Visitors Galore!!

  It has been the busiest 2 weeks (in the best way possible)! I have been so fortunate to have friends and family visit over the past few weeks. Friends from Holy Cross visited the first week of March and my mom was here last week! 

  I was able to visit the Cliffs of Moher again with my friends, which was especially great because the first time I went it was so foggy that I could not see anything. Despite it being a long bus tour, the views were spectacular and so worth it. Another fun part of the week was watching some of my friends jump off of the Blackrock diving board in Salthill, which is supposedly a “must-do” for anyone who visits Galway. It was 40 degrees and raining the day we went, so I did not partake, but I did promise my roommates I would accompany them at the end of April (we will see if I fulfill that promise). It was so nice to catch up with my friends and show them some of my favorite spots in my temporary home. Even though I had not seen most of them since December, it felt like no time had passed and made me very excited to spend my summer with them.

  The fun and excitement continued when my mom arrived. I barely slept the night before because I simply could not wait for her to get here. The best part of the four days that she was here was the weather! It has been especially rainy recently, but my mom brought the sun and the warmth which was amazing. We explored so many new restaurants, including a very picturesque rooftop spot and a yummy restaurant in Salthill. 

  The best part of spending time with her however, was the Galway City Saint Patrick’s Day parade! I can now check “spending Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland” off my bucket list which definitely did not disappoint. Everyone was decked out in green and the streets were filled with people of all ages, making it a moment I will never forget. 

  While seeing family and friends did make me miss home a bit, I am so happy I got to share my current world with them and I know I will see them all before I know it!


Weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland

  I know that I keep saying this, but Edinburgh may be my favorite place that I have traveled to! This is such a good problem to have: liking the places that I travel to more and more every time.

We spent less than 48 hours in the city of Edinburgh, but this still felt like enough time. My favorite thing that we did was walk along the Royal Mile because it really gave me a sense of Old Town. The views of Old Town were spectacular and it was even cooler because our hostel was situated just outside of Old Town, giving us a more modern perspective of the city, along the backdrop of the archaic town.

I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy the food was on this trip. I was not necessarily expecting the food to be bad, but I just was not expecting the unlimited options of restaurants, within walking distance from the hostel. One night we went to this hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant and the other night we had a big group dinner at an Italian restaurant, which was so fun. The best food we ate though was at brunch on Friday. I had creme brûlée French toast and am still thinking about it! We may not have indulged in traditional, Scottish cuisine, but the meals were still as delicious as ever, nonetheless.

After Edinburgh, I will be in Ireland for the next month or so, seeing as I have family and friends coming to visit. There are more updates to come from my home-base soon, but that is all for now!!

HC girls at the castle!
Scene from the iconic Victoria Street
Old Town!
Yummy breakfast!

Realizing I am not in America Anymore…

  After being on-the-go for the last two weeks, I am very happy to have had some time in Galway. I am inclined to write about this past weekend, seeing as it was “Super Bowl Sunday.” The day may be a nationally-recognized holiday in the US, but it was nearly impossible to find a pub in Galway to sit and watch the game. This has been one of the biggest “culture-shock” moments for me since arriving in Ireland.

  The problem that I kept running into would be that a place would have the game playing on the TV, but no sound. As a HUGE Chris Stapleton fan, this was very problematic because I would not be able to hear my idol perform the National Anthem. The television volume was turned off in most places (yes, we tried our luck at multiple different pubs) because of live music, but my friends and I were finally able to negotiate with the pub staff to turn the TV speakers up. There was a pretty decent sized crowd in The Dail on Super Bowl Sunday, with many Irish people locked in to the Chiefs and Eagles matchup, despite all of chaos that ensued before the game.

  The crisis was seemingly averted, until halftime rolled around. All week my roommates and I were making our predictions for what song Rihanna would sing first. Would it be “Run This Town,” or “Please Don’t Stop the Music (Spoiler alert: she never even played this one)? Unfortunately, as soon as the clock ticked down in the second quarter, we all were asked to leave because the pub was closing. This meant that I was forced to watch the halftime show late and on my laptop, with live updates coming in through WhatsApp by my parents.

  I did enjoy my first, international Super Bowl Sunday, but I would prefer the usual watch parties with all of my favorite comfort foods back in Massachusetts. Stay tuned for next week’s adventures!!

