Classes in Costa Rica

Arthur White
Costa Rica
Fall Abroad 2018


For those wondering what life is like in a country where you have the conversational skills of a child, if that, I can assure you that the experience is a humbling one. Starting at the very beginning, people who may not know me that well may not know that I’m a Spanish major. In conflict with this fact, I only started formally learning Spanish in the fall semester of my freshman year of college. The past two years have been trying; between my grammar knowledge from three years of Latin and the conflicting vocabularies of English, Latin, and Spanish, I have felt like I have been running in circles: using Latin words, throwing in the wrong preposition or pronoun, leaving out words entirely.

Things changed almost immediately after arriving in Costa Rica; suddenly I had to be speaking in and listening to Spanish 90% of the day. In the US, I can always leave my Spanish when I leave the classroom or put down whatever book I’m trying to read in Spanish, but I don’t have that crutch here in Heredia. Three days after arriving, I caught myself beginning to “just think, instead of translating each sentence,” as my friend Grace described it when we talked about our experiences so far. I have very clear memories from the past few semesters at H-SC in which I am listening to fluent Hispanic speakers and all I heard was “estoy hablablablablabla,” the words zooming around me like hummingbirds; currently, as I type, my host mom Iliana is in the living room watching the nightly news and I feel as if everything has slowed down to a manageable speed. I can finally hear distinct words when a person is speaking at their normal speed. Do I know exactly what the Ticos are saying, and can I form concise responses and conversation with them every time? No, but this breakthrough is a good start I think.

When it comes down to speaking, the biggest indicator that you, as a speaker, are doing well is that there are no indicators, no furrowed brows or little interjections. While many Ticos in the central valley have some level of English, often most people have little to no experience with speaking English, and in a way, I’m thankful for this barrier. I’ve been told that I’m the kind of person who has never met a stranger in my life. To have a barrier in communication is like having to walk through a wet and muddy field barefoot, which is to say extremely not ideal for several reasons. Because of the distance between myself and the Ticos linguistically, I’ve been pushing myself hard to achieve a level of conversation where I feel comfortable walking around Heredia. Adjusting to a different language is a big challenge for sure but daily conversation has begun to help me familiarize myself with sound of Spanish conversation. But, for now, as I wait for my ears to catch up, I’ll settle on bolstering my vocabulary with a Spanish language edition of The Shape of Water.

Finally, classes start this week and I couldn’t be more excited and equally terrified. So, here’s a closing thought, the tag line for The Shape of Water is “prepare yourself for a connection that goes beyond words.” While my number one focus in Costa Rica is to become more fluent in the language, there are so many experiences that I am gaining already from my time here, outside of my language learning. In a few weeks or so, when I’m at my wit’s end with my Advanced Spanish Syntax course, I’ll come back here to remember to look back on my experience so far, as a whole, breathe, and diagram that last sentence.

I’ll be writing again soon, nos vemos!

After a long day, I enjoy a good book and a cafecito in the mall, Paseo del las Flores, near my homestay.

Classes in Costa Rica 2018

Arthur White
Costa Rica
Fall Abroad 2018


I have been in Costa Rica now for three days, and what is there to say but I still cannot believe that I am in Costa Rica. Before this past Tuesday, I had never left the country. While I did live in Hawaii for a few years and in a way that’s a whole different country, nothing could have prepared me for the first time I stepped out of the Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose. The first thing that I came to recognize about Costa Rica, or at least where I have been so far, is the fact that the country is so incredibly active. I walked out of the airport door and there’s a small army of taxi drivers waiting to give you a ride; in Heredia, where I will be taking classes, there are always cars and always pedestrians doing their best not to get run over; even around my homestay in San Pablo, which is a suburb of sorts, people are constantly around hanging outside their house or walking to their jobs.

In all seriousness, I feel as though the “Tico” culture of always being outside is very tied to the wonderful climate that Costa Rica, and specifically the central valley, has to offer. Every day the temperature is between 60 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and there’s a very good chance that every area will receive just a little bit of rain. An interesting impact of the weather here, is the absolute uselessness of the weather app; fun fact: when the weather forecast says, ‘there is a 30 percent chance of rain’ what the forecast actually means is ‘within the forecast area, 30 percent of the prediction area will receive rainfall.’ So, when at least 90% of the forecast area receives just a tiny bit of rain, the forecast probably says 90% chance of rain, as it always does in San Jose, it is a good idea to always have a rain jacket, hoodie, or hat.

