Category: ireland

7 Questions I Get Asked + Homesickness Tips

When you tell people you’re from another country there’s a few questions that you are bound to be asked. As well as a few randoms! It’s usually whenever I meet someone I get asked a lot of these! It’s been three years of answering them so I have the answers memorized, haha.

Retro Flame’s new video actually inspired this post! She is the opposite of me…from Ireland and moved to America. She’s brilliant and I love her content!

Hopefully these answers give a little insight into my blog!

  1. Is your red hair natural?
    ….Followed by have you ever changed the color? Haha. My color is my natural one! I wanted ombre when I was younger and got my whole head dyed platinum blonde…It was so embarrassing and not my best look. I’ll stick with the red.
  2. Why did you pick Ireland? 
    My parents are from Ireland and they brought me over a lot growing up, which I’m super thankful for. I have always loved Ireland, the people and the culture! University in Ireland just seemed like a great idea to me when I was seventeen and it’s cheaper than most unis/colleges stateside. It’s still my best decision yet!
  3. How’d you pick your uni?
    I had researched all the Irish universities for awhile and thought Maynooth would be the best fit for me. I figured it would be less overwhelming than going to school directly in the city, but if I wanted a city vibe I could just take the train/bus into Dublin. Read more in my post about applying to Irish university here.
  4. Which country do you prefer?
    It’s very tough to pick! Both have amazing places, things, foods and people that I love so much!
  5. What do you miss most about Massachusetts?
    Buffalo chicken pizza tenders/pizza and Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. And my family and friends and my sweet little dog.
  6. Where will you live after uni and what will you do? 
    I’m moving to Belfast, woohoo! Cannot wait. I have some ideas work wise, but only time will tell!
  7. How do you avoid being homesick when you live so far away from home?
    Only around my birthday do I get a bit homesick. Mine literally just passed but it’s a day where I always want to wake up at home! It’s okay to miss home/be homesick! It doesn’t make your journey/trip/move any less successful.

    My tips are:
    – Try and stay busy and distracted. Clean, cook, workout, study, whatever!
    Do something that makes you happy. 
    – Meet up with friends! Call your friends and/or family if you can’t meet up.
    And here’s the most important one:
    – I also remind myself I once lived at home and wanted to move to Ireland so badly! And that I am very happy here and have built a wonderful life for myself! The homesick feeling will pass! 

    x

Travel Highlight Reel of 2017

So 2017 will go down as the year I began seeing new countries. All my life, I had only ever been to the United States (where I grew up and my parents live) and the Republic of Ireland (where my parents are from and I now live). I know that I should’ve taken advantage of living in Europe way sooner! In fairness, I have been all around Ireland. There are only a few counties left to check off my Irish bucket list! When I first moved over I basically had day trips planned for every weekend and I had fun little adventures wherever I went by myself or with university friends. But I became so comfortable in Ireland I never went anywhere else, besides home to Boston.

This year was very good to me. I visited so many incredible places, ate amazing food and best of all met a whole new group of friends! Before 2017, I had never crossed the border and visited Northern Ireland. After a handful of trips, I was living there in the summer time! I fell in love with Belfast (and a guy from Derry..haha). 2017 was one for the books as they say.

I’ll go in chronological order, trip by trip, including my favorite photo from my stay there and my favorite activity. There were some more local trips within Ireland (like Cork, Galway, Mayo, Derry, Donegal and Down) but I’ll stick to new countries for this post! All trip titles below have the link to the original blog posts where I discuss them in more depth.

Manchester, UK: August 2017

A quick 40 minute plane ride from Belfast and I was in the industrial city of Manchester! I liked that it was a quick escape. However, it’s not really a holiday spot. It’s more of a place you go to visit someone, which was the intention of the trip. But nevertheless, it was still fun. My favorite part was the Manchester Art Gallery with a new friend I made from an old friend or the rooftop bar pictured…Don’t be fooled by the cute appearance of my cocktail, I can’t recall what was in it but I couldn’t finish it!

The winner of 2017….

France: August 2017 

Out of all the gorgeous places, I think rural France was the best. Not only was it warm, it was super beautiful. The fresh loaves of bread and local cheese were SO, so divine. And the villa I stayed in was set in a rural area outside a very small village that I may never be able to pronounce but really loved.

The light show shown above was projected onto a gothic cathedral and captivated quite the crowd. So fab! I found a video someone took and uploaded to YouTube of another light show in the same place right here.

Amsterdam, Netherlands: November 2017

Amsterdam was a cool touristy spot and the architecture was super pretty. I was surprised at how different I thought it would be. One of the best parts of traveling is configuring a new perspective on a place.

Heineken Factory is well worth a visit, regardless of whether you enjoy Heineken beer. There were so many photo ops and I loved that you could roam about on your own.

Boston & Cape Cod, MA: December 2017

There’s not much to say besides how great it is to be home for the holidays! Obviously the best part is reuniting with friends and spending time with loved ones. The snow is great as well and you can’t beat being near the ocean! I was also home two other times this year when I had time off from university in March and June. In March I was home for about a week and in June I stayed the whole month. One of my close friends from uni came over to see America. Showing her around Massachusetts made me appreciate where I’m from even more!

