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Apathy, and the laps that harbor it

10/1/15

I know it’s only the second week of classes, and I haven’t had the good fortune to befriend any Irish students yet -so as to debunk the following judgements and generalizations- but I honestly haven’t been getting very positive vibes from my Irish classmates. By and large (and again, I acknowledge what a grievous generalization this is), they are the most apathetic, listless bunch of twenty-somethings I’ve ever encountered, and I go to college in AMERICA. I cannot understate, however, how self-absorbed many of the students around me seem. In the lecture halls, for example, the vast majority make love to their illicit cellphones, hiding them in their laps, their thumbs working furiously and their eyes resurfacing every few seconds as though for air. This goes on for hours, during entire class sessions; behavior so evidently commonplace and unavoidable that even the most lucid of professors -Martin Malony for example- seem to roll over and surrender to the mass sea of vapid and bored lap-obsessed students. Why does the cellphone hysteria feel so much worse here than in the states? Admittedly, my only experience is Western Oregon University, a school whose humble size may help explain its supposed relative respectfulness, but what could be so different between Irish and American students?  Surely American students aren’t more invested in their education than their Irish counterparts? But seeing so many of my fellow classmates openly ignoring their educators in favor of snapchat and instagram is very disheartening.

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DCU Drama Society

9/30/15

Well I’m officially a member of Dublin City University Drama Society. I’ve paid my two euro, “liked” the facebook page, and gotten a sticker. No going back now.

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Meeting Conor McPherson

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Remember when I mentioned how much of a fan of playwright Conor McPherson I am? Well on Saturday I got to meet the man. Shannen and I attended a live interview hosted by RTE for the Dublin Theatre Festival in which McPherson discussed his newest play “The Night Alive,” a production of which (directed by the playwright) will be showing here in Dublin at the Gaiety Theatre as part of the aforementioned festival. At the end of the talk, which was both informative and entertaining (McPherson spoke very candidly about his writing and his process, and seems like a genial, “down-to-earth” sort of guy), the floor was opened to questions from the audience. While my hand had been raised since the beginning, I was never chosen, that is until a second call for “just one more question,” at which point McPherson pointed to me, having apparently taken notice of my patience. I asked my question, and he answered it. How surreal. And if all of that wasn’t cool enough, afterwards I waited in line to shake the man’s hand and get his autograph. HIS AUTOGRAPH. Most of my friends don’t even know who this guy is, and I’m over the moon about his autograph. Talk about celebrity worship. Yeesh. Anyway, it was a good day. Here’s a link to the audio of the interview.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/arts-tonight/programmes/2015/0928/730987-arts-tonight-monday-28-september-2015/

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Week 9&10 London 2k15

I am a bit behind so I will put two weeks into one. Week nine was not very eventful. Mostly I just did stuff for school and hung out with my London friends. I feel like I haven’t seen them much with all the traveling I have been doing. I did go and see Wicked with a friend I have made here and it was so good. I want to go again before I leave,

Week ten was AWESOME, because my boyfriend was here!! He left today though, which was hard. While he was here we went to Paris and explored a lot of London. It was so wonderful to see him again. I loved showing him around this city which has become my temporary home. It made me really excited to go home to Oregon though and get back to my life. Being here has felt like a huge vacation, as I have not had many responsibilities while here. This whole trip has had a feeling of being unlike my real life, which I miss. I am ready to be back in a routine again and to actually have some lazy days.

I am taking 19 credits in the Winter which will be crazy as I have had almost no work to do for school while here. School in the UK is pretty different from in the states and going to classes is really not necessary, especially since I am not taking the final at the end of the year. School here is honestly really easy in terms of the time commitment it takes to do well. It is going to be hard going back to school everyday and having work every night. I am ready though. I love school and I am excited to get back to it even though I know it will be difficult.

