The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {Study Abroad}

It’s hard to put into words how I feel about my experiences in Ireland, but I will do what I’ve done every semester before this — write up a list of…

the great and small

[freshman 1 ~ freshman 2 ~ sophomore 1 ~ sophomore 2]

…study abroad edition 🙂

  1. Ireland is underrated for its beauty.img_3103
  2. The grass really is greener in Ireland and there really are sheep everywhere.img_5538
  3. Aer Lingus has delicious food.img_2858
  4. How to use the Dublin Bus, aka one of the least user-friendly public transportation systems in the world.
  5. A little bit more about booze and how to drink it. I despise Rosé and red wine; I can tolerate light beers, hard liquors, and white wine; I can only tolerate Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse; I like “baby Guinness” shots; I am not willing to pay for the amount of alcohol it takes to make me even tipsy. (#BoozeAndGrooves)
  6. “Slagging” is when Irish people tease you and give you a hard time, but it’s supposedly a way to break the ice when you first meet someone.
  7. How to share a kitchen with over ten people.
  8. No matter how many times you might politely ask people to wash their own dishes, there will always be those who just. don’t. get it.
  9. How to take charge with travel plans, directions, and public transportation.img_4695
  10. How to not panic when I get lost in a foreign country
  11. It is indeed cloudy and rainy most of the time in Ireland (although we had mild weather this year!).img_5556
  12. Tea breaks are a real thing in the Irish workplace.
  13. I love the said tea, scone, and biscuit culture.14462810_1188492134507275_7641167688898127242_n
  14. But Megan and I also make some great scones that we like even more than the ones at the bakery…img_5595
  15. What dry needling entails and what it feels like.
  16. How to give bomb massages.
  17. I LOVE HARRY POTTER. I am a Hufflepuff with Slytherin undertones.img_6308
  18. I don’t get that homesick, but FaceTiming friends every week also helps.
  19. What black pudding and haggis are and how they taste (not bad!).img_6196
  20. How Airbnb works.img_3493
  21. I can just make it through Italy with my minimal high school Italian language “skills”.
  22. Assisi is the best place on earth.
  23. Heck, all of Italy is the best place on earth.
  24. How to better identify when my funky mood is due to lack of sleep.
  25. I can get fitter in four months without a gym.img_4291
  26. People feel most loved when you listen to them. Truly listen. This is something that I need to work on.
  27. What retrocalcaneal bursitis is and how it forces you to just RELAX and stop walking so much.img_5634
  28. 100% recovery is possible.
  29. Dublin is a fantastic brunch city.
  30. Megan loves brunch, loves dessert, and questions the purpose of coffee and alcohol as much as I do. And she’s an awesome travel buddy 🙂img_4765
  31. Irish dairy and beef are superb.
  32. Potatoes really are served with everything in Ireland.img_4214
  33. How to ask more questions.
  34. Irish sociology, culture, healthcare ethics, and insurance.
  35. How to play Gaelic sports (and that I royally suck at 2/3 of them).
  36. Names like Colm, Caolon, and Niamh exist, and they are not phonetical whatsoever.
  37. I don’t get sick of overnight oats.img_5698
  38. I don’t know how to do bars and pubs.
  39. Brown bread/soda bread is one of those “this-is-like-cardboard-but-somehow-delicious” foods. It’s all in the generous spread of butter.img_5533
  40. How to challenge my faith and to not be afraid of doubt.
  41. How to live with, get along with, and love a vastly diverse group of peers.
  42. How to have good craic (pronounced “crack”; means “fun”).
  43. I can’t believe I ever disliked the idea of studying abroad.
  44. How to fall in love with God (whomp whomp, so Christian-girl-mushy, sue me).
  45. God will truly lead you to where He wills you to go. Just ask Him.img_4935

I want to thank my parents, brother, friends/family at home and abroad, and all the staff and faculty at Boston University and Dublin City University who made my study abroad one of the best experiences ever. It is you who make my experiences full.

So tell me:

If you are college student, three things you learned this semester!

If you are not in college, three things you learned this fall! 

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Cheers, Dublin

HELLO, AMERICA!

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could not wipe the smile off my face when I saw this

I can hear Frank Sinatra singing, “New York, New York”.

It’s like I never even left this side of the pond. I’ve gone right back to eating sushi, driving, and using toilet paper that comes in roll form.

