Dublin!

This weekend, Lizzie and I went on our final trip. The trip was to Dublin, Ireland, and let me tell you, it held up to the expectations of the final trip on our European tour! On Thursday we did not have classes, so I took the day to relax. We left on Friday afternoon for Dublin.

Once we arrived in Dublin, we took a bus to our airbnb, where we dropped off our stuff and headed to The Temple Bar area. This part of the city is filled with pubs (The Temple Bar being the most well know), shops, restaurants, and Christmas decorations. While we were there, we did some shopping and a bit of visiting the pubs. Since we arrived later in the day, we did not have much time to explore Dublin on Friday.

On Saturday, we woke up very early and took a bus tour. While on the tour, we stopped at the ruins of the Kilmacduagh Monastery, the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren (cliffs that were not as big as Cliffs of Moher, but just as amazing), and the city of Galway. The tour was great because there was commentary as we drove all the way across Dublin. We were also able to see amazing views of the countryside while on the bus. While traveling, figuring out transportation is quite difficult, so it was nice to have everything planned out for us by the tour company.

The Cliffs of Moher were so beautiful, but also extremely windy. It was nearly impossible to stand without falling over while admiring the cliffs… not to mention taking pictures.

I also enjoyed The Burren because we were able to go right on the cliffs. The views took my breath away!

After the tour, we went back to The Temple Bar area to enjoy some dinner and then headed back to our airbnb.

Sunday we woke up very early to catch our flight back to ALC. We had a layover in Scotland, so that was cool.

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Ballin’ on a budget while abroad!

Some tips that have worked for me:

1. Book flights in advance because they are cheaper.

2. skyscanner.com is a fabulous way to find cheap(er) flights

3. Ryanair is a inexpensive airline, but don’t expect to receive any compensation if you need to change your flight/have made a mistake with your dates/or they’ve made a mistake.

4. Airbnb’s are great — I recommend an apparent with YOUR OWN bathroom.

5. Hostels are so so. I’d recommend an all women dorm… if you’re a woman. We used hostelworld.com to find ours.

6. Budget during the week in order to make the weekends happen.

7. If you live with a host family, they prepare food for you, so there is no need to buy any.

8. Research public transport before arriving at your location (or find a Lizzie to do this for you). This is a great way to save money. Taxis are expensive!

9. If you take out bigger chunks of money at a time, you will not receive as many atm fees.

10. Every little thing adds up.

Thoughts.

Blogs are supposed to include feelings and deeper thoughts sometimes too. I feel like I share a lot of surface level “stuff” on here aka all about my trips (yes, this is a good thing! and what most people like to see!). BUT I want to do this post to share a little bit more about my abroad experience besides traveling. 

This experience has taught me so much… more than I will ever be able to put into words or express to others. One of the most important things that I have learned or has just been just brought more to my attention, is contact. Studying abroad is lonely at times. Yes, I am seeing an enormous amount of things and remaining super active, but I’m doing this on my own (or with Lizzie) with very little help from others. I do talk to certain people everyday, some on occasion, and others that I have not talked to once since I’ve been here. That’s four months without a single word from some of my family or friends from back home. I understand a phone works both ways, and honestly, I could do better. Please try to understand that it’s hard to reach out to people that have no interest or no time to reach out to me. Yes, I post A LOT on my social media, and I’m sure there’s people that keep up with that.

I am more independent at the moment than I believe I will every be. I’m scared to go back to the US and have people wondering where I am or people that I need to update on my whereabouts. I have figured out so much out on my own while I’ve been here, and I’m honestly afraid to ask people how to do things when I go back home. I have learned so much about myself and how much this world has to offer me. I’m not sure how to stay in one place anymore. 

Feel free to take this post with a grain of salt. This is not a cry for help, but rather a way for me to say that this experience has most changed myself and, most likely, some of my relationships in a permanent way. I am not asking for attention, and I hope I am not taken that way. I simply want to share more of my “real life.” I am the best I’ve ever been and so in love with my life. My mind is extremely open to my future and everything this HUGE world has to offer me.