A ‘Pinch Me’ Type of Weekend

  I have always dreamed about seeing the Eiffel Tower in person, and I will never forget the moment that I looked up into the sky, to see it sparkling right in front of my very eyes. I will also never forget the amazing dinner I had with my friends, where the restaurant was situated right next to the Eiffel Tower.  There is something so special about being able to see world-famous landmarks for the first time, and this moment really grounded me, allowing me to recognize how fortunate I am to be able to be traveling across Europe each weekend.

  With that being said, I think it is safe to say that I fell in love with Paris. I loved the streets lined with cafes, the fashion of the locals (I felt like I was in a scened of Emily in Paris), the food and just the overall atmosphere. I mean, it is not everyday that I am eating a chocolate croissant with my friends, on our way to the Louvre. I felt like I had to pinch myself multiple times on this trip because I could not believe that I was actually in Paris!

   I really enjoyed taking the metro out to Versailles as well and being able to see the Palace. The architecture and the gold trim along the palace was absolutely stunning. This is definitely a must-do in France.

  This may have been my first trip to Paris, but it is certainly not my last. I can’t imagine a trip topping this one, but I still have so much time left in Europe. As they say in France, “Au Revoir!”

Eiffel Tower!!
Outside of the Palace of Versailles
En route to the Louvre
Friends in Paris <3

1/27/23-1/29/23: Weekend in London

  I have been so busy attending classes and traveling across Europe that I am just blogging now about my trip to London at the end of January! The trip began with a 3-hour bus ride (in the middle of the night) to Dublin, where I took a RyanAir flight to Dublin. Traveling at three o’clock in the morning is certainly not my favorite thing to do, but it is optimal in order to fit in all of the sightseeing that we want to do in just two days. 

  I was very surprised at how some parts of London are extremely modern, yet there are other parts where the buildings look straight out of the seventeenth century. Being able to see buildings like this right next to each other was fascinating, making me compare the city to Boston, seeing as the dichotomy between modern and old-fashioned is very present there as well.

  My favorite part of London was the Tower Bridge! We were able to walk across it at night and see it all lit up which was beautiful. I am also so happy that I got to run into some Holy Cross friends at Big Ben. As much as I am having so much fun bopping around Europe, I do often find myself missing home, so seeing familiar faces always eases any angst that I am feeling. 

  Next, I will post updates about my trip to Paris last weekend, which exceeded any and all expectations I had!

Settling into My New “Home”

  I can’t believe I have almost been in Galway for a month! I really feel myself settling in and falling in love with the routine I have established here. 

  A few of my favorite activities to do, when I am not going to class are: taking walks into town and admiring the River Corrib, exploring new coffee shops that satisfy my constant craving for iced coffee (my new favorite spot is “Bubble and Bee”) and on the nights that it is not freezing cold, enjoying a sweet treat with one of my roommates, Liv. We quickly have become big fans of Murphy’s ice cream, specifically the salted caramel flavor. I have come to realize that appreciating the little things during my time in Galway has become very important to me; whether that is a pretty view or an ice cream cone with a friend. I want to make the most of my time here and these have been some of the ways that I have been doing that. I will check back in soon!


Week 1: Trip to Belfast

  Hello, Holy Cross Community! My name is Lily Smith and I am so excited to be studying abroad this semester, as well as taking you all along on my journey. I am studying in Galway, Ireland, attending the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG). I have been here for almost two weeks and already feel quite acclimated to the city. Galway is a bustling town that is still able to maintain the quintessential, scenic views of Ireland. I have enjoyed exploring it so much and cannot wait to discover even more about the city!

  This past weekend, we took our first trip outside of Galway. We went up to Northern Ireland, where we were able to explore the city of Belfast, while also fitting in some sightseeing of the rest of Northern Ireland.

  We visited the town of Carrickfergus, where we saw a beautiful castle. The best part of this trip was the weather! The stereotype of Ireland as “always raining” is no joke, so I was elated to see the sun. After Carrickfergus, we made our way up the coast to Giant’s Causeway, which is an area of large rocks and cliffs right along the water. The view was spectacular and something that I will always remember. Belfast was a great first trip and makes me want to travel around Ireland, as well as Europe in its entirety. That is all for now!