Day in Derry & Weekend Recap

Heya!

This past weekend I ventured up to Belfast, as I usually do, but this time a bit earlier in time to see a Foil Arms and Hog show. Definitely see them if you get the chance! This was my second time seeing them. They have YouTube videos on their channel which you can check out for a laugh. Afterwards we went out for drinks with our friends but were sensible because the boys had to work the next day. Saturday was the day we set aside to go visit Derry. I got little gifts for my boyfriend’s family for Christmas in America and they were still laying about in Belfast. So I gave them their long awaited presents from me…finally!

We were a good bit outside the town in the countryside. The views are stunning. And especially the drive up to Derry from Belfast. It gets prettier and prettier. I think anywhere you grow up you get used to the scenery and potentially forget how beautiful it is because you see it so often. When I was new to Ireland the Irish thought it was funny how much I loved photographing fields, hills and horses and cows, which I get because that’s probably really American of me. But it’s nearly three years later and I still love taking photos of Ireland…But now with a great camera and even greater company (:

All in all, it was a lovely day full of catch ups and scenic driving. Derry in general is a really gorgeous county with a ton of interesting history. I especially love the town itself. It’s very hilly though so be prepared to work them legs. I can’t wait for the day I get to show my Dad around Belfast and Derry. I know he’ll love it!

Speaking of Derry, have you been watching Channel 4’s new show ‘Derry Girls’? It’s brilliant. All the characters have crazy good Derry accents (most of them are from Derry in real life I believe except for a couple of the actors). I learned a new term from it the other day…A nicker bocker glory! When a character on the show ordered one of these at the diner, I thought he said ‘nichol bockel something’ and immediately texted my boyfriend to ask what it was. After a few confused texts, he eventually decoded my gibberish and confirmed it was indeed a nicker bocker glory they were referring to. It’s a layered strawberry ice cream sundae and it is on my list of things to try!! I also want to go to that diner from that scene in Derry Girls.


On Sunday, it snowed and I was praying for a snow day off from uni but no such luck. We did a quick run to ASDA. I love ASDA because big grocery stores remind me of home, haha. Then went bowling. If you watched my Instagram story, you probably saw me humbly bragging about being in the lead. That went south really quick when my boyfriend caught up to me and we tied.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend too (:

x

The Big 21 & OOTN

The big 21…on the side of the ocean where I can already legally drink. A party was had up north with some rooftop cocktails at The Perch, followed by some dancing at Filthy’s not too far down the road…but the girls got a cab because of our high heels. If you know the distance between The Perch and Filthy’s you’ll think we’re insane, haha. The night somehow flew by but I was so happy with how it went! 

 

I had a ball getting my hair and makeup done by the lovely and funny Maria Gorman (Click her name to see her post about the ‘soft glam’ look on me and follow her for more) at Blue Hairdressing. Everyone at the salon was so nice and they kindly gave me a glass of wine to celebrate turning 21. I must be a light weight because it went straight to my head…after one glass. I’m so lame!

As a student I tried to budget what I was spending on a special birthday outfit but still wanted to feel fab on my big night. I did a lot of searching online and in stores and eventually was pretty happy with how my outfit turned out. I went for a simple all black outfit with pearl details (you can’t see unfortunately but there’s pearls all down the back of my heels – I’d snap a quick pic but I left them in Belfast, whoops!). My heels have been broken in for awhile now, thank goodness, and I can’t find a direct link but they’re from Pretty Little Thing I believe. All in all, it was an affordable outfit for a birthday! I’ve provided links for all items I could find down below.

LBD – Boohoo

Earrings – Accessorize

 Purse – Accessorize

Tan – the local NI brand Bellamianta (I love this stuff – great for even the palest of the pale!)

On my actual birthday (Monday) my two best uni friends and I got dinner and some unreal cocktails at Sophie’s in Dublin. Yes, that’s the place you see on Instagram that has the swings! Check out our swing pic below. Did you even go to Sophie’s if you didn’t get a signature swing snap? It’s fab and was such a good shout from my friend Caoimhe. I ordered a ‘Thinking of You’ so yummy.

(The dress from Monday night can be found here)

I don’t know where the weekend went but it was awesome. I’m such a lucky gal to have such great friends and a wonderful boyfriend who made it all so special for me! We celebrated all weekend long, Friday-Monday, and I think I need to sleep for awhile haha. Here’s to 21! I have a feeling it will be a good one.

x

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

Madrid Travel Diary

The first trip of 2018 is Madrid, the gorgeous capital of Spain! I’m doing something different here and trying a travel diary style, day by day, where I update the post before, during and after then upload when I return.

Late Friday: Four university exams done and that’s me off to Spain for the weekend. Very excited to see a new country and culture as well as see my friend that recently moved over (: The trip is short because of busy schedules but should still be very fun. We are flying at 6AM so I better sleep here.

PS: I’m flying with RyanAir who happen to have a new bag policy. If you fly with them or are considering doing so, you can read about the new baggage rules here.

