One great benefit of studying abroad with IES Abroad is the promise of field trips, which coincidentally means the opportunity to build friendships.
The excursions allow for the IES Abroad students to explore their host country and to do so with companions. They are able to experience the local culture while openly sharing with each other, expressing things that fascinate or intrigue them about the particular place they have ventured to.
And two such trips that allowed for grand exploration and bonding were to Howth and to Causey Farm in County Meath.
First things first. Howth in one word: harmonious. And what I mean by this, is when you take the charming cottage-like, brown and grey-bricked houses exhibiting flower beds on their lawns and in their window sills, and picture them beside the faint traces of royal blue hues and turquoise colors of seawater—it feels as if every part of the town works together to promote a poetic unity.
And amid the idyllic sceneries of Howth are steep, rolling mountains perfect for hiking (if you are fit— which means your idea of physical activity doesn’t just include walking yourself to the nearest delicatessen…my exercise routine to a T). The paths are easy to follow and aren't too long, though your calves will probably be quite aware of your exertion as you trek across the gorgeous terrain. But it's 100 percent worth it.
The air is crisp and fresh in a way that reminds you of wide open fields. And a slight perfume tickles your nose, hinting at wild flowers. It's a seaside town that's as peaceful as it sounds.
However, the aromatic pleasantness that you find in Howth does not exist at Causey farm.
The smells of this farm consisted of horse excrement, hay, wet dog and an interesting hint of something that surprised my olfactory system with its acrid uniqueness.
But the smell became bearable within minutes, especially once the adorable farm animals came into view.
There were softly clucking chickens, pigs the size of black bears, incredibly soft donkeys (that collectively did a horrible job at reciting iconic Shrek quotes) and a single accommodating cow that let about 12 of us milk it without complaint. All of them were like attractions at an amusement park, which turned us into giggling children, fascinated by the animals and finding a whole new appreciation for Old MacDonald Had a Farm.
"One of the highlights was definitely holding the little baby pig," said Monica Chen, a student in the writer's program. "He was this little precious ball of fluff."
And if the animals weren’t entertaining enough, we were taught how to make Irish soda bread, which we baked together and ate with a sweet raspberry jam and creamy butter. It was a warm fluffy nourishment that counteracted the borderline frigid weather. And it was a great experience for all of us to sit together and munch on bread, laughing about our attempts to cradle spastic chickens or our willingness to wear intense helmets during a session of Irish hurling 101.
So, agonizingly cute animals and homemade bread…what a great day, right?
Now, add in traditional Irish dancing in an old empty barn that created a surreal feeling of medieval fun and the idea of old-time courting on a Saturday night (at least that’s what I imagined) and watching fellow IES Abroad students roll around in the thick, gooey mud-like substance of a Bog.
And that’s a day you’ll be looking back on for years.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hello, I’m Christena, a 4th-year journalism student at the University of Florida, who has decided to spend a semester experiencing the wonders of Dublin, Ireland. I am passionate about traveling, food, reading, writing and experiencing new and beautiful cultures. I’m a 21-year-old with a thirst for knowledge and adventure, and I’m excited to share all that I find abroad! Happy readings and a jolly good day to you!</p>