A Calm Week In Cork

I hope everyone is having a good week, and isn’t too swamped by studying and exams! This week has been a pause in all the craziness for once, and I’m soaking in my last week in Cork. Here are a few reflections from the past week:

UCC Christmas Decorations

On the main campus of UCC there is one main quadrangle, which I have appropriately come to call “the pretty building”. It is my favorite place on campus and is frequently decorated with different colored lights for special occasions. The building is decorated with greens, reds, and blues for Christmas, paired with a beautiful Christmas tree right out front. This provides the perfect ambiance when leaving the library after a late study session.

Cork Grand Parade

In Cork City, they have a ton of pretty decorations up, paired with a whole Ferris wheel! I have yet to try it yet, but it’s definitely on my Cork bucket list. The Ferris wheel seems to be special for the holidays, having been put up in late November. When I walk by I’ve heard kids singing Christmas songs on the Ferris wheel and having the time of their lives, as well as other people getting together and celebrating the holiday season.

HC Family Dinner at Cafe Mexicana
Shrimp Tacos at Cafe Mexicana (amazing by the way)

Last night the group of kids from Holy Cross in Cork all got together for one last dinner together before we all say our goodbyes and head home in the next few days. This was a wonderful time to get to see everyone again in one place, reflect on our semester abroad, and eat amazing food. The restaurant was recommended by our HC coordinator Aoife, who was incredibly helpful the whole semester organizing events for us to experience more local Cork culture. The food at Cafe Mexicana was amazing, the staff was incredibly kind, and I would highly recommend this place, especially as Mexican food is hard to come by in Ireland!

A Travel Filled Week!

Hello everybody! I hope you all had an amazing week, I know I did!

At the end of last week to kick off the beginning of December, I had to complete a class test for my Viking World in Ireland class. Considering there are not a lot of examinations for the classes, there was a lot of material to study and prepare for the test, but it’s not too bad considering the course materials you have to choose from are incredibly interesting.

After the test was done I got to have the ultimate “work hard play hard moment” filling my week with travel and adventures to finish off my study abroad experience and having so many cultures and countries within arm’s reach.

A friend and I traveled to France, where we spent two days touring the Christmas markets of beautiful Strasbourg and striding along the Champs Elysees in Paris. I had never been to France before, and taking a break from seeing all these amazing sites at a cute little cafe with a hot chocolate was the perfect way to release stress from my test, and prepare for the exam season ahead of me.

Christmas Markets outside the Cathedral Notre Dame in Strasbourg
Strasbourg Christmas Tree
Me and my friend Lauren outside the Eiffel Tower
The Louvre
The Arc De Triomphe

Directly after this trip, I spent two days by myself in Copenhagen, Denmark, exploring all the beautiful castles and palaces. I even took the train to Malmo, Sweden, which is only a short 40-minute ride away. If you choose to study abroad, I would highly encourage you to take some time to go on trips by yourself if you are able, because I’ve found I learn a lot about myself and do a lot of introspection, as well as discover my strengths and weaknesses in a completely foreign scenario.

Me and the Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen (a core memory for me!)
Danish Hotdogs (my strongest recommendation ever)
Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen

Now, back in my abroad city of Cork, I am finishing up some final assignments and preparing for my exams in the coming week. After taking a few days to relax and explore new places, I feel ready to lock back into my studies and finish the semester strong!

Thanksgiving Travels & Holiday Season Begins

This past week was filled with so much love and things to be grateful for! For Thanksgiving, I traveled to London for a few days to meet up with another Holy Cross friend studying abroad at Oxford! It was so wonderful spending a holiday of thankfulness with one of my closest friends and sharing her study abroad experience. London was finally lit up and glistening with holiday lights and Christmas markets, which I made sure to stroll through and get a dose of holiday cheer. The holidays are my absolute favorite time of year, and nothing compares to how Europe celebrates!

Christmas Market in Trafalgar Square
Christmas Decor at Fortnum and Mason
Touring the Oxford campus
Christmas Angels over Regent Street
Trafalgar Square at night

Upon returning home to Cork, I traveled to Marina Market, an unmatched spot in Cork, to find delicious food and numerous stalls filled with trinkets and clothes for sale that are always so fun to peruse. For the season, the market features an ice skating rink and a makeshift Christmas market! My friend and I spent our Sunday laughing and gliding on the ice (I’m making myself sound much more graceful than I actually was) and getting decadent food, including an absolutely heavenly dessert from Dinky Donuts!

Ice Skating at Marina Market
Chocolate & Oreo (right) and Chocolate & Biscoff (left) Donuts from Dinky Donuts

This coming week will most likely consist of studying for an upcoming test, with this being the last week of classes for the semester, but with a very exciting trip planned for the coming weekend. With only so many more weekends left until I head back home, I try to pack all of them with traveling and new experiences!

Until next time, please enjoy the gorgeous sunset over Cork this Sunday afternoon!

Sunset over Cork and St. Finbarr’s Cathedral

Hello Everyone!

Hello everybody!
My name is Afton Fay, and I’m a current junior studying for the autumn semester at UCC (University College Cork) in Cork, Ireland! I’m elated to share my Irish adventures and experiences with y’all!
My past week has been an absolute whirlwind, traveling around Ireland with my family who visited for a week! We came together in Dublin, stayed there for a weekend, and took the time to check out the social scene, go to the famous Guinness storehouse, and even catch a rugby game at Trinity College!

My family and I visiting the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

From there, I brought my family back to my home city – Cork! I had a blast taking them to all my favorite places around the city and showing them the school. The main campus has gorgeous buildings and is very different from what we are used to at Holy Cross, being very spread out and intermingling with the city. Oliver Plunkett Street, arguably one of the main cultural sites in Cork, has wonderous Christmas lights all the way down the street as Cork prepares for the holiday season early (not that I have any complaints). We stopped at some of my most noteworthy restaurants and pubs in my bustling little city, including Tom Barrys, Dwyers of Cork, Wabi Sabi, The Washington Inn, and Costigans. We even managed to catch a game of Gaelic Football!

Busker Ricky Kelleher playing live music at Costigan's Pub
Busker Ricky Kelleher playing live music at Costigan’s Pub
Tom Barry's Pub
Tom Barry’s Pub and Pizza
Gaelic Football at Pairc Ui Rinn
Gaelic Football at Pairc Ui Rinn
Holiday lights over Oliver Plunkett Street

On days when I have one class, I love to travel around our wonderous emerald island! My parents and I took a day trip over to the Dingle Peninsula, housing one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen in my life! With beautiful cliffs, hills, and mountains with old stone fences to keep in the grazing sheep, this peninsula is the postcard picture of the Irish countryside. As the Irish equivalent of Cape Cod, Dingle is home to Irish summer vacationers. In the off-season, it is incredibly serene and quiet. But if you keep an eye out, you may be able to spot some hidden gems, such as getting to hold a baby lamb right next to a stunning cliffside.

Dingle Cliffs and Sheep!
Dingle Cliffs and Sheep!
Rainbow over Dingle countryside
Rainbow over Dingle countryside
Baby Sheep!
Me and a baby sheep in Dingle!

After hearing so much about them, I took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher. While it is a bit of a hike up to Doolin from Cork, it is well worth it, and I totally understand the hype. Even with the Irish weather doing what it does and being incredibly windy and misty, the experience was jaw-dropping, and I suggest any Irish traveler go and share in the experience.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Until next time!