Tomorrow I am going to Ireland to spend a few days with another girl from WOU. I am very excited to spend time with someone from home and talk about WOU. Many of my trips have been solo and I have stayed in hostels for all of them. It will be nice to have company and to stay in an actual home. Then on Saturday I head to Spain for a few days. These are my last two trips on this adventure and I think they are going to be some of the best. I head back to Oregon a week after I return from Spain. It is so bittersweet and I think it is going to be much harder than I was expecting. Many of these people I will never see again and that is hard as I have become quite close with many of them. I am ready to go home and see my friends and family in Oregon, but it will be hard leaving my London friends. They all say they will see me again, but in all honestly that is not going to be true for many, if not all.

Goodbyes are hard, but I would not change one second of this trip. I have grown so much and have seen more in the past ten weeks than I ever imagined I would see in a lifetime. Studying abroad is seriously a once in a lifetime experience that I wish everyone could do. I am thankful I was able to. Two more weeks and then Oregon here I come.

Cheers.

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Paris!

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At an ice bar in London

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We went and saw Lion King too!

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ill for the 3rd time in 10 weeks!

Just finished week 10 and am on the mend but I was ill for the third time this week. Another virus that was pretty bad and when I wasn’t in class, I was in bed. My immune system has been very sensitive since being here at Roehampton I have to say. I wasn’t ill at all last year, let alone three times in the space of 10 weeks! I love going out and being around people but my body must not be too used to it. The medical centre is starting to get me really well, I’m sure ��

Only two weeks left of this semester which is crazy!! Time has gone by so quickly and I am so unbelievably happy I am here for another term. My parents and sister are coming here for Christmas and I cannot wait. This will be my first Christmas in England and words cannot describe how happy I am that it is finally happening.

Just got back from meeting a family that I will start babysitting for which is great. London is obviously way more expensive than Monmouth and there is way to more to tempt one to spend money than in Monmouth so making some money will be good. Their house is in Fulham, which is a nice neighbourhood in London and it is a pretty straightforward commute from here.

This week is the week to really get cracking on studying for exams and writing for papers due in the next two weeks. This part of Uni isn’t too different from in the states!

Cheers xx

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My last full week in Quito

I’m writing on a much more positive note this week — Yay. My week at the surgery unit in the military hospital was amazing. This was the second time in the last few years that I’ve been able to scrub in on surgeries (now in two different continents), and I loved everything (ok like 99%).

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This time, I got to see a little bit of everything (which was nice considering I had a 40 minute commute and had to be there by 7 am). I got to see pre-op patients, check up on post-op patients, participate in rounds with the other medical students, scrub in on surgeries (one gallbladder removal, one hernia repair), sit in on consultations, be a part of diagnostic meetings, and sat in on a gastro-intestinal lecture. Can my life get any cooler?

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Unfortunately, I also had to sit in on family members receiving bad news about their loved ones. Which was incredibly difficult, and it made me glad it wasn’t something I had to personally be doing. It was especially difficult because Ecuadorians tend to have a strange way of reacting (in my opinion) to someone showing weakness or discomfort. I’ve never seen someone here acknowledge when a person starts to cry, instead they just turn the other way. My assumption is that this is to allow the person to try and “save some face” or recompose themselves to not appear emotional, which likely stems from the incredibly machismo culture they’re brought up in. Even the children at the preschool were ignored when they cried. Like they didn’t want them to be embarrassed for letting some emotion slip out. After saying goodbye to the great people at the surgical unit, me and the girls headed 9 hours south to Cuenca. A town worth the distance for its architecture alone. The fact that it was a solid 75 degrees and sunny the majority of the time was also an added bonus.

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And some more:

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Here we explored churches, plazas. museums, flower markets, artisan markets, a zoo, and ate some of the best food I’ve had while in Ecuador. The zoo was fantastic. There were baby lion cubs just feet away from a fence (yes, that’s literally all that separated us from them–and their mom) AND monkeys swinging freely from the trees as you walked around. I’m talking no cages of any sort. They sat on branches inches away from your face, I could have touched one if I didn’t forgo on the $900 rabies vaccine. Here’s a picture, I named him Frank:

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Okay, I told you I’d get to the food. So, the first day we got there we had breakfast at a German bakery. For $3 you got scrambled eggs, tea or coffee, and unlimited helpings to a buffet of freshly baked German bread. Poppy seed, rye, cinnamon, fruit chunks, you name it. Plus like a million different types of spreads. Yes, we stayed there for like two hours.