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I swear I did not ask for this to be taken, but Madre takes as many random photos as I do

No, but seriously, my brain is still processing the fact that I studied abroad in Ireland for the past 3.5 months. It was a whirlwind, a challenge, and a blast. I’ll save the reflections for another post and just focus on the transition from Europe back to America in this post.

My peers and I celebrated what felt like the end of an era during our last days in Dublin. Megan and I were basically obligated to go to one last brunch:

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The Lovely Food Co.1 was the first brunch place we ate at in Dublin, so we chose it as our last brunch destination to bring it full circle. ‘Twas a fabulous decision because this was the best brunch we had in Ireland. She ordered the eggs benedict, and I ordered the eggs royale (same thing except with smoked salmon instead of ham).

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The crusty bread was unconventional, but it totally worked. For brunch dessert, we split an order of their brioche French toast, since that’s what Megan ordered her first time there, and she could not stop thinking about since.

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For good reason!! This little guy was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Served with cream, berry compote, and classic maple syrup. #dead.

We may or may not have bought two desserts from the bakery to take away.

After walking around city centre to look for books for our plane ride (I ended up buying the fourth HP book because I needed to return the one I had to the library, but I still had 200+ pages left), we had a late farewell lunch with all the students and program directors at Il Corvo Italian restaurant.

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I had the lasagna with a side of veggies and happily finished it all. I also almost cried after one of the program director’s farewell speeches. All good things here!

Later that night, a few of us walked back to city centre for some gelato and store-perusing.

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“Florence cream” flavor from Gelato di Natura (it tasted like saffron!)

Megan and I also watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while eating our sneaked-in dinners in the back of the theatre.

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sandwiches and salads — your typical theatre fare 

p.s. the movie was great! a little confusing, but fantastic nevertheless. Eddie Redmayne *swoon*

And then, of course, we had to join the rest of our friends for one last night out on the town!

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baby Guinness shots (the first and last shot I will have ever had in Ireland…until next time!)

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I wish I could say I was cool and went pub-hopping that night, but I went home after the first bar and called it a night.

Saturday morning called for a quick workout and the last scramble to pack our whole lives into our suitcases (“It’s TWO POUNDS over 50!!!”). Eventually, we made it through the airport and onto the plane. My last meal in Ireland was this sandwich with veggies, relish, and an absurdly thick slice of cheese.

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Followed by a pretty tasty airplane dinner a few hours later. They served us turkey and stuffing meals with pasta and veggies, soda bread and Kerrygold butter (♥︎), and raspberry white chocolate mousse. What luxury!

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“milk in a stick”

Purchasing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the plane ride was one of the wiser decisions I’ve made in my life. It occupied me for the almost the whole 7 hours! (It also blew my MIND.) I was also very surprised that I never napped or even got up to pee during the entire flight.

When we arrived in New York, my family greeted me at the airport, and I almost cried again. I was so happy to see them. Also, one of the first things my brother told me after I hugged him was that they bought me Lloyd’s carrot cake. I appreciate how well they know me.

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Even though it was past midnight Dublin time, it was only 7:30 pm when I met up with them and they hadn’t eaten dinner yet. By then, I was pretty hungry for a midnight snack/dinner too, so they took me to eat some delicious sushi, since I had not eaten any in Europe (I had trust issues).

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Also, Madre bought me a portable massage table for Christmas (upon my request, since I’ve been learning how to give good massages in Dublin), so Pop broke it in for me as I gave him a massage that night. The gift that keeps on giving, I say!

Regarding jetlag, I’m actually pretty adjusted already! I persevered and stayed up until 11:30pm NY time (4:30am Dublin time) and woke up at 9 am yesterday.

I was feeling ready to move and groove in the morning, but I had limited time before Mass, so I did 100 burpees for time. I tied my previous PR (6:12), but not without my heart feeling like it would explode. Holy smokes, I had not done a “sprint” like that in a while.

This dinner last night was nothing out of the ordinary except that I cooked the eggs on a gas stove (instead of electric like in our Dublin dorms, which I didn’t realize until now takes 10x longer to heat up) and that I topped it with SRIRACHA. Oh, how I missed thee.

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Followed by cake for dayyyyyyz.

Today I’m headed up to a very special city for a couple days 🙂 More to come!

I have so much to say and reflect upon in regards to my study abroad experience in Ireland, but for now, I’ll say:

Sláinte, Baile Átha Cliath (Cheers, Dublin)!

