Katie Riley '14

Even though I am still new to life at Trinity I haven’t had a moment yet to feel like “the new girl.” This is because every week since I’ve arrived in Dublin, we, the Holy Cross girls at Trinity, have been entertaining guests. The day I landed in Dublin we had two visitors from Holy Cross, then the new Holy Cross students studying at University College Dublin (UCD) arrived, and then last week two more Holy Cross students came for a quick visit. Although it has been wonderful to catch up with other Holy Cross students and show them around Dublin, the best visit so far was from my friends’ dad, who was in Dublin for an overnight on business. It was a nice change of pace to be taken out instead of showing people around. Because I live so far from Holy Cross and I only go home for Christmas and summer breaks, I am often the orphan that my friends adopt when their families come to visit Worcester. I have come to love these family meals because even though I can’t be with my own family, it feels so homey. That’s what was great about dinner with my friend’s dad. We went to an amazing restaurant called Matt the Thresher and I had the best meal I’ve had since arriving in Dublin. I definitely plan to take my family there when they come to visit in March.

The Trinity girls with our guests

My dinner out was Thursday night and then Friday night was when the HC Trinity girls hosted two friends, one from St. Andrews and one from Galway. Saturday morning, a group of Holy Cross students from both Trinity and UCD hopped on a two and a half hour bus ride out to the west of Ireland to visit Galway. We all have friends from Holy Cross who are studying there and it seemed like perfect timing to make our first trip west. I had been to Galway two years ago with my parents, so I really wasn’t too focused on sight seeing. My two goals were to see my friends and to replace my Claddagh ring. The last time I was in Galway my dad bought me my first original Irish engagement ring, called a Claddagh ring, but last semester in Argentina it slipped off my finger and was gone for good. I waited months for the day when I could return to that same Claddagh shop in Galway and get another ring.

Getting my new Claddagh ring

We got off the bus around noon, headed straight for a cute little café downtown for lunch, and then I made a beeline for Thomas Dillon, the original Claddagh ring shop, where it took me about 30 seconds to pick out my new ring. Because the weather was so cold and rainy we didn’t spend much time in town, but instead walked out to the apartment complex where all the Holy Cross students live. My friends and I separated from the big group and walked back into town for dinner so we could have more time to catch up. After, we returned to the apartment complex, got ready and spent the night with the rest of the HC crew. I haven’t seen that many familiar Holy Cross faces since I was on campus last year. It was fantastic! It was so fun to spend time with my friends who I thought I wouldn’t see until senior year and to also get to know other classmates that I had never really met.

Dinner out in Galway

We had a great night and then left the following afternoon to return to Dublin. I’m so happy that my first European travel adventure was a success! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of my travels this semester will go as smoothly.

I left California last Thursday with my family and headed straight for the great city of New Orleans for my cousin’s wedding. Although I only had two days in New Orleans and was starting to get slightly anxious about my trip to Trinity, I had an amazing time. I went out with my family on Bourbon St. and took a walk along the Mississippi River with my mom. We ate some fantastic food and I tried to fit as many classic New Orleans dishes into my short stay as possible: red beans and rice, pralines, gulf seafood, and even gator jerky (see picture on the top left). I wish I could have stayed longer to be with my family and to see my cousin get married, but Trinity orientation waits for no one! So, on Sunday morning it was off to the airport for me and on to a long 24-hour journey to Ireland.

I arrived in Dublin Monday morning at 4:40 a.m. and my orientation program started at 9:30 a.m., which meant that I had just enough time to get to campus, take a quick nap in my new room (without any sheets or blankets), and grab a large coffee before I started my full day of activities. The way the orientation program worked is that from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. every day we had lectures about Irish history, culture, art, politics, and literature and then we spent the afternoons participating in various activities. Some of the afternoon sessions were practical like going on campus tours, getting ID cards, and registering on the student network. Although these sessions were helpful, it was the other, cultural sessions that I most enjoyed. On the first night we all went on a literary pub-crawl. We were led around by an actor to various pubs and sites in the neighborhood, each one having some historical or literary significance. Later in the week, we went to a play at the famous Abbey Theater where we saw an adaptation of James Joyce’s story “The Dead.” I’m fairly certain the play was a bit over my head and I am now determined to read the actual story to see if I can understand it better.