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On top of that we had delicious coconut juice, pesto bagel sandwiches, and Indian food that easily put me in a food coma. (Just a reminder I ACTUALLY haven’t cooked for myself in almost 3 months. Just let that sink in) Something that I’ve noticed a lot here is the obsession with Westernized culture (not surprising, considering it seems to be pushed on everyone). One thing that people seem to love here is imported US clothes and other goods. However, a shirt that would be like $15 in the US is easily $40 here, so most people can’t afford it. Unless of course you get a knock-off version of a brand that is popular with 14-year-olds int the States:

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On Sunday we decided to travel 45 minutes to a nature reserve called Cajas. Little did we know that just 45 minutes outside of beautiful Cuenca there was a raining, freezing, mess. And of course we didn’t dress accordingly. So instead of getting to hike a couple of the 200 lakes and over 75 trails, we sat in a restaurant by a warm fire, enjoying hot potato soup, and viewing the scenery while being sheltered from the cold. Not complaining over here, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Except maybe for it to be sunny.

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By the way, that fried cheesy goodness behind the soup is an epenada. I have at least 3 a week.

And here is a picture from on top of a hill, over looking part of Cuenca (Ecuador’s 3rd largest city):

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Other than having a great week, and weekend, my knee still kind of sucks. I bought a brace to keep it sturdy during my adventures, but I’m in constant need of ibuprofen and my mobility is a lot more limited then I would like. After being checked out by the doctor I’m shadowing this week, and by my medical director, both told me they would highly encourage an MRI as soon as possible. They talked about lateral ligament damage, and possibly a fracture from the patella hitting the other bones when it dislocated. I don’t really like the sound of that (obviously), but I’m very thankful I’ve been able to walk and my injury hasn’t ruined my trip, or cut it short.

Here is a picture of the swelling the morning after the dislocation/injury (thankfully no bruising and the swelling has gone down. It only hurts to straighten out or bend, and to the touch in some parts):

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Even though it’s not ideal that I have to use them, it’s pretty cool I’m surrounded by doctors that can give me consultations and checkups without appointments or being charged. I love being surrounded by medicine here: the girls I live with study it, we constantly talk about our clinical experiences, the Spanish I learn is mostly medical Spanish at the moment, and then I work in medical facilities at least 4-5 hours a day during the week. I’m in heaven (again, minus the knee)!

Today was my first day at a hospital for Familiar medicine. It was quite different than what I’ve been used to shadowing: which is private hospitals for people who can afford to pay a ton of money for excellent care. The hospital I went to today was for those getting help from social security, in a hospital that hadn’t had much attention itself in what looked to be decades. The consultation room I worked in had a small window, no working lights, a makeshift desk, and an examination bench/bed that looked like it belonged in MASH. But I’m so thankful I got to see this side, considering this is how the majority of people here receive health care (and those are the ones that even have access).

After shadowing the doctor who was checking in on patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy, me and the other med students moved on to the Emergency Room. The ER was a large, square, cement room, with about 25 beds placed maybe two feet apart from each other, most with thin curtains between for “privacy.” No one had monitors for their vitals, most didn’t even get a pillow. And the weirdest thing? They had a hose-down station for pediatric patients. I kid you not, there was a room with a large basin, and if you brought your child into the ER, you were expected to put them in it, and hose them down. When I asked the doctor why this was, he said kids are often the most dirty of patients, carrying harmful germs, and they usually have some sort of bodily fluid on their clothing/hands. Especially when sick. Since the beds are so close to each other, they want to lower the risk of passing illnesses/bacteria on to weak, elderly, or pregnant patients…Interesting huh?

Speaking of those little germ-balls, everyone in the clinic who asks me what kind of specialty I want to go into, already assumes it’s pediatrics or maternity. In fact, many people have just answered their own question for themselves, before I got a chance to respond. In their defense, that’s what most young med/nursing students who are women want to do here. But I think it’s because it’s kind of already decided for them, in a societal-pressure type of way.

