May Term Abroad
Today is the day that I finally get to leave the country. I have waited for this moment my entire life: to travel somewhere abroad and be immersed in a new culture. I knew Ireland was my best choice from the very beginning, when I saw a poster full of abroad opportunities for business classes in the fall. Ireland was an amazing place from what I had heard, and I knew that going there would yield memories that would last for the rest of my life; being able to walk in the same city my ancestors walked was fascinating knowing how old the city of Dublin. From what I can see sitting in the terminal with other Hampden-Sydney brothers, I know it will be a trip to remember. I look forward to walking around the city and meeting the locals, and I cannot wait to experience trips to the countryside, where I will find myself in an endless sea of green. The first thing of course, is to conquer my fear of flying! I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be, but who knows how long that will last.
Turns out, flying is not that bad. I stayed up on the plane for the entire ride. I couldn’t sleep because I was so fascinated by the passing lights as we flew up the east coast. The night consisted of small bits of closing my eyes then watching movies, and every so often looking out at the sunrise closing in as we moved across the Atlantic. By 8:30am we had landed in Dublin Airport. Through a tedious hour and a half wait, we managed to get through customs and grab our bags. We met with our bus driver and proceeded to head into the city. It was only on the bus ride to University College of Dublin that I realized I was truly in a foreign land: every aspect of my environment, from reversed lanes to the people and buildings, were not recognizable! I truly felt in a different world.
We eventually arrived at our apartment, and I couldn’t be happier to see my room. I share my apartment with five others and have a beautiful commons room. That same day we attended orientation with Dr. Isaacs and met our tour guide, a student named Liam, who showed us around campus. The campus was stunning, and I felt amazed going into the many halls that made up the University College of Dublin. He told us where to go for local attractions, including the Irish Emigration Museum and the beautiful views from Howth, and told us about the local customs and culture.
Later that night, me and three others went into the town for dinner and to see the night life. It was spectacular! So many people were on the streets having a pint or listening to local musicians play The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” as we passed the Temple Bar. We ate Irish stew at a restaurant called Quay’s; I have never had such a great stew in my life! We continued on and went exploring across the city late into the night (did I mention the sun is still up at 10:00pm?).
I though the first day would be intimidating, but I have never felt more in love with such a city.
Today was a free day to do whatever we wanted. That night we went out with friends we made who attend the University of Kansas. One thing I love about our trip is that the people are always friendly, and I can say I have met many Irish and Americans who I now call my friends. It’s funny how being so far from home can bring people together!
Today we took a bus to the city center for a lunch and a tour of the city! We finally met with Dr. Dempster and his wife at a restaurant called the Wollen Mills, a restaurant with quite a view from the rooftop. From here we met with our tour guide next to Ha’penny bridge, a walking bridge built in 1816 over the Liffey river.
Through the tour, we learned a great amount about the history of Dublin. We visited multiple monuments and buildings throughout the trip that had significant history attached to them. One such monument was located near the Dublin Custom House and depicts the hardship of the Irish potato famine. The statues of the people were tall and incredibly thin and had faces full of sorrow. The statues felt eerily alive, as if they were staring directly at you with every last bit of strength they had. IT was quite an emotional sight to see. A portion of the tour also revealed the struggles for Irish independence from Great Britain, such as the O’Connell monument, which has bullet holes in the bronze statues from the Easter Rising of 1916.
Throughout the tour, we also witnessed the newly developed portions of the city and found out that Dublin is a significant European city. Ireland has been an attractive location for multi-national companies for the past few decades due to low corporate tax rates and a growing technology sector and financial sector. According to our tour guide, Dublin has become a new financial hub for companies throughout the world. The financial sector is located on the northern side of the Liffey river, with the Central Bank of Ireland shimmering in the sun with its golden exterior. On the opposite side of the Liffey, you walk past large buildings housing many high-profile companies, such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon. The entire area is a shimmering paradise of modern buildings and innovation culminating into the gorgeous Grand Canal.
The city is absolutely stunning. Afterwards I felt as if Dublin was, in a way, underappreciated. There is so much to do, so many nice people, and so much opportunity just lying in one place: Dublin. I was transformed by the depth of the city itself and I have never had such an urge to come back to somewhere!
