Author: jennoelle

I am a poor college student trying to milk my education for everything it is worth, which includes my first opportunity to study abroad. I am attempting to max out this chance to the very best of my developing abilities.

London Dash and Swiss Escape: Days Three,Four&Five

I can safely say that if you want to see the most of London in the shortest period of time, do it by bus tour and boat tour.  I’d have to admit it was the let down of the trip since we pretty much just had time to see the streets get overrun by tourists during peak visiting hours at the sites.  It felt like a take over, literally of all the places we went it was by far teeming with the most line-hustlers and selfie-takers.  It was also very unfortunate since both my camera and phone were dying and we still had a train to catch (therefore my phone was far out of commission since that was our lifeline, it plus all the WiFi we could get).  We did indeed master the heart of London, the underground subway.  One of our more accomplished tasks.

The Tower. The only good picture I managed to take on my phone. The rest are stored on my dead digital camera that is lacking its complimentary USB cord.

The Tower. The only good picture I managed to take on my phone. The rest are stored on my dead digital camera that is lacking its complimentary USB cord.

From London we made our way into Europe, via Brussels.  And this is when our lack of ability to speak any other language besides English really took a stab at us.  We suffered our first time of being deprived the opportunity to relieve ourselves because the toilets “close” (How do Europeans survive with this depravity? They deserve gold stars for their bladders of steel).  It was late, all the ticket offices were closed. There were no employees around that spoke English… It was time to get creative. Oh did I mention my phone had died by now and couldn’t access the WiFi? Finally found a hotel in the station that had computers they let us use to book another hotel down the road. Because let’s face it, a hotel in a train station is not going to be on the budget for two girls and their backpacks.

It was nice to have the comforts of a hotel, but it was also our first time encountering our lights being controlled by our room cards. That took a some adjustment.  But we slept well, it was a block from the station and we made our way south in the morning.

Zurich. We loved Switzerland.  It was so beautiful, we were able to enjoy the city and all the towns outside of it.  We got a really great walking tour of the Swiss countryside along the Zuger Sea.  And “tour” as in more we found a trail and started walking in the opposite direction our train came in, hoping we’d find the next train station down or so.  We came across a beautiful stream, bridges, gardens… All unintentionally.  It was an enlightening, and by the end, physically draining experience. We each had far more blisters than with what we started with.  Luckily though, we were able to do this without our backpacks and with just a day bag.

Here are photos of the Zuger Sea and from our walk:

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That night we visited a smaller, more historic part of the outerskirts of Zurich.  It was a beautiful little town with a ton of cute boutiques and cafes, and the most adorable Swiss houses.  We walked out on the longest bridge in Switzerland, such a spectacular view and sensation with the mountains surrounding us. The next day we went on a boat tour of Lake Zurich, thanks to the ZurichCard we had purchased. (It gave us access to use all the public transportation, including rail, for two days with no additional charge.  Plus a one hour boat tour.) We finished out Switzerland by riding on the train to Austria through the mountains, and it was by far our best train ride.

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Amazing street artists

Random amazing Swiss street artists

The Launch: Day One&Two

After getting off the plane in Dublin it felt like forever until we finally reached city center. Oh wait, that’s because it was. Our first struggle was locating the luggage hold that my two suitcases, filled with all that I’d need for the semester, were to live for the next two days. After that was accomplished we ran into or first public transportation challenge, but out of it we got a pretty sweet deal on a two day pass for the Dublin city buses and a hop-on-hop-off tour. We felt like we were livin’ it up then.

 

River Liffey

River Liffey

 

We got our first taste of hostel life, and for the little we paid for that place I was pretty impressed. It was located practically on O’Connell street, so we were pretty close to all the touristy action and all the Temple Bar area action. On top of our hop-on-hop-off tour we did our own DIY tours around the city center. One of those tours ended with being serenaded by an Irish man and his guitar on the River Liffey looking to pick up some extra change to buys his mate a drink (one of our favorite highlights). By the end of it, we were feeling pretty comfortable with the city and public transportation. Well, as comfortable as two American girls can get in two days.

Here are some photos of the city and its beautiful and charming architecture:

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Aside from being serenaded, our favorite time in Dublin was actually spent outside of the city. We took the DART to Greystones and spent several hours combing the beach, sitting on the rock ledges and feeding the birds our leftover fish and chips from this awesome take-away place. It was also here I discovered my love for Ferrero rocher icecream. I could just eat buckets of that stuff. In the next few posts my love for icecream everywhere we went is going to become more and more evident.

And here is our proof we explored the beautiful Greystone rocky shore:

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And here are just some shots of other things we ran across in Dublin: 

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  Pirate ship on the Liffey

Potato famine memorial

Potato famine memorial

I highly recommend going to see both these sights close to each other on the Liffey.  Well, I recommend going and spending way more time in Dublin and checking out almost every square inch.  This potato famine memorial and the one located in St. Stephens Green are both very moving pieces of art.  And the pirate ship, it was just awesome to go see.

 

A Fleeting Baker’s Fortnight

So the mad dash is coming to a standstill. Well, not quite. I still have semester abroad to go and Nadya has to return home. But our train-bus-airplane-hostel-tram-hopping whilst carrying all our belongings for two weeks on our backs is pretty much complete. We’ve become the queens of multimode transportation, in other languages as well.

We’ll just say I don’t have many regrets from this trip except that I wish I learned more German before leaving and won the lottery. Otherwise that’s about it. 

