Galway Girl, Michael’s Version

I just made a personal video of “Galway Girl” that reflects my 128 days abroad in Ireland! Check it out if you have a moment!

It stars some pretty famous lads such as:

– The Birdman, David P. Craig
– Eric, the bus driver
– Jerome Sheehan, Professor of Statistics
– My Irish house mates, Bryan and Shane
– My host family in Connamara
– A stag party in Cork
– THE BLACK SWAN
– Aran Island Goats

(Try to spot the poor girl who falls down…)

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Finally Home, Not Germany!

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I’m finally home…NOT GERMANY LOL! After 2, 6 hour flights, the longest day of my life (30-hour day on the 11th), seeing so many great people I haven’t seen in a while, and sleeping at 9pm last night (as a dad should), I can say I am some what back to it!

I feel like I’m in a dream. I remember while in Ireland, I would have flashbacks of surprising my friends at home, especially my role model Kees. It is so weird to be home! It is almost harder coming back home than it is to have gone to Ireland in the first place.

The question “How was Ireland?” is so difficult to answer. Not that it is a bad question, but it is hard to respond honestly. There aren’t words that describe the happiness, experiences, and people gained over the past 128 days.

Overall, abroad has led me to the most important, special people I’ve ever met. The special people that have entered my life while in Ireland truly find the best in me and continually leave me speechless. It hurts to be thousands of miles away. One thing I learned about separated from my friends here at Willamette is that when I reunite with my new friends, it will make our time even more special in the future. I appreciate the friendships I have at home way more than before I left. I can’t explain it!

Another aspect I learned was how important it is to truly find the things that make your spirit free. I realized that I was SO focused on making sure things work out perfectly and a certain way. I now have learned that it is ok to let myself free. One of the mottos I learned at the end of my experience is “YOIIO: You’re Only In Ireland Once.” This ‘why not attitude’ is my new norm that I’m excited to weave into my everyday life to take risks that will continue to make small changes within my world.

Overall, words will never describe how my experience in Ireland meant to me and even how it changed me. I’m still reflecting and will be for a while about how this unique, special experience has changed me for the better.

Thank you to the people who have followed this blog religiously. Even if you read just one of my posts, I am SO appreciative. This photo challenge was more than I could ever imagine. I’m so excited to share this project to the world in the future, but also, excited to share with it to the special people that come into my life in the future (perfect date discussion).

Ireland was great! I will be back in 3 years for 2020 as Galway will be celebrating their title as European Capitol of Culture.

I miss my friends dearly, but I will see them all so soon! For now, I have one more year at Willamette and then, who knows where life will take me after! This concludes the photo challenge and so weird that it is over. Excited to do something similar like this in the future.

Day 128 (5/10/17)

128 (5-10-17)

Day 128 (5/10/17): My Final Day in Galway. This is weird stuff. I’m leaving the most valuable experience I’ve had behind tomorrow afternoon. I will still have great fun on my mini Euro trip, but will not be coming back home (Ireland)!

I obviously had to say some of the hardest goodbyes to the amazing people I’ve met hereSarah, Aoife, and Caoimhe. They are giving a thumbs up that they no longer have to deal with my craziness (joke, obviously). I also had to say bye to my NY homies Brenna, Daria, and Emily!

Additionally, I had to say bye to Bryan, Caden and Shane! My housemates in Apt. #78 have been nothing but amazing. The hours of conversations we have at the table will something I will always cherish. So, thanks for treating a crazy american well!

I also had to say bye to people I may or may not see again in my life that have made an impact on me. To be frank, that has not sat in yet in my gut. Here are a few of the final conversations I had today:

-Owners of the My Shop Granny Likes It, Rona
Michael Lydon, PhD student that was in charge of my program
-Barber (Antonyo Novac Rudy)
-My new friend Jay Mes O Driscoll
Keith Purcell from Kingfisher
-Christina and Shelby Byrne from the Bhillian
Mary Moloney, Sarah’s mom!
-International freinds I’ve made through clubs and activities
-Jerome and Kieran O’Conor, my stats and castle professors
-JB Terrins, director of communication outreach for international students (interested in spreading my blog to future students)
-All the lads that have stopped me and have expressed their interest in my life and my blog (you know who you are)

The impact of this photo challenge has exceeded what I’ve ever could imagine. The fact that everyone in this community within Galway takes the time to read what I have to say is powerful; I plan to continue to do similar work like this in the future.

No words will describe how I feel, other than I just need to keep trecking on. I guess the lost feeling I have is good because otherwise, I didn’t do study abroad right.