Our tour ended around 6:00pm.
Later that night I was shocked to find out that two of my aunts were in town! We met at O’Donoghues pub, one of the many places that Hampden-Sydney men visit during their trip to Ireland. Prior to my aunts’ arrival, I sat in an alley way that was a part of the restaurant and listened to a man sing a shanty as a crowd watched, sipping on their beers and enjoying his song. My aunts arrived 30 minutes later, and we sat and drank a few pints before we ate a delicious Irish stew. I left around 9:00pm and went back to my apartment to work on homework for the next day.
Today was our first day of classes. I woke up at 8:30, got dressed, went to the local Centra deli, and picked up a breakfast sandwich before arriving to class. My friends and I sat before class with Dr. Dempster to talk about our future excursions, class topics, etc. We started at 10:00am and presented our findings to the class. The class is very communal and consists of daily presentations on international business topics. Next, we have Michaux Dempster’s communication class, which focuses on cross cultural communication and presenting information. Class ends at 1:00, and most of us went to lunch and went back to do homework before a late night out.
Trip and I took the bus from UCD to Temple to eat dinner at Quay’s tavern and look at souvenir shops. We walked around for quite until we hopped on the bus…what could go wrong?
Well, unbeknown to us, we got on the wrong route. In my defense we don’t have public transportation where I live, and so the safest bet for a bus with the same number would be to hope it turned around once it got to the other side of town…that was a bad judgment. Trip and I were dropped off in Ongar, far north of Dublin, at 11:00pm with not Wi-Fi! It would have been a five hour walk to campus if it weren’t for a taxi driver passing by! His name was Cyprian, and when we described what happened, he laughed for ten minutes straight. During the ride we got to know him more: He was Romanian, loved basketball, and planned on taking his first trip to the United States by going to Hawaii. He was very personable and by the end of the night we had gotten to know each other really well. We thanked him for helping us and he went on his way, probably happy about the money he just made.
After class we took a bus to visit Trinity College! The campus was massive and full of Victorian buildings that were centuries old. Our tour guide told us about the history of each hall, and even told us about how most of the architects weren’t payed because Trinity had a bad taste in each current building designed at the time. Trinity, unlike most American institutions, still honors its traditional scholarly practices and boasts one of the largest collections of books in the world. Speaking of libraries, The Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells were breathtaking. The inside of the library felt endless as you walked past artifacts and thousand-year-old text books. It was a rare sight to see, and it felt as if I had flashed back two hundred years ago.
The rest of the night consisted of Karaoke night, which some of us partook in. Needless to say, we were “excellent”.
After class, I went to visit the Guinness storehouse at St. James Gate. My aunts had just come back from Cork and wanted to tour Guinness, so I took the bus to the Liffey and walked through town to reach them. The Guinness Storehouse is the largest tourist site in Ireland, and I have wanted to go my entire life! I remember the excitement of when I first witnessed the four or five block of seven-story buildings, all with a golden harp painted on them. One of my aunts grabbed me and took me into the building. The storehouse that tourists see today was once the main fermentation building for Guinness, which has now moved elsewhere. I met both of my aunts at Arthur’s, the restaurant on the fifth floor of the building (named after the founder himself, Arthur Guinness.). I had a pint of freshly brewed Guinness and Guinness and beef stew, by far one of the best meals I have ever had! Later we toured the sky bar, where we saw an overview of the entire city! It is one of the highest places in Dublin and the highest pub in the city.
Next, we moved on to the first floor to start our tour. We learned the history of Guinness and how Guinness is made. What struck me the most was the impact Guinness had on Ireland and the world: Guinness maintained a large fleet of automobiles, boats, and airplanes just to transport Guinness around the world! You can still see some Guinness vehicles driving around Dublin: it is not uncommon to see a giant tanker of Guinness being hauled by a truck to the port.