So thus far I’ve managed, whenever we encounter brief interactions with WiFi, to update social media with a few pictures. And I’ve neglected this blog, primarily due to the lack of time factor. (Of course internet access for free when I need it could have made one or two posts more possible.) So here is what I plan to do… Make a post for each place we went and all the fabulous photos we managed to take.  So keep your eye out… I’ll try to have them all done relatively soon. But hey, give a girl a break. I’m going to be starting school in another country here in a few days. Today is move in day, by the way- the last day of our fifteen day trek (Fortnight+one day= a baker’s fortnight. Yes, I thought I was clever too). We still have one cliff walk left to do then the clean clothes from my stored suitcases will be more than greatly appreciated. And by cliff walk I mean literally, it’s a walk on the cliffs. Don’t be alarmed, they aren’t nearly as steep as the ones we walked yesterday.

 

 

Thallium & Thanksgiving

After just glancing at the title, I’m sure all of you are lost.  And those overachievers using your deductive skills, well let’s face it, you aren’t getting gar.

So I’ll start with the easy one- Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, to reflect upon the events of the prior year and show your gratitude towards those who have been there for you in the good times and the bad. Oh, let’s cut the mushy, gushy, kissing-up stuff and be honest. Thanksgiving is truly about one thing: food.  And to be more thoroughly honest, we’re really only thankful to those who cook for us and clean up our carnivorous mess once we’ve hit a food coma with stuffing still camped out on the side of our face and gravy glistening on our chin. (I come from a family of ungraceful eaters.)

For my overachievers still trying to work ahead, just stop. My mind is a place no one should try to go.  

Kidding (not about the mind thing), any smart cookie could gather where I’m going with this: I’ll be absent in the land of leprechauns for that good ol’ American holiday Thanksgiving.  And of all the holidays, my all time favorite. What can beat a day dedicated to idiots attempting to deep fry twenty pound birds and the over consumption of all of the greatest food concoctions? Nothing, that’s why I couldn’t miss it and had to prematurely celebrate it before I embark.  And let me tell you, greatest idea I’ve ever had, besides studying abroad.  If you don’t already celebrate Thanksgiving twice a year, I recommend it. And who wouldn’t?  Twice the amount of food and half the amount of things you have to say you’re thankful for at one time.

I also celebrated my defeat over packing.  I’ll just leave it at: I’m pretty impressed with myself and my two forty pound checked bags and my fifteen pound backpack and am ready to take on the world.  But I’ll give you guys an update on how impressed with myself in a few months when I realize all the mistakes I made.  You’ll get a complete rundown of all my pros and cons.

So now to thallium.  Yeah, I don’t have much to say there. I just wanted a two syllabal word that started with a “th” that looked good in my title and got people to raise their eyebrows slightly. Worked, right? I know some of you did that and I think it loomes good and that’s what matters.  If you were wanting a mini chemistry lesson, here it goes: synthetic metal thing that lights up green. (For those that do attend college with me: yes, as a biochemistry student I did well in inorganic chemistry but, eh, just can’t make me go back.)

Today is the day. Takeoff day, not turkey day. That was yesterday.  And I couldn’t be more excited. More excited than I was for the delicious twice-baked potatoes I made yesterday and my beautiful bird I cooked.

Adiós U.S.A.!

 

Two Broads Going Abroad

It’s one of those overly advertised companies with overly priced shoes and clothing who has the trademark “just do it”.  Oh yeah, Nike.  So trademark, copyright, all that jazz goes to you guys.  I’ll take no credit for a phrase that you paid some advertising guru an outrageous sum of money to come up with.  Probably how much it would cost to pay for all my schooling and this trip, with a nice chunk of spending money on the side.  With “this trip” really  referring to the trip that is the sole purpose of me taking up this blogging shindig.

And why even mention the “just do it” thing?  Because that’s what I’m doing.  I decided I wanted to go abroad, so I’m just doing it. Plain and simple.   I could get on my soap box, preach to the choir, or do any number of those cliché phrases to talk about how you can make your dreams a reality and blah, blah, blah.  But all I’m going to say is once you pull your head out the ground, clouds, you-know-where, or wherever you’ve seem to have misplaced it, start doing what you need then want to do.  For me the process went kind of like this:

I’m a college student.

I have student loans.

I’m a poor college student.

I want to go abroad.

I can study abroad?

I can study abroad in Ireland?

Sign me up.

I have to pay extra?

Eh, I’ll find the money.

Federal government sympathizes.

I want to travel Europe.

More money?

Work myself to death all summer.

Younger sister wants to come along.

Loving grandparents swoop in.

Two plane tickets booked.

Hasta la vista U.S.A.

Nadya and I, we like to classify ourselves as travelers with purpose and direction but we want to be flexible about exactly where we go and what we do.  The pros and cons to this method are to come, I am sure.  And now we are down to the final preparations, rail tickets and first few hostels are booked and our desired route and destinations highlighted.  But doomsday is upon us… the day of packing.  I’m not a huge fan of packing, never have been and never will be.  However, as seeing myself through my beautiful yet periodically egotistical eyes as becoming the renowned world traveler, I will thoroughly document my packing endeavors for future reference to myself.  And I guess also for those unfortunate enough to think any useful wisdom or advice could come from this conundrum of a blog.

With these ever optimistic remarks, I will conclude this first entry. (Insert no apology here for anything I write or for it being my first blog post ever; because let’s face it, if you were cognizant enough to write it and make it public for attention, then it does not merit a measly I-lack-confidence apology). For those of you hoping to hear about all the wonderful and not so wonderful things I do while abroad and it not be peppered with my vast and ever forward opinions—eh, too late.  There’s no physically known way to getting around that.  So cheers to this blog and the intrigue of events to come with it.