*** Disclaimer*** make sure you have an international data plan/ new SIM card before you start using these apps. It'll save you from getting slammed with hefty phone bills!
(My daily walk up North Bridge from my bus stop to my internship)
(This is a salad from Chopped )
2. Deliveroo- This was a life-saver for me towards the end of my stay in Dublin, Ireland. It’s a delivery app. Cyclists and bikers pedel and rev ‘round the city with insulated boxes strapped to their backs. How it works? You add your location, and there are infinite takeout restaurant options! My favorite was Tolteca, (literally the Irish version of chipotle. You can get tortilla chips and everything) ;)
(I used Google Maps to find the infamous Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Breath-taking views!)
3. Google Maps- My amazing flat mate Carlie (shout out to Carlie!) suggested that I add this to the list. This works like Moovit, and if you don’t have an international data plan you can easily screenshot the directions to wherever you want to go!
(My flatmates and I wouldn't have heard about Craigmillar Castle without Historic Scotland)
4. Historic Scotland- This was a lovely suggestion from the adventurous Gwendolyn (shout out to Geraldine!) and boy is she right! If you plan on venturing around Scotland this app is worth it! Historic Scotland oversees all the historic attractions that Scotland has to offer. So if you need inspiration for a day trip or need to check fees/hours for your next castle expedition this is it!
I had the pleasure of taking a day trip to Cork with my roommate a week before I was set to end my time in Dublin, Ireland. It was on my Irish bucket list, and I was determined to do some last minute sight seeing before I said goodbye to the place that I had grown to love so much.
The best part about staying in Dublin is the easy accessibility to the rest of Ireland!
I booked with Irish Day Tours. We met at around 6:30-7 in the morning in front of the Molly Malone Statue off Dame street. The strip was lined with tour buses ready to ship eager tourists off to different parts of Ireland, and we showed our receipts on our phones before hopping on the bus.
We slept through most of our driver’s stories and sing a long’s, stopping at a gas station for coffee and breakfast food.
But alas we finally arrive to our first stop of the day:
Rock of Cashel:
Our first stop was to the ruins of a monastery in the town of Cashel. It was a bit dreary out but that didn’t harm the beauty of the place. In fact it added to the mystery!
One of the things I love about Ireland is how modern towns surround ancient ruins. It is such an intriguing mixture of past and present!
Somehow, human beings built this extravagant archway, and this is hundreds of years before heavy machinery was even a thing.
After checking out the site, we walked back down the hill in search of restrooms, and ended up discovering these beautiful murals!
Then it was back on the bus and off to our next stop:
We only had about an hour here, but it was enough to satisfy us. My roommate and I grabbed lunch at MCD’s….. (don’t judge me please). Then set out to explore the main shopping area, which I guess could be compared to Grafton Street in Dublin.
Lots of cute shops, street buskers, and, because it was mid-November, beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere!
We had just enough time left to explore Cork’s English Market. A colorful alleyway leads the way into a huge assortment of stands housing meats, cheeses, chocolates, pastries, you name it, it’s there.
Then we headed off to Blarney Castle, which turned out to be my favorite part of the trip!
We spent most of the afternoon at Blarney Castle, and I’m glad we did. The ruins itself are attached to a large garden with a pleather of paths to wander through. There is also a shopping center decorated in all things Christmas and a café to stop for a coffee.
My roommate and I got separated for a while which lead me to explore some of the gardens on my own. She was brave enough to continue up the narrow stone stairway to kiss the Blarney Stone. My height-sickness and Claustrophobia guided me back down to explore the lower more open parts of the castle and the surrounding grounds.
The gardens were beautiful and tranquil.
Finished the day with some coffee and christmas shopping :)
1. Water, water, water- Obvious? Yes, but when you’re sleep-deprived and anxious, hydration is your savior.
2. GINGER TEA- Whenever I travel my stomach gets all messed up. Ginger tea is my go to. I regularly substituted it for coffee in the beginning of my trips to help ease my nerves.
3. Fresh Air- In my first few days in Ireland and the UK, I was overcome by fatigue, and I honestly felt sick to my stomach. Not because of nerves, but simply because of the time change and new environment. Sitting and walking around outside in the fresh air helped a lot!!!!
4. Fake-it-till-you-make it- There is no clear answer to jetlag. All you can do is ride it out. Going to bed when its night time ---even if that means laying awake in bed--- will slowly help train your body to sleep at that time.
Ugh, Stirling! (and I don’t mean that in a bad way)
In my opinion, it was one of the most beautiful towns I visited while completing my internship in Edinburgh. I went once with my intern group for an API excursion, and loved it so much that I had to bring my family back when they visited me in July! Each time I had the pleasure of visiting Stirling I was in awe of its quaint, hilly landscape and assortment of shops!
And that’s not even including the magnificent, Stirling Castle! It sits atop the town’s winding cobblestone streets. This was the main reason for our internship program excursion, because what’s more exciting than castle hunting?!?
Stirling Castle is much like Edinburgh Castle in that its interiors have been restored to reflect the way it would have looked in its prime.
Unlike Edinburgh, Stirling’s grounds have a beautiful garden! There is also an outdoor pathway attached to the castle’s bordering walls that stretches almost all the way around the grounds.
I could stare at the idyllic countryside, mountain ranges, and town below for hours. The castle itself offers such a beautiful vantage point.
Long story short, Stirling is a great daytrip from Edinburgh, and can be easily accessed from Waverly station. There is still so much I would love to explore, but that will have to wait for another trip ;)
One of the cutest seaside towns is just a 30-minute train ride from Edinburgh!
