What’s Ireland to Me? (Allyson Bills)

Original post date: September 16, 2012

Being here for almost a whole month I have a new appreciation for home life.  Starting out in my very first apartment, shopping for my own groceries, getting supplies that are usually on the shelf at home has been a change but adjustments were made and I am surviving.

Traveling around Ireland was my first goal for the August/September and I am succeeding very well. I have been to Cork, Kinsale, Dublin, and Inisheer.  The bus rides to these certain places have been a nightmare but finally arriving has been amazing.
I was present in Dublin from September 7th through the 9th.  We stayed in a hostel, which was a new experience and had some delicious Irish food.   We also saw the sights around Dublin like the “Dead Zoo” and the Archeology Museum along with the Guinness Storehouse.

I enjoyed some bangers and mash my first night in Dublin. Bangers and mash is mashed potatoes and Irish sausage with gravy. The sausage reminded me of Wisconsin brats but without the twinge of spice.  I also enjoyed some spiced lamb with cous cous the second night.  I was a little fearful of eating lamb but it was really good.  It was with curry, which is like rice but shaped like small balls.  Cous cous is very common in Indian style foods.

The “Dead Zoo” or the Natural History Museum was a museum filled with animals that were preserved in their original fur/hair.  People from Dublin call it the “Dead Zoo” because you basically go to look at dead animals. It was really cool though just to look at the different animals from about 100 years or even later like 1,000 years ago.  We also stopped in the Archeology Museum.  This museum is a lot like the Milwaukee museum.  The Guinness Storehouse was a tour of how Guinness beer is made.  It was really neat to see all the different ingredients that go into making what seems like a simple beverage.  The Storehouse was built in the shape of a pint glass and at the top there was a 360º view of Dublin.  I even got to pour my own glass of Guinness and got a certificate for it. The trip to Dublin was worth the 3 ½ hour bus ride.

Currently I am taking an Early Start class at the University College of Cork (UCC).  The class I am taking is called Irish Folklore and Ethnology.  This past weekend (September 13th– 15th) our class took a trip to Inisheer.  Inisheer is the smallest island of three islands off the shore by Galway.  We took a ferry ride from Galway to Inisheer that crossed the Atlantic Ocean.  The waves on Thursday night were extremely high and caused the ride to be less than pleasant.  A couple people on board got seasick and the rest of us got soaked from the waves and rain.  When we arrived on the island, we enjoyed a meal of either chicken or fish with chips (French fries).  We all got into our beds at the hostel that night and had a much needed rest from the long day of traveling.

Friday morning was sunny and windy, which helped to dry out our clothes.  We got the day to travel around the island and explore the whole area.  For those 9 hours that I was given, I walked the entire island if that gives you an idea of how small the island was.  We got to climb up into a castle/lookout post on the top of the island and see a lighthouse on the other side.  Beaches covered in rocks and cliffs surrounded the island.  Rock walls that kept random cows, horses and donkeys separated divided the entire island and made it look like a puzzle.  The rock walls were about 4 feet tall and looked like a strong wind could knock them over but even with a few shoves they held strong.

The whole time I was looking around I had to think that there is no way I could live on an island.  If one of us would have broken and ankle, we would have to wait for the next ferry which only came at 8am, noon and 6pm.  Don’t break anything after 6 or you are out of luck until morning.  Also grocery shopping, if you forget something you can’t just turn around and get it.  The island was really nice to visit for a few nights but leaving was a nice feeling as well.

We left Saturday morning at 8am on the ferry.  The ocean was calm and the sky was cloudy, which is no shock for Ireland but it was a better ride than the first one over.  We got back to Cork around 4pm that night and I continued to remember about the wonderful time I had on that small island.  It was amazing being so close to the Atlantic Ocean and seeing the waves and hearing the splash.

Ireland surely has many places that are unbelievable and I just added one wonderful memory to this awesome study abroad experience.

Allyson Bills is studying abroad at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland.

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