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Tori on her adventurous Intercultural weekend in Barcelona

Flamenco, Churros, and Other Catalan Wonders: My ICE Weekend in Barcelona

9th-10th August 2014

Well the first thing I would say about my Intercultural Comparative Experience ­ affectionately called “ICE weekend” was that it in NO WAY, remotely, AT ALL conjured up the image of “ice” in my mind, other than my intense desire to stick my head in a bowl of it. As one who has a rather strained relationship with heat and humidity, I probably should have thought the weather factor through before sleepily (though excitedly!) boarding an AerLingus plane to the Catalan capital of Barcelona. But noo. I just had to wear skinny jeans and a hoodie, didn’t I? I had lovingly embraced the weather in Ireland ­ hardly ever above 70 degrees and often cloudy ­ as to me that was literally the perfect weather. But as I stepped off the plane I was immediately hit by an enormous wave of heat, which brings me back to my very first thought as I stepped onto Catalan ground and immediately started to sweat: Damn it’s hot ­ “ICE” weekend. HAH.” So I suppose that was the very first thing I noticed that was different from Ireland ­ the place I had made my home for the past 3 weeks.

(See, if you google image “Ireland Weather” this is one of the very first images that pops up:

  JPEG 5

If you do the same thing for “Barcelona Weather” this is the first thing that you find:


‘Nuff said.)

Now a little backstory: I had always wanted to travel to Spain. Having taken many years of Spanish in school, I had an immense desire to go and use it. Had I not gone to Ireland for my summer abroad, I would have definitely chosen Spain. So maybe you can imagine how thrilled I was when I found out I was going to get to go to Barcelona for my ICE weekend. Actually, on second thought, you probably can’t imagine it ­ it took a mega­ton of self control not to jump up and scream and/or pass out right there on the spot. I felt especially lucky and excited to be able to get the opportunity to compare Irish and Spanish­Catalan cultures (yes I realize that is the point of the ICE weekend. Shh.) ­ there is nothing more amazing and wonderful to me than traveling and learning about different cultures to the one I’m used to back in the US.

Since we arrived early in the day (yay 6:30 am flight), the two of us from Dublin had about 3.5 hours to go get ourselves thoroughly lost in Barcelona. And oh boy did we do a good job with that. After missing the streets we were looking for about 49 times because our map only showed one corner of the city and we literally went off the map, we can at least say we saw the Sagrada Familia (more on that one later) and 5,000 random streets in Barcelona. But, despite the oh­so­lovely blisters forming on my feet, it proved to be an excellent way to people­watch, do a little culture comparison, and work on getting very bizarre tan­lines.

After we got back to the hostel and had a short orientation, we got to GO ON A THREE HOUR TOUR OF THE CITY! At least this time we had a fantastic tour guide, other CIEE students who looked just as dead on their feet as we did, and some pretty rockin’ CIEE staff members.

As we meandered the city (again), I noticed even more things, which I shall now list because I like lists:

1. Language! When first arriving, aside from the heat and my deep regret for wearing pants and having not gone to the bathroom on the plane, my next thoughts were of great joy in seeing signs in Spanish. Mind you, I have a lot of years of Spanish under my belt, but until then I had never actually been to a Spanish­speaking country. It was completely AWESOME to be able to read the signs. I felt like such a language­ninja. In Ireland, most people speak English of course, but the signs are all bilingual in English and Irish Gaelic. And it is a mighty good thing I am fluent in English because Gaelic is one hell of a language ­ a beautiful one, but a difficult and very, very not phonetic. I have absolutely zero idea how to pronounce most things when I see them written out. If you asked me just a few weeks ago, I would

have said “Sláinte”, the Irish version of “Cheers” (as in the toast, not the TV show) was pronounced “Slain­tea”. So...slightly less of a language­ninja, to say the very least. To be able to walk through an airport and understand completely what the signs said and what the announcements were was pretty darn cool. The CIEE­er who picked us up at the airport and helped us get to our hostel also spoke Spanish and I miiiight have eavesdropped on her and our cab driver. Because you know...I could.

2. THE CARS WERE ON THE WRONG SIDE. Wait no. They were on the right side...? Turns out I got a lot more used to the cars being the opposite from the way they are in the US than I thought. Seeing the cars back to what I’ve grown up with looked weird to me ­ and I had the exact “wrong

side!” thought that I had when I first saw the cars in Dublin only a few weeks ago. How quickly we get used to things that seem so weird at first.

3. AIR CONDITIONING. Dublin doesn't need AC so it therefore doesn’t have it. Which is totally logical and all, but a total pain when it is slightly warm (because relative to the normal weather, just a little warm seems rather hot). But because Barcelona is 100% ridiculously hot, every building has blasting cold air. Thankfully, or I would have returned to Dublin as a puddle. (You think I kid...)

