Emerging Adult

I am no longer a student.

I cannot believe I just typed those words! I submitted my dissertation exactly one month ago today, on the 12th of September. I am only just now starting to feel some relief and am quite surprised it took this long. I was extremely busy immediately after submitting but as soon as I could, I spent four days in a row doing absolutely nothing. I literally spent each of those days lying in bed and staring at the ceiling and out the window… and it was absolutely glorious. It is exactly what I needed to reset myself mentally and physically because, as expected, the last two weeks of writing my dissertation were extremely intense.

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Exactly two and a half hours after submitting my dissertation, I got a phone call and received the news that I had my first guidance counselling job interview. My very first interview for a career-focused job… my very first interview for a job I actually wanted, not simply needed. I could not even believe the timing – I was on the most incredible high that day. The interview went well and I am very proud of myself, even though I did not get the job. I know there is something out there for me and I still have a very positive outlook on my job search. I’ve been spending my days applying for jobs, relaxing, spending time with friends and generally being excited about autumn’s arrival in Dublin. I’ve already enjoyed multiple pumpkin and butternut squash dishes with my lifewife/bestie and we started officially planning for Thanksgiving on the 1st of October.

Since I have finally had some much needed downtime, I have had a lot of time to think. I feel like I officially became an adult over the last month. It’s of course been a gradual process and much of it has been evidenced in my blog, but I feel it really happened sometime between the 12th of September and today, the 12th of October. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an adult, and, while I’ll never really grow up by choice, I’ve thought about these changes in myself and it’s fascinating to think about. On my 21st birthday, I tried various alcoholic drinks and hated everything I tried and remember thinking “I will never drink alcohol” (this obviously changed). The same goes for coffee. I remember, in my early and even mid-twenties, my dad telling me that I would enjoy coffee one day. I smile to myself thinking that one of his greatest joys in life is enjoying a coffee with some sort of pastry or sweet. This is now one of my greatest joys and consider myself to be a coffee connoisseur. I used to laugh at my dad and shake my head when he told me this. I am also officially tired of not knowing where I will (physically) be in one year’s time. I am ready to settle somewhere and have a place I can call my own. I want to be able to buy things without thinking about how I will transport it across the Atlantic Ocean if needs be. I am also very eager to begin my career and look forward to the day that I am hopefully settled in one job that I love. Another very adult thought as of late: I have realised I generally do not believe in soulmates (though there are exceptions). When it comes to romantic relationships, I don’t think there is only one person on this earth you are meant to be with. I think it depends on timing and where you are in a particular moment of time. And I have realised that friendship, companionship and compatibility is more important to me in a relationship than romance.

I am excited to see how I change and progress over the next couple months. I cannot believe how quickly October is flying by! Things to look forward to: lots of time with friends, new Gilmore Girls episodes (!), Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving (our 3rd annual and it means the world to us that our friends are as excited as we are!) and hopefully going home for Christmas.

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Oxford Birthday

I had the pleasure of spending my birthday weekend in Oxford with my best friend/life wife/flatmate. She did her Master’s degree at Oxford and I’ve wanted to visit with her ever since we met. It was everything I imagined and more and I can certainly see why it is her favourite place in the world. I was really impressed with how friendly everyone was and not to mention the obvious: the gorgeous architecture!

Highlights:

  • Staying in Exeter College – our accommodation was a room where Fellows stay, absolutely STUNNING and massive! It was honestly the size of an apartment and we had 4 different rooms! The light was incredible and the room was so quiet.
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Entrance to Exeter College’s Dining Hall

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  • Fellows’ Garden at Exeter College – favourite spot in Oxford, you cannot beat the views! Not to mention the privacy and the beauty. There’s not a better spot when the sun is shining.
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The view from the Fellows’ Garden at Exeter

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  • Cream tea at Vaults and Garden (located in the garden of St. Mary’s) – we didn’t waste any time when I arrived, we pretty much went straight to V&G for tea and scones!! Their house blend is easily the best black tea I’ve ever tasted. I already miss clotted cream…

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Vaults and Garden

  • Climbed St. Mary’s – the views are incredible! Well worth the £4 and the 25 minute wait.
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View from the top of St. Mary’s

  • Iced dirty chai at the Missing Bean – my first dirty chai (chai latte with a shot of espresso) and I’m addicted! Not to mention I completely fell in love with the Missing Bean – it is definitely in my top 3 coffee shops I’ve ever visited!

