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July 10, 2015

Galway Week 1

June 28 - July 5

Its been more than a week now that I have been in beautiful Galway. I cannot believe it! This town is so beautiful and unique. I am extremely lucky that I get to explore it for four more weeks :)

Last Sunday we packed our bags and left Dublin at around 10 in the morning.  We loaded all 39 of us into a big bus and headed westward towards our destination.  Along the way we stopped at Bunratty Castle, which was a bit of a tourist destination but fun all the same. They had petting zoos, a little town with shops and restaurants, and of course the castle to explore.

After Bunratty, we traveled onwards to the west coast of Ireland.  After about an hours drive we finally arrived at the one place I'd always wanted to visit: the Cliffs of Moher.  This is one of the most beautiful, picturesque places in the world, and I am so incredibly lucky to have gotten to visit it. Somehow we ended up going on a rare sunny day also, which made the experience all the better.

At the end of the day we ended up in Galway, heading directly to the place we are staying. Its essentially on campus housing, as we are studying on the National University of Ireland, Galway's campus.  We spent some time unpacking, then did a quick little walking tour through the town.

This past week we started classes, which are definitely harder than I imagined they would be. Im taking an Art History and an Irish History class, both of which are not that simply. I'm not very interested in history to begin with, which makes these classes a little harder.  I'm hoping going into this week, though, that once I get into the hang of it they won't seem as daunting.

When we weren't in class or working on homework this past week, we were probably downtown. Its about a twenty minute walk into town from where we are staying, but there is shuttle that runs from our housing to the city center for part of the day. The first day in Galway we went downtown and got some delicious breakfast at a cafe, then went shopping for some groceries.  The next day we went back into town and explored a little more.

There is a main street in Galway that is called Shop street. You can walk down it and find all sorts of restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and more.  There are side streets branching off of this that are cool and a little less traveled then the main street. If you walk all the way down to the end of the street you hit the River Corrib, which flows in the Atlantic ocean.  Down by the river is the famous Spanish Arch, which was constructed in 1584 and stands today in perfect condition.

A few nights this past week we went into town to find pubs to relax in.  There is one that we've been to a few time called Taffes (pronounced "toffs"), which has great music.  A lot of the people in Galway are very nice and friendly, and we've met some pretty cool people.  We've gone downtown for dinner a few times as well, which is expensive but a great experience.

One of my favorite days was this past Saturday.  Erin and I went downtown and got breakfast at a bakery.  She had pancakes (which were actually crepes), I had a chocolate croissant, and we both got americanos. After breakfast we visited a cute little market that wraps around an old church in the city center.  There were stands with jewelry, delicious food, fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and fish.  We strolled through there for awhile, then went down to the water and sat for awhile soaking in the sun.

Later on, we decided to have a barbecue in celebration of the Fourth of July.  We found a barbecue in our housing complex, and after about an hour of struggling with the coals we finally got to cooking. We listened to some music, hung out for awhile, and celebrated with each other.

It is such a cool and different experience to be able to 'live' somewhere abroad. While we aren't actually staying here for that long, five weeks is a lot longer than most people get to stay somewhere.  The adjustment from the craziness of Dublin to the relaxed nature of Galway and our lives here has been a little hard, but I have found that I am adjusting well.  It was hard at first figuring out how to balance the responsibility of school work with the desire to take advantage of the beautiful city I am in, but I think I am slowly getting there.
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