I arrived, stayed for a day at a hotel, and now I’m at my homestay. My “mama tica”, as IFSA-Butler refers to our host parents, Iliana lives about two miles from the Universidad Nacional campus, and we are slowly getting accustomed to being around each other. Iliana lives with her two dogs, Gia and Coco, and she is an incredibly talented cook, but I’ll be talking all about food in a different post. But now, to finish here’s a closing thought for future-me, for any other students studying abroad, for anyone thinking about studying abroad, and for all my friends and family back home having trouble starting ‘that new thing’. Whether or not you are a fan of Bojack Horseman, one of my favorite quotations from the show is as follows, “it gets easier, every day it gets a little easier, but you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part.” Over the past few days it has been easy to get frustrated over my language skills or the difference in culture, but when I learn to let it go and keep moving, then I begin to progress. Even within the time I’ve been here, I’ve gone from nodding mindlessly to responding, as best as I can in Spanish , and occasionally in English, but that is okay because it may be hard now but each day it gets easier.

For now, nos vemos!


Shortly after we arrived, the estudiantes estadosunidenses had to get a picture together. Yes, I am the only guy, and yes, it is a bit of a big change from good ol’ H-SC





As part of our orientation, we all took a trip up to Monte de la Cruz on the outer edge of the Central Valley. The view was incredible and impossible to fit into one picture because it was so large, but the yellow jacket squad tried its best.

May Term in Vienna & Budapest

Ethan Gaines
May Term Abroad
Vienna & Budapest

Over the three weeks we were in Vienna and Budapest, we toured so many amazing museums and magnificent monuments. There was almost too much history in these two cities, which made it difficult to fit all of these historical sites into the schedule.
In Vienna, we saw two incredibly appealing palaces in the Hofburg Palace and the Schloss Shonbrunn with its beautiful gardens. For museums, we toured the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum of Military History, the Wien Museum Karlsplatz of Vienna’s history, and the Jüdisches Museum Wien of Jewish history, life and religion in Austria.
In Budapest, we saw many more museums. We toured the Hadtorteneti Museum of Military History, Buda Castle for the history of Budapest, and the House of Terror and Holocaust Memorial Center which exhibit the tragedies of World War 2 and the Holocaust. On our last day in Budapest we hiked up Gellert Hill to see the Freedom Statue as well as the amazing view. Lastly, we were able to go inside the Hungarian National Assembly that was possibly the coolest and most beautiful place I saw on the entire trip.
In our free time, we visited the Tiergarten Schönbrunn (The Vienna Zoo) which is one of the best in the entire world. In Vienna, we also visited the Seegrotte Hinterbruhl which is a large underground lake and cave system on the outskirts of the city that offers underground boat tours. In the early twentieth century, the cave was used for mining expeditions and there are currently many memorials in the cave dedicated to the Hungarian miners.

May Term in Vienna & Budapest

Ethan Gaines
May Term Abroad
Vienna, Austria & Budapest, Hungary

When we first arrived to Vienna, we started in a suburban town on the outskirts of the city that looked very similar to Virginia. Then, we traveled by bus to our hotel in the middle of the city and we immediately witnessed the grand architectural structures and monuments that made Vienna so beautiful. This major urban area had numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes we would later venture to after class. Budapest offered much of the same, but often times we had to take the metro as our hotel was not in the center of the city.
For class in Vienna, we only had to go a few floors down in the hotel where we had a conference room set up for lectures from Dr. Frusetta and Dr. Glont. Before class, we were given complimentary breakfast in the hotel with a traditional European breakfast consisting of sausages, deli meats, and many different kinds of croissants. In Budapest, we needed to take the metro one stop away to a separate building for class.
Both our hotels in Vienna and Budapest were very nice with employees who were also kind and helping. I would say that the biggest difference between living at home and abroad is the lack of air conditioning. During our may term, it was regular 90 degrees or more so we had to get used to the heat. I should have packed more shorts and sun screen.
There was excellent food in both cities. Schnitzel was easily the best meal I had in both cities, and the food stands in Vienna along the Danube river were cheap and delicious. Also, during our class excursions all over the Vienna, we would often stop to get a quick snack at the many tasty pastry shops that served some of the best croissants and donuts I have ever eaten.

