There’s a lot to see in Northern Ireland. Taking it all in is an ongoing adventure I force my boyfriend into exploring alongside me at least once a month (bless him – he secretly likes going though). I love cruising around with the radio on knowing I’m going somewhere to just roam about and take photos and be in nature in Ireland. I’ve said it before, it’s soul fuel for me!
We have ticked plenty of charming places off the list at this stage and yet there’s still so many to see. We have gone to MOST of the big touristy destinations. The one lacking being the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge (a couple posts back though you’ll see we were in the village where it’s located which is a VERY worth a visit).
This past weekend my original idea was something pretty close to Belfast. So we picked the Bangor area. We stayed in a little seaside B&B there last December and really enjoyed our time but didn’t explore the surroundings which is something a little different and definitely not as popular. There’s some seriously cool homes out that way that I enjoyed pointing at and imagining life in. I also felt particularly lucky that I saw at least twenty gorgeous dogs throughout the day. Not joking when I say I got even luckier with eight of them being sausage dogs!!! One of my absolute favourite breeds.
Places in/near Bangor
Helen’s Bay – We drove along Helen’s Bay on the main road right by it and it was pretty! But it’s also apparently a lovely beach to walk. I’ll have to go back.
Bangor Harbour – Right in the town and extending outwards, there’s a walking path for yourself and your favourite furry companion, a playground for kids, and if head into the town centre, some really great bars and restaurants.
Crawfordsburn Village – A very classy unique little village composed of a main street that’s lined with some of the nicest cars I’ve seen. If you’ve been to Cape Cod I’d compare Crawfordsburn as the small scale Chatham of Northern Ireland except no ocean. It’s tiny and there’s not much to do but it’s really really pretty and totally unlike any place I’ve seen in all of Ireland. I wish I had taken a photo of it but give it a Google if you’re interested!
Crawfordsburn Country Park – We came here kind of by accident. While driving I spotted a little sign where it looked like people were going for walks and I suggested we go there on our way back. When trying to find it, Google Maps took us here and we rolled with it. And I’m so glad we did because the foliage in the forest was spectacular. It made for some colourful shots. However, I don’t believe my Canon or even iPhone could do the vibrancy justice. It was so bright and beautiful!
So, if you like day trips and you’re in NI maybe seeking somewhere a little different, here ya go! (:
Let me know on Instagram where some of your favourite lesser known spots are!
I’m really happy to have worked with Crann. Co who are a fantastic up and coming brand who are Irish owned and operated. They sell hand made wooden watches and sunglasses made from Irish wood. If you dont know Gaeilge, ‘crann’ is Irish for tree, hence the wooden aesthetic. All their products have and Irish name. I’m all about repping Irish brands and this is a cool example of a brand that has taken a product and made it truly Irish. So naturally, I love it. It’s the little cultural touches that make it special!
Plenty of Irish bloggers are rocking their pair online. So here’s little ol’ me in mine. I love how lightweight they are. Also am a big fan of the tortoise shell. Not a sunny day, but a warm overcast one requiring some sunnies.
*I’m wearing the Bo frames in these photos. Sunflower field is outside Ballymena, Antrim. It costs £2 to get in and walk around the maze is £1 for a sunflower of your very own. See more on my Instagram here.
“During my time living and traveling south east Asia I had seen wood items for pretty much everything but what really caught my attention was the sunglasses and watches because I’m a watch freak! I love the idea of them being handmade from Ireland and just beautiful simple and timeliness. From over three years ago I guess I have been building up the courage to start a new business. I think building a brand is hard but it’s so rewarding and Crann is no different. For the brand I wanted to make match my love of nature, travel, being Irish and sustainability… Yes, it’s a weird mix but I believe that’s what makes a brand stand out, being different and standing for something. I come from a marketing and business background so I love building something fresh and new but the product side is something very new for me. I needed to learn a lot about product design and development so it took me quite some time before launch testing suppliers and designs until I had every product right. As every item is handmade and I wanted each item to be unique so getting this right was had but I’m so proud of what we have created!”
Hope you had a lovely weekend and you’re prepped for the week ahead…I’m handing in my final year thesis this week so a day to unwind and take my mind off of it was well needed. Hughie and I went to Belfast Castle estate finally! It was really beautiful and a glorious day for it…until it rained but that was later on after we had left. Typical Ireland. Can’t complain though, it’s been a gorgeous few days for the island.
There are cat symbols (as seen in on the ground decoration I’m standing on) and little cat statues around the estate garden. They symbolize good luck to the visitors!
Even when you’re in front of the castle, you have an incredible view of the water and Belfast and it’s surrounding areas. There was a cute girl taking communion pictures at the castle, such a good idea! Very picturesque.
The castle is set on Cave Hill. There is several trails to hike on the mountain, some of which looked quite steep and challenging. Asthmatic me took the flattest one but it was still great and offered a nice view.
Story of my life. Sees dog. Must pet dog.
Glad I went and would love to make a habit of going here for walks and work my way up (and bring my inhaler, haha) to the more challenging ones. We spent the rest of the day walking about and ate at District in Stranmillis.
Outfit Details – simple for walking about!
Earrings – The Beady Mama. You can shop the Etsy shop here.