4. What is UP with these buildings?! Barcelona, in case you were unaware as I was, is dotted with architecture from Antoni Gaudi. And what a weird dude. Brilliant, but weird. I mean look at these things:


Do you see this in Dublin or the US? No you do not. I mean how trippy is this? It’s nothing short of amazing! (Pictured above, by the way, is the Casa Batlló, the still unfinished Sagrada Família, and Park Güell.)

5. DOGGIES! There are a lot of animals ­ especially dogs ­ roaming the streets off­leash. I hadn’t particularly noticed anything different about that in Dublin other than the cat that seems to haunt the Dublin City University campus and may or may not understand English, but back in the US no­leash is usually a no­no.

6. LGBT freedom of expression! As we learned and discussed in class, LGBT rights and freedom in Ireland is still fairly new and still pretty controversial. And though I’ve definitely found that most people I talk to are very cool and chill with LGBT and queer people, it’s still not like you’re going to see a whole lot of queer people openingly showing their queerness on your walk down O’Connell street. WELL.
NOT the case in Spain. At ALL. I saw a gazillion same­sex couples, young and old, holding hands
every block we walked. They aren’t kidding when they say Spain “provides one of the highest degrees
of liberty in the world for its LGBT community” (Got that from my good friend Wikipedia). It’s even more amazing when you take into account the history ­ for the vast majority of Spanish history, the situation couldn’t have been more opposite. In that regard, Spain and Ireland have a lot in common ­ despite ridiculous amounts of years of zero/zilch/nada rights for LGBT people, they have both come a very long way in that regard, which makes me super duper happy!

7. STREET SIGNS, or lack thereof. I don’t know why, but the street signs in Europe all seem to be on sides of buildings and NOT super visible to the unsuspecting American that I am. At home, street signs stick out on every corner, and it’s really easy to follow a map or give directions (well okay, maybe not for me as a directionally challenged person, but still...). But as we walked around, casually popping on and off the map we were given, I personally was having the hardest time figuring out where we were, nevermind where we were going. The street signs in Barcelona, though I found slightly more plentiful, were also even less conspicuous than Irish’s no wonder we kept missing turns!

8. FOOOOOD OMNOM. Let’s be honest ­ one of the most important parts of any trip ­ and LIFE ­
is food. And food is so different based on where you go! I am 100% in love with Ireland, but I admittedly can’t really say the same about the food...Ireland is a bit more recognized for its beverages than its food. Barcelona, however, has tapas. And churros. The second night, the group all went out to a traditional tapas meal, and the food. just. kept. coming. oh. my. And of course, I did buy myself a churro on the last day ­ and it was pure, sweet, wonderful, fried goodness. (I will say though, that both places were severely lacking in mac and cheese. What is this madness??)

9. DIVERSITY! The world has definitely become more and more mixed, and it was absolutely fascinating comparing the US, Dublin, and Barcelona in terms of the people you see. America is often referred to as a “melting pot” ­ a place where people of all different races, religions, and backgrounds come together. As we discussed in class in Dublin, however, diversity is a bit newer to Ireland and Dublin ­ a historically more homogenous country. It’s true that I notice more people of color in the US than on the streets of Ireland. And as a person of color myself, I often pay close attention to how many others like myself I see. At home, I often feel slightly out of place as an adopted Asian American, but yet there is a different overall feel because I am culturally American and fit in that way. In Ireland, I see fewer people resembling myself in skin color, but I admit I was pleasantly surprised ­ there were still more than I was expecting. In Barcelona, there were so many tourists it was absolutely insane, but I was still able to spot a plethora of different people. Though the US, Ireland, and Catalonia may be in different stages of diversity, immersion, and tourist seasons, it was clear that all three are progressing in opening their doors to those who may appear different.

10. ...Did I mention the weather?? No, seriously. After only a couple hours of sitting on the beach, my legs now look like Neapolitan ice cream...freaking tan lines...


So what did I learn from this Intercultural Comparison Experience? I can’t even begin to explain it in words and in one blog entry. When you get the chance to compare more than two cultures, it’s eye opening in a way that is impossible to describe ­ the world is so big and so small at the same time, a fact that I am now aware of more than ever. It’s amazing and wonderful how each culture has its own traditions and ways of expressing themselves, yet there are also so many commonalities showing that we as people are not as different as we might sometimes think. And I think that is a lesson well worth learning.

Tori out. 


