Ireland Scenery

Life Begins at the edge of your comfort zone… – by Olivia Halvorson

I have often heard that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone but I never thought much of it until I was standing at the edge of my comfort zone- or boarding gate 24 to Dublin as the flight attendant would call it. The wonderful thing about standing at the edge of somewhere though is that you get to see further than you ever have before. And slowly, without even noticing, you wake up one day and realize that your comfort zone has grown to include your new home away from home.

Studying abroad was scary, nerve-wracking, and intimidating. But it was also wonderful, fantastic, and completely unforgettable.

I could go into details about all the breathtaking things I’ve seen and the amazing friends I’ve made but no words could ever describe it as good as our hundreds of photos of green fields, glorious castles, and the happy people standing together in front of them.

I’ll always smile when I look back on that one summer in college that I spent four weeks in Ireland.


Cork and the Blarney Castle! – by Vipra Patel

Hi! Today has been a long and eventful day! It’s hard to believe that it is already Tuesday and in a few days we’ll be packing out bags for our journey back. For me it’s a bittersweet thinking about going home. I miss my family and friends more than anything and wish they were here to experience everything I have. However, I can’t wait to share all the stories with them and be able to look back at everything.

Today we went to Cork and saw the Blarney Stone . Starting out bus ride at 5am, we reached our first stop, Cashel Castle, around 7am. We all walked around and took in the beautiful scenery. After that we were finally on our way to the Blarney Castle. After arriving everyone hiked up through the narrow spiral stairs to kiss the stone. I was expecting there to be a big rock that everyone kissed, but to my surprise it was actually just a part of the castle and up in the air. Everyone laid down one by one and quickly kissed the stone for their “Gift of Eloquence”. We all walked out with our very own souvenir pictures kissing the Blarney Stone.

Next stop was downtown Cork. We arrived around 2pm and had two hours to roam the city. Some went to grab a bite to eat while others shopped. I decided to go to Penney’s with a few of the girls, and Kyle to shop. Everyone gathered on the bus at 4 to head back to Dublin. As soon as the bus started up everyone was getting ready to take their three hour nap during the ride back.

After a long day we arrived around 7pm! As drained as we all were, the Blarney Stone was well worth it!


Wrapping up – by Taylor Meegan

Wow… where to begin! Our last couple days in Dublin were packed with last minute souvenir shopping, eating at our favorite places, and getting a final authentic Irish meal. It is crazy thinking back to the beginning of this trip, coming in not knowing many people, not knowing the city, or what to expect from this trip. I think it is safe to say that we were all surprised and excited how amazing this trip was.  The food, to start with, was absolutely delicious. From Lemon Co. crepes and sandwiches to the vegetarian and organic food from Cornucopia, the food was some of the best we have had.  Our last meal in Ireland, we all went out to eat at O’Neill’s pub in order to eat an authentic Irish meal. Our meals ranged from corned beef and cabbage to beef and Guinness stew with delicious mashed potatoes and vegetables.

I think what I will miss most about this trip is exploring the country with our whole group. Ireland has to be the most beautiful place I have ever had the chance to visit. From the green mountains to the coastline, the views that we saw were breath taking. I can’t think of any place we traveled to that wasn’t exceptionally beautiful, and we went to tons of places. Starting at the Wicklow Mountains, then to the Ring of Kerry, Galway, the Aran Islands, Cork, and Kilkenny, everything was so pretty it was like looking at a postcard or being in a fairytale. Getting to all these wonderful and beautiful places is a different story. The amount hours we spent on a bus are a bit frightening. A couple trips we had to be on the bus by 6:00 in the morning and didn’t get home till after 7:00 at night, but every minute on the bus was worth all the different sights and tours we were able to experience.

