The GoGlobal Blog

Month: May 2015

A Thank You Letter to Ireland

A Thank You Letter to Ireland

I know I was supposed to write a blog post about my two weeks of travel that I returned back to Cork from on the 20th. Those weeks were two of the most fantastic I have ever experienced, traveling to Copenhagen, Berlin, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, opened my eyes to so many new cultures and new experiences, I am forever thankful that I was able to travel. My travel companions were perfect as well, handling every sleepless night and travel slip-up along the way with ease, grace, and a laugh. However, when I arrived back in Cork, I couldn’t bring myself to write about all of the exciting adventures I had just experienced because I was too overwhelmed by the fact that I only had 4 remaining days left. And today, marks the last day in both a country and city that has seamlessly become my home. So for my final blog post, I want to write a thank you letter to Ireland, the country that has been my home for these past 5 months, the people I have met during my time here, the memories I have made, the places I have visited, and all of the love that I have in my heart for the most amazing study abroad experience I could have ever wished for.

Dear Ireland,

I don’t know how I can express the love I have for you. This country has welcomed me with open arms, from Seany B. the butcher, to Conns man the produce shop owner, to the wonderful professors at UCC, to the Aircoach bus drivers who have aided me in almost every travel adventure, to the workers at Jackie Lennox and Cissie Youngs, and of course to all of the Irish friends I have had the pleasure to meet throughout my time here. Every person I have met along the way has made my day a little bit brighter and only made me fall more in love with this country. I can’t thank Ireland enough for making me feel right at home and having a culture that encourages the development of a person I only wish to become—someone friendly, funny, open, accepting, relaxed, and just taking the piss out of life. I hope to thank Ireland by continuing to grow and promising to return.



Thank you Ireland, for becoming not just my home, but also my launchpad for traveling the world. While Ireland, and both the Cork and Dublin airport, have led me to Amsterdam, Scotland, England, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary, I have never forgotten that Ireland is my home. I have been from Belfast to Dublin, the Ring of Kerry to the Dingle peninsula, the Cliffs of Mohr to Giants Causeway, from castles to harbors, from the busy cities to the quiet countryside, I have traveled throughout Ireland and only continued to fall in love. Maybe it was the color of the grass and trees, because it’s true, the color green in Ireland cannot be found anywhere else. Maybe it was the millions of sheep and cows I have seen as I look out windows. Maybe it’s the people, who always greet you with a smile on their face and ask if you need anything. Yes, Ireland has helped me see many other countries and cultures, but the one I return home to every time is that Irish hospitality which simply cannot be replaced.


Thank you also, to a number of things that have helped me along my study abroad journey. Thank you Dunnes frozen pizza (yes, your 3 for €3.79 pizzas) you have always been the light that welcomes me home from a night out, or helps me get up the next morning. Thank you, to my combat boots, which have literally seen the world with me and not fallen apart. And even though the zipper on the back of the right shoe unzips itself while I’m walking and drives Savannah crazy, you have endured the worst. Thank you, to my Dunnes booties that I bought only the second week here, I have worn you out practically every night. And while I cannot compete with the Irish girls and their heels (which I will forever be impressed with) you did make me feel a little more put together. While you cannot make the journey home, both because you are falling apart and there is no room in my suitcase, you were a true godsend that taught me the importance of a good pair of booties. Thank you to all of the Irish dairy I have consumed this semester, I will never have the same yogurt or spread of butter again, but I will always remember your goodness, especially the butter since I have been to the butter museum in Cork. Finally, thank you to the Centra chicken roll. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t eaten my first chicken roll that fateful afternoon during RAG week, but you have opened my eyes to the simplicity and deliciousness of a €3.50 sandwich that cannot be beat.


I of course have to also thank my parents. Without their love, support (in more ways than one), and continued acceptance of my crazy antics and adventures that have grown throughout this semester, I would not be here. I am so happy that they were able to come and get a small taste of all of the wonder that I have been experiencing for months. And even though I am not really excited to go home, I am excited to see them and tell them about all of the adventures that have taken place these last 5 months. I am also thankful to return to my mom’s home cooked meals, but I need to put that last so she knows that I appreciate her for many reasons greater than her cooking skills.