Sexism is incredibly obvious here, from little things that most people have learned to overlook, all the way to basic human rights issues. I have had very few public meals without a strange man commenting on how much I eat — obviously they have never witnessed what Thanksgiving looks like. My lunch portion has no comparison to the amount of food I wish I could be eating in two days.

Unfortunately, thanksgiving will be just another day for me. We’re not allowed to use the kitchen at my host-house, so we can’t make anything ourselves. And I looked into the big chain hotels around like the Marriott and the Hilton, but nothing is advertising some sort of celebratory meal. Looks like I’ll have to celebrate over chicken and rice, and count all the things I’m thankful for from my room here in Quito. There’s a lot, so it will probably take a while :) I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday, please know that I’m thinking of you and am thankful you’re all in my life.

Buenos Noches.

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Week 9: Abby Goes to Peru!

Hello all!

I don’t have much to share about this week. It was a bit of an emotional week for me and I would like to keep most of it in my private journal for myself. I will say though, I was feeling quite homesick. This is the second time I’ve been homesick during my time here in Peru. Of course, I’ve missed my family and friends, but it has only been homesickness once. I am grateful that I have been able to be so strong and that I have held myself together so well emotionally. I have been away for almost twice as long as my record time being away from my family (five weeks), so I am impressed.

I also spent a lot of time this week doing a lot of personal reflection. About who I have become, who I am, and who I am becoming. I have been thinking about my goals that I set before coming here and when I realized that I’m not quite doing as well with them as I had planned I naturally was a bit hard on myself for it. I am always striving to better myself and I get disappointed in myself easily when I don’t pursue this goal as actively as I think I should.

Another thing that has been bothering me is what I want my future to be. I think about this periodically and sometimes, like this week, I get kind of anxious about it. I am a girl with a plan, and when I don’t have a plan, I feel slightly lost. The issue is that I have a lot of passions and I want to pursue all of them, but there isn’t really a way to do this, at least not at any one time in my life. One thing that calms me when I get anxious about my future is that I have developed a way of thinking in that my life is a book. I have many chapters, and while I may not be able to pursue everything in one chapter, I may be able to dedicate certain chapters to certain areas in which I am passionate about. The biggest thing that always gets me is music. Music is my main passion in life. I can easily spend hours at the piano, playing and singing, and it will seem like I just sat down. If it is my main passion in life, shouldn´t I be pursuing it? I wish I thought of this sooner because maybe I would have studied music education, but it is too late to turn back now. So my solution for now is to add a minor to my degree. At least, that is the idea I am toying with. I will need to do some serious thinking about it.

With all of this personality confusion, I have been polling my friends to see what they imagine me doing. I told them to pick from all of the possible careers in the whole world. I don’t know why I didn’t think to get others’ opinions in the past when I’ve struggled with what to make of my future. It was really an interesting survey. I was given responses of both careers I’ve considered and also ones that had never crossed my mind. I got responses from psychiatrist or music teacher to youth group leader or flight attendant. I appreciated everyone’s input greatly. My favorite was suggested by one of my closest friends in Peru. And that was youth ministry. She reasoned that I would have the potential to use my love for children, music, Jesus, ministry, advice-giving, and administrative and organizational tasks. She was so right! It sounds great! I have always seen ministry in my future, but never like this, so I liked having my eyes opened to another possibility.

Anyways, there’s a little emotional check-in for you! I hope you’ve enjoyed the glimpse into my crazy brain. That’s all for now.

Hugs to everyone back home!

-Abby

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Weeks 7 & 8: Abby Goes to Peru!

Hola!

So I’m still playing catch-up with my digital entries, but I am proud to say that I have been doing a pretty darn good job keeping a journal. I’ve never consistently kept a journal or anything of the sort (I think my record before Peru was 4 days), so it has definitely been a struggle, especially with both my journal and a blog, but I am very proud of how good I have been doing with my journal, considering my lack of experience. Anyways, I’m going to give you a couple updates here about what has been happening since my time in the mountains!