If I could make a suggestion to anyone going abroad for more than a week-long trip, I would suggest exploring beyond the city-limits.
I was really lucky to share student housing with three amazing people from my internship program. We’d all spend Mondays-Thursdays at our separate internship placements, but Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays were up for debate.
Sometimes we’d do our own thing. I’d wander the city, Gwendolyn would hike through the Pentlands, Monica would be up on Calton Hill while Carlie busied herself in a newly found café with research data and Americanos.
But at least one of those days we’d spend together. Venturing somewhere that one of us had been dying to visit. This weekend, I wanted to visit North Berwick, and Gwendolyn new there was a Castle nearby.
The North Sea, sunshine, and castle ruins, what could go wrong?
North Berwick was a dreamy setting. First of all, it was sunny, and it stayed sunny the whole day, a rarity for Scottish weather.
But Berwick itself was so quaint! We walked into town from the train station, the horizon outlined by an outstretched peak, blue, glinting water, and bright green grass bordering along a stretch of sand with patches of dried up seaweed.
The first thing we did was go down to the beach to christen our feet in the North Sea.
It was icy cold yet refreshing, and we picked up pieces of sea glass as we walked, our eyes fixed on the cluster of little holiday cottages and shops on the opposite end of the shore.
The town was flooded with families soaking up a sunny weekend. We picked up a small map from inside the Puffins center, and decided to walk along the beach to Tantallon Castle. The map made it seem close; just a mile give or take from where we set off.
The beach turned into a foot path, the foot path into a golf course (that welcomed walkers so long as they minded their heads).
Multiple times we thought to turn back, but we reasoned that the castle would be just beyond that hill or just over that bend, and soon we had nothing to lose, because regardless it was going to be a long way back.
Gwendolyn helped us navigated through the golfing parties. She would say stop, and go, as we laughed at ourselves for getting stuck in such an awkward situation.
There was a stretch of road bordering the golf course, but it was blocked by a stone fence and barbed-wire. We hoped that there would be a break in the fence, and so we kept on walking until one golfing party finally spoke up.
A thick Scottish accented-voice called “You alright?”
To which we sheepishly admitted that we were trying to find Tantallon Castle.
The man turned to his wife and gave her a look, then turned back to us and said “Aye its just a wee, ways further. You’re headed in the right direction”
Looking back, I now understand why he gave her that look.
It took us an hour to walk from Berwick along the golf course, and down the roadside---after we finally found a crumpled part of the fence we could jump over!
By the time we reached Tantallon we were all sunburnt, dehydrated, and hungry. But everything was worth it once we started to explore the castle grounds.
Here was a structure, built in 1350!! perched on the edge of a cliff side; in the same spot it had been for many centuries, as it was battered by the rugged coastline.
I'll just leave these here ;)
It was a crazy day, but it was the craziness that makes it so fond to remember.
(And wouldn’t you know, there was a bus we could take back to town!)
Twice I have packed for an 8-12 week adventure, and twice I have failed miserably at the tedious task of packing.
I have Pinterested, read blog posts, and watched Youtube videos, yet in the end,
I still overpacked *(face palm)*
Here are a few suggestions to consider:
1. Ireland and Scotland are not as cold as you think, during the summer and autumn months.
2. You will only wear about four outfit combos and two pairs of shoes out of the twenty different pieces of clothing you try to cram into your suitcase.
3. There will be tons of shops with trendy Uk and/or Irish clothing, and you will get comfy enough to shop in them :)
4. Primark and H&M will have everything you forgot and everything you aren't sure to pack.
I normally stuck to leggings, light long-sleeve shirts, and athletic shoes in Dublin:
The first week is always the hardest.
That phrase goes for any beginning. But thousands of miles from home, surrounded by new streets, smells, accents, and --- better MCD's, you're going to feel weird.
You're probably going to cry in between moments of excited awe; probably going to be overwhelmed, insecure, and unsettled by the new environment that you have put yourself in.
I remember my first night in Dublin. I was tucked into the corner of a cold, leather couch in the living room of an apartment that had light switches on the outside of the rooms they were designated for.
I texted my mom, I am not okay. I can't do this,
But little did I know, by the end of the week I was going to feel just fine :) more than fine, I was going to feel exhilarated and revived by the very streets, smells, accents, and better MCD'S that had previously made me sick to my stomach.
The only thing you can do is:
accept the fear, take little excursions, and breathe.
Once you get through the first week, you'll start to relax and possibly even enjoy yourself like I am below ;)
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If you are reading this right now, you have probably contemplated or already decided to study abroad.
* Dublin, Ireland is the perfect place for first-time travelers! (in my biased opinion)*
I had never been abroad before deciding to study in Dublin for the fall of 2017. I was filled with anxiety, dread, and excitement all at the same time. And looking back, although there was a lot of stress,
it was an experience that completely transformed me for the better!
There is nothing more humbling than being thrown into a new environment with new tastes, smells, and accented-english!
It is going to be understandably difficult to adjust to, so I have a few tips n tricks I've compiled for you to reference:
This day was a dream. I still don’t believe I was there… but somehow these pictures showed up on my phone. By the grace of God it was a beautiful, sunny day. The water was clear and bright blue, and the view was surreal. I have no more words. The pictures don’t even do it justice. It was simply breathtaking.
It was a foggy day but still beautiful! We took a ferry out to one of the Islands: Inishmore. There is a very small village. Our driver told us that there are three churches on the Island, and 1 priest that sees over all three! So that should give you an idea of just how small it is. We got to explore an area by a cliff side, and then were driven around the Island and had time to do some shopping. The Aran Island Sweater shop was great but it smelled like a stable… But that’s how you know its authentic!