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  • Pimm’s at The Bear – such a great pub! We didn’t eat there but I was very impressed with their menu. A big step up from normal pub food!
  • Blue cheese burger at Turf Tavern – some of the loveliest outdoor seating areas I’ve ever seen
  • Bagel (with a gorgeous amount of cream cheese) and iced latte to start my second day at the Missing Bean – this place knows how to do coffee. Easily the best iced latte I’ve ever had! So smooth.
  • Touring some of the other colleges: Christ Church (the dining hall is unbelievably impressive), Merton, Magdalen (the gardens!!! most impressive grounds)
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Christ Church Dining Hall

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Magdalen

 

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  • Exploring the Covered Market and buying 3 different cheeses (Oxford Blue!) and fruit for our light picnic-in-bed dinner that evening (the weather wasn’t great and our room was so comfortable!)
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Perk of being an adult:  being able to eat just this (+ a baguette and a nectarine) for dinner!

  • Champagne High Tea at the Old Parsonage Hotel – K surprised me with this for my birthday. This place is absolutely STUNNING and this was my first ever proper high tea!! I was so impressed with everything about this place: the interior, the exterior, the staff, the lovely royal blue ‘princess’ sofa I got to sit on, the champagne, the tea, the clotted cream and jam, all of the sweet and savoury foods (except for the macarons). We were sickeningly STUFFED afterwards, mostly from all of the liquid… we each had 2 pots of tea!! I physically couldn’t sit up towards the end of the experience but it was SO WORTH IT.
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The Old Parsonage Hotel

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  • Drinks at The Morse Bar (in the Randolph Hotel) – we originally went just for a glass of white wine (we are poor students + we were still full from high tea) but while we were drinking our wine, we were watching Jose the bartender/artiste make cocktails for other customers. I’ve never been SO impressed by a bartender’s care and passion for making cocktails. We were intrigued by a certain cocktail he made multiple times – he carefully peeled a lemon and daintily wrapped it around the outside of the glass and propped it inside the drink and for the grand finale, PERFUMED THE COCKTAIL!!!! We later found out he was perfuming it with vanilla, but oh my goodness did this blow our minds. We decided right then and there that we had to have whatever that drink was. Best £13 I’ve ever spent! It was the Morse Bar Champagne Cocktail and was invented by Jose and I’m convinced it’s my favourite and the most unique cocktail I’ve ever had. It was visually stunning as well – very fitting for a birthday girl! “An outstanding pre-dinner fizz – combines Calvados Apple Brandy with Champagne and a hint of lemon and vanilla”

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  • Breakfast at Turl Street Kitchen – my first time having ‘bubble and squeak’! I had never even heard of it before and absolutely adored it. Great inventive way to use the leftover veg and potatoes from the previous night’s roast dinner!

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  • Tour of the Bodleian Library– I did the 1 hour standard tour of the 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor’s Court and Duke Humfrey’s medieval library. Absolutely stunning and well worth the £8 – our tour guide was fantastic. It seems like they limit the groups to 15 people. Be warned: these tours DO sell out, so get your tickets in advance!
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Divinity School

  • Exhibition at the Weston Library – we went to see one of their special collections and it was stunning! My favourite was Charlemagne’s purple and gold manuscript (mid-9th century)… so unique!

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  • Exploring various shops (Blackwell’s bookstore and Blackwell’s art & poster shop; Pod; leather shops)
  • Lunch at Vaults and Garden – veggie lasagne (exquisite!) with a salad
  • Cake (elderflower and poppyseed // avocado and lime) and iced dirty chai at the Handle Bar café (formerly known as Zappi’s) – absolutely loved this place!! It is located above a bike shop.

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It was really relaxing to not worry about anything other than my next meal and to explore a beautiful city with my best friend (except for the fact that I almost missed my flight back to Dublin – details in my next post). I cannot think of a better way to start my 28th year! On that note…

Is it just me or does the jump from 27 to 28 seem massive?! I feel like I just jumped from my mid-twenties to proper adulthood. This is probably because it coincides with finishing my Master’s degree but still. As sad as I am that today is the last day of August (WHAT!? Is it just me or did this summer fly by faster than usual?!), I have a fire in my belly and am so excited to begin my career and see what this next year holds for me. The next few months will very much be a transition period for me. I was hoping to submit my dissertation today but am (hopefully just) about a week and a half behind…nearly there!

