The past two weeks have gone by so fast I would say it’s almost like they didn’t happen. One of the greatest things about Ireland is that it is so small, you can take a weekend somewhere without going bankrupt. Before I got here, I had desperately Googled all over the place to see if it snowed in Dublin because I knew it gets freezing cold and rainy here. Every single site told me, “Sorry, no, it doesn’t rain here.” To my shock, on March 4th, I woke up to a snapchat video of snow and promptly ran outside way early in the morning in my pajamas to see it. For a girl who has only ever seen snow in movies, it was absolutely magical. They say in Ireland you can get all four seasons in one day; it is absolutely true. All the snow was long gone by the afternoon, and you could safely wear your normal clothes. The next day Jacquie and I went back to the Howth Cliff Walk to do the whole walk. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We packed lunch, and, four hours later, had walked 10 miles around the entire peninsula. Lucky for us, the weather was incredibly nice. In fact, it has been fantastic the past two weeks. I’ve never thought that I would be wearing shorts in 57 degree weather, but that definitely happened the other weekend. During this same week, Wells for Zoe (pronounced Wells for Zoey) celebrated International Women’s Day. By celebrated, I mean we did a bunch of posts where I acted out a condensed schedule of a typical Malawian schoolgirl’s day. If you’re interested, you can check it on our Instagram (@wellsforzoe) or on Facebook (Wells for Zoe).
After a semi-unexciting week, my weekend started with Chris teaching me more about rugby from watching this Ireland vs Italy game. I don’t really know the details, but I’ve got enough at this point to finally know what’s going on. That same day we walked through a place called Iveagh Gardens, not too far from Griffith. I’m still amazed by how much green-space is in Dublin, but not as amazed as I am about how many well-behaved dogs are in this country. Almost everywhere, you see someone with a dog raging from Chihuahuas to German Shepards, mostly without leashes. They’re not barking, or jumping incessantly, they just listen and sniff everything. I have never seen a place so dog-friendly, but its great because you’re just constantly puppies all over (just like this one)
A few days later, I left with my roommate, Caroline, and her friend, Bella, to go on a really cramped three day tour of southwestern Ireland. I cannot even list to you the number of places that we saw. I accidentally deleted all of my pictures, except about 10, from the first day. The two pictures below are: on the left, a place called Lough Corrib. It has an estimated 365 islands and supplies water to the country. On the right, if you haven’t recognized it, are the beautiful Cliffs of Moher. I think they are one of the biggest attractions in Ireland, if not one of the biggest.
We also took a horse & carriage ride through Killarney National Park, then the next day went on to Blarney Castle and home. There were so many small, gorgeous places in between, but those are the most recognizable. The trip itself was pretty amazing not just for the sights, but also for the people. We went with a tour group so all the lodging/transportation/admission was much easier. In addition, it also introduces you to lots of people. Our trip was mostly Americans, but there was really nice Dutch couple, some Canadians, and the German friends that I was with. The shocker was that most of them were at least seven years older than me. I knew studying abroad was something that not many people get it to do, but I had sort of forgotten that going overseas anywhere is not a thing that everyone in the world gets to do, and, if they do, they usually go when they are much older than I am. On Thursday, it was St. Patrick’s Day, so we all wore green, celebrated the American way, and watched the parade. The streets were super crowded, stores were closed, and the parade was weird. I couldn’t tell you what any of those floats were supposed to be, but I have very clear images of them in my head because of it. There were marching bands from the states, and I got to fangirl a bit on the inside because they brought their color guards. The rest of the week was a mixture of relaxation and stress as I remembered this paper I have to write and exam that I have to study for. I ended my week with Chris. We watched two Irish American Football teams play a game on Sunday afternoon, so he could take pictures and write something small. I wish I had taken a picture, but the best way that I can explain it is that it looked like two underdeveloped high school teams playing except some of the players looked like they were married with four kids and the refs had to blow the whistle for a water break because “Lads, its a warm day, go drink some water”…….when it was 45 degrees Fahrenheit and a little sunny outside. After the game, we decided we wanted to make dinner, so we headed over to Tesco. Both of us are ‘Mexican’ food enthusiasts, and we headed straight over to the taco aisle. If you’re ever worried about not having Old El Paso dinner kits in Dublin, have no fear. They’re right there. We went for soft taco shells, but they’re not taco shells when they’re soft….they’re taco boats (I kid you not). I wish I had saved my picture of them they were so cute. No taco is complete without sour cream, but when we asked an employee for it, he directed us to sour cream & chive chip dip, so that was a no go. Still, they were some of the most delicious things I’ve had in my life.
The past two weeks have been amazing, fun, everything that you could want in a study abroad. However, these past two weeks I also missed some family court stuff, one of my best friends Roshelle’s birthday, and my seventh bestfriendaversary with my longest friend, Jessi. I also had to go to a doctor here that was kind of weird but normal for here, so I was really missing home. I am so fortunate that Chris and everyone else here, but mostly Chris, has the patience to listen to me whine and talk about Gainesville/Newberry and all the food that I’m missing without telling me to shut up. Before here, I always thought that being America was pretty much solely about stealing things from other cultures and pretending we made it up. After being here for two months, I can honestly tell you, it is 100% not true, at least in North Florida. I have spent an obnoxious number of afternoons just craving a corn nugget with ranch dressing and some super sweet, super cold sweet tea. Every time I get a pulled pork sandwich here, I try to imagine it tastes like a sweet barbecue sauce (it always fails). Also, ranch dressing is a thing that is very, very America. Corn dogs are really America. I’ll never forget Emily asking me and Calleigh to describe what a corn dog tastes like. More than the food, I really found myself missing my friends and just being around them. I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded with a wonderful roomie from UF, unbelievably great friends from the CAPA program, and friends from Ireland who make me feel like I belong with them. I have never stood in a room here feeling like I wasn’t supposed to be here, and that means more to me than anything. Now that its a little here, I don’t really think that feeling of homesickness will go away, but I know that I have enough people around me to get around it. My last thought is the realization that I have been here for almost two months now. Two months is about the length of the summer study abroad programs that I was looking at. Looking back, I am thankful for my coworkers at library encouraging me to go away for a whole semester. If I hadn’t, I probably would not have gotten to homesickness, or felt that I have a life here, because I would have gotten over the one month mark knowing that I would be home in a month. I am so happy to be here, and while I miss home, my family, my cat, and my bed, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to leave Dublin in two months either.