I will miss Ireland so much, but I will miss the 14 other students just as much. The 15 of us made a make shift family over in Ireland. We went food shopping, cooked, cleaned (barely…), and ate together every day. From going on tours, to eating numerous pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and exploring the city of Dublin together, I can say that I have made 14 great new friends. You have Courtney 1 and Courtney 2 (AKA. Sam) who I think ate more peanut butter than anyone I know could eat in a month. Our “Mom” of the trip, Kelly O’Keefe who was always looking out for us (and who, by the way, took a part in the peanut butter eating). Kelly Lucas was our social planner and is also the only person I know who loves cows so much. Vipra just had the best name to shout, and we were all awoken many nights to Kyle screaming it for no good reason. Olivia had a special way of ordering and eating her meals, always starting with desert, which always looked better than any of our food. Emily Burns was Grandma Burns, and could always crack us up with her expressions that she used. Elizabeth Marshall ate more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the tours we took then I think I have in my whole life, some even for breakfast. Elizabeth Schilling was always our navigator, finding and following directions to lead us wherever we had to go when none of us knew any idea where we were. Kyle being the only boy made him pretty special. Then we have Nikki. Nikki always had a great time and loved making new friends in Ireland. Kim was the girl with the plan; she was always looking for tours and things to do! Emily Coyne had a lot of embarrassing moments, especially when her hair turned into an afro on top of The Cliffs of Moher. And finally we have Emily Bak, whose favorite restaurant is McDonalds and likes using terms such as “emburrassing” and can eat more than Kyle.  And we cannot leave out Heather! Heather planned so many nice tours and visits, cooked the absolute best garlic bread, and got lost quite frequently trying to meet up with all of us, which led to many laughs. I will miss being with everyone all day, everyday, and cannot wait to have some beach days in the sun, something we could not do in Ireland!


“Home” At Last – by Elizabeth Marshall

Today is the final Monday we are here and even with 5 days left on this amazing journey, I already miss my new friends and the beautiful country of Ireland. I purposively have not read any other blog posts so that when I do go home and reality hits, I can find comfort in the memories that lie within each sentence. I was just talking to a few friends today about how the thought of saying goodbye at JFK Airport is tear-jerking. Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to hug my parents, dog Bella, family and friends, talk to people in the same time zone, and not have to calculate what time it is in America or how many dollars I am really spending on a 3 euro coffee. But saying goodbye to 14 new friends I have spent the past month with and to an amazing experience we all dreamed about and have been living is not easy. Thank you to everyone who has supported and given me this opportunity of a lifetime!

Sunday was day 3 of our excursion to Galway! We went on an all day bus tour with a very sweet tour guide through Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Ross Errilly Friary, and many other scenic stops! I think it is safe to say we were all very tired from the past few early morning days and the passage between stops was spent asleep, at least it was for me. Kylemore Abbey was by far my favorite part of the tour! The beautiful Victorian Walled Garden, the largest one of it’s kind in Ireland, was breath-taking and so precisely designed. I admired the array of flowers and plants, the layout of the paths, and the shapes of the flowers in the grass. The entire time I was walking through, I could not help but appreciate the amount of time and work the grounds crew has put into keeping this garden as beautiful as it was. I know how much time my mom puts into the gardens at my house and this garden was 100 times bigger! The food at the restaurant at Kylemore Abbey was amazing, fresh, fairly priced, and the water and bathrooms were free! A huge plus all around!

Our bus back to Dublin left at 6:15 pm and we arrived in the City Center at around 8:50 pm. As much as we loved the tours of Galway and Connemara, biking around the Aran Island, and walking around Kylemore Abbey, nothing could beat the thought of being back in our apartments at UCD, our “home.”  Also after spending more than 8 hours of the day on various buses, I think all of us were relieved to smell fresh air as we walked home through UCD to Roebuck Hall.

Today we were lucky enough to sleep in because class didn’t start until 2 pm. I along with 11 other students went into Dublin around 11 am to pay for our bus tour to Cork tomorrow! Then we went shopping for a few hours and stopped in at a familiar American restaurant, McDonalds, for coffee and lunch. First time this trip I have been in a fast food restaurant and I have to say, I have never seen a fancier or bigger McDonalds in my life. After class and meeting with our mentors, apartment 6 had the whole group and Heather’s family over for a pasta dinner, cooked by Master Chief Emily Bak. Everyone pitched in with utensils, chairs, tables, dishes, preparation, and the cost of food and it was a lot of fun! It is safe to say there were no periods of silence throughout the evening!

Take care and hope everyone is enjoying their summer!



Weekend in Galway – by Courtney Egan

Hi from Galway!  After a 5 am wake up call on Friday and a 3 hour bus ride, we made to the western coast. We are having an incredible weekend thus far! On Friday, our day started with a tour.  We visited Dunguaire Castle, which was quite beautiful! We traveled into The Burren, where we saw many ancient monuments and tombs.  We also stopped at a leprechaun park, where the driver said a little leprechaun lives.

Sadly, the fog took over and we had much difficulty viewing the Cliffs of Moher.  It was very upsetting that we could not see the cliffs because all of us were looking forward to it!  However, we were very happy when the driver took us to the “mini” cliffs down the road.  These cliffs were amazing!! The views were incredible! We were so high up and got great pictures with the water below us.  To finish off the night, some of us had fish and chips while others went to “La Salsa” and enjoyed some Mexican food.  I had a vegetarian torta- delicious!

