During the application process for Queen’s University Belfast, travel outside of the city was the furthest thing from my mind. I made the crucial mistake of assuming chances for trips would magically appear on a plate and all I had to do was take it.
I learned from my errors, and though I didn’t take the weekend escapades I eventually hoped for, I made up for it during my spring break and plan to in the weeks I have left of my semester abroad before I return to the United States.
Thus far, I’ve made it to wonderful places such as Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland; Rome, Italy; and Bergen, Norway. However, not all trips go as planned. I was supposed to spend the first part of my break in Edinburgh, Scotland with my boyfriend.
We made the mistake of booking with a cheap and somewhat unreliable airline, and our late-night flight was canceled. Since we only had a few days booked we had to scrap the trip altogether and learned our lesson with budget airlines and evening flights.
Another issue I’ve run into is accommodation. Even with hours of research, you don’t always know for sure what kind of place you’re walking into — sometimes it’s a run-down “refurbished” house in the middle of rural Ireland, sometimes it’s an apartment with panoramic views of Cinque Terre, Italy. As long as you don’t run into bedbugs, you just have to grin and bear it if you didn’t pay extra for a refundable booking.
I hope I don’t come across as ungrateful for someone who’s traveled more of Europe than I ever dreamed of. This is not my intention. The rest of the internet is chock-full of picture-perfect travel, and in an attempt at honest journalism, I decided not to sugarcoat this article.
That being said, I’ve seen many mountains, hiked along raging seasides at the top of stunning cliffs and experienced so much history during my time abroad. After finals, I will continue my adventures around Ireland, the UK and beyond. This time, however, I will be traveling on my own. With the exception of a weekend trip to Dublin, this will be a first for me.
I can only hope that my final five weeks are equal to the rest in unique experiences before I come home. I’ve learned so much about myself during my semester at Queen’s and had an amazing time, but I’m excited to return to life at MSU in the fall and see where the next chapter of my life will take me.
Header photo: I’ve had the opportunity to visit many beautiful places in Ireland and beyond, including the Cliffs of Moher. (Courtesy Alexandra Tostrud)
Write to Alexandra Tostrud at firstname.lastname@example.org