Sitting in class, time seems to drag on as the minute hand slowly inches its way to a new hour. With a new hour, another class begins and the cycle repeats.
But outside of class, it scares me how quickly time moves. A day goes by in the whirlwind of school and going out with friends. And if you blink too long, it’s suddenly the end of the week. You do a little trip and some homework on the weekend and start again.
Nonetheless, I am making the most of all my time here, even the slow moments in class.
I am reading so many interesting books and articles! I just finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. An interesting read – my interest was only sparked when I started reading articles and looking at the depth of the novel in class. Last week, I began reading Great Expectations of the infamous Charles Dickens. I haven’t read Dickens before and am excited for this literary experience.
This past week involved a few nights out, with a few lazy days as well. On Tuesday night, I went with some friends to the Jazz Jam Session again. There were more of us this time, and it was a great night! I really enjoy the spontaneity and the idea of ‘jamming’ to create cool music.
On Wednesday, Brittany’s friend arrived to stay with us for a few days. Her name is Virginia and she is awesome. She is studying in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have really enjoyed chatting with her and getting to know her. It’s cool to get a perspective on study abroad from someone else who is participating, too, but in another country.
Thursday morning we wandered around city center before splitting off to go to class, do homework, or explore. That night, we wanted to take Virginia to a local bar in Waterford with live music. So, we headed to Kazbar’s after a short get together at a friend’s place. There was a big group of us, and it was a ton of fun to hang out with everyone! We all had a great time listening to the music and chatting.
After doing some homework on Friday morning, I ventured on the long walk to go climbing – as I really do miss being able to drive to the gym and climb whenever I want. That night was even more of an adventure, as Brittany and I tried to create a Spanish tortilla for Virginia. It was a little overcooked, but still great! We were quite proud of ourselves. Inviting a few of the girls over, we hunkered down for a movie night with popcorn and ice cream with Baileys. It was delicious.
The weekend was all about the day trips.
Now, most of our trips have been pretty mishap free, so I blame it on the Friday the 13th weekend. Saturday was our trip to Wexford. We planned to bus into town to catch a bus to a castle a little ways out. After some minor issues (including getting dropped off in the wrong place, and a friend hurting his ankle), we finally arrived at the castle and gardens of Johnstown Castle.
And man, was it worth it.
The gardens and grounds were beautiful. The grass was a luscious green in every direction, and the trees were a beautiful and tangled mess of branches. Honestly, the pictures don’t do it justice. I feel like in the spring, when everything is in bloom, it would be amazing.
We ate a mediocre dinner in Wexford before journeying back to Waterford, our temporary home.
This morning (Sunday), Brittany and I decided it would be fun to take Virginia to eat an Irish breakfast. We had a great brunch at Dooley’s Pub on the quay, where I finally tried Waterford Blaa (it is really just a bun/bap, but it was delicious)!!!! We then caught a bus to show Virginia the beaches and cliffs of Tramore.
I loved Tramore. And since it’s so close, I will probably visit it again before I leave beautiful Ireland. This time, it was less windy, sunny and cold; but it was a great day nonetheless! It was fun to walk along the beach and sit at the top of the cliffs and just talk with the girls. It was great craic!
Flash forward to a tired Julie, sitting in a cold room, writing this blog post.
And there is only more to come, as this coming week will be packed with amazing adventures (that I cannot wait for)! Spoiler alert: I’m in Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, so we all know that will be an experience all in itself.
I can’t believe I only have 2 months left here. I’m trying to grab hold of every opportunity and memory that I can. I don’t want to miss or forget anything from my time here. But I’m so excited for the adventures awaiting me down the road.
May the road rise up to meet ya
“die with memories, not dreams” [pinterest quote]
So this post is a little late. A lot happened over the last week, so I will try to fill you in with a minimal amount of writing.
Last Saturday (February 28), a few friends and I decided that we would go to city center. Bruna, Carlos, Brittany and I set out to tour Waterford Crystal and Reginald’s Tower. Having been here for over 2 months, we decided it was time to do more of the tourist-y things in Waterford.
Waterford Crystal was really interesting! We learned about the processes used to make the crystal, we saw vases being made, and we viewed the amazing artistry of the sculptors. The pieces were beautiful. It was cool to see how it was all made, and why exactly it is so expensive (other than the fact that it’s crystal).
We wandered around city center and explored areas we didn’t know after we found out Reginald’s Tower was closed for the day. We stopped for hot chocolate before heading back. We decided to meet up later and have a potluck dinner and movie night. Some of the others were going to make food from their homes – we were really excited!
