So…everyone’s getting a sweater, right?

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Finals week is almost over! I have one more left and it’s on Friday. While I’m not overly worried about it, having an exam on the Friday of finals week kind of bites. But it’s all cool. I like the class the test will be in but I’d rather write another blog post than study. Go figure.

So this is the next to last trip of my time abroad. We–and we being everyone from the SMC Ireland program–went to the Aran Islands for a few days right before the exam period started. Clayton, one of our fellow American friend’s from UK, even got to come with us! Getting there took about a day. We left in the afternoon from NUIM and spent the night in Doolin. We were split about half and half–about half of us in the group decided to stay in while the other half decided to venture out and check out a local pub. Doolin is known for its live music sessions that take place in the pub there. The next morning we were up bright and early to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands. Other than being a bit cold (no surprise there), I didn’t think the ferry ride was that bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed it with the wind whipping about and having to roll with the ferry to balance if you were standing up. The water was a bit choppy though and a lot of my friends got absolutely drenched when a huge wave crashed over the front part of the ferry.

Once we arrived, Roberta (our program director) led us to the hostel that we’d be staying in for the weekend and we settled in after being handed our room assignments. That night we watched The Shining. Bad idea. Only three out of the eight of us had seen it before. Bridget, Sarah–one of our friends–and I decided then decided to lounge around the hostel while the others from our little group went for a drink and then apparently to carry on an SMC tradition of skinny dipping in the harbor. We couldn’t really see them from our hostel window but we could sure hear them screaming because it was cold!

Aran Islands harbor
Aran Islands harbor
cross in town
cross in town

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We had one full day on the island to do as we pleased before we had to catch the ferry back to the mainland the next morning. I’m not sure what the others from our larger group decided to do but my friends wanted to rent bikes and ride around the island. In theory, not a bad idea at all. In practice, I knew that there was no way I would be able to keep up with them. I was never exactly the strongest biker and I was still a little concerned about my knee as it’d only been about a week and a half since Berlin. Bridget wasn’t much up for the bike idea either so we decided to walk to the Seal Colony that we’d heard about and then wander leisurely around the town. Well, we either underestimated how far it was it to the seal colony or I overestimated how healed my knee was. Probably both. Not that it was super far to the seals, maybe 1.5-2 miles there from the hostel. And I thought my knee was doing better because I could sort of walk down stairs again.Yeah….bad idea. Very, very bad idea. I think I ended up just making it worse and undoing whatever healing had started to take place. (Later, after I was home, I found out that my patella was tilted a little and not completely in the right place. I also think I pulled my IT band which didn’t help matters.) Having said this however, the seal colony was great. It was nice and despite getting there around late morning which is after prime seal-spotting time, we were able to see a few seals lounging around in the water.

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It was also a nice day out which made the walk there fairly enjoyable. The scenery was beautiful. And the cows were cute! I know this may be an odd thing to point out but Ireland has a different type of cow than what we have in the States. I have to say, I kind of prefer the ones in Ireland. They just look cuter than the cows we have at home. Sorry, American cows. And they come in different colors whereas we usually just see the stereotypical black and white or occasionally brown and white combo.

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One thing Ireland is kind of known for is its wool sweaters. A lot of people who visit Ireland pick one up before they leave. My mom showed me the one that she’d picked up when she visited Ireland when she was in college and it was still in great condition. Well, the Aran islands is where these babies are made. They have this big shop called Aran Sweater Market where you can all sorts of stuff: sweaters, cardigans, blankets, hats, socks, etc. So of course we all had to pick one up before we left!

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Overall, it was a really relaxing couple days where we just hung out, explored as we pleased, and slept as much as we wanted. Perfect little break right before exams started up. The day we left, almost everyone opted for the seats downstairs in the ferry. This may have been partly because quite a few of the girls were hungover from celebrating someone’s 21st birthday the night before so I’m sure you can just imagine how happy they were to get back on the ferry and choppy water. Most everyone had perked up by the time we reached the Cliffs of Moher where we stopped for a bit before continuing on our way back to campus. (If you want to hear more about the Cliffs, check out my post entitled The Time I Almost got Blown off a Cliff…)

Until next time folks!

❤ Rachel



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