The Beauty of the Day Trip

Morgan Brown
January 19, 2020

When you’re spending months at a time in a new country, it would be ridiculous not to travel. When I pictured studying abroad a few months ago, I imagined jetting off to a new country every weekend. I pictured spending Valentine’s Day in Paris, relaxing in Rome during midwinter break, and taking the trip to London that I’ve been dreaming of since I was little. Being in Dublin for two weeks, however, has helped to shift my perspective. I want to see as much as possible, but not just of Europe. Of Ireland. After all, I chose to spend nearly four months here. It would be an injustice to only see the city center of Dublin and ignore the vast beauty that awaits in the mountains, the farmlands, the coasts.

In the past two weekends, I’ve gone with a group of other IES Abroad students on a couple of day trips, one through a tour group and one by our own initiative. These trips singlehandedly managed to alter the entire study abroad experience for me. Of course, I would encourage anyone to take advantage of travel within Europe; I most likely will later in the program as well. But taking these short trips helped me realize that even if from now until April I never leave Ireland, I’m content, because day trips have so much to offer.

The first trip I took was organized by my friend group. We took a train to the coastal village of Howth and spent the day walking along the sea, taking a windy venture along the boardwalk to a lighthouse, seeing the marina full of fishing boats, and pushing through the rain to visit Howth Castle.


The next weekend, we booked a tour through Irish Day Tours, due in part to the fact that IES Abroad gives us a student discount. The weather being nice and the price being affordable, we joined a tour through the Wicklow Mountains. The short drive was packed full of stops along the way, including Baltinglass Abbey, Guinness Lake, and Glendalough, the former site of a monastery, the current site of one of the most beautiful mountain views I’ve ever seen. Midway through the tour, we stopped at a farmhouse to experience a bit of rural Ireland. We even got to watch the farmer’s sheepdog at work, driving the sheep through the vast, green landscape.


Of the perks of day trips, one of my favorites has to be that they’re cheap. I spent less than 50 euros on both of these trips combined. This leads to a great piece of advice for those planning to study abroad: prioritize your spending. During orientation, a staff member told us that buying 10 pints at a pub costs the same amount as a RyanAir flight to Paris. Spend your money on whatever you think will enhance your experience, but recognize that every euro counts and could very well go toward a unique and unforgettable experience.

Another perk of day trips is that they’re easy. You don’t have to worry about catching a cab to the airport, missing a flight, making sure you squeeze in every last-minute attraction while you’re in another country and still make it back in time to finish your paper due Monday morning. On a day trip, you control your agenda and your time. You go, and you’re typically back by dinner, leaving you hungry for more sights to see. It’s the perfect bite-sized adventure to leave you energized for the week ahead but not too overwhelmed.

One of the best parts of studying abroad is becoming intimate with the place you’ve chosen. It’s an opportunity to really know a place besides your home, to become, as they say, “more than a tourist,” to be familiar with and love the culture and beauty around you. There is so much to see outside of the bubble where you’ll be going to class. Just as England isn’t just London and France isn’t just Paris, Ireland isn’t just Dublin. Dublin is the center, yes, and it’s a hub for much of Irish culture. But there is so much more to Ireland, so much character out in the rural hills, so much beauty in the lakes and rocks along the coast. Day trips help you experience this, so when you come home from studying abroad and tell your family and friends about what you’ve done, you can truly say that you’ve explored your new home to the fullest extent.

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