Catch up with Meredith on her last week in Dublin

  • June 16, 2014


We discussed London today in class and once I sat down and reflected on the experience I realized how different Dublin was from London…and that I like Dublin a lot better. I know I went and visited Guinness and that was so touristy of me. That was first-week-in-Dublin-Meredith, but today we went to Jameson which I found to be much LESS touristy. I think I actually learned more at Jameson than I did at Guinness, but people automatically associate Dublin and Guinness. Aside from its alcohol Dublin also has a lot of hidden gems like St. Michan’s Church. They took us down into the crypts and there were actually mummies right in front of me, I couldn’t believe it. At the end of the tour you get to touch the crusader’s hand for good luck. A lady in line was convinced she was NOT going to touch it, but I talked to her and said, “Come on! Will you regret it if you don’t do it now?” and she went in and touched the mummy. When she came out and she said, “You were right! It was worth it.” I feel like that’s something I’ve been asking myself lately, “Will I regret NOT doing this?” and most of the time I say YES. That’s the key to study abroad, I think.

Tip of the Day: Step out of your comfort zone: say YES more often


  • June 17, 2014

There Will Be An Answer

Most of the time I’m 100% NOT okay with staying late for class, but today’s discussion was different. In class we talked about our carbon footprint, but after class we debriefed about our London trip. We learned about single-story-sense, which basically means how our brains are wired to automatically assume. And you know what they say about assuming (you get that joke, right?). We also discussed our views in general. I kind of felt bad after thinking a certain way, but apparently it’s natural to have a crafted thought already made when someone asks you to picture a nurse, farmer, hair dresser, doctor. I also learned about our (as in Americans in general) view of time versus how the Irish view time. Which ironically came back into play when I went to see “Let It Be”. Doors scheduled to open at 7, actual opening time 7:20; starting time 7:30, actual time 7:45. I find myself constantly comparing Dublin to Houston and the longer I’ve been here the less differences I seem to pick out. I feel accustomed to the Irish lifestyle (what that is I’m not completely sure, but I like WHATEVER it is).

Tip of the Day: Stop at Cake Cafe, enjoy afternoon tea…also, don’t be afraid to stand and dance to the Beatles with 60 year olds.


  • June 18, 2014


This morning in class we discussed what our values and morals are, and if we thought we got them from our parents. Well, of course I did. Sometimes I catch myself doing, saying, and thinking things only my dad does…whether that is good or bad is up for debate. The weather in Dublin was apparently a heat wave (a high of 74). Dubliners, please look at the weather forecast in Houston and then report back to me. Yet everyone was out in the park sunbathing (which makes me wonder do people ever go to work here). We took a sweaty walk to the botanic gardens and enjoyed the flowers (that was for you mom). We walked through Glasnevin Cemetery and I do and don’t understand why that’s popular. I mean I wouldn’t choose to walk around a cemetery back home, but WHEN IN IRELAND I suppose. Three people asked for directions on campus today. Although I played it off as calm and collective it’s actually really cool that we looked confident enough to ask. Scratch that, we definitely ARE confident of where we’re going. I think getting asked for directions is some sort of initiation into becoming localized, at least that’s what I’ll tell myself. Time is quickly dwindling here in Dublin and if I stop and think about it I’ll be said. This is more of a live in the moment, worry later part of the trip.

Tip of the Day: If the weather is nice walk to your destination and make sure to spend time outdoors.


Meredith visits London on her ICE weekend

  • June 12, 2014

Wake Up Call

Our tour of the Little Museum of Dublin was post-poned today so we had to think of something fun to do (because we shouldn’t lock ourselves up with technology). We decided to go grocery shopping instead…that’s exciting right? Maybe more essential. Back home I seem to have a weekly schedule of doing all my errands but here I kind of just do it whenever. My time here in Dublin has definitely made me more “go-with-the-flow”. I’m interested to see if the lifestyle I’ve learned here will carry over back home. We have to be at our taxi tomorrow morning at 5:55 AM in order to make our flight to London. I’m so nervous to be split from the group. More like I’m nervous to meet new people…I mean I just got used to this group (and I really like them). But if there’s anything I’ve learned while being here is that sometimes venturing out of your comfort zone is a GOOD thing. It’s funny how that works, you get so nervous about something, it happens, and you wonder why you were ever nervous in the first place.

Tip of the Day: Don’t take a nap when you know you have to wake up early because you won’t be able to sleep at night.