The dinner was fun – just a bunch of us hanging out, eating Spanish tortilla, pizza, salad, and a Polish dish (although he wasn’t sure if it was exactly Polish, it was really good). A bunch of our friends stopped by and ended up staying, so we all hung out instead of watching a movie. It was fun!
Early in the week, Brittany and I met up with our friends Carlos and Bert in the evenings to plan out our trip for the two-week Easter break. We had it all planned and booked in two night! It is going to be amazing. We will travel from Dublin to London, and on to Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, and finally Paris. We are all super excited! It was relatively easy to book, and we all get along great, so I am definitely looking forward to this trip.
On Wednesday, there was a party planned by the International student society for Brazilian Carnival. Brittany and I decided we would go after mulling it over a bit. It was going to be a costume party, and neither of us really enjoy completely dressing up. So we headed to city center and tried to find something simple, settling on an ‘80s punk vibe. We looked great! We went to the pre-party here and had a blast with our friends, before heading to The Reg bar in city center. Our night had some hiccups, but it was great to dance with our friends in a fun atmosphere!
Skip ahead to Friday – probably the day I am most excited to tell you about. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might already know some of the details.
So, for the trip that we booked, there was one hitch: the other three were planning to leave Paris the Tuesday of the second week to come back to Ireland. All of their parents are coming here to visit them. While I’m super happy for them, I didn’t exactly want to come back to Waterford and sit around for a few days. Instead, I began to look up places I could go for a few days! I wanted to go to Spain, but it was proving too expensive, and I didn’t have many choices of reachable and affordable places. Oddly enough, the best place seemed to be Nice in the French Riviera. Friday morning, I booked everything – I will be spending a few days in Nice, and doing day trips to other cities. I am super excited!
The afternoon only got better. While searching Facebook one day, I saw a random advertisement about a climbing area that had just opened in a rec center. Curious, I clicked it to find out that it is in Waterford!!! I was super excited and immediately contacted the gym to find out when I could go. Friday afternoon, I set out on a long walk (40 minutes of uphill to be exact), and reached my destination. It’s a small area of two rooms: one for rope and one for boulder. But there are a few autobelays and the staff are super friendly! I did an induction and can now climb whenever I want! I probably won’t go often, because it’s so far, but it’s great to know it’s there. I can work on keeping up my strength and the roughness of my calluses for when I go home.
Friday night Brittany and I met up with a few of the girls to go to a football match (every time I write ‘football,’ think soccer. I’m trying hard to adopt their words here). It was Waterford United FC vs. Athlone United. I was super excited to get to watch a football match that I didn’t have to pay a lot for. It definitely wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, but it was a fun outing and experience! I’m not even sure what the score was, although I believe it was a tie due to Waterford’s last minute goal.
This weekend has been pretty relaxed. Yesterday we went shopping and then had a cooking night with Kitty and Carlos. Brittany, Kitty, and I learned how to make a Spanish tortilla and fajitas. They were honestly delicious and I regret not taking a picture of any of it. And then we watched Shaun of the Dead, which I know some of my friends (and my brother) will be very happy about.
For this week – lots of school work and possibly some nights out.
It seems that my life has fallen into a routine here, and I love it. The routine is oddly never the same. Although it includes school, friends, nights out, and lazy days, there are always factors that are changing and keeping things interesting.
I’m still loving it here, and I’m glad that I’m not homesick (sorry mom and dad). Of course I miss people and things from home, but I am determined to enjoy every minute of my time here as it shortens. I can’t wait for the next adventures around the corner.
“Trust that an ending is followed by a beginning.” (Pinterest quote)
“Little by little, one travels far.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
I have been asked many times why I chose Ireland for my study abroad.
Honestly, I don’t have an easy answer.
I wish I could reply: “Ireland was my first choice!” or “The culture is so amazing!” or “I came for the booze and partying!” as so many of my friends here can answer. Of course I am glad I came here, and of course I knew the culture and history was going to be amazing. That is definitely one of the aspects that drew me here.
But first let me tell you something.
I actually applied for a study abroad over a year ago, to a school in England. I have always wanted to go to the UK, with it probably being at the top of my list of places to travel. I was so excited to live there, to have a chance to be immersed in the cultures of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte’s, and so many others that I had studied for some years. To be in the place of the monarchs, the wars, and the center of the 19th century world.
I guess it wasn’t meant to be though. The school decided that they weren’t going to do an exchange with ours, as their students weren’t really coming to Canada, and it wasn’t worth it. I was super upset.
But I really wanted to do a study abroad. For the experience, and the change of scenery and life. In the years leading up to this idea, I had gone through a lot. I was changed as a person by events that happened in my life, and by a new perspective of the world. In a lot of ways, it made me stronger; but also weaker. I wanted to know that I could do things on my own.
