When you study at University of Limerick, you are a bus ride away to Dublin Airport, where you have the world at your fingertips waiting to be explored. If you are on a budget like me, you can get RyanAir roundtrip flights for as cheap as €36, as long as you don’t mind early flights that is. Nearing the end of my time here abroad, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to travel to multiple countries, experiencing new cultures, and combatting language barriers. I have grown a greater appreciation for the beauty of other nations and what they have to offer.
When you study abroad, you might have the inclination to stay within your campus community because you’re still trying to acclimate into a new place from the familiars of home. My greatest advice, don’t! It is so easy to stay in your bubble, however you miss out on so much by doing so. I for one imagined myself only traveling to 1 or 2 other countries while at UL, however I will have been to 9 other countries by the time I left mid-May. And so, I want to share a few highlights of the amazing cultures and countries that are out there ready to be explored!
Hola de Barcelona! Sunshine, beaches, great food and fun…what’s not to love? Barcelona has an energy that you will not find in most cities. There’s a strong millennial and upbeat vibe mixed with history and architecture dating back to over 2000 years. Great public transportation across the city makes exploring easy, although if I were you, consider just taking a stroll across the city, there’s so much to see and walking is the best way to take all of Barcelona in! Peruse through the Gothic Quarter and the La Rambla, lay on the beach, visit the Sagrada Familia, or hike to Park Guell and Bunkers del Carmel for views of the city. Wherever you are, there is always something to do or see. The food? Well, let’s just say the food in Spain is quite delicious. My favorite treat was at Chok, where you could get melt-in-your-mouth cookies or fun chocolate covered treats as you can see in the photo.
Rome & Pompeii, Italy
I visited Rome and never wanted to leave. My friends and I put on our hiking boots and walked about 15 miles after touring Vatican City, part of Ancient Rome, and making the trek to visit the Coliseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. Saying we had an amazing day is an understatement and my diet for the weekend consisted of only gelato and pizza. When walking in Rome, you are overwhelmed by the rich history that surrounds you and to actually see famous landmarks that you only see movies and textbooks is pretty cool. And yes, we made sure to throw money into the Trevi Fountains and make a wish! Then we were off to Pompeii to visit the ruins of the city then hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius. Word to the wise, it is cold at the top of a volcano, in fact, it was sleeting. So, regardless of the temperature, bundle up if you are going to hike to the top. And I suggest you do if you have the chance! The views are breathtaking and the hot chocolate stand at the top is delicious.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
I have never been a big history buff, however, if you study in Ireland you can’t miss out on a trip to Belfast. Take a walk around the historic streets of Belfast, visit the Titanic Experience and spend a few hours learning about the creation and venture of the ship before it sank, and take a Black Taxi Cab Tour. Though a bit pricey, this is something you want to spend the extra money on. Once in the taxi, your driver will take you around Belfast, into the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, stop at the Peace Wall, and share with you the rich history that has troubled Northern Ireland for so many years. You leave with a greater understanding for what The Troubles of the late 1900s were and how the divide still stands today.
Manchester – York – Yorkshire, England
And if you fancy a short plane ride, Northern England is the place to go! Your first point of interest should be to tour Chatsworth House and Gardens! Chatsworth House is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been home to the Cavendish family since 1594. With a collection of paintings (as seen in the photo below), neoclassical sculptures, artifacts, and furniture, the home is worth the visit! Then after having lunch on the ground’s restaurant, tour the gardens, get lost in the maze, or walk through the park and farmyard. There’s a lot to do! Next on your list should be to travel to the cities of York and Manchester! With markets lining the streets on the weekends, there’s a lot of treats to try before visiting The Shambles, restored houses, and architecture that makes England distinct. While you’re in England, make sure to stay for Afternoon Tea! From champagne, tiny sandwiches and desserts, and a selection of tea, you’ll feel like the Royal Family! If you’re hoping to round out your trip in England with more history, then make your way to Bolton Abbey! Here, you will find the remains of a 12th Century Priory, hiking trails, quaint shops and tea houses, and if you’re feeling brave, skipping stones that you can walk across if the water isn’t too high. Spending a weekend in England was relaxing because you’re not in the hustle and bustle of a city. You can take the time to appreciate the countryside while still having plenty of things to do.
And so, there is a LOT to see and do while you are abroad. So make the most of your short few months here because trust me, the next you know it will be time to pack up and head home. So go explore the world and make your own memories. And study of course J – An Avid Traveler.
Jena Araojo has recently returned home to her home university The College of William & Mary, Virginia after spending a semester in Ireland through Study Abroad. Jena is an avid blogger and traveler. You can see some of her previous posts HERE