I went to the grocery store and took a nap…sorry


  • June 13, 2014


My sense of time is completely thrown off. Waking up at 4:56 AM seems to warp your sense of time and location. Once we got to London we had to wait in the airport, and then wait some more, and…wait a little bit longer. Waiting was all that bad, we made a new friend! His name is Niklas and he’s from Austria. He was in London for the week. He was so worried about his English, but he actually spoke really well. He also told us we were really friendly and nice for talking to him. It was a nice change to hear because I just feel like everyone else in the city just kind of glares at us…like “oh, there’s the Americans”. It made me feel better that not everyone thinks we’re loud and obnoxious, and now I have a new friend! The more people that arrived the more anxious I got about the weekend. Every group seems to have the select few extroverts that have no boundaries. A girl came up to me and asked what my favorite vegetable is (hi, nice to meet you too) and I think I forgot every vegetable. One thing they didn’t tell me about ICE weekend is that I needed to bring shoes you don’t mind spending hours in. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was beautiful, but 30 minutes in I looked around the audience and almost everyone in the group had left (their feet may not hurt, but I’ve gained more experience). It’s also funny how much closer our group has bonded since we got here. We must not all like big groups because even when we’re separated we tend to float back to each other. It’s like a sense of home.

Tip of the Day: Bring your walking shoes to London, seriously.



  • June 14, 2014

These Boots Were NOT Made For Walking

An early start was in order for the day. We met our tour guide, Nathan, in Russel Square. Oddly enough…he wasn’t actually from London (is that the intercultural part of ICE weekend?). Like Dublin, London is a walking town and my feet were not ready for that, and people in London actually walk faster than those in Dublin. I think the most intercultural part of this weekend was eating Indian food at Tayaabs. That was the first time I’d ever had that type of food. Back home I would never think to even try Indian food (if it’s not chicken fried steak why bother?). I was really worried about the food, but it turned out to be amazing! All the courses were great! I can’t wait to go back to Houston and try and find a good Indian food place to take mom. Well, since we’re in London we’re allowed to be tourists so naturally I went to Platform 9 3/4 and got my picture taken…that’s DEFINITELY intercultural (and an experience). I’m not sure what we’re supposed to learn from each other, but I do find myself appreciating Dublin even more after talking to a few students.

Tip of the Day: Don’t try and see everything in London in one day…also, visit Platform 9 3/4 at night, there’s less people.


  • June 15, 2014


Walking, walking, and more walking in London today…what’s new? I feel so touristy in London, going to Buckingham, Kensington, and St. James’s Garden. I’ve realized in Dublin I don’t feel like a tourist anymore, I feel like I belong in the city (even when I’m doing touristy things). It was really great to see London although I didn’t exactly get to experience the city. I think this trip made me love Dublin even more. As we waited to get on our plane everyone was saying they wanted to be home. Not HOME home, Dublin home and I think that’s an incredible feeling. I finally feel at home in a place that’s far from my actual home. This weekend may not have brought me closer to other people from other groups and I may not fully understand London, but I do have a greater respect for Dublin and basically everything in and about the city.

Tip of the Day: Waiting in Luton airport (or any airport)? Bring a book to read or something to do, the wait can be dull.


More from Dublin life through Meredith's eyes

  • June 8, 2014

Boys In Blue

I took a lot of medicine this morning to ward off whatever sickness I’ve come down with. It’s important to not let a head cold get in the way of my experiences here. Today was our “cultural” experience of a Gaelic football game. The Dublin crowd was so rowdy it reminded me so much of Kyle Field on game days! If you ever want to see an Irish man in his natural state I suggest you stand on the Hill at Croke Park. The game was pretty interesting and I caught on pretty fast (well, at least I think I understood the game). I feel like even though sports are different back home the concept is still the same. Sports, like music, seem to be a universal concept. Everyone comes together and forget the troubles of the week, or that fight you had 2 days ago, and everyone just cheers for the home team and enjoys the atmosphere. It was a great experience and I think I’ll consider it cultural. I don’t know if I would want to be around when Dublin loses an important match, but I’d definitely go again!

Tip of the Day: ALWAYS expect rain in Dublin (When you don’t pack your rain jacket is the day it will rain, trust me)


  • June 9, 2014

study ABROAD

I realize I haven’t been talking much about class lately. That’s partially because I like to focus on the travel aspects of this experience. It’s funny how easy it is to forget the “study” in “study abroad”. Most of the time you just think of ABROAD…but there’s definitely some work behind that abroad experience. Besides writing my essay I kind of sat back and thought about the trip so far. Time is going by so fast with only 2 weeks left, but I’m starting to really miss home. I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t really got to talk to my family, but it’s a great thing that I’ve been busy. I know that once my time in Dublin is over I’ll regret ever spending time wishing I was back home.

Tip of the Day: Just do your essay. Don’t put it off.

