It’s hard to believe it’s already December. Time has been passing quickly, probably because I’m staying so busy. Recently, I traveled to Co. Wicklow to see Powerscourt Estate and Glendalough. Powerscourt is a stunning estate, complete with beautiful gardens that have been ranked in the top three gardens in the world. Although it was a bit chilly, I enjoyed wandering through the gardens. I liked Glendalough even more than Powerscourt though; I loved exploring the monastic site and beautiful landscape there. Wicklow is close to Dublin, so it was nice being able to see these sites in a half day after class.
In addition to Wicklow, I took a full day trip to Co. Kerry, which is in the west of Ireland. Though we spent a significant amount of the day on a bus, the driving time was well worth it. Highlights of the trip to Kerry include seeing Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park, poking around the town of Killarney, walking along Inch Beach (part of the Dingle Peninsula), and generally enjoying the scenery of the Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way from the warmth of a bus. Irish landscape is unbelievably beautiful, and these trips also provide a nice break from the cityscape of Dublin. I feel simultaneously pleased and unsatisfied with how much of Ireland I’ve been able to see so far. I do feel like I’ve gotten a feel for the country and like I have seen a range of places, but I still wish I had more time so as to travel even more. But I still have almost two weeks here, so hopefully I’ll be able to see a little more of the Emerald Isle in that time!
My travel is slowing a bit though as academic deadlines approach. I’m spending more and more time in the library, putting together study guides and finalizing essays. My workload here has been much lighter than my college back home, but my grades here are based 100% on one final essay or exam, and that’s a bit disconcerting. Even though I’ve been on top of my work all semester and am almost finished with my essays and feel generally prepared for finals, I’m still getting a bit nervous. My nerves usually calm when I’m walking around the city though- it’s hard to be stressed walking past the Christmas lights and trees all over the city. Dublin certainly knows how to decorate for Christmas, and I’m really enjoying the festivities! Just today Trinity College lit the Christmas Tree in the front square, and there’s supposed to be a Christmas market in the city later this week. These Christmas preparations are making me excited to go home- I can’t wait to see my family and friends and enjoy some American food! Still, I’ll be sad to leave this beautiful country.