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend?

What is the best airport/airline food you’ve ever eaten?

Are there any things about coming home that you didn’t even realize you missed during an extended vacation/trip?

Adventure Awaits

I am trying to fit my life into a school backpack for ten days.

We finished finals for two of our classes, and now we are off on our ten-day, mid-semester break! I guess you could say that Megan and I will be backpacking through Europe, which is crazy. I think it didn’t really hit us until now that we are traveling through Europe by ourselves for ten days, because we’ve been in Ireland (sort of) by ourselves for so long already.

Traveling through Ireland is very different from traveling through Switzerland and Italy though. We don’t speak Swiss German, and I haven’t taken Italian in three years. Plus, we won’t have data, so Google translate won’t always come to our rescue.

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[source]

But what’s adventure without some tourist sign language and getting a little lost!?

I may or may not have spent 2.5 hours writing out all the directions and details for just one day of travel.

These past few days have been all about cleaning out the fridge. Lots of eggs, leftover rice and pasta, and overnight oats!

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white rice, beef, tikka masala sauce + an egg on top

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avocado egg toast! ♥︎ 

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white rice, spicy tomato sauce, beef

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It says “end-of-life” on my paper because I was studying end-of-life issues for ethics, just FYI.

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whole wheat pasta with spicy tomato sauce, beef, and some goat cheese that a friend was trying to get rid of

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overnight oats never get old

Megan and I decided to rent the first Harry Potter book from the library to read during our travels, since neither of us have ever read the books.

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I am genuinely excited.

I am also currently eating bunches of spinach with my fingers dipped in hummus, so that’s where we’re at. Nothing out of the ordinary though.

Hopefully, I can keep you guys updated on the big trip as we go from city to city. I’m not bringing my laptop, so we’ll see how well posting works on my phone. If not, we’ll have a heck of a lot to catch up on when I return! If any of you have recommendations for places to eat or things to see in Zurich, Padua, Assisi, or Rome, hit me up 🙂

Have a fantastic weekend, whatever you’re doing and wherever you go. Pick up an old book that you’ve always wanted to read.

So tell me:

Have you ever backpacked through Europe?

What is one thing you’ve been eating repetitively this week?

Have you ever hopped on a book bandwagon extremely late?

“Dessert Rejuvenates Me”

My room is decorated!!

With wet t-shirts and damp underwear. They’re donning my windows, armchair, desk, and radiators because the laundry was finally installed in our dorm, but my exceptionally large load of laundry was not sufficiently dried in one dry cycle.

I honestly might go frontier-style and start washing my clothes in the sink and air drying them, since laundry will be at least 4.50 euros each time. Yikes.

These past couple days:

Wednesday

We had an orientation for our internships that will start in November, and one thing that the presenter said that struck me was, “It’s not always about what you do on the job. It’s about who you are and how you are.” In other words, in Ireland at least, it is just as— if not, more— important to be social and interactive with your coworkers as it is to be constantly diligent and focused on your tasks. Forming good relationships can be more valuable in your work experience than merely doing what needs to be done.

I know I can get so caught up in doing my job that I forget to talk to people or even refuse to go to social functions. But there’s so much more to a work/learning environment than burying your nose in the work, and I’m excited to really allow myself to do that here and find that balance between work and “play”.

I get it, universe. It’s not all about “just doing well.”

In other news, look at these bathrooms on campus.

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The vibe is, like, Hulk meets hospital. It also smelled strongly like Skittles, which was pleasant.

Lunches recently have been eggs in some form with butter and carbs in some form.

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Thursday

One of my new friends, Kendall, woke up (semi-)early to work out with me before our morning class. It was a fabulous morning too, so we did it outside. YAY. We did a 30 minute HIIT:

7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 burpees
  • 20 reverse lunges
  • 30 plank jacks
  • 100 high knees
[30 sec break]
7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 pushup to T
  • 10 broad jumps
  • 20 spiderman planks
  • 20 air squats
[30 sec break]
7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 side plank side crunch each side
  • 10 side lunge to knee twist each leg
  • 30 mountain climbers
  • 20 split jack lunges
[30 sec break]
7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 in and out pushups
  • 20 sumo squat hip looseners
  • 15 plank to ankle taps each arm

The project manager on campus told us as we walked back to our dorm, “You know you’re making all of us feel guilty right?”