I worked on my essay all day…and no one wants a picture of that


  • June 10, 2014

Normal Day

As I sat down and started to think about what I did today I realized my days are getting more and more normal in respect to what I would do at home. Does that mean I’m more of a local now? I hope so! I’ve found simple pleasures of just going out, being around town, and just absorbing everything that’s going on. We have a big weekend coming up so right now I’m just kind of laying low and working on that “study” part that I mentioned earlier. Sometimes I think that class is so long, but then I realized that I’m getting full credit for this class in a short amount of time. Plus I really feel like I’m learning a lot about Ireland’s past, present, and future. The amount of information I didn’t know and still have yet to learn is incredible. There’s so much complexity to this country and I can’t help but find it all interesting.

Tip of the Day: Ask questions. Even if you think they’re silly, ask them! Take the opportunity to learn new things!

I just went shopping today…I bought a new purse.


  • June 11, 2014

Wild Adventures

After class we went to the Dublin Zoo. It was pretty WILD…mainly because we had to take 2 buses to get there. It wasn’t very crowded because most of the school groups were leaving for the day; this was a nice change from the city centre crowds I’ve grown accustomed to. I couldn’t help but compare the zoo here to the zoos I’ve been to back home. What I’ve concluded is that the US has the money or access to more animals. Apparently if you go to Dublin Zoo at 11:30 AM on weekdays you can catch all the animals being fed (or so I’ve been told). Dublin has started to remind me more and more of home which makes me miss Houston less. There’s finally a sense of belonging here. In fact, today at the bus stop a LOCAL asked US which bus she should take to get to Clery’s (the 13 will definitely get you pretty close). Even though she did call us “yanks” (which is offensive as an American AND a Texan) we still thought it was cool that we looked like we knew what we were doing! It’s crazy how fast my time is dwindling here. I need to soak up every single second! I’m sure the next few days will be full of fun because London is right around the corner…and I seriously cannot wait!

Tip of the Day: ALWAYS have your student ID because a lot of places in Dublin offer student discounts.


Meredith keeps us in the loop with her Dublin adventure

  • June 3, 2014

Moving Day

My new residency is House 10 here at DCU. I was SO excited about moving today…the hotel just wasn’t a fun experience (especially not for 8 days). After unpacking everything I finally feel like I’m living in Dublin! Even though I got to unpack I have to repack for our field trip to the West tomorrow. I was so excited when my room key said I was on the 2nd floor, but then I remembered that ground floor is actually the first floor…so 2nd is actually the 3rd floor (even more like my time in Aston Hall, ha, funny how that works out). We finally found the Omni Center to buy “real” food. I say “real” food because I’m a college student, not a chef. So our masterpiece dinner was spaghetti. It was so nice to have a family style dinner; sitting down at the table together made me feel like I was with my family…almost like a placebo pill to cure a slight case of homesickness. I think it’s crazy how the right people can make you feel like you’re at home!

Tip of the Day: Bring reusable grocery bags to Ireland because 1) it’s easier to carry and  2)they charge you for plastic bags.

Today was busy and I forgot to take pictures


  • June 4, 2014

How Are Things On The West Coast?

Today I woke up at 4:30 AM and could NOT go back to sleep. Maybe I was just took excited to be in my apartment (or maybe it’s because I ate that chocolate before bed). No matter my amount of sleep we boarded the bus at 9 AM and headed West! Our first stop was at Strokestown House. I really didn’t know anything about the famine in Ireland and I especially didn’t know how the rich lived during that time. The house was incredible and I can’t believe it’s in such good condition. I found myself wondering about everything that had happened in the rooms, the conversations people had, and the fun stuff that went on. Our second stop was at Hennigan’s Heritage where we met Tom, a 6th generation family member that lived in a 1 room house. That house made my dorm room look like a mansion. From what I can see the West is MUCH different than Dublin. Life seems to be much quieter, slower, and more local (everyone seems to know everyone kind of thing).

Tip of the Day: Make sure you learn about the famine in Ireland; it’s not advertised but it’s extremely important to Irish history


  • June 5, 2014

More West Coast

Croagh Patrick can be seen from the entire drive in Westport, but being up close was incredible. We were told that people climb the mountain in their bare feet. I think I made it a meter before I had to turn around and put my shoes. Basically, I don’t think I could have made that my religious experience especially when every other step I  took came with a muttered “Oh My God”. Our trip to Achil Island. This was another experience in Ireland that made me fall in love with Ireland even more. It was much more quiet and peaceful than Dublin. The views were what you picture when you think of Ireland: GREEN (and sheep) EVERYWHERE! It was absolutely beautiful. I wondered how I came to Ireland last summer and never made it to the West coast. The sea and the sense of isolation had somewhat of a calming aspect. It was the perfect opportunity of realization of what I was doing with my life at this moment in time.

Tip of the Day: Step away from the city every now and then. Ireland has so many hidden gems.