So between trips (the way I measure time here), not much happened. That’s been a common theme this whole term. While there are definitely activities to do in Lima, we never end up doing much other than hanging out with friends and going to school. School is honestly such a low part of my trip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one to enjoy school, but the education system in Peru is definitely in need of reform. My friends and I joke that the “L” word (logic) isn’t used in this country nearly as much as we are used to. Whether that be the education system, transportation system, or many of the other things on our list of complaints, there just isn’t much logic. We have found ourselves confused time and time again as to why certain things are the way that they are. Usually this is because things are much more complicated than they should be. I really do love this country, though, and I am enjoying my time here so much. I wouldn’t change anything about my trip.

Besides school, we have been keeping busy with various social events. We met up with our program director one day for lunch, which was lots of fun. I enjoyed my first hamburger in Peru. Our program director has kind of been our stand-in mom for us. We know that any time we have any issue we can go to her and she will gladly listen. During our first couple weeks here in Peru we spent a lot of time with her and had great bonding experiences with her and her husband. So naturally, after over a month we missed them greatly. Other things that have kept us busy have been various parties, nights full of dancing, times hanging out will new (and not-so-new) friends, and having countless adventures.

Adventure. That is our Huacachina trip in one word. A very common trip for tourists is traveling to an area called Ica. It is to the south of Lima by about four hours, and generally lumped into this place are the cities of Pisco, Paracas, and Huacachina. We arrived in Pisco by bus and spent that evening and the next day in Paracas. Paracas is in the coastal desert region and is home to large tourism, fishing, and oil industries. Paracas is best known for Las Islas Ballestas, which are islands just off the coast, accessible by boat. However, they are a national reserve, so you can’t actually go onto the islands. They are for looking by boat. What is there to look at? Penguins, seagulls, and sea lions! I know, not too exciting for someone who comes from oregon and has seen the penguins at the zoo (same type), goes to the beach often, and has visited the Sea Lion Caves. But it was still a cool experience to have! My favorite part was the sea lions. They are a lot bigger up close! Not too close though, no worries. I was also excited to see pelicans for the first time! Like Nigel from Finding Nemo, which is one of my favorite movies ever. So of course I was pretty excited about this. We also went on a tour of a bunch of different beaches in the national reserve. They were all different, which was cool. When we got back into Paracas I got to experience my first sandstorm! Like a legitimate sandstorm. Everyone had closed up their shops and restaurants and there were no vehicles on the roads.

Once we eventually came across a taxi, we smashed the five of us (six including the driver) into the taxi and drove inland for about an hour to Huacachina, which was our ultimate destination. Huacachina is a city located smack dab in the middle of a bunch of sand dunes. Why? Well, because oases are cool. The oasis in Huacachina is the center of the town and is honestly probably the only reason Huacachina exists. I was definitely surprised by the scenery. Especially in the towering dunes. I legitimately felt as if I was in Aladdin. I had a hard time believing they were real because I was so surprised. I suppose because I have never seen anything like it in real life. Not even close. These dunes were the source of a lot of thrill and adventure the next day. We went on a dune buggy and sand boarding tour that day. Imagine a ten person Jeep flying over sand dunes like a roller coaster, but not on a track. That’s exactly how it was. While several of the passengers weren’t big fans of the ride, me adrenaline-loving self loved it! I suppose I was a little nervous, but the fun and adrenaline definitely won. I attempted sandboarding down a dune once and was not so successful, which is understandable, considering I have never done any type of sport that involves a board. I ended up with a very large amount of powdery sand caked all over my body and decided to stick to sledding down the dunes on my board. Apparently the safest way to go down the humongous dunes is on your stomach, head first. Scary! But so fun and worth it once you got over the difficulty of getting yourself to go for it. I will never forget the final dune we went down. The bottom was unbelievably far. So far that because of the slight curvature of the dune I couldn’t see the bottom. But down I went anyways and it was a blast!