I am going to enjoy my last few days/weeks of being a student and my very last month of student discounts. The next time I post, I won’t be a student anymore!

August Thoughts

Dearest blog, we meet again… at the time we usually meet:  when I am struggling to write my dissertation.  I find blogging and writing creatively often helps me to write academically, so here I am.

I simply cannot accept the fact that it is the 1st of August. How did this happen?! Time is flying faster than usual and if it’s true that time flies quicker the older you get, I cannot imagine what life is going to be like when I’m a whole lot older.

I’m not ready for it to be August for a few major reasons:

  • This is my last official month of being a student and therefore, life as I know it will never be the same once August is over.  As much as I am ready to be rid of the stress that comes with being a student, I am not ready for such a big change and will never be ready to give up my ever-changing, flexible schedule that is always full of variety.
  • My dissertation is officially due this month, need I say more?   This is the most terrifying sentence I have ever typed! It is going well but is naturally causing me lots of stress and is eating up all of my energy. Summer college classes are not a thing here in Ireland and it’s getting old trying to explain to people how this summer is the most stressful time of my student life. “But aren’t you supposed to be on holidays?” NO! “Well, you deserve a holiday when you finish!” … If only I could afford one!
  • I am not ready to be 28.  I am very, very excited (and blessed) to be celebrating my birthday in Oxford with my life wife at the end of this month, but I am not ready to say goodbye to 27, my golden year. Twenty-eight just seems so much older. I still feel like a 14 year old a lot of the time. I am currently reading the book “The Defining Decade:  Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Dr. Meg Jay and, while it is incredibly insightful and parts of it make me feel so much better about myself, I do wish I had discovered this book in my younger twenties and find myself wondering and worrying about the state of my life. Having said this, if you are a twenty-something, read this book now!! I cannot recommend it enough.
  • When August is over, I am officially facing the dreaded unknown. I will be in a major transition period and, while I know I will still be living in Dublin, I have no idea what I’ll be doing for work next month and if I’ll even have a job.
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Procrastinating going to the library to work on my dissertation by colouring

I must say, one positive thing about being a Master’s student trying to finish her dissertation is the ability and excuse to justify anything. Even though I’m as poor as they come, I can easily justify a take-away coffee every day and the occasional (but more occasional than normal) treat… because I’m finishing my dissertation and will do whatever it takes. Whatever gets me through!

Who knows where I’ll be in a month’s time. It’s terrifying but also a bit exciting. We all go through these major transition periods and I do have faith that whatever is meant to happen, will.

Are you going through a transition period right now? Tell me about it in a comment!

Checklist of Things to Do in my 20’s & 30’s

The following is a list of things I must do (if I haven’t already) in my 20’s or 30’s:

1) Eat healthy foods – This is actually a change that has happened to me already, and I am so grateful for it. I actually want to eat healthy meals (almost) all of the time because, unlike in my adolescence and younger 20’s, I do not want to feel gross after a meal… ever! I think twice about what I’m going to eat before I eat it. I am not saying I never treat myself to cake, a burger, pizza or fish and chips… I most certainly do, but in moderation and I dread the after effects of eating this stuff. This is one way I know I’m growing up.

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Must eat less full Irish breakfasts, as much as I adore them!

2) Drink less alcohol – This is another change that has already happened to me and happened to me at a younger age than most people. I have absolutely no desire to ever get drunk again and I mean that 100%. I never want to get drunk again. I didn’t start drinking until the age of 22, but spent that year of my life very much enjoying alcohol. I simply cannot imagine drinking that much these days and I now limit myself to 2 drinks on a night out. At age 27 (nearly 28), a night out for me now is much different than a night out when I was 22. My ideal night out now is a nice meal with a glass of wine followed by a cocktail and in bed by 11 p.m. (at the latest)!

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3) Settle in a home – This is how I know I am really growing up, because I didn’t even feel this way 6-8 months ago. I still do not have a desire to buy a home, but I want to rent a home. I want to settle in a place I can call my own. Six to eight months ago, the idea of settling down in one place was the most awful sounding thing in the world. I am quite tired of not knowing where I’ll be living after my lease ends and I want to be able to buy things for my home (like kitchen gadgets, my favourite!) without thinking twice about possibly transporting them across the Atlantic Ocean. I also really want to live in a house, not an apartment. I am the lightest sleeper in the world and am tired of constantly worrying what noises I’ll hear from my neighbours.

