If you are looking for some cute, trendy, high-quality, or cozy cafes, Cambridge is the perfect place to be. The city center may seem small, but it is packed with cafes, restaurants, and shops. There are your typical chain cafes like Costa and Cafe Nero, but my favorite places to frequent are the local cafes. Below are my three most frequented cafes in Cambridge that are must-try’s!
Fitzbillies: I may be a bit biased because I live directly above this coffee shop/restaurant, but considering it is very busy all hours of the day, I can’t be the only one who loves. Located on Trumpington Street, this is the perfect stop for drinks right outside the city center. This past fall, Fitzbillies expanded their restaurant to include a cafe right next door for quick orders or a short stay. The seating is limited but tables turn over quickly as its usually a short stop for tourists or locals looking for a caffeine fix and a small snack before heading on their way. The coffee and tea is served in cute blue mugs, a signature color on their to-go cups. I like to pair my tea with one of their signature treats, something they are famous for! I have tried almost all their treats and my favorite by far are the brownies, but the Chelsea Buns are one of their bestsellers too! This place is always packed so I wouldn’t recommend it as a study/work place, but its perfect for meeting up with friends or a quick stop before heading into the city center. If you’re looking for a full meal or afternoon tea, check out the restaurant right next door! Additionally, they have a second location on Bridge Street for anyone north of the city center.
Bould Brothers: Located just off Bridge Street, this local speciality coffee shop will blow you away. The aesthetics alone will put you in a good mood not mention it serves some of the best coffee in Cambridge. The fact that it is always teeming with people is a testament to its great quality coffee and service. There is minimal seating inside and out, but the staff are very friendly and will bring your order across the street where a stone wall makes for a great impromptu table. Or, you can take it to go and wander the streets of Cambridge. Bould Brothers was founded by two brothers who both work at the shop and love greeting customers, taking care to provide both great quality coffee and customer service. So stop by with friends, family, significant others and enjoy a speciality coffee served in the most Instagram-worthy style.
Indigo: This cute and cozy coffee shop is located right off King’s Parade, tucked back in one of the side alleys. It serves delicious teas and coffees as well as sandwiches, toasties, and sweets! They have some seating outdoors which is great when the weather is nice and more seating upstairs that provides a quiet, cozy atmosphere. I would definitely study or read upstairs since it tends not to be too crowded or loud. It’s a great place to meet up with friends, grab a quick drink, or relax in the middle of the city center without all the crazy noise and people. Beware, it is cash only!
There are many other cafes in Cambridge that I have frequented, but these three continue to be my favorites by far. If you’re looking for other options, you can also check out Hot Numbers (two locations), The Old Bicycle Shop, and Tom’s Cakes! Or discover your own place while wandering through Cambridge enjoying all the sites the old city has to offer.
I kicked off May Week by attending the Trinity May Ball on Monday June 17th. It was a spectacular night, exemplifying how to do a fireworks show right. Before I get ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning – dining.
Conor and I decided to go for dining tickets because we thought our chances would be better than if we tried for the general pool (it’s almost impossible to get tickets to Trinity if you are not a Trinity College member). Our strategy paid off and we were able to snag two sets of dining tickets! We invited along our Oxford friends Ben and Seline to join us. The night started with a champagne reception and photographs before moving into the hall for dinner. The dining option is always tricky because it means you could be too full to take advantage of the food stalls offered at the Ball and the food could be substandard to what one would expect for paying so much extra. However, Trinity DELIVERED on their dining option. I was blown away by the six course meal, as was everyone around me. The dessert particularly was displayed wonderfully and was incredibly delicious. I know I am overusing adjectives here, but I cannot describe the tasty dishes enough.
After dining, we had a second champagne reception. The line for oysters was still ridiculously long so we skipped that part, much to Conor’s dismay. We made our way to the riverbank to watch the fireworks show at 10:30pm. It was a shocking sight to see the river filled with punts, people spilling over into each other, pissed and having a great time. The punt companies hire out their punts for a pretty price to community members who want to see the fireworks show up close. A few particular rowdy men thought they would be cheeky and make a break up the bank for the party, but were quickly tackled to the ground by security. The crowd loved it!
