The following article was printed in the 4th edition of this year’s Mountain Echo by Staff Writer Paige Roberts, who is contributing to the “Life” section of the paper while studying in Dublin this semester.
Just as our fellow Mounties do back in Emmitsburg, study abroad students have the pleasure of enjoying almost a week and a half off from classes for fall break. This lovely allowance of time gave students a perfect opportunity to travel. Some ventured throughout the still unexplored parts of Ireland while others took advantage of the affordability of European airfare and chose to hop from country to country.
I am lucky enough to have family in London, England, so my aunt, uncle and two older cousins were able to visit me for the tail-end of the first week. Even more coincidentally, my uncle, who was born in Ireland, has a niece who attends university in Dublin just as I am this semester. We made the short trek to my Irish “cousin’s” grandmother’s house in Kildare, whose 87th birthday celebration doubled as an extended family get-together. Upon entering their quaint home in the countryside, I stepped into the kitchen which emanated scents of home-away-from-home; whiffs of fresh Irish soda bread, cheesy leek bake, freshly boiled potatoes and vegetable stew enveloped my nostrils. I met an overwhelming amount of people, including my six Irish “cousins,” none of which are technically related to me, but that does not matter when you are at this kind of shindig. Everyone is considered family under an Irish roof.
Then came the start of a new, full week of fun and traveling. With our tickets booked to London, my roommate, Caitlin, along with my best friend Alyssa, who was visiting from the Mount, made our way to Dublin Airport. The biggest road bump on our trip to London was our overly heavy checked bag that we all shared for our belongings, which weighed in at 29 kilograms – it was only supposed to weigh 20 kilograms at most! By a miracle, we somehow rearranged miscellaneous items to get the bag under the weight limit. You live and you learn.
Compared to flight prices in the U.S., airfare in the EU is ridiculously cheap. Similarly, public transportation is even easier to navigate which alleviates a lot of the expected stress of traveling. Apps like CityMapper and RioToRome made taking the buses and the underground tube in London a total breeze. After just a few days there, I began to feel like a pro at deciphering the various train routes.
London really resonated with me even after only spending three days there. We celebrated Alyssa’s 21st birthday on Tuesday evening at Circolo Poplar, a unique and authentic Italian Restaurant with ambient lighting and bottles of liquor lining the walls on shelves that reach the ceiling. We had the whole day to explore the city on Wednesday and were able to see Buckingham Palace, take a spin on the London Eye, and attend a concert at night. I was sad to leave on Thursday morning, but knew our next destination, Paris, would bring just as many good times.
My friends and I booked amazingly priced AirBnB rentals for both London and Paris, which proved to be much cheaper when split between all of us in comparison to hostel prices. We met up with our two roommates as well as two friends from the Dublin semester coming from Barcelona. We shared a spacious apartment that was about 30 minutes outside of the city for the remainder of break. We spent a day in Disneyland Paris, then a day wandering the city and sightseeing the breathtaking architecture and monuments. All of this was doable by simply purchasing train tickets for a reasonable price to the desired destination.
After this jam-packed week, I have started to feel much more confident while traveling. Although fall break spent hopping around Europe was a once in a lifetime experience, I cannot help but wish to see the changing foliage of golden yellows and deep ambers of American fall. We have less than a month left in Dublin! Time has truly flown.
This is printed with permission for re-share from The Mountain Echo. Keep up with Paige’s adventures abroad in the next edition or online.