  • June 6, 2014


Our trip out of Westport was a little delayed when we learned that someone had thrown a rock through our window. It was a realization that bad things happen even in seemingly perfect places. I was interested in the way the situation went. Noel and Ray never quite seemed to be stressed about it. I could only picture my mom freaking out on the other end when I told her. I’ve learned to really enjoy the laid back lifestyle of the people in Ireland; most people seem to go with the flow, what happens, happens. Everyone back home is so GO-GO-GO, so Ireland is a nice change (I almost hope that quality rubs off on me here). On the bus ride home we learned so much about Ireland’s history…we passed a significant battlefield that wasn’t even marked. There seems to be a lot of history that people simply don’t want to remember here.

Tip of the Day: Time seems to go by quicker here. Enjoy every second of it.

I had a picture of the bus window, but I accidentally deleted it


  • June 7, 2014

Local Coastal

Sleeping in is always good, especially when you don’t get to do it often. A quick trip on the DART put me in Howth today. The coast was so beautiful and a the weather was equally beautiful. One thing I did notice about Howth is that there was absolutely NO signage for anything…and if there was it wasn’t exactly accurate. I complained and complained but then I learned that it’s a local area and they don’t exactly want tourists flocking to the area. Then of course I understood why I saw so many families playing in the park. Just like I learned earlier in the trip, the locals really do make everything better. I guess it was just a sense of community that I enjoy…it gave the city more of a “home-y” feel. Unfortunately I had a huge headache and sore throat today. There are few things worse than being sick and being away from mom who can magically make sickness go away in a matter of hours. I’ll look at this as a challenge to being an adult (after I Skype my mom and ask her what’s the best medicine to take).

Tip of the Day: The best fish and chips are in Howth…so fresh it was probably swimming earlier that morning.


Keeping up with Meredith on her second week in Dublin

  • May 30, 2014

Typical Tourist

The number one question upon arriving home from Dublin is: “Did you go to Guinness?” Okay, maybe it’s not…but it’s definitely a top question. So, yes, today I went to Guinness (am I certified Irish yet?). I also think when describing the Irish, Guinness is used.Now I’m not sure if every Irish person actually likes Guinness or if they were just born learning they should like it. It’s kind of like A&M for me, I grew up knowing that anything and everything A&M was deemed EXCELLENT…but I really shouldn’t compare beer to education (sorry mom). We met a man at the bus stop and he encompassed everything you picture an Irish man to be; he also gave us some pretty solid advice about the city. I’ve also noticed that anything food related is EXPENSIVE in Dublin. I had read that it was more expensive to eat out in Dublin, but it didn’t sink in until I had to start buying meals daily. But food is essential, and what better place to get Irish stew than in Ireland? I’ve learned the bus system (for the most part) but I can’t seem to learn how to properly walk on the bus when trying to leave…see tip of the day.

Tip of the Day: ALWAYS hold onto the railings on the bus (sorry to everyone I smacked with my back pack).


  • May 31, 2014

Dublin Skylines

I knew I loved Dublin from the moment I got to town LAST YEAR (that’s why I came back). Today solidified my feelings for the city entirely. I took the skyline tour at Croke Park and the view was breath taking, especially since the weather was beautiful. Sometimes the busy city life with thousands of people is overwhelming but the view today was quiet and I could see every bit of the city. For an hour it was as if the busy life beneath the stadium didn’t exist. It was also a good time to sit back and reflect on the time I’ve spent in Dublin so far. Of course everything about this experience involves learning so we did learn a good bit from our tour guide (mainly the best places to eat in City Centre). Dublin is also known for some good live music…including the Oasis tribute band, and even though they didn’t play Wonderwall I think the locals are what made it a fun night. That seems to be the trick to fun activities in Dublin; everything is bland until you get the locals involved.

Tip of the Day: Look at the city from different perspectives–whether it be from heights or a local perspective.


  • June 1, 2014

Music and Museums

Today was another good day in Dublin (of course, what’s new)! I ended up at the archaeology museum and wandered through the exhibits. I really appreciate Dublin’s museum system 1) Because it’s free and 2) There’s SO much history in Ireland. I’ll be sorely disappointed next time I go to the museums in Houston. All of our walking led us to a new restaurant called KC Peaches. That’s one thing I really like about Dublin: just keep walking and eventually you’ll find something good. Another thing I like about Dublin is how much live music there is…mainly the street performers. I stood and listened to a band called Compass for 15 minutes. Everyone in the crowd just seemed to be having a good time listening to music. I think music is something that is universal, it’s just an all around good feeling listening to music and even better listening to it in Dublin singing songs with the locals. I also seemed to gain a sense of bravery here because I went up to the bass player and asked for a picture. Hey, I bought your CD the least you could do is take a picture with me.