My final thank you, will probably be the hardest, and even though it’s already begun, I have to thank and say goodbye to all the friends I have made here. Viva la Ocelot, you guys have helped make this semester unforgettable. I have travelled all over the world with you all, explored Ireland, had many crazy nights out, and so many laughs just thinking about it makes my stomach hurt. You all have been some of the most genuine, caring, funny, smart, and simply amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of becoming friends with. Thank you Kristen, for always being there for a laugh or a crazy story (maybe like that time you spent the half of the day an hour off and didn’t realize it?) I can’t wait to see you in Chicago. Thank you Mathilde, for letting me borrow your UCC ID (even if I was called a liar, liar pants on fire one time I tried to use it) and for your amazing crêpe making skills. Thank you Colin, for always being down for a drink and tagging us in all of those Instagram pictures, I can’t imagine a semester without you and your go-pro stick. Thank you Cody, for your incredible literary insight and your impeccable fashion sense. I can only thank you for all of the laughs and great pictures we have taken (that I can now tag you in on Facebook because I don’t know why you thought you could ever survive this semester without one). Thank you Eric, for the knowledge that your eyes are beautiful and the Irish flag is gorgeous. Thank you for always being there to debate the founding fathers and listen to Taylor Swift until your face turns redder. Thank you Corey, for your Irish writers playing cards (that you left in our apartment by the way) and eating half of my chips at all of our Wednesday lunches with Marypaz. Thank you Casey, the true life force behind our group, or I should just say life because I’m not sure if we would all be here if it wasn’t for you. Thank you for your cooking, your map skills, your willingness to watch The West Wing, and always being there for anyone who needed you—thanks mom. Thank you Savannah, the best roommate anyone ever could have asked for. Thank you for being supportive when I just needed to binge watch Netflix for a few days, thank you for dealing with Marypaz and I’s Beyoncé addiction (I know you got a bit tired of it in the end), thank you for being the friendliest person I know and always being upbeat. No matter what happens in your life, wherever you go or whatever you do, I know you will succeed because you have the best heart of anyone I have ever met. Thank you for being you, I can’t put into words how much you mean to me (you and your stinky). Finally, thank you Marypaz, I know most people think of us as a unit (and I’m not even mad about it) but I honestly can’t imagine this semester without you. You have been there to full my love for Beyoncé, my love for politics, my love for cheerleader, and my love of Ireland. Thank you for encouraging to really look at everything the world has to offer and to not take anything too seriously. Thanks for dancing with me to Anaconda, getting kicked out of McDonalds and Abrakebabra, making me fall a little bit in love with the EU, for making me watch shit English TV, and for everything. I can’t even think about what my life would have been like if I hadn’t met you, but thank GOD we have Chicago to reunite us. S/O TO THE CRAIC PATROL, ya’ll the real MVPs.


Thank you Ireland, for inviting me in to your wonderful country. Thank you for an incredible 5 months. Thank you for bringing all of these wonderful people into my life. Thank you for showing so much more, and see what it is like to be truly embraced in another country (even though many of the Irish make fun of the pronunciation of my last name). Thank you, thank you, words cannot express the love I have for this country, its hills, its people, its beer, and its love for me. While I will be returning in the future, I know it will never be the same.


I end my final post with a quote I found in a book while I was waiting about in a hostel in Krakow. The book was titled Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks and after reading the back, I immediately skipped to the last page where I read this final quote that brought me to tears.


“By the time I reached the taxi, my eyes had welled up with tears.

‘Are you all right there?’ said the cabbie as he opened the door for me.

‘Yes, I’m just happy.’

‘Oh right. Where to?’

‘Dublin airport.’

I was leaving Ireland. The affair was over, but the friendship had just begun.”