I wish I had answered, “JOIN US NEXT TIME!” But that would have been weird, so we just laughed.

Another Ireland lesson: Milk and yogurt expire much more quickly here than in the States. I almost poured curdled milk into my oatmeal yesterday and then I finished my extra sour Greek yogurt last night.

Lunch was 100% safe though.

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peep the potatoes with kerrygold butter, salt and pepper ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ 

The strawberries from the local grocery store here are also 5x better than Costco strawberries.

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The most frustrating moment of my Thursday was walking 45 minutes somewhere to pick up a bus card, but finding immediately upon walking into the office that the card machine was out of order. *heart drops to stomach* I hated the thought of wasting 90 minutes, but I loved the walk, and I even got to stop into a beautiful church to pray for a bit!

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This photo doesn’t do it justice. I walked in and froze for a couple seconds because I was in such awe.

We had our first Irish language lesson last night too. The professor is the sweetest and most joyful woman I’ve met in a while. The language still eludes me a bit, but it’s cool to learn about it!

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Leftover beef burger for dinner!

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split in half and eaten on top of toast with BBQ sauce, mustard, greens, white cheddar, and caramelized onions

This burger thing was the best culinary idea I’ve had in my 1.5 weeks living in Ireland (which isn’t saying much, given I’ve been living off oatmeal, chicken, and eggs).

Later, a few of us went out for dessert at Restaurant 104. They had “proper bread and butter pudding” on their menu, so I knew we had to go. And that’s just what I ordered!

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WITH raisins @Rachel

I also tried some of my friends’ sticky toffee pudding and [unpictured] “Death by Chocolate” cake.

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Everything was divine. When we all finished, Megan announced:

Dessert rejuvenates me. It’s my life source.

I’m so excited to be traveling Europe with this gal.

Now it’s Friday morning and I’m typing up this blog post! I need to do some schoolwork before going on a cliff walk later today. I did Blogilates’ Extreme Abs 3 (never gets easier) just ate some PB&J banana egg white oatmeal porridge to fuel the day:

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Have some good craic* this weekend!!! 😉

*craic is pronounced “crack” and means “fun”

So tell me:

What kinds of produce are much better abroad than at home for you? 

What is a recent frustrating experience for you?

What are you eating for breakfast this morning?

Do you like bread pudding?

Food Over Booze

My professor asked us to journal or blog for homework!!!

So now I won’t feel bad “productive procrastinating” when I blog. It is purely schoolwork 🙂

Friday

I started the morning with Lori and Michelle’s 18 minute plank workout. It is always killer.

Breakfast was my first overnight oats in Ireland! I hope I freaked people out with this.

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lots of peanut butter, banana, and raspberry preserves

This + a KIND bar on the bus fueled me well for our class field trip to Glendalough. Of course, it was the rainiest day of the entire week.

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I think I fell in love with Ireland on this trip. So much green and so many sheeeeeep!

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We made it through a couple of landmarks and a short hike before our tour guide gave us the option to either continue for another 1.5 hours or chicken out. I’m proud of our resilient group, because we were all down to keep hiking. Our tour guide saying, “It’s a Harry Potter-esque trail,” may have instigated the enthusiasm.

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I would have been miserable in the rain if the walk wasn’t so gorgeous. In fact, I have never used the word “gorgeous” so many times in a one hour period before.

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“This trail is gorgeous.”

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“These trees are gorgeous.”

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“This house is gorgeous.”

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“This waterfall is gorgeous.”

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“We are gorgeous.” (lol)

The word has lost all meaning.

But…this was GORGEOUS, guys.

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Totally worth the soaking discomfort and soggy chicken sandwich that I downed in the rain at the top of the mountain.

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bus snack feat. soaked wallet

Breakfast for dinner was the quick and lazy menu option of the night.

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I did manage to caramelize some onions and roast broccoli though.

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I went out to a bar that night with the rest of my classmates, and I was fully planning on buying a Ginger Jameson…but I was 100% NOT in the mood for a drink, so I didn’t get it. *sad trombone*

Instead, Megan and I got our share of booze by having sips of everyone else’s drinks. I discovered that I like mojitos!

I’ll buy my own drink one day, I promise.

Saturday

Money that I could have spent on booze was spent on food on Saturday. Food >>> booze. 

8 minute abs followed by a leisurely breakfast of hot banana oats cooked on the stovetop.