Last, but not least, on Friday, we took an all-day excursion to the Wicklow Mountains, about an hour south of the city. We first stopped at Glendalough, which is “the valley of the two lakes” in Irish. There we visited a 6th century monastic site established by St. Kevin, a hermit priest, and one of the lakes. It was too cold (even in my snow jacket) and rainy to be outside for very long so we drove into the town of Wicklow for lunch before we took a tour of the Wicklow Gaol (jail).

Although I’ve already done so much in so little time, there is still much more to do. Most importantly I still have to register for classes, which start this week. I hope I can make a schedule that will allow me long weekends for travel!

last walk by the bay

It just hit me that tomorrow is my last day at home! On Thursday morning my family and I are heading off to New Orleans for my cousin’s wedding. I am then missing the actual wedding ceremony so I can make it to Dublin in time for my orientation on Monday morning at Trinity. I leave New Orleans on Sunday morning, fly to JFK where I will have a four-hour layover and then I arrive in Dublin on Monday at 5:30 a.m. Then, as if that isn’t exhausting enough, my full day of orientation activities starts only a few hours later at 9:30 a.m.! I can only hope that I will have enough time to shower and get some coffee so I can make it through the day.

I’m not as nervous to leave this semester as I was before I left for Argentina. This time around I don’t have to worry about a language barrier, living with a host family, or going to an unfamiliar location. I have visited Dublin and I have even taken a tour at Trinity so I know what the campus and the city look like. I am, however, truly living on my own for the first time, which is slightly nerve wracking. I will be living in an apartment-style dorm and I will be in-charge of providing all my own meals. I guess I have some serious kitchen tool shopping to do once I get to Dublin—those are definitely things that won’t fit in my suitcase.

I’ve enjoyed my time at home, but I am ready to move on with my Study Abroad experience and head off to Dublin. Some of the things I’m most excited about are:

-Exploring Dublin as a resident and not just a tourist

-Returning to life on a traditional college campus

-Taking Spanish literature classes that center on Spain (after taking a semester of Argentine and Latin American literature)

-Traveling to other sights in Europe

Now I have less than 24-hours to finish laundry, get a pedicure, pack my bags, say good-bye to my friends and do some last-minute work on applications for summer internships. Fingers crossed that I can get it all done in time!

For the first time in three years I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with my family. This year, instead of my parents and me flying all the way to New York to be with my sister, she flew home with us. It was the first time I had seen my sister in person since leaving for Buenos Aires in June. It was so nice to have her home! We spent most of the time lounging on the couch together and catching up. On Thanksgiving my dad and I prepared a side dish (a quick-fix butternut squash recipe after we burned our first squash), drove up to Petaluma, CA and spent the afternoon with two of my dad’s brothers and their families.

A few days later I drove my sister to the airport to send her back to Fordham University at Rose Hill for school. I wasn’t too sad for her to leave because I was going to see her in less than a week. As a present for my 21st birthday, my parents agreed to send me back to the East Coast so I could visit some of my friends at Holy Cross and then spend my big birthday weekend with one of my best friends who studies at Fordham University Lincoln Center and then with my sister at Rose Hill. The trip also worked out perfectly because I could stop in Framingham, MA to pick up a few winter items that I had left in storage at a family friend’s house, which I would need to get me through the cold Dublin winter.

It was the weirdest sensation to be back on campus after a semester away. I felt so out of place and yet right at home. Usually when I am on campus I am running from classes to meetings to study sessions, but this time I was just wandering campus with two of my best friends and enjoying spending time with people I know at a place I love. I only stayed for 24 hours but I did get to fit in a trip to the library, a few meetings, and, of course, dinner at Kimball.

The next morning I rushed off to Union Station and took the commuter rail to Boston then the train to Penn Station in NYC where I met my friend Anna, a theater major at Fordham. She and I spent two days packing in as many activities as possible. We went to an art exhibit at Columbus Circle, saw the movie Lincoln (one of Anna’s professors was a senator in the movie!), and ate out at a few great restaurants. One morning we took a run through Central Park together and although it was chilly, it was so beautiful and so quintessentially New York.