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It would be nice to have a permanent home for me and all of my stuff!

4) Apply for my dream job – I will be completing my Master’s degree at the end of this summer (how did time fly so fast?!) and will therefore be qualified to work as a guidance counsellor. I am so excited at the prospect of finally having a career and one that I really think I am going to love. I never thought this would happen to me! It’s definitely one of the most exciting things about becoming an adult.

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Time to be a professional!

5) Think about and plan for retirement – I will be honest and admit, this is something that crosses my mind fairly often lately, but I have done nothing about it. I have not had a stable enough job as of yet and certainly have not had a job that pays me enough to save anything (with the exception of the money I saved for my round the world trip). I am very close to being qualified to work in my field (a career! Me?!) and when I finally do, planning for retirement will begin. 40% of millennials don’t have current plans for retirement… that’s a pretty scary statistic! It’s a major goal of mine to no longer be part of that statistic, I’d rather be with the 60%!

6) Travel the world – I’ve done it once and thought once I completed a round the world trip, that might satisfy my wanderlust for such a big trip, but instead, it did the opposite… I want to go on endless round the world trips!! I want to keep going. At the top of my list: Japan, New Zealand & Mexico. I also want to see more of my country (the U.S.), especially the National Parks! Really, I just want to travel more often.

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7) Manage my finances – Ugh, this is definitely one of the biggest downsides of adulthood, but it has to be done. Since I am getting ready to finish my Master’s degree and just finished Exit Counselling for my loans, paying off my student loans crosses my mind a lot. It is a terrifying, daunting thing that constantly makes me wonder if doing this Master’s was worth it, but then I remember, without it, I would not be able to work in my field. I am very blessed to not have any loans from my undergraduate degree.

Personal Capital has a great Wealth Management Tool, which can assist you in managing your finances and planning for retirement!

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8) Become best friends with my parents – I am happy to say this has already happened to me and we’ve always been close, but me moving abroad brought us even closer. At my age now, I can say that I really and truly appreciate everything my parents have done for me, and I think it’s very important to reach that stage.

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9) Rekindle my interest in fitness – Something I have achieved in the past but not currently. The stress of my Master’s degree (and let’s face it, life in general) has caused me to stop going to the gym when in reality, I know it would only help relieve stress. I used to love going to the gym and need to find that motivation again.

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10) Achieve happiness – I think the trick to this is achieving everything else on the list first, then true happiness will follow (and will hopefully accompany me on the journey).

Iceland Road Trip: Days 1 (Reykjavík to Vík) & 2 (Vík to Höfn)

They say Iceland is the land of fire & ice. This is the truth. I found, in general, the south is the land of ice and the north is the land of fire.

First day in Iceland

I landed in Iceland in the afternoon on a Thursday and we collected our rental car from Sixt at the airport. We were very lucky – we originally booked one of their cheaper cars (Chevy Cruze) but since they didn’t have it when we arrived, they upgraded us to an Opel Insignia for free. That car literally costs twice as much per day as what we paid!! I do recommend booking your car online in advance like we did – it should save you quite a bit of money. Don’t worry about purchasing insurance in advance – we were able to add it on when we were there collecting the car.

We made our way from Keflavík to Reykjavík (45 minute drive). We didn’t have much planned for today, we just wanted to load up our car with groceries and supplies and get organised for our road trip, which would start tomorrow. We read Bónus is the cheapest grocery store in Iceland but we got there just as they closed at 6pm. We saw a 10-11 but knew this was the most expensive grocery store in the country, so we kept driving and found a Krónan shop. We bought apples, 3 bags of pasta, pasta sauce, nutella, rice cakes, bananas, peanut butter, chickpeas, rice, crackers, TONS of granola bars, protein bars, tea, gum, fig newtons and TP. We ended up eating almost all of the food and the supply lasted for the trip.

We went for a rest before driving into Reykjavík to see the Hallgrímskirkja church for the first time. I’ve seen a LOT of churches around the world and this is by far the coolest-looking one I’ve ever seen.