The fireworks show was possibly the best part of the night. It was timed to music, ranging from the Greatest Show (apt) to Coldplay. There were fire cannons that kept time to the beat and an incomprehensible number of fireworks. Of course, the John’s committee were watching from across the riverbank to see what they would have to beat the following night at their ball.
Trinity offered a range of food and drink stalls, along with a ton of seating options – something many people took advantage of. One of the cooler seating options was igloos – clear plastic frames that unzipped with pillows and blankets inside for those who wanted to rest for a bit. They were packed the whole night. I enjoyed the Willow Bar the most because of it’s somewhat secret garden-esque feel – walking through the willow branches before happening upon a cocktail bar lit up with twinkle lights.
The headliner – Becky Hill – was a smash as the main stage tent filled when her set began with students screaming the lyrics and girls being hoisted on to shoulders. She was a fun, hype live act. While I only knew one song, I still had a great time dancing along to the rest of her music.
One thing that did disappoint were the fair ground rides. There was one which was a spin on a ferris wheel – people were strapped into cages that went upside down while also going around like a ferris wheel. Conor and I waited in line for about twenty minutes before the people coming off the ride started saying it was not a good time and not worth the wait. We quickly exited the slow moving line and headed to the dessert tent.
My favorite food stall was the Yubba Yubba donuts (throwback to the Keble Ball review!). As always, there were warm and delicious – the perfect snack at 3am.
All in all, I was very impressed with the Trinity May Ball, as I expected to be. I think it would have been more fun with a larger group of friends, but with the tickets difficult to come by, this is not always possible. Other than that, Trinity had everything on offer to make the night spectacular. I will definitely be on the lookout for tickets in the future.
With one month to go until final exams in Cambridge, I decided to take a short weekend trip to Lisbon, Portugal. One of my best friends from Ohio State University studied abroad in Senegal this past semester and we decided to meet up for a fun weekend away before she flew home to Boston for the summer!
Lisbon has gorgeous weather for the middle of May. Warm but I still brought a light jacket with me as it could get windy in certain parts of the city.
We booked an Airbnb in the heart of the city, just up the street from Marques de Pombal Sqaure. It was in a quiet residential building just blocks away from the bustling promenade.
Unfortunately, I missed my flight on Friday morning out of Stansted, which you can read about in a separate post! I was able to get on a later flight, arriving Friday night. That put a little wrench in our plans for the first day, but Amanda managed to see the Textile Museum and walked around the streets of Alfama.
When I arrived, we went for dinner at Time Out Market around 10pm. It was late but the place was absolutely packed. It’s a warehouse transformed into a marketplace with a bunch of food and drink stalls lining the outside of a massive rectangle filled with tables upon tables of people enjoying dinner and drinks. We had burgers and a pitcher of Sangria! I definitely recommend Time Out Market. There are so many options for food, ranging from seafood, to burgers, to a hog roast!
On Saturday, it was an national holiday so all the museums and heritage sites had free entrance, so the city was very crowded! Amanda and I walked around the city, a total of 10.2 miles for the day. First we walked down to the market in Rossio Square. It was a small market with a few stalls from which we tasted some cheese and fruits.
Then we continued to walk down to the coast, stopping in the Praca de Comercio, a large square near the water with a massive archway and restaurants and shops lining the perimeter. We took a few pictures here and continued walking along the coast and up the hills to the Castle of Sao Jorge. The line to get in to the castle was massive so we skipped that and kept exploring the streets of Lisbon.
We took a short break to eat lunch at a cute cafe overlooking the city. I had sushi and Amanda had a seafood risotto, both were so tasty! We had a glass of wine and toasted to being in Lisbon and to having a fun, relaxing weekend.
We continued on our way, exploring the streets and hills of Lisbon. I am obsessed with the tiled buildings and all of the colors! Lisbon is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth walking through just to see all the different designs.
We ubered to Belem Tower, which was a bit of a wait but totally worth it to see the historical site and the views from it overlooking the water! Getting to the top of the tower was a pain because of the way the stairs work. The way up is the same way down so there was a three minute period when people could either go up or down, alternating. When we got to the top of the tower there was a line snaking around the whole area of people waiting to go down. We waited thirty minutes, but at least we got to enjoy the views.