I spent the next two days in the Bronx with my sister, meeting her friends and walking around campus. For my actual birthday we went back into Manhattan for a nice dinner at the steakhouse Smith and Wollensky’s. My sister and I were joined by our friend Claire who surprised me half way through dinner with a present from her family and her sister Katy, my friend from Holy Cross who is studying at St. Andrews in Scotland this year. Katy bought me a beautiful scarf in Scotland and her parents dropped off the gift at the restaurant while we were there. We all ate way too much steak, I ordered my first legal glass of Champagne, and we got a massive plate of dessert on the house. I left the next morning to go back to California and although I left the East Coast exhausted and with a head cold, I think it might have been the best birthday on record.

Once the culture shock of returning to the USA started to wear off and I started to finally relax at home, I began to feel the boredom set in. When I come home for semester breaks, I relish the time I get to spend on the couch reading or watching movies, but after a week I feel antsy and I need to get out of the house and do something productive. Luckily, shortly after I came home from Buenos Aires, one of my favorite teachers from high school asked if I would like to visit her at the new school she teaches at and sit-in on her AP US History class. She asked if I could talk to her students about taking AP classes, applying to college, and studying abroad, and then I could participate in one of their “seminar discussions” on the topic of US History they were currently learning about. I arrived at the classroom early to catch-up with my teacher and once the students were finally settled I spent a few minutes talking about APs and college applications.

I have done more than a few of these types of advice sessions with prospective college students and I remember receiving some of this same college advice when I was in high school. What I’ve learned from all this college chatter over the years is that the most important opinion is your own. I came to talk to the APUSH class from the perspective of someone who in high school was looking to get away and go to a small school on the East Coast. I knew, however, that many of the students in the room were dreaming of West Coast schools like Stanford or UCLA and had never heard of Worcester, Massachusetts. So, instead of pitching them my college experience I focused on relaying to them the lessons I learned from my own college application process.

Lesson #1: don’t apply to a school you wouldn’t want to actually attend. There is always the chance that your one safety school or “throw away” school is the only school you get accepted to.

Lesson #2: Visit, visit, visit. Reading about a school in a college brochure or hearing about it from a friend cannot compare to what you experience in person. You cannot underestimate the importance of the vibe you get when you walk on a campus for the first time.

Lesson #3: At the end of the application process, what’s most important is not the school you go to, but what you make of your experience there. As corny as it may sound, it’s what I have found to be true of my own experience and the experiences of my friends at other schools around the country.

I hope what I told the high school students was helpful in some way. I know they helped me by getting me out of the house for a day! It was fun to be back in the classroom for a few hours, but I am so glad to be in college now and even happier to be spending this year abroad. Who knew it would be a trip back to high school to help me appreciate what I’m experiencing in college?

I can’t believe I just finished five months of living in Buenos Aires! Now that I am home from my first semester abroad and thinking back on my time in Argentina, it all seems so surreal. My last few days in the city were filled with packing, final meals with friends, and goodbyes to all the wonderful people I had met since arriving June 21st. The first of the good-byes was to the Holy Cross group. With our director Nick and our guide María, the seven Holy Cross students went to an upscale seafood restaurant called Marita. I’m pretty sure we ordered just about every dish on the menu and ate entirely way too much food, but it was all so delicious, how could we not? We reflected on our semester together, exchanged gifts, and then at the end of the meal it was time to say good-bye. A few days later, my last night in the city, I said good-bye all over again, not to the Holy Cross group, but to my group of friends from a different study abroad program. Because it was my last dinner in Buenos Aires I was allowed to pick the restaurant, so I chose a casual Argentine spot called Las Cholas. My last night in Buenos Aires was perfect: talking and laughing with new friends over a great meal of my new favorite food, butternut squash and corn cazuela. On my way home from dinner I got off the bus a few stops early so that I could take one last walk through my neighborhood at night.

The next morning I went to the gym and returned my membership card to the staff who had been so kind to me throughout my semester. I showered, finished my last-minute packing, gave my host mom a hug and headed off to the airport to leave Buenos Aires for good.