Food. One of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad in Vietnam. Hello… Vietnamese food is delicious! I must be honest about a few things:

Surprisingly, I do not crave “American” food! I find myself craving Vietnamese dishes over macaroni and cheese or whatever it is that we Americans eat. Now, don’t get me wrong, I miss my mama’s cookin’ and other Southern food, but interestingly enough I have found some similar dishes and ingredients that subside my nostalgia for Mississippi cookin’.

I have not encountered a dish that I absolutely hate or cannot eat. Granted, I’m not a picky eater, so I am fortunate in that aspect. This is not to say that there are dishes that I’m not crazy about… of course! But, every dish has been different and great!

Enough about me, (I’m alive and well Mom and Dad)… now, about Vietnamese food. I believe the dishes here are so incredible because most vendors only serve one dish; therefore, focusing on, specializing in, and perfecting a single dish.

Another reason the food is so delicious, there are no preservatives! Vendors prepare enough food for the day and that is all. There are no freezers, either. Once the daily prepared food has sold out – that’s it… the vendor closes shop for the day.

Here are some dishes that I recommend trying while traveling to Vietnam: (Please note: these dishes are primarily based in Saigon or Southern Vietnam aka the Southern dialect. These dishes may have different names or may not be available in the North.)

Bún thịt nướng

Literally translated means “rice noodles with grilled meat”. This dish consists of rice vermicelli noodles topped with grilled pork, a fried spring roll, peanuts, pickled carrots, bean sprouts, lettuce, and fresh herbs like mint and basil. Typically, the locals drizzle fish sauce over the dish then mix everything together before eating. I love the sweet, savory, and herby flavor.IMG_3635
Bánh mì

The term “Bánh mì” is a Vietnamese baguette, which can be used for sandwiches or as a vehicle for transferring broth to your mouth! I have grown too accustomed to enjoying these delicacies on a regular basis. They are delicious and readily available at all times of the day and night. This French-inspired sandwich is served on a split baguette with an array of toppings depending on which vendor you choose. Typical ingredients include: mayonnaise, pate, sliced pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber slices, sprigs of cilantro, tuong ot (Vietnamese chili sauce… NOT Sriracha), sprinkle of soy sauce, and chili pepper slices if you please. My go-tos include Bánh mì Heo Quay (Baguette with rotisserie pork) and Bánh mì Op La (Baguette with fried egg).




Cơm tấm sườn nướng

This dish is very simple but absolutely delicious. It consists of broken rice, a thin, grilled pork chop, a fried egg, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fish sauce on the side.IMG_7218Bún chả

I think this dish is so fun to eat! You have freedom to eat it however you please. Essentially you are served the ingredients necessary to form either a bowl of noodles, a lettuce wrap, or a salad. Holy options! This dish includes: white rice noodles, fatty grilled pork in sour sauce, pickled vegetables in same sauce as meat, a huge plate of fresh herbs like mint and basil, lettuce leaves, and fish sauce.

Each part of the dish is served separately so you can feel free to mix, roll, and wrap as you please.


Bít tết

This heavier meal translates to “beefsteak” and is the ultimate meat and potatoes kind of meal. This thin beef meat has no bones and has a very simple marinate then cooked in a cast iron skillet with pate and an egg. This dish also comes with fried potatoes, salad/fresh vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce, and on the side is Bánh mì (just the baguette, not the sandwich) to sop up the delicious pan drippings. Yum!


Bún riêu

A crab-based rice vermicelli soup with clumps of boiled crab meat, coagulated pig’s blood, shrimp, and tomato. The broth is a very special part to this dish. According to a Vietnamese friend, the broth is made by muddling crab meat for nearly an hour. Then, once you muddle “a lot, a lot” of crab meat, the result is a delicious crab paste. You then strain the crab paste and use this as the main ingredient for the broth… yum. The crab meat is added later on for boiling and as a result floats to the top of the soup. These floating bits of crab meat having absorbed the crab broth flavors are my favorite part.




Bún ốc

Sea snail soup served with vermicelli noodles, tomatoes, fried tofu, coagulated pork blood. At first glance, this dish has similar ingredients to Bún riêu but the main ingredients and broths are completely different – trade the crab for sea snails.



