For the first semester of my freshman year at Northeastern, I was able to study abroad rather than go to the Northeastern campus in Boston. I could study in Australia, Costa Rica, Greece, England, or Ireland. I chose to go to Ireland. I chose Ireland for several reasons. First, there was no language barrier like there would have been with Costa Rica and Greece. Second, Ireland seemed relatively safe (at the time, there had been student riots in Greece because of unemployment). Third, I was going to be 17 at the start of the semester – the England and Costa Rica trips required that I be 18 upon arrival in the country. Finally, I’d never been to Ireland before, I had travelled to England and Australia before, and I wanted to travel somewhere new.
The program was split into two groups, science majors and business majors. Science majors attended the University College Dublin, and business students attended the Dublin Business School. At the time I was studying psychology, so I was enrolled at UCD. I lived in an off campus apartment, cooked my own meals, went grocery shopping, cleaned up after myself, and took a 45 minute bus ride to campus every morning. In short, I was 100% independent (except for money) for my first semester away from home.
I loved it. I met amazing people who were also part of my program, and went on weekend trips that really immersed me in Irish culture. We went to a farm and jumped into a bog, made bread and learned how to play Hurling. We traveled to the Cliffs of Moher, County Cork, Howth, the Aran Islands, Causey Farm, Northern Ireland, and County Sligo where we stayed in an eco lodge and surfed in a freezing rain.
For our first weekend in Ireland we took the Dublin Area Rapid Transit to a small seaside town, Howth. The town was quaint and beautiful, and framed by sweeping landscapes of the ocean. It was a great first place to visit outside of Dublin to give us an idea of how beautiful Ireland can be.
After having some time in the town of Howth, exploring a farmers market and the small harbor, we went on a coastal hike. This is one of the spectacular views that can be seen while on the trail.
Jumping into a bog at Causey Farm, extremely messy, but extremely fun. (I’m in the air).
Stunning, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, jaw-droppingly beautiful, terrifying; these are all apt descriptions of the Cliffs of Moher. I couldn’t have gotten any luckier with the weather when I went. No fog, no rain, some clouds but not too many; perfect for experiencing the terrifying heights of the Cliffs of Moher.
Looking along the coast, rolling green grass gives way to cliffs that are up to 700 feet high.
If you look really closely, you can see tiny specs on top of the cliffs. Those are people. That might give you an idea of how high these cliffs really are.
A view from above. It makes it seem like the water is so close to the grass. That couldn’t be more wrong.
More tiny specs (people) can be seen in the distance.
Members of my program “relaxing” on the edge. It was scary sitting on the edge myself, but even scarier watching my friends do it.
It’s hard to understand how green Ireland really is until you go there yourself.
A cow stands guard over a decaying farm house on the Aran Islands.
These cows are standing at the top of some very tall cliffs on the Aran Islands. They seemed to be more comfortable with heights than I was.
Standing on a cliff’s edge.
This is a view of the University College Dublin, where I took classes for the semester. Being from California, it was my first real experience of fall colors.
Dead leaves on flourishing ivy.
A view down a road on the grounds of Blarney Castle in County Cork.