After a stressful return flight (note: a one-hour layover at Dallas-Fort Worth is not enough time to change terminals, go through customs, collect and re-check bags, and go through security), I finally made it home to the San Francisco Bay area where I have been spending my days adjusting to life in North America. I have found that my transition back to living in the United States has been relatively smooth, although I have experienced a sense of reverse culture shock. Occasionally, I will have moments where I try to flip a light switch in the opposite direction or I forget where certain pots and pans go in my kitchen, but for the most part, I have enjoyed returning to the comforts of my own home: sleeping in my queen-sized bed, eating Jif peanut butter, and driving a car. I am taking full advantage of these creature comforts while I can because in just over a month I will be uprooted once again and off to the second phase of my study abroad adventure. Next semester it is off to Dublin, Ireland for me, where I will be studying at Trinity College! I can’t wait!

As the semester comes to a close I have started to experience some of my “lasts”—last classes, last laundry runs, last time eating at my favorite restaurants. One of these lasts that I am going to miss when I return home is my Sunday schedule. This past Sunday, I had my last typical Sunday day because this coming Sunday I will be too busy running around the city saying goodbye to friends and packing to have a normal Sunday.

At HC and at home, Sundays for me are usually spent preparing for the week. That can mean doing laundry, writing papers, reading for classes, or running errands. Here, however, Sundays have truly been an enjoyable day of rest. I start my day with a banana and coffee at home and then I go for a walk down Avenida Libertador, a wide avenue near my house that is flanked by parks, plazas, beautiful apartments, and embassies. This is such a relaxing way to start my day and to get a little exercise because my gym isn’t open on Sundays. I then run to the store to pick up lunch and after I eat, I sit down for my weekly Skype session with my parents. Post-Skype session I take another little walk, but this time it’s just down the street to Plaza Francia where the Recoleta Feria is held every weekend. It’s officially called the Feria Plaza Francia and it is a stretch of hundreds of stalls filled with goods sold by local venders. The large green in the middle of the stalls is where locals gather to rest, have a snack, or listen to the live music during their shopping trip. There are many ferias in the city, but the Recoleta feria is know for the high quality of its goods. The best part of the walk to Plaza Francia is passing by the tourists on their way to and from the fair, maps in hand, taking pictures of the impressive architecture in my neighborhood. I love overhearing conversations in English and I am especially delighted when I get asked for directions.

At the fair I usually grab a quick snack of my favorite street food, garrapiñada (roasted, sweet peanuts) and wander through the seemingly endless maze of stalls filled with everything from kitchy trinkets to jewelry and leather goods. This weekend, I took a detour to the Recoleta cemetery, which I had visited on my first day in Buenos Aires with Cynthia. We never made it to former-First Lady Eva Peron’s tomb and I wanted to check it off my must-see list. This weekend was also a little different from most other Sundays because I actually bought presents at the fair! Normally I just walk and people watch, but this Sunday I had some serious shopping to do, because of course, I had left all of my gift shopping for the last week.

After the fair, I walk home to shower, eat dinner, and go to bed early because on Monday mornings I have a 45-minute walk to my 8:30a.m class. Monday mornings are rough, but having a relaxing Sunday makes them so much easier. Oh, how I am going to miss my Sundays.

For our final HC group trip we spent this past Saturday in the picturesque little town of Colonia, Uruguay. It was our first trip out of Argentina since arriving in June and it will be our last trip out of the country until we leave in three weeks at the end of the semester.

I had to get up at 5:45 a.m. in order to meet the group at the ferry terminal by 7 a.m. We had to get there early to pass through security and migrations before we could take the 90-minute ride to Colonia. Even though Colonia is so close, it is an hour ahead of Buenos Aires so by the time we arrived it was about 10:30 a.m. Uruguayan time. Unfortunately the weather looked unsettled—cloudy skies and a forecast for rain. We started the day with a guided walking tour from the ferry to the old, historic part of town where we saw some of the major sites. Colonia is a town of 23,000 people and most of the tourist sites are located in two plazas, which are conveniently situated just around the corner from each other. We saw churches, ruins of houses, the city gate, as well as one of the original Portuguese streets, which dates back to the colonial era (a period that lasted from the mid-1500s to the mid-1800s). Around noon the tour was over and it was time for lunch, which was perfect timing because we were all starving and exhausted from our day starting much earlier than any of us were used to. We had a long, leisurely lunch and then wandered around the cobblestone streets until we happened upon the beach and a little artisanal fair. As we took a break from wandering the stalls at the fair, I looked up and saw that the sun had come out. Finally! We all flocked back to the beach to sit out and soak up the sun.