Bún bò Huế

This dish originates from Huế – a city in the central region that was the imperial capital city of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty. An assortment of ingredients here includes thinly sliced beef, coagulated pig’s blood, oxtail in some cases, boiled beef shanks, and rice vermicelli noodles. This dish has tremendous flavor! It is often served with lime wedges, fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, mint, banana blossoms, cabbage, and so on…



Hủ Tiếu 

This specific type of Hu Tieu is called Hu Tieu Nam Vang. Another noodle dish that can be served with or without broth and this particular dish consists of shrimp, lean meat, pig heart, liver, quail egg, bean sprouts, chives, thread noodles and broth that is made with broth from pork bones.


Phở Bò/Gà

If you have heard of Vietnam, you have most likely heard of Phở which is pronounced (Fuuh). It is absolutely delicious and the perfect meal for breakfast. (WHAT??) Seriously. I have grown accustom to eating a warm bowl of rice noodles, delectable broth, fresh herbs, and chicken or beef. My favorite pho is from the northern part of Vietnam; however, the southern version is not shabby either!



More dishes for your viewing pleasure:



Mi Quang



Bo Kho

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Wales! Hampton Court! London! [oh my]

Wales! Hampton Court! London! [oh my]

Hi y’all!!

I am officially in my LAST MONTH of study abroad!!! So busy, so sad, so excited, so …poor? 🙂 Don’t worry though, I still have a few last tricks and trips up my sleeve! I’m considering this last month as the sudden death round of my semester in London (as in, I may suddenly die from exhaustion before I make it back to America) and I certainly will be taking advantage of each day.

I have been into all sorts of shenanigans these past two weeks….


I took a roadtrip over to Wales for the day on Saturday and completed my rotation of the United Kingdom countries. As with Scotland, Ireland, and England, rain accompanied me. However, a little bit of mist does wonders to the ambiance of a castle.

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On the way up to Wales from London, we passed through the Welsh valleys. The fields were absolutely littered with these beautiful yellow flowers and so many sheep. We also did a little sightseeing of Cardiff, the capital of Wales. We (oddly) drove by the local prison, a few nice gardens, a freshwater wharf of some sort, a large castle in the middle of the town, and the church where Robert Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) was baptized. Wales is a strange place.

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Today, I took a train down to Hampton Court with my international program for a fun day trip outside of London. I’ll spare you the history lesson of the Palace and supply a few buzzwords: King Henry VIII, Tudor period, beautiful gardens, maze (!!), Anne Boleyn, and ice cream (irrelevant to the Palace but delicious all the same). The Palace was very interactive and we spent a sunny afternoon lounging in the gardens. King Henry VIII knew how to live royally! We ended the day with an always delightful Sunday Roast (on Monday, since it was a bank holiday).

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As per usual, I have been practically sprinting all over London. Just a few things I have done in the past couple of weeks:

-attended an event at the HarperCollins offices next to the Shard (!!!!)

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– art galleries and exhibitions

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-London Coffee festival (most of my pictures are unfocused on account of I drank 12 beautiful cups of coffee/ espresso before noon)

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– met this guy at the Grant Museum of Zoology


-caught some gorgeous aerials of London from the Sky Garden and a few great views from street level along Regents Canal

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I also went to five thousand markets, ate some really awesome food (I’m lookin at you Camden Market and Wing Street), and sat in parks thinking up ways to pawn my plane ticket and stay forever.              (just kidding Mom)

Anyway! Until next time!


