While studying abroad, one of the greatest allures is the opportunity to travel outside of your host country, especially if you're in Europe where it's very east to hop over to another country. But don’t forget to explore the culturally vibrant lands of where you are staying, too.
And if you’re in Dublin, specifically, then you have the North, West and South of Ireland to plan weekends around.
How about a day trip? If you appreciate food, crafts and handmade soaps, then Dún Laoghaire might be the next outing for you. Every Sunday they have an outdoor market in the People's Park, offering foods from all over the world. Whether it's a Korean, Indian, or Spanish dish, those are only a few options out of a diverse menu.
I, personally, was drooling over fresh sushi and paella.
And don't fret, it's not hard to venture to this magical market. The Dart will get you to Dún Laoghaire for about 12 euro round trip.
If you’re looking for a longer weekend getaway, then try Galway. Plan a trip with friends and pitch in for accommodation at a hotel or a hostel (I recommend Kinlay House Hostel). You can easily walk along the beach for hours collecting shells, rocks and memories, or you can browse the many shops. And for an adrenaline rush and amazing photos, book a bus tour that will take you out to the Cliffs of Moher.
My trip to this intriguing city was one of my favorites. I went with three other students in the program, and one of them was in love by the time we left. She was smitten with the atmosphere and the gorgeous harbor, merrily singing “Galway Girl” for the entirety of the trip. And she was practically planning her future residency status in Galway on the bus ride home. So trust me, it's a city you want to get to.
When we had first arrived in Galway, there was an outdoor market offering crepes, jewelry and sweet treats. And it was here that I bought my single most sentimental memento (say that three times fast): a moonstone pendant that held all the colors of the rainbow, representing ROYGBIV like I had never seen before. And the man who made it was kind enough to smile in a photo with me and happy to take my monopoly-like euro bills. But the pendant was well worth the price...and the photo.
I will treasure this adventure until I'm old and grey. And I’m positive I will always be able to conjure the smiling faces of my companions and the crisp, wintry air that filled my lungs somewhere along the coast in the West of Ireland.
Here is a link to a cover of "Galway Girl" if you’d like to listen during your adventures there, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzMXiYaqCho
There are so many incredible sites and cities to see in Ireland.
Don't forget about Cork, Belfast, Limerick, Maynooth, Kilkenny, Kinsale, and all the other cities and little hideaway treasures you can find both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
You have this fantastic opportunity to familiarize yourself with your host country, so don’t waste time. Embrace the chance to get to know the place you’ll be calling home for 3 or so months. And I promise, it's far from a chore.
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<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>