After Belem Tower, we walked back to the center of town. We walked past the Archaeology Museum and the famous monastery! In front of both of these, there was a massive cultural parade happening. All the signs were in Portuguese, so I am not quite sure what was going on. Some of the participants were dressed up as witches and devils, but others were dressed in more contemporary clothing. There was loud music, singing, and dancing. Down the street, we stopped at the famous Pasteis de Belem for drinks and pastries. The pastries were delicious and definitely worth the wait! The restaurant is massive and every seat was taken with lines out the front doors, but it is one of the must go places in Lisbon!
We walked back to the center of town and back to our Airbnb where we changed for dinner and freshened up. We went to PARK for drinks at sunset overlooking the city. This bar was recommended to us by a friend who had recently visited Lisbon. We walked to the bar, which was a little difficult to find at first. The bar is on the top floor of a parking garage! Pretty cool and different. It was packed because of course everyone wants to see the sun set from a rooftop bar. And we were not disappointed.
After drinks we went back to Time Out Market for dinner because it was a short walk down the road. On our way we passed a bunch of bars that looked like fun so we bookmarked those streets for the next night! At Time Out, we ate at different stalls, but the sangria was so good that we had some more! We got back to the Airbnb a little earlier than Friday night because we had an early morning planned for Sunday!
Sunday morning we headed down to the train station, bought tickets, and took the train to Sintra. The round trip tickets cost 5 euros! Great deal! The train ride was about half an hour and passed quickly. Once we got to Sintra the bus tickets to Pena Palace were 6.50 and left from right outside the train station. It took about thirty minutes to get up to the palace. Tickets into the palace were another 7.50 for the student concession. We hiked up the hill to the palace that sat at the very top of the hill (good shout because after that walk I can’t imagine anyone wanting to invade this castle). The palace was gorgeous! So many bright colors and fun tiles. We walked around the whole thing, climbing some stairs and walking along the outer walls. We ate lunch at a cafe in downtown Sintra next to the train station as we waited for our train.
After Sintra, we trained back to Lisbon and took a short nap in the Airbnb. Then we went out and walked through more of the town. We found some small markets in different areas with stalls that sold fresh food, jewelry, and hand bags. I bought Conor cooking salt from one of the stalls that smelled so delicious! For dinner we went to another restaurant, Lost In, that overlooked the city at sunset. We ate tapas style- a cheese board, oysters, chicken ramen soup, and salad with a large pitcher of sangria. I definitely recommend this place! If you want to sit inside you will need a reservation, but the back patio was great because the weather was nice and the seating was really comfortable!
After dinner, we went back to the same area from the previous night that we had passed. It was full of bars and popping with young people. We went to a couple different bars, one was a tequila bar which was fun. The staff were playing the live show of Marc Anthony on the television and speakers. The bartender was singing along and it was a fun vibe! Then we walked up a hill to a bar with live music where we tried Ginja for the first time. It’s a Portuguese liquor and we had seen it around for the past three days, so we finally bit the bullet and tried it. It comes in a shot glass but it is meant to be sipped. It kind of tasted like licorice, but a little sweeter even. Not something I would order again, but definitely glad I tried it!
On Monday, we had a quick breakfast at Stanislaw before I left to catch my mid-morning flight. Stanislaw was a cute, green healthy looking cafe that we walked past on our way to the cafe we originally had picked for breakfast. It looked to good to pass up! I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a healthy twist to breakfast. I also had a delicious side of yogurt and granola not pictured here. To be fair, I did leave most of my salad uneaten because for some reason salad in the morning is not my thing, no matter how delicious and fresh.
My weekend in Lisbon was short but I feel like I saw so much of the city! It is definitely doable in two-three days. Any longer and I would have done another day trip or spent more time in some of Lisbon’s museums. My favorite parts of the weekend were definitely the food and walking through the hills of Lisbon. I took more pictures than I should have of colored buildings and tiled buildings that I won’t bore you with here. I was just blown away by Lisbon’s beauty I couldn’t help myself. This was one of my favorite European cities and I definitely recommend to anyone who wants to see a small part of Portugal on a long weekend away!
I attended my first official Oxbridge ball at Keble College, Oxford last weekend. This massive college transformed itself to Gaia Machina – a rebirth of the earth through a machine that rebuilds the ecosystems after humans destroyed it. A very new-age, green theme to fit the growth of the sustainability movement. It was very edgy and different. Overall, I had a blast with Conor, but it some areas it was underwhelming. As a ball planner myself, it was hard to turn off the critical part of my brain and just enjoy the event. Below I will give an overview of everything Keble had to offer, what I partook in, and some final thoughts.