The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End

As May begins, so does my final month abroad. In a few short weeks I will back in the US,  and while there are some things I am looking forward to- seeing friends, my dog, eating Skyline and Graeters, and of course, reuniting with my family- there are so many things I am leaving behind. I have been fortunate enough to truly see almost all of Ireland. This past weekend I took my final Ireland trip, as I headed up north to Belfast. Before we reached Belfast though, Marypaz and I finally had our government weekend. However, as soon as we walked to the bus stop in Cork we realized that we had booked our tickets backwards (to Cork from Dublin instead of to Dublin from Cork) but Irish hospitably never ceases to amaze me, as the driver let us both on anyway and said he would call the office so our tickets would be correct for the journey back. We arrived in Dublin early on Friday and planned on touring the Dail (Ireland’s parliament) but unfortunately Parliament was in session so there were no tours. Next, we visited Kilmainham Gaol, which is the jail in Dublin which is infamously known for the killing of the 14 leaders of the Easter Rising. Touring the jail was eerie and while most of the information from the tour were facts and stories we had already learned from our Irish Politics class, it was still unreal to see the jail and firing squad sites first-hand. After the jail tour we went back into Dublin where we met up with a few friends and spent a night out at a local Dublin club– Coppers (there’s the shoutout you wanted Marypaz).

awesome mural in Dublin to promote marriage equality!
front of Kilmainham Gaol


Marypaz and I then woke up the next morning bright and early at 9am, seeing as we had to check out of our hostel at 10, we figured we had the whole day ahead of us. Our plan was to tour the outdoor stadium– Croke Park. However, as soon as we walked outside, in true Irish fashion, it was pouring down rain. We both had our big backpacking backpacks with us, and no desire to spend the day outside in the rain with our backpacks on. So with 4 hours to kill until we needed to catch the bus up to Malahide, where we were meeting Shane and his car, we had no game plan. Logically, Marypaz and I spent our final 4 hours in Dublin loitering in a variety of shops until we could catch a bus. We first started in a small mom and pop breakfast restaurant, where we spent an hour before we realized we had to leave. We then spent an hour in Starbucks, followed by 30 minutes in Penney’s and 30 minutes in Carroll’s, until our time was up and we went to catch the bus. Needless to say, we were a bit embarrassed but our spirits were lifted once a little boy on the bus asked us if we had just come from the mountains because of our backpacks.

Once we met up with Shane, we took our 2 hour ride up North. We arrived at our Airbnb in a nice college area outside of Belfast, and ate some pulled pork sandwiches for dinner. (Something that I had mentioned hours earlier that I had been craving, so I guess luck was finally on our side). Up North, I was able to see the beautiful capital of Northern Ireland, some peace murals that coated brick walls outside the city, and was able to go an hour outside Belfast, up to the tip of Northern Ireland where I was able to see Giants Causeway. Giants Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and 100% deserves all the recognition that it receives.


The trip up to Northern Ireland only reinforced how beautiful the island of Ireland is and how lucky I have been to spend the past 4 months here. While I don’t leave Cork until May 25th, my month of May is packed with European adventures, meaning that my days in Cork are numbered. My long time friend from home Kitty, along with her roommate Jess arrive here tomorrow. Once they have a few days to settle, we gear up for 2 weeks of traveling together, and our itinerary is packed. We fly out of Dublin early on May 6th and then travel to Copenhagen, Berlin, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, and finally Budapest. We are staying in hostels and Airbnbs, taking night trains and buses, and surviving out of a backpack until we return to Cork on May 20th. Leaving me just 5 remaining days in a country that has become my second home.

While I can barely contain my excitement for the travels that lay ahead, as these are all cities I have never been to but can’t wait to visit, I know my leaving on May 6th is bittersweet. While I am returning to Cork, when I get back, the number of people waiting for me will have severely dwindled. My group of 10 friends who have been with me every step of the way during this great study abroad adventure, are also departing on their own journeys. When I get back May 20th, I will return to 2 of my favorite people, but everyone else will either be on their way home or traveling in Europe as well. This all means that our big goodbye is happening sooner than expected. Tomorrow we will be having our final gathering where I am sure there will be many hugs and a few tears, because I don’t know what I’m going to do without having these people around me 24/7 (because they all were around me practically 24/7). But never fear, because we did of course make matching t-shirts and have reunions planned (ye better be coming to Chicago).

I won’t end on too sappy of a note, because while this is the beginning of the end, it is still a beginning. I have many many adventures ahead of me and my study abroad days are not over yet!