And that was our Huacachina trip. :)

Best,

Abby

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Lisa goes to Ireland: Week 12

This last weekend I went to Edinburgh, Scotland and I’m so glad that I did. It was the more beautiful country I’ve visited since being here, though no one could have prepared me for how cold it was. It even started to snow  

The city was small, but gorgeous. It was also freezing! I thought Ireland was cold, but coming back to Ireland from Scotland felt like summer-I was ready to put my flip-flops on! I don’t feel like I saw a lot of Scotland, it was more of a realizing trip than anything. I spent both my days there going into the city walking along the streets, and soaking up the beautiful architecture. There was also an adorable Christmas market going on with ice-skating, street food, and vendors/booths. It was magical experience.  On our first morning there my friends and I tried haggis for the first time…NEVER AGAIN. It was awful, but a good experience for sure. We also met two guys one from Portland and one from Salem. I’ve been in Europe for 3 months and aside from one other girl studying at DCU from Western, I haven’t met anyone from Oregon let alone the small city of Salem! It was nice to talk to people from my state.. I didn’t realize just how much I missed Oregon until then. 

I feel like I’ve emotionally checked out a little bit since I’ve been here. There’s so much going on back home. I have an apartment, two cats, a job, and a boyfriend that I’m just really ready to get back to. Though I certainly will miss this beautiful place. After visiting Scotland, I’m seriously regretting my decision to not study there.. Seriously, if anyone gets the chance to visit GO! It was a great experience. 

In other news, there’s a student from Western who I connected with who’s studying in London and she’s coming to visit next week. I’m excited to connect with someone back home and share with her some of the great things about Ireland. 

I’m not so much looking forward to going back to school back home. I registered for classes coming in at 20 credits and I’m dreading it. Classes here are very easy. There’s no continuous assessment. You’re given one or two projects at the beginning of the term that will account for your entire grade and you then have all term to work on it. In other words, I never have to go to class. Unfortunately, that’s not how classes work back home and I actually have to attend them. I’m a little bit nervous just because of how relaxed I’ve gotten when it comes to my studies and I wont be able to “slack off” as much as I can here.

That’s all for now. Here are a few pictures of my trip.

Cheers! 

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Two weeks into One!

Hello!!

So sorry for the lateness of this post, this one will encompass week 8 and week 9 of being here at Roehampton.

Firstly though, in week 7 we had a fireworks show here on Campus and actually at my college, Southlands celebrating Guy Fawkes night and there were other fireworks shows going on for the rest of the week! It was really nice and obviously in the states, we don’t celebrate this so it was new to experience and really cool.

The weekend before week 8, I went into Central with some friends and we went to the Southbank Centre Food Market that it there every weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were all kinds of cuisine there and everything looked so good!! After that we made our way to Oxford St. and went to Topshop so one of the girls could get an ear piercing. I love going into Central and doing something different each time,

Enjoying our chicken, flatbread wraps :)

The school week was fine, getting a bit harder each week but nothing new there. Monday was also Grand, which is when Roehampton rents out the club Grand in Clapham Junction and about half of my flat went which was lovely.

My 21st birthday was on Monday the 16th and though it’s not quite as big a deal here as in America, it is still a bigger birthday. I had never spent a birthday with my aunties or cousin so as a surprise birthday present, they took me to Dublin, Ireland!! It was amazing. None of us had ever been there before so it was great to experience it together. Our hotel was lovely and the city was decorated for Christmas and we were there for the switching on of the lights. The city is really cute, different from London which is massive and full of huge sky scrapers. Nothing is particularly big in Dublin and the streets are smaller. There is a smaller river that leads to the Irish Sea which you could take from Dublin and get to Liverpool, England. On Sunday night, we went to a traditional Irish pub with live music and it was amazing, I could have stayed there for hours.

Came back to Uni on my birthday and my lovely flatmates had decorated my door with balloons and most of us went out for a meal and cocktails and it was so much fun :)

Along the river in Dublin :)

With a few of my friends at a cocktail bar, Be At One

Cheers for now! xx

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