May Term in Ireland

Daniel Newberry
May Term Abroad
Dublin, Ireland

Ireland has been an amazing experience, with so many new places to visit and people to meet from across the world! Summer at University College of Dublin has been an amazing opportunity. I love learning about conducting business in international settings while meeting people from all around the world!
Since we arrived, life on UCD’s campus has been interesting. I woke up at 9:00 everyday and got ready, then I would walk to Centra, a small market, to pick up a pastry and coffee on my way to class. I would be with a group of friends from time to time, but I tended to walk by myself and explore the campus before class. I would always see people eating with their friends outside of the Centra or walking to class while looking around and admiring the campus. The business center was not far away from where we were living, and from 10:00am to 1:00pm I would be in class.
Afterwards, most of us in the program would get lunch together. The cafeteria was conveniently next door to the business center, and we would sit down and eat really, good food that we normally would not experience at any other college cafeteria.
After lunch, we normally took naps before either going out or doing homework, unless we had an early excursion into Dublin. We lived in a chain of apartments buildings called the Glenomena Student Residencies, which had three apartments per floor. I lived on the second floor (or first in Europe) and had a nice room with a bathroom, desk, and wardrobe; six of us shared a common area fitted with couches, refrigerators, and a stove. The apartments were very clean and pristine and didn’t seem very old at all. Most of UCD is still expanding at a fast rate with new halls! I personally found my room to be smaller than a Hampden-Sydney room-smaller than the Carpenter rooms-but the bathroom was definitely a plus. As time progressed, I found that I had less space to put things away, just because I bought so much! There were some books, hygiene products, and some clothes that I wish I could’ve left home; I packed a little more than I needed to, but I had everything I needed!
Whenever we went out, I noticed that many people don’t wear shorts, except for Americans. Everyone seems to wear khakis with either a t-shirt, polo, or button up. By the end of our first week, I could already tell who was American and who wasn’t just by clothing styles. However, there were other ways of telling if someone was American. As said by someone back home: “we walk around like we own the place.” I didn’t think it was true until I came to UCD. I usually wore khakis (occasionally jeans) with a button up, which is normally my style in the United States. I would say that I fit in to the point that Irish speakers would come up to me at a museum and ask me questions, as if I knew Irish! It must have been the red hair.
During the trip, I also noticed how the Irish have a different perception of time than we do. The sun sets later than in the United States, around 10:00pm, so the towns are always full of actively late into the night. People seem more active due to the increased amount of daylight throughout the day. It wasn’t terribly hard to adjust to eating dinner at 9:00pm, but it certainly felt off. Normally I eat at 5:00pm, so going an extra few hours is always weird, but well worth the wait. The food in Ireland fills you up fast because it’s so hearty and thick! My two favorite meals were Beef and Guinness stew-namely the one found on the fifth floor of the Guinness Storehouse-and seafood chowder with soda bread. Lamb was also popular at all restaurants that we went to, and I can say lamb is definitely a new favorite as well. Overall, the nightlife proved to be fun. Since people were always up late, it was always interesting to see what people were doing throughout the day: working and shopping followed by dinner at a pub or going out to a club to dance. There was always something going on.

May Term in Spain

Ryan Tomlin
May Term Abroad
Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Given the fact that I have never traveled and hadn’t done much research on Spain, I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the trip. I will say that the trip has been an amazing opportunity for me. Again, since I had not ever traveled or spoken a foreign language for a month, I had no clue what to expect. From the very beginning, this trip took me out of my comfort zone. I was ill-prepared for the language, culture, travel, etc. Because of that, I learned so much more than Spanish on this trip. I learned a lot about myself. Not only did my abilities in Spanish grow, but I also learned a lot about myself. I have gained a lot of confidence from overcoming challenges that I had never expected. I also gained experiences of travel that I had not yet had the opportunity to have. Therefore, I am extremely thankful for the time that I have spent in Spain.

When I leave Spain, I will most definitely miss my host family most. I have discussed them a little bit in my blogs, but they have been very supportive and kind during my time here. I am extremely thankful that they were kind enough to take my roommate and I in for an entire month, feed us, wash our clothes, and most importantly help us advance our knowledge in Spanish. I have grown close with both my host mother and brother. I will not forget the transformation I have gone through during this trip. Now, I wish that I had talked to my host parents more during the first couple days because I will most definitely miss them.

Again, I recommend that any student should study abroad if they are given the opportunity. I have learned so much more by immersing myself in the language of Spanish, than I would have studying at Hampden-Sydney. On top of that, I enjoyed the entire experience of travel. If you are a student that enjoys leaving your comfort zone and travel, then study abroad will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience for you. Moreover, I suggest that if you are a student interested in studying abroad, make sure to research the area that you are going because I didn’t, and I believe that I made a mistake. As I said in an earlier blog, I experienced a little culture shock when I landed in Spain and I think that had I researched the area more, then I would have known what to expect. A little bit of research will help you to hit the ground running when you get to the area that you are studying. This will allow you to maximize your experience in your respective country.

Overall, I am ready to return to the United States to see my family and friends and return to Hampden-Sydney College. On the other hand, I will not forget the month I spent in Spain or the memories that I have made. I plan to come back to Spain in the future, as well as travel more after my time at H-SC. For every student that reads this, you should study abroad. It’ll be some of the best credits that you earn during your time on the Hill.

