thought I was going to like ended up not being so great and others I wasn’t excited for, Cliffs of Moher, ended up being awesome. The key is traveling. Yes, when you study abroad you are still going to school but also should travel. You will, most likely, never get another opportunity like you have while studying abroad to see and experience different countries and you should always make the most of it. You might even find that you have a love for Guinness or something…
Stay tuned for my next post and follow #seanabroad on GoEnnounce!
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