Saturday morning we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast and wished Taylor a very happy birthday! Happy 20th Taylor! Then we headed off to the Aran Islands, home of the famous Irish sweater.  We took the ferry over, very rocky but very cool!  We arrived on the islands and embarked on a full day of touring via bicycles! This was my all time favorite part of the trip thus far!! I loved biking around and exploring the island.  We biked to the top of another cliff! As you would expect, the views were incredible! The sun was shining and it was so magical.  Our calves are still very sore but it was completely worth it! We rode around and saw many horses, cows, and sheep, along with a beautiful beach where boat races were taking place.  We even saw seals sunbathing in the water!  Some of us got Irish sweaters as well.  The trip to the Aran Islands was out of a fairy tale.  Tomorrow we are off to Connemara & Cong- we are thrilled!!

See you in a week!


Half Way Point – by Elizabeth Schilling

Even after two weeks of being in Ireland, I must remind myself that I am finally here! I remember receiving emails months ago, I would think it was months away but really the trip came super quick! I was nervous about leaving my family and boyfriend but I knew I had to push myself to go! I assumed that everyone on this trip already knew each other because they had all started the nursing program together but to my surprise most everyone was meeting for the first time! I can’t get over how close we have all become in just two weeks. It has been an amazing trip so far, the places we have gone and the friendships I have made will be memories I will never forget.

Saturday we went on the Ring of Kerry tour, which was incredible!  Sunday we had a very low key, relaxing day to recover from our 18-hour adventure the day before. We went food shopping, which seems to be something the people in Ireland do often. A few of us went to the gym and we finished the night with dinner and dessert.

Today we had class from 11am-1pm with Dr. Lafferty who spoke to us about elder abuse. The elderly population is rising in Ireland and the HSE is working on increasing awareness of elder abuse to help prevent this heartbreaking issue. I couldn’t help but think and worry about my 90-year-old grandmother. I always pray that she is taken care of and vow to treat every patient I have as if he/she is my grandmother.

Later in the day, we went to Professor Evans’ (or Heather as we call her in Ireland) beautiful home she is staying in! She cooked us pasta with the choice of meat or vegetarian sauce and the most delicious home made garlic bread! We were starving when we got there but we left feeling very full. It was really nice to have a huge dinner together. We were able to hang out and just talk with each other without being in a public environment restricted by sitting at different tables.

Now, we are all working on our literature reviews for our research class. Today, five of us met with Declan Patton who is our advisor for our project. He spent time with us not only discussing work but also getting to know us better. We spoke about our heritage and where our ancestors were from. It was nice to establish a connection with him and know we can go to him with any questions about the project (or for directions to the best pubs).

I am looking forward to the next two weeks! We have some great things planned. Tomorrow, a few of us will go to see Trinity College and over the weekend we will go to Galway!


Ring of Kerry – by Nikki Yannatos

I can’t believe that today marks the halfway point of this study abroad experience! I definitely don’t want to leave Dublin anytime soon. Today me and nine other students decided to take a trip to county Kerry! Our day began very early this morning because we needed to catch a train that would bring us across Ireland. We left at 6 am from the dorm and all of us were barely awake. However, after sleeping for about three hours on the train and drinking a cup of tea we were ready to explore this beautiful county.  When we finally arrived we were picked up by the tour company and it was time to begin the drive known as the Ring of Kerry.

Our tour began by stopping at a breathtaking view of the coastline. This was the first time we saw the coast of Ireland and we were all amazed at this view of the Atlantic Ocean hitting the land. After taking many pictures we continued on to see how a shepherd herds his sheep with his border collies. Seeing the sheep herding was my favorite part of this tour because I’ve never seen anything like it. Two of the Emilys even pet one of the sheep! After the demonstration it was time to continue on to our many more stops. These stops included dingle bay, seeing wool get made, and the national park of Killarney.

Overall this trip was amazing! The views were spectacular and we all enjoyed traveling to another part of Ireland. Sláinte! (“cheers” in Gailic)


Our First Week – by Kelly O’Keefe

It’s hard to believe that our first week in Dublin is coming to a close! After our tour in the Wicklow Mountains on Friday, we took advantage of the chance to sleep in on Saturday morning.  We left campus later in the afternoon to go see a hurling match between Dublin and Wexford. We took the bus to the stadium and started to see people dressed in hurling jerseys on the street.  On our walk to the stadium we received free flags to cheer for Dublin.  Once we arrived at the stadium, we bought our tickets for only five euro and made our way to stand where we had a great view of the field.  Hurling is unlike any sport I have ever seen before.  It is kind of like a combination of field hockey, lacrosse, handball, and maybe rugby.  The players use a flat club to pass a ball to each other and score either in a soccer goal or make a field goal.  It is very violent and the only protection the hurlers wear is a helmet!  Many of them got hit during the match and had to lie on the ground and wait for a trainer while the rest continued to play.  The most entertaining part of the game for me was listening to the local fans cheer for Dublin.  They were very passionate!  It started raining duringthe match and there was a beautiful rainbow. At the end of the game all of the fans walk on the field for autographs and pictures with the players.