May Term in Münster

Donald Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Visiting State Parliament

Nearing the end of my trip here in Münster I can honestly say that it has been a blast. Individually I have met many unique and friendly people around the city. As a group we have recently been able to meet with a Parliament representative for North Rhein – Westphalia and see how the laws are made for the state we are staying in. I found it very interesting to see the State Parliament where laws could be made to impact the family of my favorite local döner shop, or the school that we study at in the city. We often think that just because something is foreign that it is beyond comprehension, when in reality it is closer to home than we were led to believe.

scenic church view

Our final day of class is Wednesday and we leave for our final destination of Berlin Thursday before departure. Saying goodbye to my host family will be close to saying goodbye to my own family. The program has selected amazing people to host us and make us feel welcomed for our stay here in Münster. I will probably miss the day to day living the most. I will miss stopping at the same bakery every morning before class to grab a small snack before class. I will miss seeing the husband and wife that own the local döner shop and having conversations about the soccer game from the previous evening. Most of all I will miss family dinner time where everyday my house family and I would sit down to a homemade meal and recollect on our day and laugh over small jokes.

Anyone considering studying abroad should stop considering and just do it, and those who have not considered it should start to.


May Term in Spain

Ryan Tomlin
May Term Abroad
Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Since the last time I blogged, I have made a lot of progress with the language. I speak as frequently as possible with my host brother and mother because I learn the most from them. I have gotten to the point where I don’t have to think about what I am going to say before I speak. I find myself responding to them much quicker, without a delay, because I have been exposed to the language for so long. It feels much more natural than in the beginning. Before the trip, I had studied Spanish for only two semesters and I am very proud of how much I have learned.
When I am not speaking Spanish or doing homework, I thoroughly enjoy my free-time in Spain. Typically, I will go down to the Plaza and listen to music or hang out at bars with my friends. There is a small bar called La Panadería that plays rock music and we have made friends with the bartender. In my free-time, I watch a lot of movies with my host brother. We also often watch the World Cup soccer games, especially when Spain is playing.
During my time in Spain, I have also done a lot of traveling to other locations. I have gone to Madrid multiple times, Segovia and Toledo for one day, and Valencia for a weekend. Traveling in Spain has been very different for me. Since I do not have a car, I have taken a train to every location. On the other hand, this is a typical way to travel in Spain because many people do not drive. Madrid was beautiful. We took a tour through the city with one of my professors from the University in Alcala. Segovia was very exciting because they have an aqueduct that runs throughout the city. Valencia is on the coast and my roommate and I went to the beach for a day. We also went to the Museum of Art and Science in Valencia, which I found very interesting because I am a science major at Hampden-Sydney. Overall, I recommend that anyone who studies abroad should try and travel to other locations so that they can see as much as possible.
As my time in Spain is ending in just three short days, I am doing my best to both get my work done and spend time with my host family. In closing, the trip has been very beneficial for me. I have learned a lot about the Spanish culture. Moreover, by traveling out of the country for the first time, I now see how different other countries can be. I believe that this will be an experience I talk about for a long time after college. With the liberal arts mentality of Hampden-Sydney in mind, I highly recommend any student study abroad if the opportunity presents itself.

May Term in Münster

Donald Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Historic Münster

We cannot really have a study abroad without the study portion. Personally, I am taking a 495 independent study which is a progressive study of the architecture of Münster from it’s earliest beginnings in the Dom Platz, to its more modern architecture with office buildings designed to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. No matter the level of study here in Münster we students find ourselves in situations where we need a bit of help.

Coffee with Dr. Johnson

Coffee with Dr. Martz

Along with help at home from our host families, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Martz frequently set up meetings at the popular Marktcafé in the city center. At this historic cafe near the city center, we can enjoy delicious varieties of pastries and other foods along with a large culmination of lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee based drinks. Well, enjoying these great amenities while sitting down with our professors and getting one on one feedback and guidance on our assignments. The work based meetings are never strenuous with a fresh strudel and warm cappuccino.

May Term in Ireland

Daniel Newberry
May Term Abroad
Dublin, Ireland

June 7

At Dulles Airport with Trip Gilmore

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.

June 8:

Beautiful Irish Countryside, taken right before landing.

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.

UCD Campus

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.

Temple Area at 10pm!

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.

June 9th:

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!

June 10:

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.

June 11:

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.

June 12:

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”.

June 13:

Irish stew!

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.

June 14:

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.

June 15

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!

June 16:

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.

June 17:

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.