(Sunglasses by Oliver Peoples & floral tote from Primark)

Saturday: We adventured around walking a lot. You know a city is great when you’re happy enough to walk everywhere. Madrid is super walkable and a gorgeous spot for wandering around. I don’t speak Spanish, although I’d love to. Our friend Kavina translated and read all the signs which made everything a lot easier. Most restaurants have pictures of the dishes so you know what you’re ordering if you can’t read the menu.

  • Plaza Mayor Square – Beautiful! Didn’t bring camera and got breakfast. Hugh went back for the camera and took some photos of it.
  • Retiro Park boats – The rowing boats at Retiro Park were definitely the highlight of my day, if you go, go on them! It’s so tranquil just paddling around and having some laughs.
  • The James Joyce – Yes, we ended up at an Irish bar for a few pints while the lads watched the Arsenal match. Guinness does not travel well.
  • Raced home from the bar – boys (walking) vs. girls (taking the Metro – which I was very impressed with). Girls won. Boys say it was debatable.
  • Yatai Market – Dinner was at Yatai Market which felt like eating in a club with a lot of Asian food trucks, haha. It’s a gastronomic market that showcases Japanese, Korean and Asian street food and apparently the first of it’s kind in Madrid. It’s worth checking out.
  • And finally, we went out for the night to a few random Spanish bars including The Hat rooftop bar. Some places are very cheap and some are expensive.
    Sunday: Woke up late, got up late. Got out the door by 2pm for a day of walking and seeing sights. Two of the lads went off to a Real Madrid match while we walked around in the sun. We got lucky with the weather on Sunday, it was so nice out! The best part was the rooftop bar…Everything about it was stunning.
  • The Sunday Market – It was right outside the Air B’n’B’s doorstep and was very busy. Nice to look around!
  • The Royal Palace of Madrid – Walked there after breakfast and took some photos. Fabulous building.
  • The Temple of Debod and the little park around it – Very pretty views. Took some photos here and sat in the sun for a bit.
  • Tartan Roof – THE BEST part of Sunday. Such good vibes and so stunning! Here’s another ‘back of the head’ picture with the view.I absolutely loved the weekend in Madrid! It was beautiful and a real treat after finishing a grueling exam season. So happy I got to go and can’t wait to go back!

    Hope you enjoy it if you visit Madrid (:

    x

Follow Me on BlogLovin’

Heya!

Just a very, very, very quick post to say I’m now on BlogLovin if you wish to follow my page: Follow my blog with Bloglovin. Bloglovin is a better way to follow the blogs you like to read and keep on top of their recent posts via your phone, laptop or PC. It just keeps everything nice and organized for readers! You can also discover other lovely blogs on it! If you’re out and about a lot and need an app with some fun blog reads, download the Bloglovin iPhone app.

To keep up with me throughout the day, follow me on Instagram where I post Instagram stories almost daily. If you’re not following already, my other social media accounts can be found here.

I have so many plans for Redhead American and it’s content in 2018 and am so looking forward to sharing it!

Thank you! (:

x

8 New Year Resolutions for 2018

Happy, happy New Year! First off, I want to say a big thanks if you followed my blog and/or blog’s media platforms in 2017. I know it’s a baby in the world of blogs but any support is appreciated. Blogging was something I was contemplating for a long time and I finally worked up the courage to post Redhead American this past August. I have received really kind feedback since then which always makes me smile, so thank you very, very much!

I hope you had a fun and safe New Year’s! NYE celebrations for me took place in Belfast at a small house party. Maybe I can’t even call it that, let’s say a gathering. There was drinks and dancing and overall it was just very fun. I’m bummed that I hardly took any pictures which leads to resolution number one…

  1. Take more pictures!!! This one frustrates me. I need to take way, way more! I’m hopefully getting my good camera fixed up this week or next. I use an iPhone 6 most of the time, but it’s pretty old so sometimes photos are a bit fuzzy. It still works well otherwise though so I don’t see a point in upgrading. So stay tuned for better quality pictures…
  2. Unplug more. I know it’s great keeping in touch, especially when you live far away. I’m definitely a little guilty of getting stuck on my cell phone sometimes. Especially when I’m traveling!
  3. This leads into…read more books when waiting for planes, trains, buses, you name it. (If you have suggestions of any good reads, toss them my way!) I’m not going to set a specific number of books per month because final semester of uni should be enough work. My brother got me this one for Christmas so that’s my next read.
  4. Get comfortable AND simultaneously cute traveling shoes. I have yet to find a good pair. My go-to is my white low-top converse to allow me to walk more. I don’t like bringing a lot of shoes. I usually bring just one so it’s tricky because sneakers/runners can’t always get into bars/clubs (some bouncers just don’t allow you to!) Suggestions?
  5. Less chains, more local cafes. Self explanatory. Support local businesses whenever you can! Here’s a read from Love.Live.Local (based in Massachusetts) about why shopping local is important.
  6. Skip the cab and walk more (if it’s wicked cold or raining I may get one, understandably) and discover more.
  7. See a country I never thought I’d go to. Like I said in my recent post, traveling opens your eyes. I’m really excited to see what adventures 2018 holds.
  8. Be kinder to the planet while traveling. Less plastic (particularly plastic water bottles)! I’m gonna invest in an eco-friendly water bottle very soon. 