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja

Something to keep in mind, before I get into details, for those of you planning to do a road trip around Iceland (and I will reiterate this over and over): You cannot possibly do the full Ring Road (Route 1) in less than 7 full days (if you want to see most of the sights), but I would highly recommend a minimum of 10. We did it in 7 but everyone we talked to was very impressed by this and said that is hard to do. It did seem rushed at times and we had very long days (easy to do with the midnight sun!). If you have more time, definitely make sure to rent a 4×4 vehicle because there is so much more to see off the Ring Road!

Day 1 (of our road trip) – Reykjavík to Vík

Before we got on the road, I went to Vodafone to buy an Icelandic SIM card. We went to the headquarters and oh my GOSH. I highly recommend going here just to see how impressive this place is. 1) Easily the largest phone store I have ever been in 2) Most gorgeous employees on the planet 3) Immaculate, impressive place and 4) If you make any purchase, you can get as much coffee and/or tea as you want. SAY WHAT?! I had the BEST cappuccino I’ve EVER had at Vodafone in Reykjavík. She put amaretto syrup in it and it was truly unbeatable.

We accidentally missed the Golden Circle, but I wasn’t too disappointed because it’s very touristy and crowded (especially in summer) and I knew we would be seeing plenty of incredible sights on our trip. I do wish we could have seen Geysir and the Kerið crater, though – next time!

When you are doing the drive from Reykjavík to Vík, do not be concerned. We drove for 1 hour and 40 minutes until we saw our first sight. Before coming to Iceland, I read so many blogs saying “you’ll be stopping your car every 5 minutes” because of the beauty, and I felt like we were on the wrong road because we hadn’t stopped AT ALL. When in Iceland, if you also find yourself in this position at this point of the trip, do not worry. Things will change.

I was also slightly panicked in the beginning because unless you know the names of the sights you want to see, it’s not always obvious where you should stop or when you should turn and go down a long gravel road.

Our first stop: Seljalandsfoss (waterfall). It took us approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes to get here.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

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Today was a day for chasing waterfalls. The sun was shining and it was beautiful outside (54F, 12C). We saw a rainbow close to the waterfall, which I sadly do not have any photos of. The mist was too strong to use my camera and I forgot my GoPro in the car. By the time I went back to the car to get my GoPro, the rainbow was gone.

Next stop: Skógafoss (waterfall). We hiked to the top and stayed up there for quite awhile while the guys went for an adventurous walk.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

We made it to Vík, ate dinner and checked into our guesthouse at 9pm.

Accommodation: Skammidalur Guesthouse

This guesthouse is in a lovely location, not far from Vík at all. I was mostly impressed with this place except for the bathroom situation. Only one toilet, one sink and one shower for the entire ground floor to share. At least the shower is separate from the toilet. Keep in mind: the majority of guesthouses in Iceland have shared bathrooms, which is fine, but only one is not okay.

Day 2 – Katla Super Jeep trip; Vík to Höfn – our busiest day!

We started our day bright and early with a Mountain Excursion Super Jeep trip to Katla with our guide, Aron. This trip was 4 hours and I HIGHLY recommend it. I originally really wanted to go with Katla Track, but they were fully booked well in advance. Luckily, I found Mountain Excursion because seeing Katla was very important to me. It ended up being one of the most beautiful places I saw in Iceland.

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6 passengers fit in the Jeep (my group + 2 others) and the trip was good fun. If you go on a Super Jeep tour, please be smart and wear your seatbelt. We nearly got thrown around with our seatbelts on (I’m exaggerating, but the terrain is extremely rough!!). Katla is one of the most powerful, active and dangerous volcanoes in Iceland and is due to erupt. It last erupted in 1918 and usually erupts every 50-100 years. Katla is underneath the Myrdalsjökull glacier.

I matched Katla (not on purpose)

I matched Katla (not on purpose)

The area surrounding Katla is simply breathtaking. There are stunning mountains covered in the greenest moss you’ve ever seen, contrasted with beautiful black shimmery sand. The Myrdalsjökull glacier looks a bit like a zebra and its colouring is truly gorgeous. All of this with no other people in sight (you cannot get to Katla without a Super Jeep). We ate 800 year old ice from the glacier and it was so unbelievably fresh. I saw a mountain completely covered in green moss with the exception of one area not covered in moss in the perfect shape of a heart. It made my day and I only wish I could have gotten a photo of it! But my lens probably would have smashed against the window of the Jeep.