All of this information could be found on their app. The app was available for download a few days in advance but none of the information was released until around 5pm on Saturday evening. Their app was informational and easy to use. There were different tabs, such as Ents, Music, Food and Drinks, that could be sorted by location or time. There was an overall map, though it wasn’t very functional or interactive, but worked. I was able to favorite certain things, which then showed up in the My Ball tab which I liked. There were also push notifications which were helpful throughout the night. There was a menu that had additional tabs for How to Use the App, About the Ball, Committee, Sponsors, Charities, and Settings.
Yubba Yubba Doughnuts
These doughnuts were to die for! They were freshly made in front of me, with a choice of chocolate sauce or cinnamon. I chose the chocolate sauce and Conor chose the cinnamon – there was not a wrong choice, both were an incredible, delectable treat.
These gyoza were absolutley worth the hassle of a line. People streamlined for these when they first arrived, pushing and rubbing up against one another. It was basically a gyoza moshpit. But it was so so worth it! These were delicious bite sized portions, which I went back for later during the main headliner when there was no line! (pro-tip here from a beginner)
Dough and Deer Wood-Fired Pizza
This line was one-hundred people long the entire night. Waiting thirty minutes to an hour in line for one slice of pizza was not a priority for me, so I skipped this stall, but it smelled delicious. It did have an awkward placement, right next to the toilets.
The Missing Bean
This cute little stand was placed at the front of the college where the champagne reception was. It was run by the kindest humans! I ordered two Earl Grey’s, which were delicious and the wait was about five minutes!
Mac to the Future
Los Churros Amigos
Kelly’s Occasions Fondue
I was so excited for fondue! But by 10pm it was ravished and turned off. Unfortunate for people who wanted to miss the crazy rush in the beginning of the ball to avoid any chocolate spills on dresses and suits.
Sipsmith Gin Bar
This was my favorite bar! It had really nice gin (according to Conor because I am still learning) and Fever Tree tonic! The drinks were delicious and pretty! Waited less than five minutes every time.
Cocktails in Tunnel of Light
Cocktails in Mechanical Meadow
Tap Social Movement
This bar had the typical mixer drinks- rum and coke, vodka and lemonade. It had a bunch of seating with music. A nice bar to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.
This was the main stage bar with really nice cocktails. I had a Sex on the Beach, which was incredible! They also offered Uptown Spritz, Black Russian, Passionfruit Mojito, Virgin Moscow, and Virgin Sex on the Beach. As well, there were shooters- Baby Guiness, Skittles Bomb, and Jager and Apple. The staff kept the drinks flowing throughout the night so there was never a wait!
The wine bar was next to the Shisha which had a bunch a space heaters around. It was a chilly night, so Conor and I spent a lot of time at the wine bar, soaking up the heat waves, and watching the light show projected onto one of the buildings.
These were my favorite drinks of the whole night! I had a Bailey’s chocolate milkshake and it was so good! There were four different kinds of alcoholic milkshakes – the bottles were out next to each section so you knew what you were grabbing. I thought the presentation of the milkshakes was great and they came in small cups, which was the perfect portion for a dessert drink.
Green Bean Machine
Sigma was the headliner for the ball and did not disappoint! I wasn’t sure if I would recognize any of the songs, and I didn’t, but the beats were pretty standard for that EDM/pop vibe so it was super fun to dance along too! Conor and I got pretty far into the center of the moshpit, which was fun for a little bit, but then people actually started moshing and I am not a fan of that (my friend tore her ACL in a moshpit once).
Stir Fry Dons
ABBA Gold Tribute Band
Everyone loves an ABBA tribute band! People came rushing back to the main stage to sing and dance along with ABBA! It was definitely a highlight of the night!
Tunnel of Light
This was a hallway connecting two bars that was covered in light bulbs that changed colors! It was a cool feature wall where a lot of people stopped to take pictures.
I was really excited for this until I actually got to it. There was always a long line because the artist was spending about twenty minutes on each drawing. Her mistake was using colors to paint the drawing. It was a drag because obviously it was really popular but the wait was up to an hour or more, which was ridiculous for something that could’ve been 3-5 minutes per drawing.