    Of course I have all the typical ones like, establish a more structured exercise routine, eat healthier, drink more water, etc. but these are ones are more travel oriented. I’m super stoked for 2018 and hope you are too! What are your New Year resolutions?

Best of luck on achieving yours!

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)

 

Home for the Holidays: Cape Cod

 

I’m hooooooome! Despite the label of a travel blog, I have yet to discover how to beat jet lag. Maybe someday I will, but certainly not this trip back. It’s 7am and I’ve been up since 5. On Sunday night, I think I passed out around 1030pm Boston time, so like 330am Irish time, yikes (there is a 5 hour time difference). My body is clearly still on Irish time which isn’t the worst thing to keep up if I’m only here for another week. In regards to flying to the east coast of America, I have always flown with Aer Lingus since I was a kid. I hear Norwegian Air has fantastic deals though which is something I want to look into further possibly for my next trip home.

Cream Double Bauble Knit Beanie is from River Island UK but also can be bought right here.

It is so nice to be home for the holidays <3 There was snow upon my arrival but alas, it has melted. I’m hoping for some more before Christmas! There is a lot to do like seeing friends and family and study as well because exams are quickly approaching when I get back to Ireland. There are so many people to see and never enough time unfortunately, but that’s always the way! I usually stay for New Years but this year I’m spending it with my boyfriend and friends back in Belfast. The last few days, I have been between Cape Cod (which is a man-made island that is connected to Massachusetts by two bridges) and the city of Boston saying hello and goodbye to people! Both are great places to be but I’ve been loving the lively vibe in Boston. It has always been my favorite city but I’m biased, of course. I’ll do a separate post on the city as I have a few more days to spend there before going back to Ireland!

Here are a couple of snaps I’ve taken since being back. The first two are from Barnstable village which is a very nice spot to visit if you’re ever on Cape Cod. Nirvana Coffee Company is probably the cutest cafe on the Cape. I also love the idea of the book exchange outside it. Then we have our Christmas tree all lit up (with no star yet, though!) and my lovely doggo all cuddled up on the couch.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season and spending time with your loved ones! Happy holidays to all!

x

(Photos at top of post by my lovely friend from home Sarah. Taken nearby a marshland area on Cape)

Taking Care of Your Skin Before & After Travel

I’m not alone here when I say airplanes do something to my skin. It totally dries mine out. The airplane is not the cleanest place so I apply my cream/moisturizer on my face before and after I fly. I also find when I’m traveling I use makeup wipes A LOT more…Which, yes, are not so good for your precious skin. If I’m in a time crunch or super tired I’ll reach for a makeup wipe or micellar water before I go to sleep. It’s better than sleeping with your makeup on.

It’s always important to look after your face and body! Especially around the holiday season it’s essential to take good care of your face to avoid pesky spots for pictures/nights out and have smooth skin to apply fake tan. Lucky me, I rarely break out which I’m super thankful for. I used to have horrible acne when I was around 13-15 years old. From there on I’ve just had occasional spots. Here are a few things I am currently doing/using before the holiday season where I’ll be flying to Boston and back to Ireland again.

1. Hydration before/after the flight is key. Drink loads of water. The air on the plane can seriously dry out your skin.

2. Moisturize after the skin is already clean and/or exfoliated. I like this one called Seaweed & Tea Tree Rescue Cream and it really does smell like tea tree oil (I love essential oils so that made me happy!) The ‘rescue’ part is actually a natural antiseptic! It’s made from Tea Tree essential oil and seaweed from Ireland. I actually had a couple of spots before I began using it and they cleared up in about two days. It can also be used for lots of skin irritations.

3. And don’t forget the rest of your body. I am currently using oil! A lot of people just stop at lotion/cream/moisturizer for their face. This one is brilliant and smells divine. It makes my skin feel really smooth on my upper arms. Something about the lavender in it makes using it relaxing. 

4. Eating well in general but…Antioxidants are a big one for making the skin glow. I get a lot of mine from blueberries in my smoothies. Overall, nutrients are important.

5. Vitamins. Regarding skin, A, B, C, E and K (yes, I put them in alphabetical order) are the best to make sure you’re getting enough of. I recently picked up a few different bottles at the health store in town for the winter time.

I loved trying Green Angel Skincare‘s products and had fun featuring them in this post. The cool thing about them is they are a local company based in Ireland. After reading up on their website, I was happy to see the founders were really passionate about skincare. They use a lot of Irish seaweed and natural ingredients containing vitamins and minerals perfect for replenishing the skin. They’d make excellent Christmas gifts!

 Take good care of your skin! Traveling is a time that can really wear it out. Also, shop local if and when you can.
x
(Big thanks to Green Angel Skincare for sending me these products! The two featured were my favorites. Find more at http://www.greenangel.com. All opinions are my own.)

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)