Also, this post was all over the place, and I’m sorry!!! My thought are everywhere about studying abroad and sometimes hard to express.

Return to Germany!

I’ve mentioned this before, but in between 6th and 7th I was fortunate to spend the summer in Germany with my Aunt, Uncle, and their children. This was an amazing and truly eye opening experience for a 12.5 year old girl. This past weekend, I returned to Germany!

IMG_8990
back to one of my favorite countries!

On Thursday morning, Lizzie and I left for Munich, Germany. We arrived around 10 o’clock, made our way to our airbnb, and headed for the Nymphenburg Palace. We spent about an hour there walking through the palace. Unfortunately, it was super underwhelming considering parts of it were closed off for the winter, and it also held no comparison to other castles we have visited.

After the palace, we went to a store just for Birkenstocks! These are my absolute favorite shoes, so seeing a store just dedicated to them was quite amazing for me (they are German shoes btw). We then headed to a Christmas market in Marienplatz (a square that also has the gorgeous New Town Hall). The market was stunning. There was Christmas everywhere and traditional German food to try! Lizzie and I had ourselves some Gluhwein (mulled wine) and walked around admiring all of the beauty.

We then walked to the Hofbrauhaus to enjoy a delicious dinner. There we met some new friends that were in Germany for the week. One of them was from the US and the other was from Canada. They were both engineers that were in Germany for work, and they also had just met each other in their hostel. It was a very nice meal filled with laughs, beer, wienerschnitzel, and spaetzle. After dinner, we walked around the market a bit more and then parted ways.

On Saturday morning, Lizzie and I took a tour to Dachau Concentration Camp. I had been there last time I was in Germany, but this time I was on a guided tour. Going at the age of 20 is much more different that age 12.5. It was a very educational opportunity that I’d recommend to anyone.

After, we went to our airbnb to relax a bit and then head to another Christmas market. This one was at the same location as where they hold Oktoberfest. It was MASSIVE. We walked around a bit, but because the lines for everything were so long, we headed to the market in Marienplatz to try some more German food for dinner.

There I tried a German sausage and a “milkshake,” which was more like really cold milk that tastes like a hint of eggnog. After our time there, we headed back to our airbnb to prepare for our early flight the next morning.

It’s no Chicago style hotdog, but it’ll do.
It’s no Chicago style hotdog, but it’ll do.

On Sunday, our flight was very early. We flew to Palma de mallorca (an Island off of mainland Spain), where we had a 12 hour layover before heading back to ALC. There we send on a tour through some caves and walked around the city for a few hours before heading to the airport and back to ALC.

London!

On Thursday after our Thanksgiving meal, Lizzie, my parents, and I headed for the airport. We flew into London, but we did not arrive until late. We did not have time to do anything besides sleep for the night.

Friday morning we enjoyed some breakfast in the hotel before heading to explore the city.

breakfast in London
breakfast in London

While heading to the metro, we stumbled upon some art on a building that said, “Do what you like, like what you do.” This was such an awesome find because this is my mom’s favorite saying!

 

We then walked and looked at The London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace. The Big Ben was under construction and was covered in scaffold, my dad said it was wearing “a winter coat.” All of that exploring exhausted us, so we went for a late lunch, shopped around a bit, and headed back to our hotel. After heading by to our hotel, Lizzie, my dad, and I went to a pub right by hotel and then we went to bed.

 

On Saturday we woke up and took the metro to Abbey Road, which is home to Abby Road Studios and the famous album cover of Abby Road (where the Beatles are walking across the street). We surprised my dad with this attraction. He loved it, and overall, it was super neat to see. After visiting Abbey Road, we took the metro to visit The Tower of London. There we took a tour from a Beefeater. It was very interesting to hear all of the history that has happened there. We looked at the Tower Bridge and then headed to Chinatown to enjoy a very nice Chinese dinner. After dinner we walked around that part of the city, enjoyed the Christmas lights, shopped a bit, and then headed back to our hotel for our final night with my parents.