Tip of the Day: Step out of your comfort zone, even if it’s a small step…maybe listen to music you usually wouldn’t


  • June 2, 2014

Low Key Laundry

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not okay to sleep in until 11:30 sometimes (I can’t even remember the last time I slept that late). There was no class today because it’s a Bank Holiday here in Ireland. I’m not 100% sure what that means but from what I understand they just wanted a day off, which is okay with me. I wish we got these Bank Holidays back home…I still complain about not getting Columbus Day off. There’s no such thing as a lazy day in Dublin so today we walked nearly 4 miles in total to do laundry. I want to say there’s a lesson out of this, but there’s really not. Although I do appreciate Aston Hall now…thanks for not making me pay to do laundry, and thanks for being right down the hall. We also made the decision to get even more involved in the local “culture” and go to a Gaelic football game next weekend. That’s cultural right? Tomorrow is moving day so GOODBYE REGENCY, hello new chapter of my Dublin life!

Tip of the Day: Try sparkling pink lemonade, it’s delicious (sorry this isn’t inspirational, but really try the lemonade)

I also don’t have a picture because all I did was laundry;)



First thoughts of Dublin by Meredith

  • May 27, 2014

Get Your Bearings!

Dublin is a walking city, which is TOTALLY different than Houston. There’s NO way I’d ever walk around Houston (nor would I take the public transportation, but that’s a different story). Today, we finally found our new “home” at DCU. The campus is so small, and the students are still in session…it makes me appreciate A&M even more! A walking tour of the city was on our to-do list for the day. Some things I learned from the tour is that signage is nearly non-existent and the Irish walk extremely fast…or maybe I just walk really slow. A few of us went to Trinity to see the Book of Kells and the Library. I always forget how much more history Ireland encompasses. There’s so much deeper and richer history here, you just have to look for it. Class begins tomorrow so I have mixed feelings; on one hand there’s class tomorrow (and it’s summer) but on the other hand I’m in Ireland (which still hasn’t sunk in).

Tip of the Day: When there is sun in Ireland GO OUTSIDE and soak it up…maybe even at St. Stephen’s Green



  • May 28, 2014

First Day of School

Usually the first day of class is “syllabus day” but not here. We went right in to learning…back home I would hate THOSE types of professors but here it was GREAT. I learned that Irish kids in school have to have healthy meals and can’t actually play basketball at school because if they get hurt the parents make it a legal matter (see mom, buying Lunchables wasn’t so bad growing up now was it). I’ve always been a planner so of course I felt the need to plan our week out. Our group has already divided which is natural and probably for the best. I don’t feel a need to fit in with EVERYONE, because I know it’s not possible to mesh with the entire group…and that’s OKAY. We’ve been instructed not to lock ourselves away and stay on our phones so we’ve got a lot of things on our “Dublin-To-Do” list including a GAA game, Guinness, and the Zoo…we’re technically not tourists since we’re living here, but we’re allowed to do touristy things (basically going to Guinness is touristy, but drinking a Guinness is not). Also, I talked to my mom for the first time since I’ve been here…technology is simply amazing these days! Some how talking to mom always makes me feel at ease, even if she’s thousands of miles away.

Tip of the Day: Feeling homesick? Skype with mom makes everything better.


  • May 29, 2014

Vikings and Normans

It’s a typical day for Dublin weather: cold and rainy. It’s best that I not look at the Houston forecast of above 90 degrees. Of all the things I miss about home, weather is definitely top 5 (right behind my family, my dog, and sweet tea). Today we walked the west side of Dublin where I learned about the Vikings and Normans…and also that the west side hosts a little bit “different” people. But hey, every city has those areas so even more like home. Do you ever have those days where you just don’t feel like dealing with people? Well that’s kind of how I felt today. Sometimes I just want to learn and keep to myself, but I have to keep telling myself that’s OKAY. Dublin’s got so much going on it’s natural (and easy) to just sit back and admire everything.

Tip of the Day: You won’t always feel 100%, but make sure you don’t completely isolate yourself.


First Day in Ireland by Meredith


May 25-26, 2014

WELCOME to Ireland!! (or FAILTE as it’s said here)


After flying for over 14 hours it’s almost surreal to arrive in Dublin. What a better welcome than a rain shower? But of course, it’s IRELAND, what can you expect? Despite being overcome with a bad case of jet lag a few members of our group decided to brave the “storm” and head to Dublin’s City Centre. You can tell we were all extremely tired because we decided to eat at the Hard Rock…not sure if it should be noted as a bad decision or a learning experience. Nonetheless are stomach’s were full and we learned a bus route! Not too shabby for newbies to Dublin if you ask me! I felt much more at ease meeting all the people I’ve been anxiously waiting to meet and I can’t wait to see how this experience will go!