Planetarium – Nature Dome
This was also underwhelming. The wait was about 15-20 minutes to enter a blow up dome with a planetarium show inside. The show lasted about 5 minutes and wasn’t that memorable. Apparently in the past, the dome was twice the size so wait times were shorter, but this year they went with a smaller dome.
Double Take Projections put on an amazing light show on one of the main faces of the college. It was a story about the theme of the ball- Gaia Machina, lasting about eight minutes. Then there were cool projections that played off the architecture of the building, staggered at various intervals for the rest of the night.
While I didn’t partake in the Shisha, this was the only area of the ball with outdoor heaters, so I spent time here, eating the doughnuts and gyoza and drinking wine and tea. This was also the area from which I viewed the light show.
The stilt walkers were dressed as giant tree people – it was like having a bunch of Groots walking around. They were another fun photo opportunity.
From above, its clear that my priorities at the event were more non-music entertainments focused, food/drinks, and then music focused. I was underwhelmed by the offering of non-music entertainments. There really wasn’t much to do besides music and queuing. I think Keble spent a lot of their budget on music acts, without accounting for what the guests would want to be doing besides listening to music. Additionally, it was quite cold so most guests wanted to be inside or doing things that didn’t involve standing in the cold. By 2am, the only offerings were the Silent Disco and the food and drinks that were left. The ball ended at 4:00am. So for 2 hours, they only had one entertainment option for a limited number of people. Granted by 2am, a significant portion of the guests had left. Conor and I left around 2:30am because of the lack of things to do. By that time, we were had been drinking for awhile and were also full, so I would’ve liked a chill non-music offering.
For my black tie outfit, I bought the black jumpsuit at New Look for about 25 pounds and my black booties are from Francesca’s (I’ve had them for a few years). I did see some girls wearing sneakers, which by 2am I was quite jealous of. Most of the men wore typical black tie, while being a little playful with ties and pocket squares.
Overall, I really enjoyed my night. Conor ended up running into a lot of people he knew from his undergrad in Oxford, so I met a lot of people and had a good social time. The food and drink offerings were great! More non-music ents would’ve made the ball incredible. But definitely would give it a solid 7/10.
This year my boyfriend and I visited Dublin, Ireland for a long weekend over St. Patrick’s Day. I have been planning this surprise trip since December as a birthday present for Conor, who was born lucky on St. Patrick’s Day! Since it was a surprise, I also got to do all the research and planning for the trip (my favorite part!).
How to get there:
Since Dublin is just a hop skip and a jump away from Cambridge we had a few option for how to get there. However, the time constraint limited these options.
Drive: the drive would have taken nine hours, so this was less preferable since we had to leave on Sunday the 17th due to other commitments.
Train: this would have required multiple stops and changes, as well as the ferry ride, so also not preferable, though doable.
Fly: the short flight would only cost us about 4 hours in total travel time (including airport time). And there are great deals over the holidays to take advantage of! So, I chose this option.
I chose to fly Ryanair because of the low fares, and only because of the low fares. We flew out early Sunday morning and came back Tuesday evening. For such a sort trip, we only needed backpacks, no extra cabin baggage or checked baggage necessary. I paid extra to pick our seats, but that was the only add-on. I was able to score two round-trip tickets for the low price of $126 (I booked while I was in the U.S. for Christmas). If we were going for longer, I would have looked at other airlines because the fees on Ryanair add up quickly so it might be more cost effective to book with another airline that has higher ticket prices but better benefits. For us, this ended up being the cheapest option as well as the most time-effective. Upon arrival, we bought AirLink Express round trip tickets for 12 euros to get into the city center and back on Tuesday.
What to do:
I researched things to do in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day as well as other tourist things to do since we would be there for three days. I mostly used Pinterest and TripAdvisor
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: We arrived in the city center around 11:15am and the place was already packed, the streets lined with thousands of people decked out in green, ready to watch the multitude of marching bands and people waving from the back seat of convertibles. It was an incredible sight to see.
Temple Bar: The bars in this area didn’t open until noon or 12:30pm so we grabbed some fish and chips from a local stand in the meantime and walked around to check out all the different potential bars to stop at. Across the river from the Temple Bar area were also a bunch of hotels and pubs serving rowdy parade-goers.