So I tried applying again.
This time, I applied to go to school in Wales. I got accepted and was going through the process of picking classes, when I realized that it really didn’t feel right. I was far too stressed and honestly, wasn’t very excited.
That really worried me. So I left the program.
After a lot of thinking, I decided to try one more time: I applied for Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). I had debated somewhere warmer, like Australia, but Ireland appealed to me more. It has a lot of similarities to home.
The whole process of applying, being accepted, and getting ready to go, I felt nothing like I had the other times. I felt calm, excited. It was so refreshing.
WIT looked like the perfect school. Although they don’t offer many classes for my program, and don’t really have a history department, it seemed right. The classes are small, like at home, and the campus is really great. My professors are amazing and the classes are interesting. And the atmosphere at the school is so relaxed, something you don’t experience at home. At home, the focus is on attending class, learning as much as you can. Here, there is no attendance. Classes are cancelled in a moment’s notice.
I’m so glad that I ended up here in Waterford. It was definitely the right fit for me. I have gotten to do so many amazing things, and I have met some wonderful people. And I’ve only been here for less than a month.
For those asking, I am loving my classes so far. I am taking 19th Century Fiction, where I get to read classics by Twain, Austen, Bronte, Dickenson, and Shelley. In another class, I am getting to write – about so many different things, about whatever I want to write. I was excited, as I hadn’t taken a creative writing class before. And my last class, Literature of the Family, is my hardest class – but it is super interesting. We are reading multiple books and sources, and examining the representation of family and familial dynamics in literature. I can’t find courses like these at home.
I can’t wait for more adventures, even if that means taking exams which are worth 100% of my final grade. It is all new and exciting.
I have even adopted a new mentality and lifestyle. I am nowhere near as stressed as I usually am at home, finding the atmosphere here relaxing and calm. It’s the change that I truly needed.
So, there is my long-winded explanation of my choice to come to Ireland. I am so lucky to be experiencing this.
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam
P.S. – this is sort of a bonus post for the week. A friend mentioned it might be cool to have a post about why I chose Ireland. I will normally only upload 1 post every week or so. But stay tuned, as I have a trip planned for this weekend. And sorry if this post was too long or deep…
My body is rebelling against me.
At least that’s how it felt Tuesday night when we arrived in Waterford. The 48 hours of travel and the 8 hour time difference wreaks havoc on you.
But then you get 12 hours of sleep in a freezing cold apartment and the world looks slightly better.
Our journey began pretty easily. I was excited and the apprehension hadn’t set in yet as to what I was actually doing. With a simple flight to Seattle on Monday, Brittany and I were on our way.
A two hour layover in Seattle doesn’t leave much to do after going through US Customs. And that’s when my problems began…
The airline wanted us to check in for our flight. When I went to check in, I was told I would have to check my one backpack because it was too large. It was going to be $95. I was angry and upset. But then the machine didn’t work so the lady waived the fee. Good thing she did…
Our flight to London was 9 hours and 30 minutes, not including the time change. It was red eye, but flying out at 6 didn’t leave much time for sleep when you normally fall asleep at about 10 or 11pm. So, I watched a movie (The Book of Life), ate some half decent airplane food, watched some episodes of Friends, and tried to fall asleep.
Travelling is already hard when you can’t fall asleep on moving objects, but when you’re sick, I would argue it’s even harder. So I was on quite a bit of medicine to get me through these various flights. And something to help me sleep was one of them. But it didn’t work. So I actually got no sleep… just rest.
Well, then we had one more flight to catch to Ireland…if we could get to it on time. We were supposed to have a 2 hour layover, but with the UK customs and security, we made it to our gate with only 10 minutes to spare! It was a really stressful venture. We vowed that we are going to go back to London so we can see more than the miniscule sections of the airport that we saw.
Fast forward through a boring 1 hour flight to us FINALLY arriving in Dublin. Exhausted and lost, we found our way through the airport. Only to find out that the bag I had checked in Seattle had gotten left behind. The last place it had been was London. I was so tired and stressed that I almost broke down in tears. But the two guys at the airport were really nice, assuring me I would get my bag as soon as possible. [It came 2 days later…]
We found a bus to take us to Waterford. It was a 3 hour bus ride. It probably would have been amazing had we not been so tired and had it not been dark. I couldn’t see very much out the windows in between my further attempts to catch some sleep. But I did see some of the things I had been hoping for: rolling green hills, quaint little towns, Guinness signs on every pub, and so much more.