Images of the Dublin summer school (part I)

by Laine Baizer, Jeff Kneppler and Angelica Nevins.

A selection of images from our summer school

Classes in the morning with Don
Afternoon site visit with Martin









The Olympic Torch in Dublin
Students Signpost
Finding our way around Ireland


West of Ireland - Cliffs of Moher
Student photo 4
Western Shores - next stop America (Newfoundland?)










Sheep tracking on Achill Island
Tractors and Trailers in Mayo









The wilds of Connemara
Martin Famine Village
Discussing the Deserted Village - Achill Island










On the Holy Mount of St. Patrick (Croagh Patrick) overlooking Clew Bay



goodbye Ireland...for now!!!

By Kim Burke

I am currently sitting in the Boston airport, trying to make the most of my really long lay over while Dublin hapenny bridge I wait for my flight to Denver. Bad news, I am no longer in Ireland and my heart is a little bit broken. Good news, I am finally enjoying a real, ‘Merican Blue Moon beer, ah I’ve missed it. The last few days in Dublin have been really great. We have basically been free to do whatever since we returned from Belfast. On Tuesday night we did our farewell dinner with the whole group. While it was really fun getting to hang out with everyone one last time, it was also kind of sad. Don and Martin gave us some inspiring last words of wisdom and advice about readjusting to being home. We had a lot of “lasts” the past few days. We’ve gone to our favorite places for the last time and went and said bye to some of our Irish friends. We did a lot in the last few days and I would say we went out with a bang. Leaving Ireland is extremely bittersweet. I was absolutely heartbroken leaving campus this morning for the airport, but at the same time, especially now that I am actually back in America, I am excited to see my friends and family back home. For my last post I have decided to compile a list of advice for prospective students. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Tips for coming to Ireland.

-Make one, I repeat only ONE trip to Penneys. Yes, the cute clothes and cheap prices are tempting but a lot of small purchases add up to a big hole in your pocket and your Penneys clothes will break anyway.

-When you need change don’t ask the bartenders to “break it,” they take it literally and will rip your 20 euro in half. On second thought, ask them anyways because it’s pretty hilarious.

-Don’t travel anywhere in large groups of Americans, you will never get to actually meet or talk to Irish people if you do.

-Only eat at the fastfood restaurant, Supermac’s, late at night. Trust me, it will not taste as good during the day.

-Upon arriving try and get comfortable as quickly as you can. You don’t want to waste anytime being homesick because time flies when you’re abroad.

-When Martin gives you an estimate about how far it will take you to walk somewhere, add 20 minutes onto it because he is walks abnormally fast.

-If you get on the bus around 11:30 pm and they take a long time to move, don’t panic, get excited instead; you are about to experience the late night Dublin bus races. All the bus drivers start their last round of stops at the same time and see who wins, be sure to cheer your driver on, he will appreciate it.

-After you’ve discovered your favorite pub or coffee shop try and become a regular there, it will make you feel more local and it’s a great way to make Irish friends.

- Smithwick’s beer is pronounced “Smith-icks.” You may as well learn that now.

-As Martin and Don will tell you again and again, don’t stress. Something is bound to go wrong or happen unexpectedly on your trip, just go with it. Some of my best memories are when we made a mistake or ended up somewhere we didn’t want to be and we had an adventure and a good laugh out of it.

-The Irish have no sense of personal space whatsoever, and they have no shame in showing pda… just prepare yourself now and learn to accept it.

-Most importantly, be open to new experiences. Get out of your comfort zone and take it all in. You will come back changed for the better.

-Order a Baby Guinness for me, request Galway Girl at every pub and end every night at Flannery’s.

-If you are reading this blog and are on the fence about whether or not you should study abroad with CIEE Dublin… DO IT. I debated for a long time if I actually had the courage to go abroad and I am so glad I did. I would recommend this program to anyone. When else in your life can you frolick around a foreign country carefree? Studying abroad, much like college in general, gives you all the freedom of being an adult with none of the responsibility. Enjoy it.

All in all, this trip has been absolutely incredible. I have spent months and months preparing for this trip and I have spent years dreaming about going to Ireland, I can’t believe it’s over. This program was everything I hoped for and more. I can say with absolute certainty that deciding to come to Ireland for CIEE summer school is the best decision I’ve made in college. The two months I have spent in Ireland are two of the best months of my life. I have made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I want to give a big thanks to CIEE for giving me this incredible opportunity. I would especially like to thank Don and Martin, they both made this trip the best it could possibly be. And all I can really say now is that I left part of my heart in Ireland and I intend to come back in the near future and get it.