Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dublin, and New York!

Well the day has finally arrived. Today is our very last day in Ireland. I can't really organize my feelings about the trip, even though I've spent countless journal entries trying to do just that. Maybe in a week or two I will have some perspective and be able to talk about it, but right now I'm just going to focus on one thing: Where's Waldo.

When we first got to Dublin we found an ad for a giant meeting of people dressed as Waldo, or Wally as he's known over here. Obviously we had to participate, so on Sunday afternoon we ran straight to Merrion Square and bought our red and white striped shirts, hat and glasses. We then took part in the biggest group of Wallys ever assembled - we got into the Guiness Book of World Records! 3,657 people showed up dressed as Waldo, including 9 of us from Stony Brook.

My time in Ireland is almost up, but I will always remember it... especially my day as Waldo :)

Friday, June 17, 2011


The second leg of the Ireland trip is over now. We spent a little less than a week in Kilkenny, which is a smaller city between Galway and Dublin. Throughout our trip to Ireland we've been pretty fortunate with the weather. Most of our days have been sunny, with only a little bit of the wetness Ireland's famous for. Of course our luck couldn't last, and it ran out at the worst time. As soon as we got off the bus to Kilkenny, as we were pulling all our luggage to our hostel, we got caught in a downpour. Of course it started to rain as soon as we were stuck in the middle of the street waiting for the chance to cross, so we had no choice but to keep on walking. As soon as we could stop for cover the rain stopped. Just our luck.

We didn't spend too much time in the city of Kilkenny itself, because we also visited the surrounding counties. There's so much history in Ireland - all of the castles, churches and abbeys we visited were centuries old, and some of them are still in use today.

My favorite part of our visit to southern Ireland was visiting the beach! At the end of one of our bus tours we took a drive along the shore, and stopped in a coastal town. The water was beautiful! It was so bright, and it even felt warm, even though it clearly wasn't a swimming day. Our visit made me excited for the warm beaches I'll be coming home to in a week.

Friday, June 10, 2011


It's already the second week of my study abroad trip to Ireland and this is the first chance I've had to take a breath and try to sum up my experiences so far. First off I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Rebecca, I'm from Orange County, New York, I'm a junior-almost-senior English major. I chose to study abroad in Ireland not only because of my heritage but also because it's a great literary country. Many great authors came from this tiny country, like Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. The literary tradition is very evident in Irish culture - in Galway, one of the restaurants we tried had an illustrated Yeats quote on the stairwell.

My first week in Ireland was spent in Galway, a port city on the Atlantic coast that quickly became one of my favorite places. Apart from exploring the city, we also had the opportunity to take bus tours into the countryside. On these trips I've really been struck by the amount of history in this country. In the cities and towns you practically can't turn a corner without spotting a Gothic church or Norman castle. In the countryside many of the cottages are older than the famine time. The Irish are very superstitious, and it is forbidden to destroy any of the stone formations that are found pretty much everywhere in Connaght, western Ireland.

My favorite part of Irish culture so far is the fairy tree. The fairy tree is a hawthorne tree that grows in the direction that the wind blows. The Irish believe that the hawthorne tree represents the door to the underground world where the fairy people live. Their tradition is to visit a fairy tree and tie a piece of fabric on the tree and leave it there. This is their way of asking for help from the fairies - the piece of fabric left behind represents a problem that they would also like to be left behind. It is extremely bad luck to hurt a fairy tree. When a new highway was built there was a fairy tree standing right in the path of the road. Rather than uproot the tree, they simply rerouted the highway.