Gathering for Ireland trip info, meeting fellow travelers

One week into the current summer session, an important decision arose regarding the trip to Ireland. I would need to sign up for a second class in order to keep my financial aid. That, of course, was to cover the expense of going abroad as a student. Luckily, there were a couple of online classes from which I could choose and my graduate program director was very helpful with the issue. One class required several textbooks and the other didn’t. I went with the latter option in order to avoid buying books and possibly something not being available, supplies all bought up.

This all happened because when I tried to register for fall classes, I saw a hold on my account. Not wanting to lose the trip to Ireland, I wasn’t sure what to do at first. Would I have enough on my own to cover the trip, if I lost my financial aid? If so, I’d only have to focus on academic work for my global studies. However, I’d have to consider all expenses from preparing in the weeks leading up to it. My financial aid wouldn’t completely cover two 3-credit classes, yet there would still be enough to both pay for the rest of the second one and have money left over. So, it was best to sign up for three more credits and catch up on the work.

Last saturday brought everyone together for a meeting and to go over all the trip details. It was a smaller group than I had expected. We went around the room with introductions, why we wanted to go to Ireland and if we had any particular site in mind to visit. A variety of travel experiences where shared with one that most had in common: many hadn’t been to Ireland yet and wanted to go and learn about its culture.

Ireland Books Staff Inst

One young woman asked about ghost tours and if others were interested, to which I volunteered that I was. During a break in the meeting, I searched on my phone for some images of Charleville Forest Castle to show her. I told her that I’d seen it featured on one or two shows about haunted places, although I wasn’t sure about tours of the castle.

Shortly before, someone had asked how far it was from Dublin to the west coast of Ireland. It didn’t seem as though it would be too far for a visit and if not, I’d love to see Galway! I took the photo of the Galway sign at the local Irish shop, called Abbey Green, when stopping by back in March.

Ireland Galway Inst

Another student, a young guy, said he would like to get certified in making the perfect serving of Guinness. Several people also mentioned wanting to try the famous beverage. For the most part, I don’t drink beer or any alcoholic beverages. My taste in that area is limited to strawberry daquiris or fruit-flavored wine coolers. Even those have been enjoyed on very rare occasions. It’s like coffee; some people just don’t like it, while others do.

I really liked finding out that one member of our group works as a travel agent. She gave some very helpful tips:

  • Try a mobile app called Text Free, keeping phone on airplane mode and use when in an area that has wi-fi
  • The app also supplies users with a separate number
  • Make a copy of passport and email it to myself

I was thinking of how I’d use various apps on the trip as ways to document day-to-day experiences. Here in the states, I tend to use any combo of these social media apps:

  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Foodspotting

Once home, I’ll start uploading the best of my photos to Flickr. There will probably be a large number of them to sort through, both on my phone and my DSLR.

The travel agent and a staff member also recommended checking out Viator for discounts on tours, including one for the Ring of Kerry. Low rates will definitely come in handy for our leisure time! Another website mentioned was TripAdvisor, for looking at ratings and reviews of places to visit. Free or cheap apps, as a general suggestion, was another idea of helpful resources to look into for keeping costs down.

Accommodations were described as being unlike dorms, on the small side and would be singles. At the time of the meeting, it was unsure if there would be wi-fi in the rooms. However, we’d have that available around the Trinity College campus.

Important tips for visiting several companies:

  • Bring license, passport for ID
  • A very punctual culture
  • We can wear business casual
  • Ask questions (participation points)
  • Jot down ideas from company visits
  • Use ideas in our final papers

Sort of on the subject of business and careers, I took an Irish Folklore class several years back at a local community college. Upon completion, I received a certificate and recently, I was looking for it to add to my professional portfolio. It had been stored away with the rest of the paperwork for that and other classes around that time. I found where it was stored and it’s now in my portfolio. Considering the trip to Ireland, I think it could be an extra talking point on learning about cultures. One staff told an interesting story relating to culture and folklore. It was about a bush that local Irish people believed to be enchanted by faeries. As a result, plans for a road being built needed to be set up to go around it, rather than cut it down. On a small scale, it also spoke to the idea of saving something in nature.

Besides the scavenger hunt mentioned in a previous post, another fun activity was presented to us. We could take an item with us to photograph at all the sites we visit. At first, I wasn’t sure what to use for that. I’m thinking that some of the students might bring an item that represents our college, either with the school name or an image of the mascot. I decided that my “photo item” will be something related to an extracurricular in which I was involved. It was also for credit during my first semester. That’s one way to personalize this particular activity; others may also do that based on a club or something else of which they are members. I’m not sure from one student to the next, but it’ll be interesting to see what they use and where they photography their items at along the way.

More for my shopping / packing list:

  • Travel Insurance (I can ask the travel agent going on the trip)
  • Dublin Bus Pass
  • Look into any other ahead-of-time tour purchases
  • Any medicine in original packaging
  • Copies of any Rx
  • Light jacket with a hood
  • Casual attire for leisure, business casual for one dinner
  • Wash Cloths (someone said they are called face cloths in Ireland)
  • My “photo item”
  • Keep a hard copy of itinerary on hand

Other info from the meeting:

  • Money is Euro in Ireland, Pound in Northern Ireland
  • “How the Irish Saved Civilization” as suggested reading
  • Stop at Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub
  • St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street (shopping)
  • A number of free museums to check out

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do as far as writing about Ireland while there, but it depends partly on my tech gear. I may just make handwritten notes each day in my forest green Celtic journal, come home and start blog posts. In that case, I’ll just have to finish them by Aug. 23, when we have our final meeting to reflect on the experience.

Later today, I’m going shopping for some of the items I’ll need. So I’ll write about what I find and in the spirit of going to Ireland, I’m planning on a stop at one of the local Molly Maguire’s. I went to the one in Phoenixville a while back and tried The Trio; it was so delicious!

MM The Trio

As far as food in Dublin, I know that we’ll be at O’Shea’s for at least one dinner. One of my professors, not attached to the trip, suggested a piece on particular offerings in Irish dining. I think that will be a great way of reflecting the foodie aspect of the culture. Overall, I can’t wait for the experience of being in Ireland and drawing inspiration for my writing.

About caroldwyer

A freelance photographer and blogger, I'm also a non-traditional graduate of Cabrini College with a B.A. in communication, minor in English and concentration in film studies. As a student, I was a staff writer, photographer and copy editor for the Loquitur. In my final semester, I assisted in promoting campus literary events for Woodcrest Literary Magazine. I love travel, historic places, nature, wildlife and the arts. I hope to be involved in some way with one of those areas throughout my media career. Currently, I'm pursuing my M.F.A. in creative writing and publishing. Read my film blog at - and my literary blog at
This entry was posted in Castles, Dining, DSLR, Dublin, Food, Galway, Global Studies, Haunted, International, Ireland, Mobile Apps, Museums, Northern Ireland, Photography, Social Media, Study Abroad, Tours, Travel, What To Pack, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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