Sorry if the blog was quiet last week. I promise I wasn’t sitting on the couch watching The West Wing on Netflix (although I do that a lot). Nope, I…
WENT TO IRELAND!
I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. And not just Dublin – I wanted to see the countryside, the cliffs, the greenery, and listen to the accents (I LOVE Irish accents). We were fortunate to be able to go this fall. Flights to Dublin are currently much cheaper than the rest of Europe. By flying slightly off-peak times (leaving on a Thursday night and coming back on a Saturday morning), the plane tickets were very reasonable.
I feel like I have a special connection with Ireland that goes back to college. I knew I wanted to study abroad my junior year and Dublin was my first choice. My school offered a semester-long program at Trinity College. The Director of Study Abroad was quick to point out that Trinity was one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. I had a 3.6 GPA at the time, which he said that I would need at least that to get into the program at Trinity. The application process was also extremely rigorous; it would have been like applying to college all over again! They required transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, photographs(?), and a bunch of other things.
In addition (and this was a HUGE part of the decision not to go through with the application process), it was going to cost about what a semester at a top-tier private university costs – upwards of $20,000 dollars. I went to school at SUNY Geneseo, a public school. Even before I began paying back my loans, I knew that the cost of tuition at Trinity would be exorbitant. Add to that travel fees, living costs (Trinity is in the center of Dublin; Geneseo was in the middle of farmland) and other extras, I made the (smart, I think) financial decision not to apply to Trinity.
I did something totally awesome instead: I studied abroad in New Zealand! It was through a direct exchange program between the University of Canterbury (in Christchurch, on the south island) and Geneseo, so I only had to pay Geneseo’s tuition for that semester. Living costs were comparable because the US dollar was stronger than the New Zealand dollar. The biggest expense was getting over there and back (30+ hours of travelling). But man, was it worth it. I’m sure I’ll write more about my time there, but it was a life-changing experience and I’m so grateful that I was able to do it.
When I was weighing the options of where to study, I chose New Zealand because I thought that I would probably go to Ireland one day, but I didn’t know if I’d necessarily get to New Zealand. I’ve always wondered if I made the right decision and have often thought – damn, I really hope I get to Ireland soon. This year, I did!
I’ll write a full trip recap (or recaps) in the next week or so. I’m busy sorting through tons of pictures and drowning in heaps of dirty clothes. I know I meant for this blog to be about book reviews and literary stuff, but I love travelling and it’s a big part of who I am. Further, I had trouble finding certain helpful travel tips and details when researching this trip. For example:
- Will we drive off a cliff if we decide to rent a car?
- How hard is it to drive on the other side of the road?
- What is the best beer to get in a bar?
- Is it doable to drive around half the countryside in three days?
- What is a suggested itinerary to get a good first-taste of Ireland?
I do hope that these travel posts will help others plan/research a trip.
This post is getting long and it’s not even a trip recap or filled with pictures, so I’ll just end with this – I loved Ireland. It was breathtaking. Dublin is cool and fun, but I think the best way to experience Ireland is to go to the countryside. Also, and importantly, Irish people are some of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. Everyone from the owners of our bed and breakfasts, to parking lot attendants, to movie theatre cashiers, were out-of-their way friendly and accommodating. This fact turned a very good trip into a great trip.