After about an hour, the sun was so warm that I had to break out the sunscreen and then retreat into the shade for a break. We spent the next few hours lounging on the beach (well, I split my time between the beach and the shade) just enjoying each other’s company and the amazing weather. The next three weeks are going to be hectic for all of us, filled with projects, finals, papers, and presentations, so this was the perfect opportunity to sit back and relax before the craziness begins. Later in the afternoon as the sun was lowering in the sky, two other HC students and I decided to take one last walk through the city, ending up at the lighthouse. We climbed to the top where we sat and enjoyed looking out over the city of Colonia.  It was so peaceful and beautiful—as though one of the postcards from a tourist shop had come alive. We eventually returned to the street level to meet up with the rest of the group and catch the end of the sunset together before heading back to the ferry terminal.

We didn’t get back to Buenos Aires until about 10:30 p.m. and by that time all I wanted was to go home and crawl into bed. Despite my exhaustion, I was so happy and relaxed after having a wonderful day in an enchanting little city.

  • Tigre

  • October 15th, 2012

After weeks of clouds and rain, the sun finally came out this weekend. Even though it is technically spring, the weather has been so miserable and cold. I have been waiting and hoping for a beautiful, warm, sunny day and finally, on Saturday, my wish was granted. It was 75 degrees and perfectly sunny and so a few Holy Cross students and I, along with our guide María, did what the people of Buenos Aires do when the weather gets warm:  we took a day trip to Tigre. Tigre is a small, riverside town about an hour north of Buenos Aires and the perfect place for a picturesque day away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Although there is plenty to do in the city itself—boat trips, kayak adventures, biking, museums, and even an amusement park, we spent the day as normal porteños (and not tourists) would. We walked around in the sunshine, ate lunch outside, and watched people row up and down the river. We then took a stroll through the massive fair called the Puerto de Frutos. The fair is much bigger and more diverse than those in the city. I overheard a woman explaining that the fair is there everyday, but it has the most offerings on the weekends. Vendors sell everything you could possibly imagine:  furniture, flowers, jewelry, and even puppies! I had planned to pick up a few souvenirs but I was so overwhelmed by all the offerings that I ended up leaving empty handed. After a tour of the fair we stopped for some delicious and refreshing treats at an artisanal ice cream shop. I was sunburned, full, and exhausted after hours walking around in the long-overdue good weather and so we decided to call it a day and took the train back to the city. Next weekend we will spend the day in Uruguay so I hope the weather will be just as wonderful as it was this weekend!

A few weeks ago as I was racing off to the Museo Etnográfico (a museum dedicated to the history of the indigenous population of Argentina) to meet my class for a little field trip, I came across a group of students who I could tell were obviously American. As I walked past the group I did a double take because one of them looked like someone I knew….wait a second, it was someone I knew! I turned around and there was my friend Rebecca, who I knew had just arrived in the city to start her semester abroad. She and I had been in contact and were trying to make plans to see each other, but she had been so busy with orientation activities that we hadn’t had a chance to meet up. I could not believe that in a city of 12 million people I literally had just run into the one person I had wanted to see! I’ve never had such a serendipitous moment.

Rebecca and I met on a program called Experiment in International Living (EIL) during the summer of 2009. We, and nine other high school students from around the country, spent a month in the northwest region of Spain living with host families, touring, and walking the Camino de Santiago. It was an amazing adventure and one that made us fast friends. Even though Rebecca lives in the Midwest, she and I have made an effort to see each other (along with another girl from our group) at least once a year since our trip to Spain. We have dubbed this our annual “girl’s weekend.” We try to talk as often as possible, but it’s often difficult to find time to catch up because of our busy schedules. This is why it is so great, and so surreal, that she and I are actually in the same place at the same time! It’s unfortunate that her semester is just getting started as mine is winding down, but I am determined to finish out my last few weeks here exploring the city with her and being her personal Buenos Aires expert just like Cynthia was for me! I have a to-do list of activities and sights for my last few weeks and I intend to drag Rebecca along with me as I work to check them off.

Here are some pictures of Rebecca and me in Madrid, Kansas City, San Francisco, and of course, in Buenos Aires:

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Katie Riley '14

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