How is it already two weeks into my second semester at Trinity?! Time is flying by way faster than I would like it to and a lot has happened since my last post! I think it would be best to pick up at my trip to Amsterdam. The Saturday after my first semester classes ended a friend and I took a flight from Dublin to Amsterdam to meet up with my roommate, Lydie, as well as her friends from home. Here we had a blast, like any reasonable twenty-year-old would. For me, the highlight of the trip was spending a sunny day weaving in and out of the side streets and small parks, that are dotted across the city, on our rental bikes. Thanks to a foodie in the group who was determined to try as much traditional Dutch food as possible, we were able to indulge in ‘chips in a cone,’ olliebollen, poffertjes, and more delicious bites to eat. With adequate fuel, we wandered around a few colorful markets and checked out a variety of thoughtfully constructed museums. Two particular museums that I enjoyed, due to their intense content that forces visitors to unwittingly leave their superfluous thoughts and anxieties behind, were the Anne Frank Museum and the Museum of Prostitution in the Red Light District.
After an eventful weekend jammed into a hostel that required us to go up four flights of narrow stairwells to reach our beds, I was a bit relieved to be flying to Lydie’s home in the English countryside, where I was warmly housed and given a whole room to myself! Pulling into their driveway I was nervous to be a guest for the next three weeks, but the charm of their cozy cottage and immediate hugs upon entering the front door reassured my decision to stay in Europe over winter break. Here I was able to decompress the proper English way (with lots of tea, mince pies, home-cooked meals, reading next to the fire, and cuddles with two adorable cats) after a jam packed semester of adjusting to Trinity and traveling. The least lackadaisical I could get myself to be on this stay was going on long hikes with the family, helping Lydie out with horse-related things at the barn, and occasionally hitting the tiny town of Hereford for a good night of dancing. After these three weeks, I felt like just another family member which made my goodbye bittersweet. Fortunately, I know I will visit again, so it wasn’t too bitter.
To get to my next destination, I took an afternoon flight from Birmingham to Paris. Upon landing I was fortunate enough to be collected by two friends from Paris, that I met this past semester. Due to these guys being the absolute gentlemen that they are, they refused to let me carry my own bag while we walked around the city all night. This personal tour may not have been very factual, but the constant laughter between us more than made up for it. The next morning, we boarded a train that took us to Geneva, where we sun bathed in a park while waiting for the BlahBlahCar to arrive. When the car arrived, captained by an ex-GIGN member (the French version of the US SWAT team), we loaded are stuff into the trunk and I managed to secure a window seat. Since there was no way I could keep up with the French conversation bouncing around the car on our journey to Sierre Chavalier, a small ski town in the French alps, I mostly just read my book and stared out the window at the epic, icy blue mountains that sharply jutted out of the ground. Once we arrived to the ski village, I quickly settled into a routine of skiing in the morning and early afternoon, then heading to the town’s only pub to use their Wi-Fi for schoolwork. Although my friends were not convinced that I was simply working each time I went to the pub, I truly did just sip on my tea while typing away. When I needed a distraction from my work, I would chat with the amiable owner or people watch. The flow of the pub was consistent, in the late afternoon locals would stop by to say hello with their substantial and slightly scruffy dogs in tow. As more time passed the crowd would slowly fade into one or two clusters of jolly English-speaking tourists there to enjoy a pint after a long day of skiing.
Fast forward to now, which only took a couple more bus, train, and plane rides, where I have begun my second semester at Trinity College! I am excited to see what this semester will bring and I am so grateful for the friends I have here that make Dublin feel like home.