There are perks to being a student again. I get discounts on almost everything fun in Europe. I can get training and learn things you never would anywhere else. Case en pointe: I am taking krav maga lessons (mostly so I can finally beat my brother in a fight when I go home for Christmas). My “adult responsibilities” are reading about current events and having interesting discussions with cool people from all over the world. The drawbacks, like not being able to drive or irritate my cat until she bites me, seem pretty small in comparison.
The biggest perk, of course, is that I get to travel. This week’s adventure was to the Aran Islands and Galway. I didn’t even know the islands existed until we took our trip to the Cliffs of Moher. But other than Ireland itself, I’ve never actually been on an island, so I had to go.
We took a ferry from Ros a Mhuil to Inis Mor, the largest island. I was excited to try out ferries, but it turns out they make me a little green around the gills. I thought about just hanging around the island forever as a hermit, much like the early Christians who came here to study. Trouble is, it rains too much – more on that in a minute.
The island is very small – about 12 miles in total area. It also seems untouched by time. Only 800 people live here, and they only got power in 1975. Meanwhile, I complain if the WiFi in my apartment goes out for 30 seconds.
Another cool thing is that the island is a Gaeltacht, which means that their first language is Gaelige, or Irish. It’s one of the coolest languages I’ve ever heard (and for sure the most incomprehensible).
First, we went to Dun Aonghasa, one of three prehistoric stone forts on the island. No one knows what the people on the island were guarding against, but the first construction of the stone walls goes back to 1100 BC. The walls literally encircle the cliff, which we definitely didn’t approach and maybe lean off of.
We also visited Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches). There aren’t really seven churches there, but it is a complex which was a center of learning for early Christians after the fall of the Roman Empire.
After this, we decided to keep exploring. We were in search of some crosses we’d seen earlier that had been erected to sailors lost at sea (I’m nothing if not morbid). What we found instead was an unholy amount of rain.
Just to give you an idea, I had to wring my pants out before I set foot back in our hostel. Luckily, the kind man who ran the hostel offered to dry our clothes for us.
The next day, after another slightly nauseating ferry ride, we went to nearby Galway. As luck would have it, my wonderful friend, Sari, loves churches just as much as I do. We visited every. Single. Church. Here’s the most famous one, the Galway Cathedral:
After some seashell hunting on the beach during an uncharacteristically warm afternoon, we had one final bowl of seafood chowder (so much better than the clam variety) and traveled home.
And on that note, it’s back to my studies. Incidentally, if anyone has any knowledge of the impact of globalization in developing countries, hit me up.