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A few of my friends and I walked to city centre since it was a gorgeous beautiful day. It was my ideal kinda day— lots of walking, exploring a new city, and eating good food with good people.

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handsome Irish men in a street fashion show

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“Hapenny” Bridge (Halfpenny Bridge)

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Temple Bar, which is an area and not an actual bar…

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I found a bakery called Queen of Tarts on Yelp when I was researching good bakeries back in the States, so I was stoked to visit while we were in city centre.

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I bought a huge blueberry scone and a slice of carrot cake, both to go. But look at this thing!!

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The kind lady asked, “Would you like that with butter and jam?” My heart.

Then for real food (sort of).

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The fries were subpar, but the fish with salt and vinegar and some tartar sauce was fabulous. We ate our lunch with this view.

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Then it was time to walk through Dublin Castle…

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…and Trinity University. I plan on going back to Trinity to see the Book of Kells!

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After almost getting lost on the way home, Megan and I finally made it back to the dorms. I played outside for a bit on the lush grass. I tried doing a workout, but my body was like, “Nay to that.” So I practiced handstands, pistol squats, and one-handed cartwheels (aerials one day maybe!).

I wanted green in my dinner:

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Then Megan and I warmed up our blueberry scones and added Kerrygold butter…

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…and raspberry preserves.

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The Irish do scones so right.

Then Megan and I spent over two hours making travel plans. Someone please be our travel agent and plan everything for us. We’re both indecisive and inexperienced, so planning anything is a game of, “Which airline? What’s cheaper? Is that safe? How does an Airbnb work?”

Sunday

Sleep in, work out for 20 minutes, eat yogurt, head to Mass.

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Then we brunched! I looked up the church and brunch place, choosing The Lovely Food Co.

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clipboard menus, much aesthetic

There was no question about what I wanted after skimming the menu. I went for the oak-smoked salmon and crab sandwich on their housemade soda bread.

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The soda bread was pretty dry, but it went perfectly with the flavorful crab and salty smoked salmon. UGH, so good. And it was less than 8€!

Madre was in town, since she’s taking a grand two week tour around Ireland, just ’cause {I’m here}. Megan and I visited her hotel for the afternoon and spent several more hours travel planning. So far, we have planned two weekend trips and three cities for our mid-semester Europe tour. Not too shabby, but it probably took way longer than necessary.

We had our second round of sweets from Queen of Tarts to fuel our travel planning 😉

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Someone teach us how to adult.

We decompressed with dinner at Sophie’s Bar and Restaurant. It was an early birthday celebration for Madre, but Madre also treated us. ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ Thank you, Ma!!

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we loved how they labeled the source of the butter

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smoked haddock risotto with teardrop peppers (so sweet and good!) and smoked cream to share for appetizer

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my corn-fed chicken (so tender and flavorful) with broccoli puree, broccolini, purple sprouts, and merlot vinaigrette

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Madre’s 8 oz. filet (melt-in-your-mouth) with black pudding mash (← black pudding bits in mashed potatoes, we think. it was good!)

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Megans’ fettuccine dish that she enjoyed!

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Madre’s choice for dessert: coconut parfait (more like a semifreddo) with pistachio ice cream and lime dressing

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they had swings by the elevators!

We also locked ourselves in the fire exit stairwell after dinner, but that’s a long story. It was so wonderful getting to see Madre all the way over here in Ireland. I’ll see her again when she gets back to Dublin after her two week tour!

Monday

First day of classes! I did a 30 minute HIIT workout in my room using resistance bands (that Madre brought me from home ♥︎) before eating breakfast and going to 2.5 hours of Contemporary Irish Society. We had a one hour lunch break, and then I had another 2.5 hours of Ethics in Healthcare. I think I’ll enjoy both classes and be especially challenged in the ethics class.

As much as I love eggs, buttered toast, and salad, I need to mix things up and go grocery shopping. One of the girls was making fajitas last night!

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But look at how golden the yolks are here.

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We also had our first fire drill as I was eating this dinner, but that’s okay. Safety and stuff, I guess.

Hope you all have a great week! Eat something with really good butter on it.

So tell me: 

Three gorgeous things you’ve seen recently.

Have you ever eaten scones with butter and jam? If you haven’t, you must. Kerrygold butter, preferably.

Are you good at making travel plans? Any tips for the rookies?