What a year! I traveled and learned quite a bit. It really does open up your eyes! I’m ready for 2018. I’m sure it will be packed with plenty of fun places to see. After my January exams, a few of us are headed to Madrid for a weekend which should be brilliant. And hopefully a little warmer… If you have suggestions give me a direct message or comment on Instagram.

Where are you planning on going in 2018?

Happy New Year! 

x

 

(Photos of me taken by Abby Hanson at ‘The Knob’ at Quisset Harbor in Falmouth, MA)

 

Americans Applying to Irish University Process

Several people have asked during my time at Maynooth for guidance for their American cousins, nieces, etc on attending university in Ireland as opposed to staying state side. It was a very independent project and took a lot of time and patience to be honest. As if American students applying to American schools isn’t tough or stressful enough! 

Hopefully this post will clarify the process for anyone interested in going abroad for the whole degree.

Right, let’s say it’s the beginning of autumn. Many Irish universities don’t open admissions until November-ish. That doesn’t mean you can’t get cracking on this. Things may have changed since I was applying though, keep in mind!
This is a photo I still have from when I submitted my application. I was so, so delighted with myself!

  1. Are you a good academic fit for your school? Check out what SAT scores the uni of interest wants. This will be on their website. See what else they require. If you don’t have the score, it’s not a good idea to apply right then. You should sit the exams again until you get the required score your Irish uni wants. From my experience, it seemed they didn’t really care if I was a well rounded student in high school. I explained I was in lots of clubs on the tennis team, etc…No need for that. Good GPA + SAT scores = acceptance.More info on the SAT: I had submitted everything to them but hadn’t sat my SAT until later that fall. The uni told me just get a certain score and I’m in. It was that simple!
  2. Talk to your guidance counselor and let them know you have interest in an Irish uni or IT. They won’t have much to say. All mine said was, “Whoa. Okay. I once knew a guy that went to Cork.” But they need to know where you’re hoping to go obviously. They may encourage you to apply to a back up school in the US and I don’t believe that’s really necessary. You will know if you’re a good fit for your school based on what I wrote above in #1. 
  3. The guidance counselor is going to tell you that you’ll have to do all the work yourself and this is 100% accurate. It is entirely up to YOU to get the transcripts faxed to the correct university office from your high school and do all the application process on your own. I recommend recording what you emailed to whom in a journal just to keep track!
  4. Get your required documents together. This includes your transcripts, copy of your passport, recommendations (I needed 3! They were from my favorite AP English teacher, my private tennis coach and wow I honestly cannot remember the last one, I’m so sorry to whoever wrote it hahaha but I do remember being very happy with all of them), and whatever else they may require in the application process.
  5. Do your research on what degree you want to study. All the information about each one is on their websites. You apply with your top three picks and they decide based on your application (I believe, mainly GPA) what course you are offered.
  6.  You’ll have plenty of questions. I’m here if you have any specific ones! Don’t be hesitant to get in touch. But when I applied, I was calling the international office at Maynooth nearly once or twice a week only to be told it was tea time and I should call back later. I used to get up early before school to call them (I was running on Boston time then). By the time I’d come home it would be too late and the office would be closed.
  7.  Submit on time and make sure you have done/gathered everything needed for the application. Very obvious, haha but necessary.

It is really about keeping on top of everything. It is long and exciting and worth it when you get into wherever you want to go! By the way, I applied in September and found out in November that I was accepted just for a time span reference on applying.

I could do more posts on Irish uni tips for students from abroad if you like! Good luck on everything. It is a very exciting journey (:

x

(Photos taken by my good friend from home Abby in 2015 during my first year on Maynooth University campus)

Bopping around Belfast Day & Look

BELFAST

I’m sitting in Cafe Nero and I just met an old family friend for coffee. We both agreed we miss Dunkin Donuts coffee wholeheartedly. After a strong Americano and a good catch up, I’m bracing myself for a rainy walk back to the flat.  I thought it could be a good day to capture some shots of my outfit but alas, lighting is poor. A very typical rainy Irish day!

I’ve really taken a shining to Belfast this past while. My days here have been really laid back and quite fun. It’s a great walkable, small city with a lot of character. There is a lot of brick used in the buildings here which reminds me of some of the houses on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.

Cafe Nero inside
Brick work in the houses

Like Dublin, it’s not built up. There is a restriction with height for the buildings. Honestly, this used to irk me about Dublin. If I wanted a day in the city, I could only get a big town vibe. Seeing no skyscrapers bothered me. But with Belfast, I really don’t mind. There is some fabulous architecture in the city center and I find what it lacks in height it makes up for with a fun, quirky sense of art. City hall is a gorgeous spot to visit if you’re in town center.

