This is a few days late but oh well, my bad.

November started with me spending a few days with my parents showing them around Galway as they finished up their trip. That was great and super fun, we went to a couple of breweries/distilleries since my dad is a big ole’ beer geek himself.

After they left, I had about a day or two to recoup, then my buddy Bryan came over from Alaska and we had a great week. We spent a few nights in Galway, then we took a ferry out to the Aran Islands, which holds the oldest sites in all of Ireland (and most of Europe) dating back to 1200 BC. Which was pretty epic. We rented bikes from this small town bike dealer, and biked around 15-20 miles in two days hitting every ancient fort and church on the way. We had some of the best weather they see all year as it was clear and sunny. It was absolutely nuts, we would ride bikes stop at a fort and check it out, grab a beer from the backpack, and stare at the massive ocean waves crash against cliffs a few hundred feet tall. We had a good little routine going by the end of the two days. We also had a stray dock dog follow us on our second day to all the stops. He was a happy old pup, he played fetched with rocks and loved lots of pets.

After Bryan left, I had to really kick it in gear to get on top of my classes. I had to get all my classwork for the semester done early so I could skip class to go camping the last week of term with two more friends that were coming over. So the middle two weeks of November were spent writing papers, studying, taking some preliminary exams and all that other fun stuff. I played a few more rugby games on the weekends which was sweet. I earned a starting spot by the end of the semester so that was pretty cool. I’m looking forward to getting back and keeping up with it in MN.

After those two weeks, two of my best friends from high school came over from Alaska. That was so fun, we enjoyed a few good nights in Galway catching up and picking up right where we left off. They were super pumped that it all worked out and they were grateful just to be here.  After finishing my only mandatory obligation for the week, (a final on Monday morning that I absolutely crushed but no biggie) we got on a bus and headed towards Killarney. Killarney is a small town south of Galway that is in a famous national park of Ireland. We stayed at a hostel called The Shire which was pretty sick because everything was Lord of the Rings themed. We woke up Tuesday morning and grabbed breakfast and started hiking into the national park. It was a pretty easy day, we only ended up going 6 miles in the day and it was flat for most of the hike. We found a sweet spot that harbored the lake and had a good view of the mountains and set up the tent. Much like in Scotland and Alaska, you can peel off just about anywhere and pitch a tent. The hike was super cool because it looked like the Murkwood in the Lord of Rings so we felt like hobbits the whole time which was a cool vibe. We hiked out the following morning, and got on the bus to go back home. Thursday was thanksgiving, so we had one last day of exploring Galway before they went home.  We splurged and had a 60 euro plate dinner to celebrate. Which was well worth it, it was amazing. After that we just watched football at my place and then they left the following morning.

The Monday afterwards I got on a plane to Paris. Which was actually the first week of December but it was dope and I don’t want to wait another month to write about it. Paris was amazing. It’s big, extravagant and in your face just because it can be. It’s insane. Everyone says Parisans are stuck up and jerks and I think whoever started that rumor was a stuck up American tourist who brought their own culture to Paris instead of learning theirs. Because they aren’t if you just do things the French way and give some what of an effort. I don’t speak French but learning a few phrases goes a long way. People are much more willing to be friendly and helpful if you lead with “Bonjour, excusez moi, parlez vous anglais?”  instead of “WhErE’s THe EifFeL ToWeR?” French culture is very different and is not American  and if you come into it expecting it to be the same people are going to laugh at you and make fun of you, but rightly so. Tuesday I woke up, threw a bottle of wine and a baguette in my backpack and did all my tourist things and walked around the city a bunch. I had a cheese board with bread and wine in the Eiffel Tower and that was just wonderful. I’ve never tried the cheese and wine deal, and I didn’t really get it to be honest. But that experience changed that opinion for me. Cheese and wine are amazing together. After that I walked through the park across from the tower, sat on a bench and watched the sunset behind it and drank some more wine and ate more bread. That was a cool moment, I sat there for a good hour and just shut my phone off, prayed and thought about how incredibly nuts it is that I am here.  I am so grateful just to be here. Wednesday I didn’t have anything to do so I just walked around Paris for a bit and explored the city. I think that often times when people travel, they can become too obsessed with seeing all the sights and it can become more stressful than relaxing. I really like meeting people and traveling has provided some of the most unique opportunities for that. I have found, that by just having a rough draft and walking around and not having a set agenda you get a much more real picture of what it is like in that city. You get to experience the vibe of the city as it moves around you instead of you moving around it. I think that’s the way to do it personally. I could go on more and more about Paris because it was an insane 3 days. I met some sweet people in the hostel and at bars, I almost got stranded at 5 in the morning and missed my flight because of the strikes and ate a lot of bread and cheese. Actually, I only ate bread and cheese for three days. Which messed me up for a day or two but it was all worth it because it was the best bread and cheese I have ever had.

I got home Thursday morning, had a rugby game on Saturday and church on Sunday. Advent in a 700 year old church is way cool. December is off to a pretty sweet start and I have no doubt it will wrap to be a lovely finish of my time abroad. I have exams all next week which should be fine and I’m not terribly worried for them. Then I spend 10 days in Germany for Christmas with the same host family I stayed with 4 years ago. Then fly out of Dublin Jan 1. It’s kind of surreal to think that this is already almost over. It doesn’t feel like that long at all, and I have just been happy to be here.

Study abroad more. Get outside of your own head for a bit. It’s wonderful.


Alhrik Schommer







Last modified: December 9, 2019