Aron going to collect ice from the glacier for us

Aron going to collect ice from the glacier for us

Ice from the glacier (we ate the inside - very clean)

Ice from the glacier (we ate the inside – very clean)

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Haunted house near Katla

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Taken from inside a cave near Katla – raven-shaped cut out above the entrance to the cave

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Driving through a river in the Super Jeep

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Stunning black beach

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The most eastern point of Iceland

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Remember when Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010 and caused a massive ash cloud and disruptions to many flights? Aron told us after Eyjafjallajökull erupted, the Icelandic president went on television and said “You’ve seen nothing yet. Wait until Katla erupts”. The entire world will likely see effects of this eruption and since I’m in Ireland, I am sure my world will go completely black. Aron is also on the emergency rescue team and it was interesting hearing his stories about his experiences when Eyjafjallajökull erupted. He said Iceland has no idea how to prepare for a Katla eruption.

After the tour, we went to the Vík i Myrdal Church (aka the cutest church in the world), followed by a black sand beach near Vík.

Vík i Myrdal Church

Vík i Myrdal Church

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Vik

Black sand beach

Black sand beach

We made a quick stop at Laufskalavarda to see the stone piles.

“Laufskálavarða is a lava ridge, surrounded by stone cairns, between the Hólmsá and Skálmá Rivers, close to the road north of Álftaver. Travellers crossing the desert of Mýrdalssandur for the first time would pile stones up to make a cairn, which was supposed to bring them good fortune on the journey.” Source

Laufskalavarda

Laufskalavarda

We then made a quick stop to see the ruins of the Gigjukvisl Bridge. This bridge was destroyed in 1996 when “the volcano under the Grímsvötn lakes belonging to the Vatnajökull glacier erupted, and the river Skeiðará flooded the land” – a glacial lake outburst flood. Source

Gigjukvisl Bridge

Gigjukvisl Bridge

Our next major stop was Fjallsárlón – a glacial lagoon, which is less crowded and lesser known than our next stop, Jökulsárlón. These 2 sights are the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. For some reason, I never thought I’d see icebergs and during the time we spent there, I didn’t feel like I was on Earth. My excitement was unbounded at both of these locations.

Fjallsárlón

Fjallsárlón

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I have a thing for ice.

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We got lucky and literally had Jökulsárlón to ourselves, even though we’ve heard it can get very crowded, especially in summer. They do boat rides at both locations (I think), but not on weekends, which is sadly when we were there. I would have loved to get even closer to the glaciers. Fjallsárlón was absolutely freezing and the arctic winds were hard to handle. Jökulsárlón was eerily warm and any wind was completely blocked. It was amazing (and a bit sad) to see icebergs at Jökulsárlón breaking and falling over. The sound was extremely loud, like a gunshot. In a funnier moment, we witnessed a massive iceberg fall over and then right itself again a few minutes later. There were a few icebergs at Jökulsárlón that were such a beautiful deep blue. Right before we left Jökulsárlón, we witnessed a large flock of arctic birds make their way across the land and go for a swim in a line. I am not sure what type of birds they were – they definitely weren’t puffins. It was very difficult to leave, especially since even while at the glaciers, I knew without a doubt that this would be the highlight of the trip for me. There were so many more amazing sights to come, of course, but this was number one for me. And it was only day 2!

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón

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Arctic birds

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I didn’t want to leave, but we had passed the point of starvation and snacks weren’t doing it anymore. We were desperate for an N1 or any source of real food but, alas, no such luck. We still had an hour to drive before we made it to Hofn and found our trusty N1 and bought “appetisers” to hold us over until we found our accommodation for the night. We were lost. We called our host and his directions didn’t make sense to us so we ended up driving back and forth until he came to rescue us and we followed him to our gorgeous accommodation that night.

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I had intentions of being able to describe exactly how to get to this place, but I forgot to write these directions down and they are long gone in my memory now, so for this I apologise. Just know that if you decide to stay here, it is worth the search! Just make sure you have a working mobile phone to call the host because you WILL get lost. It is not on Google Earth and cannot be found on any GPS.

Accommodation: Guesthouse Birkifell

Our accommodation in Höfn

Our accommodation in Höfn

We finally arrived at 10:30pm and decided to boil water to make pasta. The water LITERALLY took 1 hour and 45 minutes to boil – so we ate dinner at 12:30am!! But it was really nice to finally have a home-cooked meal together.

Our slightly full trunk/boot, strategically packed every morning!

