Hey friends! Happy April! April is always an insane month for me at school (various birthdays, philanthropies, formal, Mom’s weekend, Atius… it’s insane), and April while abroad is proving to be no different!

Last weekend three of my housemates and I set to Galway to go on a few day tours around western Ireland. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but as soon as you leave Dublin, Ireland is unbelievably beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, Dublin is great and a super fun city, but the true beauty of this green island is definitely elsewhere. The first day we went to the Cliffs of Moher, which I had been super excited to see! They did not disappoint…

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Roomies!

That night we had a fun night out in Galway, which is such a cute city! Unfortunately, due to the day trips, we didn’t get to see much of the city during the day, so I definitely want to go back! The next day we took a trip to the Aran Islands, a set of three tiny islands about 9 miles west from the coast. This was possibly one of the saddest places I’ve ever been. There is literally NOTHING TO DO THERE. Actually nothing. It was freezing cold so we couldn’t rent bikes, so we basically just looked at the few shops on the island all day. The entire population gets everything they need for survival at a single Spar (a convenience/grocery store). The island is also a gaeltracht, or an Irish-speaking population, and is basically really antiquated. Not to mention I had HORRIBLE motion sickness from the ferry ride (and, okay, had stayed out a little late the night before… but I swear it was mostly motion sickness) and felt like death all morning. Riding the struggle ferry. So yeah this was not my favorite day, but we had a few laughs at the situation and still saw some great views, and I got a super warm Aran Islands sweater so that was good too 🙂

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Studying in Ireland means you look at lots of cemeteries.

After catching up on some sleep in our surprisingly nice hostel that night, I felt like a real human again the next day and was able to enjoy our trip to Connemara, which is basically just a nature district that’s basically been untouched, and a stop at Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore was home to a super rich MP (member of Parliament) and his wife and is now famous for reasons I don’t understand, but it was still pretty cool.

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The Abbey

After a pretty chill week, two friends from U of I and I headed out to London late Thursday night! This was my first RyanAir experience, so that was something. RyanAir is a discount airline with questionably certified pilots, a severe lack of organization, and obnoxious flight staff who continuously try to sell you things, but it’s super cheap so it’s worth it, maybe. After a longgg bus ride from the airport and a cab ride to the hostel, we finally made it and crashed into bed around 2am to rest up for the weekend!

FRIDAY:

We went to Camden and Portobello Market and admired all the cool/weird stuff they have for sale. Unfortunately, due to limited funds and absolutely no backpack space to bring things back, I didn’t buy anything, though the clothes were extremely cute. After perusing those, we went to Leinster Square to find discounted tickets to see a show that night, and stumbled upon M&M World… obviously we had to go in. We also saw London Tower and London Bridge before one of the highlights of the trip… seeing A Chorus Line! It was hugely entertaining and energetic and I loved it. The dancing was amazing minus one brief point where they do a questionable ballet combination, but other than that it was great!

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SATURDAY

My friend Nathan and I took a trip to Stonehenge while Medha visited some family she has in London. Stonehenge is in the middle of nowhere; the drive was oddly reminiscent of my drive down 57 to school. No one knows for sure exactly how or why Stonehenge was made, which reminded me a bit of the Newgrange tomb in Ireland I saw with my parents. They think it likely had something to do with time and the sun, because the sun shines through certain areas on the solstice, equinox, etc. It’s a world heritage sight so I’m glad I got to see it!Image

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We started the day with the London Eye, which is a giant ferris wheel that provides some great views of the city. Fun fact, London is four times the size of Chicago, which I was not expecting at all. It’s HUGE! Luckily their public transportation system is super easy and convenient so we actually didn’t have to do a ton of walking. Anyway, the Eye was fun, but after came possibly a highlight of my life… the Harry Potter exhibit. OMG life. This was extra amazing because it was actually sold out for the entire weekend, but Medha basically called them and begged and managed to get us two tickets for Sunday. Bless her. (I screamed and caused a scene when she told me. Why am I so embarrassing?) The exhibit is HUGE and has tons of sets, artifacts, etc. about the making of all 8 films. It was truly amazing to see my favorite series to come to life. While my obsession has definitely diminished since the series ended, I was pleasantly reminded of my many good memories of seeing the movies with childhood best friends, finishing the seventh book reading side by side with my brother because we couldn’t stand waiting for the other to finish, and basically growing up with the series. So glad I got to go! (Also I can’t get this paragraph to un-italicize so… yeah. Sorry.)

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What? No, I’m not tearing up, there’s something in my eye…

MONDAY

We reserved this day to basically see all the tourist-y sights we hadn’t gotten to yet- Big Ben, Westmisnter Abbey, and the Buckingham Palace.  After walking around and buying some souvenirs, it was time for a Ryanair adventure back home to Dublin. It was an amazing weekend; I loved London and would definitely go back! (Even though it’s unbelievably expensive and will cost way more than you expect just to exist there. It’s gross.)

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This is my “I’m really tired of carrying this backpack all day” face.

Now I’m home for about 72 hours before jetting off to Amsterdam! I actually have some homework to do so I guess that will keep me busy until then. Until next time! Miss you all!

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