After Guinness, my aunts and I visited the old Jameson distillery on Bow St. The brewery was also a massive complex, full of bars and fancy restaurants for tourists like us. My aunts and I signed up for a tour of the distillery. The tour went through the history of Jameson and showed us how much of an impact the distillery had in the local community, as well as the international outreach Jameson had in the 19th and 20th centuries. We also learned how Jameson was made through an interactive table of ingredients. After the tour, I had to depart from my family to meet the Hampden-Sydney group at the “Irish House Party”
The Irish House party isn’t a giant rave in the middle of the city. It was more of a dinner with traditional music and dance. The music was amazing, and each song the band sung had a fantastic story involved. The one I loved was about a family’s journey from Ireland to New York, and their hardships at sea as they tried to make a new life in a new world.
After class, we went to the Archaeology museum in Dublin. We were brought into the center of the museum to start and found that were surrounded by a priceless collection of gold! Most of these relics were dated 800 B.C.E! The intricate bracelets, collars, and knots seemed too modern to be so old! It was hard to believe that the Celts had such an advanced craftmanship with gold. As we moved on, we were surrounded by Viking ships, medieval crosses, and depictions of Jesus Christ; nothing is more intense or interesting as the last exhibit I visited: The Mummy section. Within the exhibit, there were four spirals that led into a tomb: almost perfectly preserved remains of four men, trapped in an Irish bog for thousands of years! Their corpses were surprisingly intact, with their red hair, nails, and some skin still in perfect condition!
Afterwards, we left to go back to our dorms and study for most of the night.
Today we had our ten-minute presentation on my partner and I’s research proposal. We want to analyze what government policies in the 1990’s-a time when Ireland had the name “Celtic Tiger”-affected economic growth from multinational companies in technology, finance, and pharmaceuticals. My partner Marcus and I were inspired by our tour guide as he was taking us into the financial and technology districts, and we wanted to know how Ireland, a place we barely knew about, was so economically strong. We had fantastic references through discussing our topic with locals and through the intensive studies of Ireland’s transition into an economic powerhouse. Overall, we did a good job for our first proposal and we look forward to presenting our findings with our peers.
All of us wanted to experience the night life. Some of us met a new group of people from Iowa and became friends with them. One of my friends and I decided to split off from our Hampden-Sydney group and go out with them. By the end of the night we had already exchanged information.
Little did we know, we would meet up with them during our trip to Galway!
I woke up to a knock on my door: “Come on and get ready, we need to catch the bus.” At the last minute yesterday, me and three others bought bus tickets to take us to Galway. We left at 9:30am and arrived at 11:3. We walked from the bus terminal to a local pub to eat, where we watched Ireland play Australia in rugby; Ireland won! We had delicious seafood, watched the game, and then walked 25 minutes to our hotel. We were so tired between the food and bus ride that we napped for two hours before leaving.
Afterwards, we visited downtown Galway. It was entirely pedestrian and the streets were lined with old fashioned pubs and boutiques! People were playing music and dancing in the streets as we walked by. It took us a while to decide on a place to eat until we finally decided to try McDonough’s, a well-known seafood restaurant that had some of the best fish and chips in Galway!
One of the people from yesterday messaged me and wanted to meet us to Galway. Two of us went into town and decided to go clubbing to meet up with them.
We woke up early again to take the bus to the Cliffs of Moher! Our bus ride took us through an amazing countryside full of barren mountains, endless green fields, and castles that dotted the countryside! The bus took us two and a half hours before we arrived outside of a seaside village called Doolin. We were let off on a misty hill, where we could not see the countryside (and we could barely see where we were going!) We followed a path towards where the cliffs form, and we managed to reach a small castle. Turns out the building was an observation post was built by Napoleon! By the time we reached the observation post, we could see what lied below: the ocean howling as it smashed into the cliffs. We were standing on top of a seven-hundred-foot wall! The waves would crash and echo throughout the bay as we walked the edges of the cliffs. There were a lot of travelers on the road and talking to them always was interesting and fun. I even managed to practice my French with two girls studying at UCD during the trip. We wandered around for three to four hours before we took the bus back to Galway. We had to take the bus to Dublin, but we were disappointed to find out that we missed it!
Fortunately, another bus driver snuck us on. We drove the two hours to the city center where we came home and did our homework. The whole time riding back, I couldn’t help to think about the cliffs and the countryside being so alien. Seeing Ireland has given me a new perspective on how immense our world really is. I felt like an adventurer, and I can’t wait to see what else Ireland has for me.