The Temple Bar: As in the most famous bar in Dublin. This was our second stop and it was packed with young people from all around the world, drinking, singing, and dancing along to the live music. This bar is massive, I lost count of how many rooms we walked through. This was definitely the St. Patrick’s Day vibe we we’re here for!
Al Vesuvio: We stopped by this restaurant after seeing a sign for it on the main road during a desperate search for a free table. We ducked into the alley and around the back into a courtyard where the restaurant was located and were sat immediately (lucky!). It was an incredible Italian lunch and didn’t break the bank. I had a pizza and Conor had a pasta dish, paired with a glass of wine. The atmosphere was incredible, we were sat in an underground cavern with low lighting and decorated by shelves of wine bottles. I highly recommend and would definitely go back! There are definitely other places for lunch, but I would recommend making a reservation somewhere or be prepared to wait awhile with the mass of people all getting hungry around the same time.
St. Stephen’s Green: We walked past this park on St. Patrick’s Day because it was closed to the public, but visited it on Tuesday. It is great for a midday stroll or to sit and rest your feet for a bit. There are a few coffee shops nearby where you can grab a drink before walking around the park.
Dublin Castle: I was surprised by Dublin Castle, we stumbled upon it trying to find our way to St. Stephen’s Green. It is free admission and there are lovely gardens with memorials for different people. We didn’t go inside the castle, but we walked around the gardens and the grounds.
Old Jameson Distillery: We visited the distillery on Tuesday and were wowed by it. There is an amazing gift shop, which we would have taken advantage of but our carry-on luggage wouldn’t allow for it. In addition, there is a cocktail bar upon entering that serves unique and fun whiskey cocktails! I had a hot chocolate with whiskey and Conor had a orange old-fashioned. We sat at the bar for awhile and watched other cocktails being made, all of which looked gorgeous and delicious! There are a multitude of tours, differing in length and price. Unfortunately, we did not have time to do any of them.
Royal College of Physicians: This was a unique stop for us and required an appointment. The Royal College of Physicians has a small collection of Napoleonic artifacts, including a toothbrush, powder boxes, soap, and allegedly a piece of Napoleon’s coffin! Conor is fascinated by Napoleonic history, so I booked the tour of the collection as a surprise for him. Granted it is a small collection, but it has a fascinating history and I would recommend it for any history buffs!
Other places we visited in Dublin:
Christ Church Cathedral
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
Trinity College (not the Book of Kells)
Cleaver East (tasting menu)
Oscar Wilde Statue
Merrion Square Park
Walked along the Seine
Places to Stay:
There are many places and ways to stay in Dublin. For a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day, it is important to book early!
Hostels: There are many hostels in the city center that cater to short stays for young people. The prices are unmatched. However, it is important to do your research about the place you’re staying at, the area it is in, and the proximity to where you want to spend your time. A private room in a hostel is just as expensive, if not more so, than a hotel. I would recommend this option only for those who are comfortable sharing a room.
Airbnb: This is a great option for staying in the city center, and there are some really cool and unique places to stay. Again, make sure you do research about the area you are in (safety first!). The prices vary, but you can definitely find a moderately priced place that won’t break the bank!
Apartments: Similar to Airbnb, there are apartment rental sites you can look at for places to stay. They specialized in, you guessed it, apartments! This may be difficult for a shorter stay, but prices and amenities are very similar to what Airbnbs offer.
Hotels: This can be the most expensive option, but you can also find moderate prices with great amenities! In addition, hotels have the added benefit of safety and security, but still do your research.
Conor and I stayed at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Dalkey, a small suburb of Dublin. I debated staying in the city center until I found out we could stay in a castle instead! There were a few other castles that have been turned into hotels, but the Fitzpatrick was in a great location and was the same price as the Airbnb I had been looking at in Dublin’s city center. We took a quick and cheap train (3 euros) to Dalkey on Sunday night and then a short taxi ride to the hotel (if it wasn’t dark we would have walked). The hotel was incredible- the staff were friendly and helpful, providing dental kits and a shaving kit; the buffet breakfast was delicious and plentiful; and the rooms were elegant, clean, and ours overlooked the sea! I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wanting to visit Dublin and stay somewhere unique.