City hall looking at town
Belfast City Hall

 

OUTFIT (But not really and I’ll explain why)

Here’s a peek at what I wore out and about today. Again, lighting was poor due to rain, sorry! I do want to invest in a proper camera once I save up enough. Little old me was my own photographer. And after some slight consideration, it would definitely be awkward if I began taking iPhone pictures of myself on the street.
I put my sheer Bershka black top (love the frill detailing at the shoulder and how it goes in at the sleeve just past the elbow) over a cheap Forever 21 cami tank top and tucked them into these grey plaid Bershka trousers, pairing them with black two strap sandals from Dunnes Stores and a H&M black handbag I picked up in a sale last week for an interview.
Mango top – £8.99 in the sale                       Bershka trousers – €15

I typically buy things on sale except for staple pieces or shoes/accessories that I definitely know I’ll wear often and for a long period of time. Clothes are very replaceable and unless you’re in love with the piece, you’ll only wear it so much.  Because I’m always up and down from Dublin to Belfast, you’ll notice I used different 
currencies under the photos. Overall, this outfit is pretty affordable.

I let my hair go natural and left it down. For makeup I stayed neutral and did a quick basic look.
Sandals – Dunnes Stores on sale for €9.99
Handbag – H&M on sale for £9.99

Yes, I took this last picture on the street – our sidewalks are so clean..It was outside the apartment so no one saw, shhhh. So, that’s what I went around in today! Thankfully, the rain wasn’t too heavy. Because most of these pieces were on sale I’m not sure they’re still available but it’s worth checking your local store if you like them. They’re all quite comfy and are easy to pair with dark colors.

Visiting Belfast? Check out VisitBelfast.com for touristy ideas.

x

Tips for Moving Abroad

Hi all!

Welcome to my little blog I’ve started. I’m going on my third year in Ireland and I still find myself in awe that I live here. The greenery and scenery are still as charming as the day I arrived. Growing up, my parents would always bring my brother and I to where they’re from in the west of Ireland, which is just stunning.  So naturally, being submerged into Irish culture, I fell in love with the country.  When university time came around, I packed two suitcases and moved to outside of Dublin to study arts.

What People Don’t Tell You About Moving Far Away (or studying abroad/erasmus):

  1. You don’t need two suitcases. You don’t need all that stuff, please believe me. I wish I could tell 18 year old me to stop packing random things I thought I’d want with me that I’d never look at again. One case and a duffel bag is plenty. Choose wisely what you’ll bring. If I could do it again, all I’d pack is clothes and my makeup and some pictures, honestly. You’ll accumulate so much stuff when you’re abroad! Just buy toiletries there.
    Have you already moved with too much? Just bring bare essentials plus the random stuff you’ve decided was unnecessary next time you fly home-home, and leave it there.
  2.  You will miss stuff. Home is a state of mind but of course there is no comfort like your actual ‘I’m-from-here’ home.  Luckily, I don’t get homesick much. Have I? Of course. When my birthday rolls around every year I always sulk a bit that my mom isn’t there to bake cute cupcakes or put my orange juice in a champagne glass for that extra birthday fun effect. I’m from a beach town at home so I miss my little walks along the shore.
    WARNING: If you have pets, you’re A) blessed and B) going to miss them more than a person. A sad reality of mine is that I FaceTime my dog regularly. That’s kind of sad, right? I have screenshots.
  3. Skip decor. If you’re like me and you move accommodation frequently as a student, resist decorating to your heart’s content. Again, it’s just more stuff to pack when you move.
  4. Meeting people can be awkward. I have met some seriously incredible people in Ireland. All unique and talented and beautiful people I get to call my friends. Obviously you’ll meet people you may dislike or find your energies just don’t mix together in a good way anymore, and that’s okay! Don’t let that discourage you from getting out there and meeting more people. I’ve managed to meet new friends all along my journey! Try inviting someone for a cup of coffee or an event for chats.
    – Try meeting your flatmates, neighbors
    – Get involved in clubs (I didn’t, but I wish I did!)
    – Experience the nightlife if that’s an interest of yours
    – Meet your friend’s friends
  5. Keep positive and distract yourself! If you’re nervous, just know it’s natural and you’re going to have so much fun (I hope anyway). Moving is a magical time of starting fresh and meeting some lovely friendly faces that may end up accompanying you in life for who knows how long!
  6. Stuff will go wrong. C’est la vie. There’s going to be countless ups and downs. Boys will break your heart and you’ll cry in bed with Ben and Jerry’s to Adele. You’ll buy way too much Ben and Jerry’s and regret it because it’s not healthy and now you are kind of broke. You’ll miss your parents and friends. You’ll miss their birthday celebrations and feel bad. Again, your pets. There will be days where all you want to do is ring home but your family is at work or asleep due to the time difference. Lord knows somedays all I want is a medium iced mocha coconut toasted almond coffee made regular from Dunkin Donuts.Distract yourself, you will be just fine.

I am seriously thankful my move and transition to Irish life went so, so swimmingly. I was young, and still am at ripe ol’ twenty, but when I look back I realize it actually was easier than I thought. After high school I was ready for a break from my small Massachusetts town. Ireland was obviously very familiar to me having grown up with the culture and I assume that’s what made it a lot less challenging.  I’m super grateful to have a foot in two different countries.

Goodluck if you’re planning a big move!

x