As I leave Galway in the afternoon and take a short flight to Berlin, I will look down from the plane and see the same thing I saw when landing in Ireland, except a whole wind of emotions and memories will be associated to this takeoff I will be experiencing tomorrow.

Thank you to this incredible community. The positive energy that I’ve experienced empowers me to continue to spread positivity back home. If you are reading this and our paths ever cross again, I want you to know I would be MORE than delighted to show you around my life on the west coast of the United States of America!

Slán go fóill!!! (See you later)

— with Caoimhe Culhane, Sarah Moloney and Aoife Power at Gort na Coiribe Student Village

Day 127 (5/9/17)

127 (5-9-17)

Day 127 (5/9/17): And just like that, I finished the “studying” in Study Abroad!! I was freaking out my entire stats test because there were so many formulas, so many different cases, so many different applications of stats that I was confused. I was placed in a room of 50 students (some exam halls have 850 exams going at once). I had a bunch of things memorized and so I started jotting them down in my booklet. They got mad at me, took it away, and gave me a new one. The test system is SO different; no chill at all! Still a good experience. I just placed the period of my last sentence as the test proctor said “time!”

I celebrated with Papa Rich Street Food Kitchen, which is my favorite restaurant in Galway. 10€ for every Thai dish on the menu and it is AWESOME. It is popular that you need to reserve in advance. Every time I’m in there, I reserve a table for the next week because I love it so much! I was able to share this meal with Emily and Brenna!

I then went out with Alyssa, Sarah, and Aoife (poor Caoimhe was studying for an exam) to my final Tuesday Silent disco at the Roisin Dubh!

Twas a great day, but the end is coming too fast!

— at NUI Galway

Day 126 (5/8/17)

126 (5-8-17)

Day 126 (5/8/17): I broke my streak today from “going out every single night till I leave Ireland”…I stayed in tonight to relax because I have a statistics exam tomorrow!

It has been hard to find the motivation to study. Not because I am abroad and that the standards are “looser,” but how I have learned more by immersing myself outside of the classroom. I have learned some amazing things in class, but those items are so minuscule to what I’ve learned about myself, people, culture, Ireland, and the world.

Every night, I come back to my wonderful bed in Gort na Coiribe Student Village. I have my own Saint, friends and family above my head every night! It is so nice to come back after long, crazy days out and have a slice of home.

I’m ecstatic to come home, but torn at the same time. I’m feeling emotions that are very similar to the ones I had before I came to Ireland: happy, excited, confused, scared, anxious, lost, and sad. I can’t explain it. I will be home soon, but I need to take my last final, say bye to an entire city, friends, Guinness, visit Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, then back home.

Going to miss this little “shite” room!

— at Gort na Coiribe Student Village

Day 125 (5/7/17)

125 (5-7-17)

Day 125 (5/7/17): At the beginning of the semester (Day 5), we walked to Salt Hill (just outside of Galway City) and explored around. I took a picture of myself sitting at the ledge looking out at an experience that was scary, unknown, and slightly frighting as I looked down and saw how far the water was from where I was sitting.

Today, I leaped. This is monumental for what this experience in Ireland has meant for me, taking leaps! I can’t explain my experience in words, but I think this picture speaks perfectly to what I’ve done all semester.

I was originally not going to jump off or even get into the Atlantic Ocean. Then, I ran into my very new friend of yesterday (met him in the Urban Grind), Jay Mes O Driscoll, with his friend from Seattle after a 50 km bike ride. I told me that I was scared from the diving board; he told me to just do it. I saw it as an omen and he was right, I just needed to…JUMP! Exactly what I’ve done all semester.

And so I jumped! It was a great feeling to get a whole mouth-full of salt water after gasping underwater from how cold it was.

Here is a crazy story of tonight! I decided to go out tonight on my own. I went into a few of the usual pubs, but didn’t feel right! I heard this one bar, Busker Brownes Bar & Kirbys Restaurant, having live music. I approached the building and all of a sudden ran into Jay Mes again with his dear friend! We danced the night away! Such great people that I’ve met…too bad I’m leaving Ireland on Thursday evening for Berlin…

PC: Kayli Gribi

— at Blackrock Diving Tower

Day 124 (5/6/17)

124 (5-6-17)

Day 124 (5/6/17): Relaxing day with laid back people! Went to the Saturday market with these lads (including Daria and Kelly), and enjoyed carbs to the absolute max!

Then we did “homework”at the Urban Grind. This lad came up to us, was impressed how awesome my camera was, asked to take a picture, and then took it yelling “candid!”

Laughs always! Great to spend time with some New York lads before they head home in a few days… — with Emily Scoma, Olivia Angioletta and Brenna Sherman at Urban Grind