 

Sunday morning my parents left very early for their flight, but Lizzie and I had time to relax a bit before we headed to the King’s Cross Station. This station is home to the platform 9 3/4 from the movie Harry Potter. I am a fan of that movie, so I was happy to see it before we caught the metro. After the metro, we took a train to the airport. Our flight got us back to Alicante late at night.

 

Thank you Mom and Dad for visiting me! I will always remember this trip and the time my parents came to visit me during the most amazing experience of my life. I will cherish these memories forever.

Week in ALC with my parents!

Once we arrived in ALC on Sunday, we went over to my host mom’s house for a big Sunday meal. My host mom does not speak any English and my parents do not speak any Spanish. Needless to say, my brain was quite tired after translating back in forth for three hours. My host mom and parents were equally excited to meet each other and spend time together. We were quite tired after eating and taking a quick walk, so we split ways (my parents going to their hotel and myself going to my host mom’s to spend the night there).

Monday I had classes and after that my parents and I walked around the city for a bit. It rained all day, but after borrowing umbrellas from the hotel, we made it happen. I showed my parents my favorite stores and my favorite spots in the city. I had dance that night, so we ate together after that and then split ways so I could sleep at my host mom’s.

my momma looking at the sea
my momma looking at the sea

On Tuesday I had a full day of classes, so I did not get done until 3:30. Lizzie and I went and picked up my parents after class and took the up to El Castillo de Santa Bárbara. That night we returned back to my host mom’s to have dinner. She made such amazing food for my parents to try.

Wednesday after my morning of classes, my parents, Lizzie, and I made a trip to Villajoyosa to visit the Valor Chocolate Factory. Valor is a local chocolate company. It was a cool place to see and a perfect afternoon trip. That night I took my parents to try some pallela and sangria.

On Thursday I took my parents with me to the University, so they could see it and because my program had a Thanksgiving meal for all of us. I was happy that my parents could meet my awesome program directors and the people in my program.

Italy!

On Thursday I missed classes again, and I caught a flight with Lizzie at 6:00 in the morning to go to Rome. We arrived around 11:30 after a layover in Madrid and another flight. When we arrived, we met up with my parents in the airport! We then took a train into the city and walked to our airbnb. This walk was a little grueling. My parents had their huge suitcases and Lizzie and I had our backpacks. We were all exhausted and this made the walk very long. After arriving at the airbnb we got ready and made our way to the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and then enjoyed a delicious dinner. The dinner consisted of some authentic pasta and pizza, of course!

On Friday, we woke up early and took a bus to the Vatican City. Since we woke up early, we beat the crowd and were able to to see Saint Peters Square without it being flooded with people. We walked around Saint Peters Basilica and then walked a bit more to arrive at the Vatican Museum. For those of you that do not know this, The Sistene Chapel is in this museum.

After admiring the beauty that the Vatican City displays, we took a train to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

After that, we took the metro to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. All in all, we were able to see everything we planned on in Rome! It was a crazy two days, and my parents were troopers!

Saturday morning we woke up early and took a train to Florence. Florence was stunning, and we were all thrilled to spend the day there. When we arrived in Florence and walked to the Ponte Vecchino, which is a bridge that is full of jewelry stores. We spent the majority of the day looking at little shops and enjoying the city. We did go to the Piazza del Duomo and an art museum to see the Statue of David. After that, we headed back to the train station to return to Rome.

On Sunday morning we woke extremely early and caught our flight back to Alicante. We had an awful layover in London. We had two hours to go through customs, retrieve my parents bags, recheck their bags in, and go back through security. The two hours were not nearly enough. The line for customs was an hour itself. My parents had some issues with their tickets / checking their bags, so Lizzie and I ended up leaving them to try to catch the flight. After running to the gate and begging the workers at the gate to wait, my parents made it on board too. We arrived back in ALC midday.