Belfast is one of the spots to visit in 2018 if you haven’t! If you follow me you know I spend half my week in Belfast and the other half around the Dublin area. This is because I have my boyfriend and friends in Belfast and my uni life and friends in Kildare, which is coming to a close as I’m wrapping up my last semester. I lived in Belfast full time over the summer and loved it. It is very different to Dublin and considerably smaller. It’s lovably quirky and very easy to navigate.
There’s always something fun going on. Here are some spots to check out that I love and have tried/visited. I don’t have photos of everywhere but where I do, I’ve included them below.
My favorite food places (I’m picky): I’ve tried lots but these were the stand outs.
Ginger Bistro – Good for a nice meal and ambiance.
Fratelli – chocolate mousse is INSANELY GOOD. A small portion is just enough.
Avoca Cafe – I have tried the other Avoca cafes around and in Dublin but this one in Belfast is also really lovely.
My favorite bars (casual to fancy):
Five Points – Always has live Irish music. Really fun for singing along. Whenever I’m there I don’t even mind standing.
Parlour Bar – Very student-esque. Casual AND cheap. They have pub quizzes every Thursday.
Filthy McNasty’s – Fun quirky bar for a night out. There are several differently decorated sections and each of them always have a good buzz. My favorite one is the outside part picture below at night.
Town Sq. – really yummy cocktails. Love their moscow mule.
The National and Sixty6 – Fancier part upstairs if you want to leave the casual scene, but it will cost you a fiver.
The Perch – I went here first for my 21st with friends. It is expensive but very, very nice. The espresso martini is great. It has a rooftop view but I didn’t see it that night haha.
Babel – Another rooftop bar! View is so great and looks over Victoria Square. Dying to try the food there. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of it!My favorite takeaways: One for almost every variety/takeaway mood.
Touristy things worth seeing:
City Hall – right in town center, beautiful inside and out.
Victoria Square – LOVE the design of this place. It’s an outside shopping that transitions into a dome covered shopping center. Casual shopping to high end. There’s something for everyone. If you don’t fancy shopping, there’s cafes and food as well. It is currently celebrating it’s 10th birthday! Read more here.
Tours on the history. I have done multiple tours of Belfast for a class I took on Northern Irish society. The city is rich in history and if you like politics it may be of interest to you. Also check out the very striking Stormont building, the home to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Titanic Quarter – Titanic museum is there! Read more about tickets for it on their website here.
Places on my to-try list right now:
YoSushi – conveyor belt sushi. I’m going to give sushi another chance.
Cuban Sandwich Factory
Seasonal Things to Do:
Continental Christmas Market – different meats from around the world to try, Bailey’s hot cocoa with various flavors, some really cool creative stalls with jewelry, art, and delicious food.
Christmas shopping in Victoria Square – caroling, and all around Christmassy vibes.
A little further away…
ON A GOOD CLEAR DAY: About an hour down the road in Antrim you can find the Giant’s Causeway which is a gorgeous area with an interesting geological rock formation that draws in a lot of tourism. There’s also a rope bridge and several trails for walks.
Are you in the city looking for something else to do?
Check out a film at Queen’s Film Theatre. Discount with student card but anyone can go. A more intimate movie theater experience!
Crazy Tuesdays at Movie House on Dublin Road. 3.50 tickets all day for any movie.
Go for a walk in the town or grab a coffee at a nice cafe. There’s some great coffee places and I’ll do a separate post on this.
There are some ideas! Have you been to any of these places?
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!
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.
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!
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.
Which country do you prefer?
It’s very tough to pick! Both have amazing places, things, foods and people that I love so much!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 (:
(Photos taken by my good friend from home Abby in 2015 during my first year on Maynooth University campus)
My favorite season in general and my favorite season in Ireland has finally arrived. I basically love pumpkin anything, all the fall colors, chunky knit sweaters and my riding boots crunching (stomping) all the leaves. It’s a very autumnal October and I’m all bundled up at the train station brainstorming where to take my blog next. I’ve an upcoming Amsterdam trip planned for Thanksgiving next month. I’ve never been and I am very, very stoked. Every year I throw a big dinner party abroad but this year will be a new spin on it. I’m also hoping to get to Madrid in January after my exams with the same group of friends from the Netherlands trip. I’m wondering whether to go beyond just travel and Irish life on here. As of right now I’d love to do posts on yoga, self care, fashion, uni organization AND more travel. If you have suggestions get in touch (my Instagram is @redheadamerican)!
I’ve been a busy bee lately. Uni is in full swing. I’ve been settling in during the week and heading away on weekends to see people and hit the town with them. Final year is obviously more intense and it’s taken some adjustment. It just takes being organized and quite focused. One year left and I’m looking forward to finishing. I can’t believe how fast it has all gone by. Feels just like yesterday my dad left me at my freshmen accommodation and I was an eager little fresher. Graduation next fall seems like a faraway dream, eeeek!
I LOVE fall in Massachusetts too. Well, let’s say all of New England. The foliage is beautiful. People from all over go on foliage tours near where I’m from just to see the scenes change. Pumpkins are literally all over house doorsteps, shop fronts and most importantly Dunkin’ Donuts (I miss and love you, Dunkin’. I’ll be home for Peppermint Mocha season, I promise). Ooooh I can’t wait for all things Christmas! But first to enjoy all that fall brings. Halloween, Amsterdam and Thanksgiving first, I must pace myself.
Right, that’s all for now. Let me know what you would like to see if you are interested.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.