Making it to Waterford, we hopped in a cab and got to Riverwalk. By now, it was about 8 o’clock Ireland time, and about noon back at home.
Our night then consisted of many layers, as we couldn’t figure out the “foreign” heating system. The room was so cold. I wore 4 sweaters and wool socks to bed with my airplane blanket on top. But I finally got the hours of sleep that I had so needed. 12 hours of sleep was the bliss I needed after so many things happening and going on: 3 flights, time change, my lost backpack, and the apartment room being slightly disappointing.
But the morning made it all look better. On Wednesday, Brittany and I went grocery shopping for the food we needed to stock up on. We learned where things are in Waterford, too. That night our roommate arrived. His name is Vivien, and he is from Paris. He is very nice!
Thursday we went for orientation at the school. It is a pretty large school. My building on campus sticks out against the green lawns and white buildings with it’s bright red face. I also have another building across the road with the sketchy crossing.
Thursday night we had a group of our new friends over. It was so cool to get to know everyone! I have met people from Hungary, Spain, Poland, USA, Brazil, Netherlands, Germany, France, Mexico, CANADA (Newfoundland), and possibly more… it’s hard to remember when there are so many people. Friday morning we went on a bike ride with the international students. It was a tour, and the guy leading really knew his history. He took us to a lot of interesting places that I want to go back to.
We went out again last night (Saturday), to a local Irish pub with this group, after spending the day wandering two museums. We went through Bishop’s Palace, and the Medieval Museum. And I realized after that I had taken no pictures… Thankfully I have 5 more months to be able to.
I think I am going to miss this place very much when it comes time to leave. And all the people that I am getting to meet.
Tomorrow – first day of school! It feels like the first day of university all over again. A new place with new people, having no idea what is going on nor where to go. It’s overwhelming. But for some reason, the Irish mentality has taken over me and I feel no stress. Things are looking good.
May the road rise up to meet ya.
P.S. – I have finally sorted out my internet problems, so I will now be able to upload posts on approximately a weekly basis. With my technology all fixed, I will be able to update all internet mediums!
Clothes are thrown over the bed in a mess. Shoes, bags, and jackets scatter the floor. Electronics, make-up, scarves, and more.
The guest room of our house looks like the remnants of a battle…between everything I own.
For someone with slight OCD, packing is always stressful. But packing for 6 months of living and travelling, during three different seasons, well that turns into something entirely different.
I procrastinated packing for so long. Like a teenager puts off a project until the night before. But I knew that I couldn’t do all of this last minute.
With little room, I have to think so carefully about what I’m taking, what I’ll wear, what I’ll use. But the process of packing just makes me that much more excited about the adventure itself.
In a few days, I’ll be in Ireland.
Of course I’m nervous. But I’m super excited. This is the chance of a lifetime. I’m looking forward to living in Waterford and studying at their amazing university. Study abroad is a great opportunity.
First, I’ll have to get through the flights, something I am definitely not looking forward to. Especially being sick.
I’m going to miss my family, my friends, and the climbing gym I work and climb at. They have all made and changed my life in so many ways. This trip will allow me to grow as a person for the better, to learn exactly who I am and who I want to be. And I can’t wait to see what is ahead of me.
Thanks to technology, I’ll be in touch through every way possible.
May the road rise up to meet ya.
My name is Julie Huff, and welcome to my blog.
I am a student, rock climber, avid reader, movie fanatic, and hopeful world traveler.
At least, that’s my usual tagline for social media and things. But can any one person be simplified by a few select phrases?
I love learning, about many different things. I enjoy the classics, whether it’s Shakespeare and Jane Austen, or more modern through the infamous Breakfast Club. I am a rock climber and hiker, often seeking adventure somewhere in the outdoors. And this next big change in my life is my attempt to become a worldlier person. I have always wanted to travel the world. And my opportunity came.
For my next semester of university, I will be living and studying in Waterford, Ireland. This is a once in a lifetime experience to immerse myself in another culture, learn and travel all at once.
And I couldn’t be more terrified or excited.
But that’s the best part of my adventure. Change isn’t something that comes easily to our human nature. We all seem to want to resist it. But fear is what makes something exciting, conquerable. That’s what climbing has taught me.
As Vanessa Redgrave quotes in a movie I love: “’What’ and ‘If’ are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What if? What if?” (Letters to Juliet, 2010).
Well, I didn’t want to be haunted by those words. And this was my chance to overcome my fears, and make a big change. Hopefully you are here because you are interested in my journey, or you just enjoy travel and the wonders of the world. I hope to provide all of that. It’ll be an intriguing ride for all of us as I find my way in a new place, both online and in the world.