The next day we went to church at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  We saw the outside of the
building during the Viking Splash tour and wanted to come back to see the inside.  The high ceilings and stained glass were so beautiful to look at during mass.  The choir of young boys and men was amazing!  We were hungry for lunch after church and went to a café called Lemon Co. that advertised for crepes and coffee.  This café is right next the bus stop we had been getting off at the past few days.  We were excited to finally go inside and eat!  I got a crepe with strawberries and cream.  It was hard to decide what to get because
everything on the menu sounded so good.  Other people tried the Nutella waffle, apple cinnamon crepe, and cheesy steak sandwich.  Dublin seems full of little cafes like this one serving quick and delicious food.

After lunch, we walked up the street toward St. Stephen’s Green.  A few of us walked through this park on Thursday before the Viking Splash tour and wanted everyone else to come see how beautiful it is.  It’s difficult to put into words how picturesque Stephen’s Green is.  Walking through on a sunny day and seeing ducks swimming in the fountains, a stone bridge over a small pond, and colorful flowers in bloom felt surreal.  Despite the number of people in the park that day, it seemed relatively quiet.  Most people sat on benches or walked around to see the different flowers and historical monuments.  We learned on Thursday that public executions used to occur in Stephen’s Green.  It’s crazy to think that such a peaceful and beautiful place has a violent history!

I stayed in Dublin with half of the group while the other half went back to UCD.  We shopped around the famous Grafton Street area.  There was a street performer juggling fire torches and we watched him climb on a unicycle at least six feet tall.  Further down the
street there was a group of break-dancers performing for a large crowd.  After popping in and out of a few stores and stopping for gelato it was getting close to five o’clock.  We had already planned to meet the rest of the group at Merchant’s Arch Pub to see a band play there.  I enjoyed some soup and Irish soda bread while listening to the live music.  It
was a full weekend in Dublin and I enjoyed every minute of it! We are looking forward to the weeks ahead and exploring more of the city.


Taking my Breath Away – By Kyle Dolan

Being the only male on this trip so far has led to many high fives and many smiles accompanied by a thumbs up from a list of people we have encountered here in Dublin so far. Coming into this program I really only knew three of these beautiful ladies well enough to call them my friends. But less than a week here I feel as though we have all created a family with one another. Of course there is still much for all of us to learn from and about each other, but so far I foresee an amazing trip with many laughs and even more stories.

Anyways, on June 13. we started our morning off bright and early at an Elderly Abuse awareness conference. Here we learned about how much abuse is happening to our elder population, not only physical but emotional and finical as well. We also learned about what is being done to stop this abuse and what the future looks like in stopping said abuse. After this very informational conference we all headed back to our rooms for some rest. Around 4 o’ clock we all headed to the bus stop to catch a bus into Dublin. There we meet up with the other students taking the same class for a, “Experience Dublin” tour, on which we become Vikings riding around in a WW2 amphibious vehicle. Now I can fill ten pages about everything we saw and learned, as well as all the fun we had but I only have four weeks in Ireland, and I am trying to make this quick so that I can go enjoy this amazing country. Here is the website if you want to know more about that tour: . After our tour around Dublin we all headed back to our apartments for the night. I know, I know pretty lame right? Well we had to be up very early for the conference and the tour took a lot out of us. Plus we had to be awake and at the bus stop early the next day to catch a bus for another tour.

Like I said, on June 14 (which is the day I am writing this), we all woke up early to get a bus which would cart us around Ireland for the day. Specifically, we went to Wicklow hills and path, which if anyone did not know was where they filmed both Braveheart and PS I love you. Now this was where my breath was taken away. The scenery is indescribable and even the best pictures do not do it justice.  Sure the city of Dublin is also a great place with beautiful and one of a kind artwork and stone work but the Wicklow hills and valleys  are a spectacular Irish sight. Again I could go on, but we are all getting ready to head into the city and see what the night life has to offer us. Hoping the rain does not come back and we get to see some street performers. If you want to know more about the tour we took here is the website:


A rowdy group of vikings!