I have not written as many of these things as I had originally planned, but it is sometimes hard to find the right things to say in just a week’s time or even do enough cool stuff in a week to write about. Over the last 3 or so weeks since I have written, I think I’ve done some noteworthy things, so here goes.
For starters I just want to say that this trip, if you want to call it that, is flying by. As I am writing I am almost exactly halfway through my time here. Before heading out, four months seemed like a big chunk of time to be away. When you get down to it, start adventuring, mixing in school, and just living life, that amount of time can pass by before you know it. I realize now that in a few years when I look back on this it will seem like such a small chapter of my life, with a huge impact, nonetheless.
A lot has happened since I last wrote, so I will go through the events I found to be the most memorable. Before I came, I planned on thoroughly traveling Ireland, mainly the southern area around Cork, before venturing to other countries. This proved to be exactly what happened. Last week I was finally able to get an appointment with immigration and get my temporary status that allows me to travel more freely around Europe. Look at me now customs guy at the airport. That was a weight off my shoulders as I already have many trips planned outside of Ireland. First, I will start with a little journey I embarked on a few weeks earlier.
A few Saturdays ago, I did not have any plans for the weekend so a friend and I thought it would be cool to go hike the tallest mountain in Ireland, Carrauntoohil. If you look it up, it shows that it is only about 4,000 feet tall which does it no justice at all. In fact, I will never judge a mountain based strictly on height again. To be fair, the bottom of the mountain starts right around sea level unlike most of the mountains in the states which start already at 8 or 9 thousand feet above sea level and rise about the same amount as Carrauntoohil. To throw in another wrinkle, it is also a twelve-mile bike ride and some change just to get to the base. The hike itself was listed at four to six hours and a bike ride that long is about an hour. When we arrived, we had only about five hours to get the job done, so if you do the math, we had to book it. The first part of the jaunt seemed like a cake walk right up until it started pouring with a forty mile per hour wind mixed in. This continued as we trekked through the valley up the steep rock chute between the peaks. As we crested that, the weather broke for a bit to reveal one of the coolest views I have ever seen which I will picture below. With not much time to waste, we carried on. From there it was probably a 2,000-foot ascent to the top. The weather was much like the first half, but there was no quitting to be done. We reached the peak and were treated to glimpses of beauty through the heavy fog. After a brief sit to bask in the pride of reaching the summit, we were off like a shot. Something about being crunched for time, fighting through the elements and putting burning legs to the back of your mind makes it that much more special. The rock chute I mentioned was basically a river by the hike down, so it took intense focus to get through the precarious positions to reach the bottom. The race was still on though as we hustled back to our bikes and pedaled to no end. We screeched into the bike shop just as the man was locking up and sprinted to the bus stop. From dawn to dusk it was a mad dash, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Moving on to this past week, I was lucky enough to make my maiden voyage out of the country. The first stop was Norway. It was quite the experience as I bussed to Dublin, flew over and reached my hostel at half past one in the morning. I woke up early to realize that no one else in the country does the same, apparently. I toured the city and took some photos before getting some coffee and mapping out the day. It was raining most of the time, so I settled on a short train ride out of the city to hike around a lake called Randsfjord. As we say here, it was absolute class. The countryside was beautiful and the small villages very cozy. Later, I headed back into Oslo to have dinner and do some more exploring. After a few short hours, I was content with my short trip as I had an early flight the next morning to get home at decent time. Two choices were presented to me on lodging as I could rent another hostel or bunk in the airport for the night. I thought it would be more memorable to do the latter, so I decided on the tile floor of the terminal. Boy was I right. I will never forget getting zero sleep waiting on that 7 am flight back to Dublin. Most people shake their head at me when I tell about my trips, but it keeps things interesting. Maybe the hostel would have been more comfortable, but who wants to hear about that. A two-hour flight and a four-hour bus back to Cork pretty well wrapped that one up, and I was ready for a nap.
I’m sure many other things happened that are worth telling over the last few weeks, but these really stick out to me. In the coming weeks I plan to head over to Scotland with a few friends along with a nice stay in Cork for the upcoming jazz weekend. Currently, I am sitting in a rental house in the middle of a golf tournament as I was lucky enough to compete with the UCC club team. I would tell the tale, but I have rambled on enough. Therefore, I’ll save it for next time. I’ll do my best to write again soon. Until then lads.
Matthew Twaddle is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in civil engineering. He is attending the University College Cork in Ireland through the UMKC Direct Exchange Program during the fall semester. Matthew is from Maryville, MO and is excited to continue his education in Cork, Ireland where some of his family still resides.
Disclaimer: Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space. The opinions or statements expressed herein should not be taken as a position or endorsement of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.