UI Study Abroad Blogger

The majority of tourists heading to Ireland make the huge mistake of only going to Dublin. I have heard people say that they have “truly experienced” Ireland when they never even set foot out of the capital city.

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I am riding in the car. The anticipation of the vacation my family is about to embark on is building inside me. We arrive at the airport and the excitement dwindles for I know what comes next. Waiting.

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Trains have always intrigued me. Watching them speed by, I’d always wonder where their final destination was. They carry a sense of mystery. Who’s on them? Where are they going? What are they leaving from? Why are they traveling at all? All these questions would race through my mind, as I would watch the trains pass through.

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As I sat down to breakfast this morning, my roommate broke the news to me that only 27 more days remain until our study abroad experience comes to a close.

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Back in Iowa City after half a year in Beijing, I am struggling with re-adjustment. The process goes like this: watch four Star Wars movies on the flight back, half-heartedly suggest family Easter dinner at the Beijing Buffet on the Coralville strip, get car towed because a certain private parking lot has strengthened enforcement protocols, swerve at the sight of newly sprouted condominiums three houses down from my home, scroll through photo albums of China adventures, obsessively check friends’ WeChat updates, try to retrieve the part of me that is still sleeping and waking in Beijing time. Perhaps retrieval will come by way of writing and reflecting.

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We spend so much time rushing.

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How do you get to the point where you can call a place your home? I believe one of the factors is finding your favorite spots around the city. Cork is home to around 120,000 people, but it does not feel like it. It was not hard to be able to carve out a home for myself in this new place. One of the best things about moving to a new place is being able to explore it. It is very easy to walk or bike all over Cork. As I reflect on all the great things about my time abroad, I can’t help but think about the places that I will miss the most.

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I know that I just posted a couple of days ago, but given the recent attack in Brussels, Belgium, I thought it would be worthwhile to compose my thoughts into another blog entry.

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If you would’ve asked me six months ago if I was going to spend a weekend scaling one of the highest mountains in Scotland, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. If you would ask me to do it today, I would jump at the opportunity to go again.

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Built on East Art Gallery Street in 1996, the 24-hour bookstore is known by many readers as their “spiritual home” and a place in which to soak for an entire day. A bubble bath of 90,000 books stacked in a space of 1400 square meters. There are at least twenty different annotated versions of Journey to the West, one of the four great classical novels of China. A 513-page guide to polyphonic Mandarin characters can be found in an aisle devoted to dictionaries. Copies of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant are tucked away in random nooks. Books with titles like The Story of Art and The Story of Time convey the immense ambition in this place.

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