On Monday, Conor and I explored Dalkey by hiking through Killiney Park which overlooked the sea and Dublin. We hiked down to the waterside and walked along the road overlooking the water. The views were gorgeous in the clear afternoon. In town, we went to Dylan’s Park where we could see Dalkey Islands and learned about the folklore surrounding the church and fort on the main island. For lunch, we ate at Ouzos, a small restaurant in town. We walked back to the hotel afterwards.
In the evening, we took a taxi to Johnny Fox’s Pub in Glencullen (Conor’s dad recommended it). It was a fun pub, full of those ironic and punny signs and local characters. We had dinner and drinks while listening to live music. It is the highest pub in Ireland, 280m above sea level! I highly recommend to anyone looking for a local pub out of the touristy parts.
It was a whirlwind of a trip, but one of the best travel experiences I have had! My biggest takeaway: do your research and planning, but have a little flexibility to be spontaneous!
I moved to England 38 days ago. It feels like years ago. I have nestled in to my one bedroom apartment above the famous Fitzbillies across the street from Pembroke College, my new home. Pictures hanging from string lights adorn my walls and the softest velour throw pillow lays haphazardly on my bed. My planner is filled with notes from each day, quickly scribbled as not to forget the memories as time flies by here.
There were so many images that filled my head when I thought about grad life before moving here. I pictured lonely nights in my room because friends would be hard to make in the graduate program. I pictured endless hours in the library with no reprieve because graduate school is incredibly difficult. I pictured a previously very involved student becoming solely focused on her program because there would be no time for anything besides books. I had built up these expectations of grad school being scary and hard and nothing like my undergrad because that’s all I had been told by mentors and friends.
Well, they were wrong. All of it was wrong…sort of.
I am at home here. In my month of being here, I have forged some of the strongest friendships I have ever known. I joined the university women’s football team and my college’s May Ball committee. I don’t spend countless hours in the library. Not because my program isn’t hard and doesn’t require work, but because I only have one class a day and a lot of time to prioritize. I’ve had many sleepless nights, due mostly to friends and club nights, rather than studying and stress-induced insomnia. In fact, I’ve only cried twice since being here, and one of those times was listening to the cast of Wicked sing “For Good”. Don’t get me wrong, I do get homesick quite often. The amount of times I have looked at my phone screen and quietly whispered to myself “I miss my dog” is too many to count. But I also have created this incredible support system here, fostered through shared experiences and the art of listening. And this is just the beginning.
As a graduate fresher I am constantly asked how I like it here so far. Sometimes it feels a little arrogant to say that I absolutely love it here and there isn’t anything I don’t like because I know that is not the case for everyone. Maybe I am still in the honeymoon phase and the homesickness hasn’t fully hit me. But I would like to think that these feelings are real and they are here to stay.
I truly love grad school, and that was not a sentence I ever thought I would utter.
Here I am, sitting at the Oakland International Airport, waiting for my flight to London. Of course I am here a full two hours early so I have plenty of time to reflect on my move and maybe watch an episode of NCIS.
I couldn’t help but smile as I walked through the security line. I’ve never bought a one-way ticket before. It is a little exhilarating knowing I have no plans set in stone of when I will return to my home country. I wonder how long it will take for me to start referencing Cambridge as “home”.
I am sure moving to a new country will not be easy. There is a whole new culture I have to learn, different customs and practices, and a new language practically. I have to figure out a new monetary system, a new town, a new apartment, new classes. Everything I do from here on out is…new. And that is the most exciting part. I truly believe I was meant for travel. My soul is restless when it is resting.
Every person who knows that I am moving to England has asked me the inevitable question- Are you excited? I think what they are really asking is- Are you scared? I used to think I was terrified, about the unknown, starting over, knowing no one. But as the date drew closer and closer, I realized I’m not afraid at all. Am I stressed? Yes. Scared? No. I know in my heart of hearts I am meant for this adventure. I am meant to conquer this goal. I am nothing but hopeful of my new future.
When dropping me off at the airport, my brother said, “I’m sure you will do great.” and I started to respond with, “I hope so,” but I stopped, because I am not “hoping” anything. My future and my time at Cambridge is what I make of it. I don’t have to hope for a good time and an easy transition- I will make it so.