Our slightly full trunk/boot, strategically packed every morning!

Still to come: days 3-7 of our road trip + 2 bonus days full of adventure!

Days 3 & 4

My Top 3 Travel Bucket List Destinations

It’s tough to choose only 3! These are the ones at the top of my list, the new destinations I think about more often than others. My top 3 travel bucket list destinations are…

1. Iceland (Road trip in summer)

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I’m happy to say I am officially going to Iceland this July! My trip is booked! I will be there from July 9th-19th. 7 day road trip, 3 days in Reykjavik. I will be driving the whole Ring Road and am hoping to also get off the beaten track a little bit. I want to see the incredible greenery around the island, the impressive waterfalls and the Katla Volcano. I’m also ready to experience all four seasons in one day! I already experience that here in Ireland quite often, but have heard that it’s even more extreme in Iceland. I still haven’t planned any of my specific activities/day tours while I’m there – what activities do you think are must-do’s? Snorkeling/diving under the midnight sun? Whale watching? I’m up for anything! Also, other than hot dogs, what should I eat?!

2. Japan

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I have always had a fascination with the Japanese culture. I want to see the amazing diversity of Japan – the bustling, bright cities and the gorgeous countryside. I want to go “all out” and really get into the fashion (kimonos!). And let’s be honest, I want to eat the best sushi in the world! It would also simply delight me to be able to visit my Japanese friends whom I met on my round the world trip last year.

3. Northern Lights in Scandinavia (Sweden/Finland/Norway/Denmark)

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Who doesn’t dream of seeing the Northern Lights at some point in their life? For those of you wondering, I will not see the Lights in Iceland this year because they are not viewable during summer. I’ve always wanted to see them in Scandinavia anyway. Doing a husky safari has also been at the top of my bucket list since I watched Balto as a child, and I’ve heard that Finland is one of the best places to do this once-in-a-lifetime activity. Scandinavia is a region of the world unlike any other and I want to experience its beauty!

P.S. Yes, I am aware that Finland is not an “official” Scandinavian country, but it is in the region and I couldn’t miss it while in that part of the world!

Runners-up: New Zealand, Antarctica, Tuscany (cooking classes, sun!, riding a bike through the rolling hills, vineyards, ultimate relaxation), Backpacking South America

My competition entry for #TransunLights @Transun

Summer 2015 Goals

As of Friday, I will officially be half-way finished with my Master’s degree. I cannot believe how time has flown by. Since my summer is about to begin, I need to hold myself accountable for my upcoming goals. In order to attempt that, I need to write them down.

My goals for summer 2015:

– Improve my Spanish. Whenever someone asks me if I speak a second language, I am highly embarrassed to have to say no. I am sick and tired of it. There is absolutely no reason why there are so many bi/multi-lingual people in the world and I can’t be one of them. I took 4 years of Spanish (2 in high school and 2 in college) and at the time didn’t actually want to learn, I only enrolled because it was a requirement. When I went to Peru last June, everything changed. I really want to speak Spanish fluently so am going to enroll in lessons this summer. After I master Spanish, I want to learn Italian.

– Volunteer and gain work experience. I need to make myself more marketable so I’ve reached out to a few organizations to gain some work experience this summer. I want to help the long-term unemployed (including the homeless, early school leavers, etc.) find work.

– Work more hours. I need to start earning some money!

– Figure out what topic I want to do my dissertation on. This is overwhelming but is a must! My dissertation proposal is due in September, at the start of the term.

– Travel. I’m looking to book my trip to Iceland this week. I’ve already booked a trip to Amsterdam with my sister. I’d also like to return to Italy this summer or early fall. I’m hoping to return to Paris with K at the end of summer where we will simply eat ourselves to happiness. I would also like to finally visit Kilkenny.

– Eat healthier and start an exercise routine. I said this in my New Year’s post and have not started yet. I had some health issues that prevented me from starting an exercise routine before now, but there is no excuse for the unhealthy eating. I am tired of feeling like crap on the inside and want to lead a healthier lifestyle. If anyone has any nutrition tips that helped you get started, as obvious as they may seem, please do share. I’ve done this before but feel like I am starting over.

– Be outside as much as possible and enjoy the gorgeous summer weather that Ireland has to offer. Growing up in Florida, summer was always a dreadful thing and never anything to look forward to. It’s the complete opposite here in Ireland.

What goals do you have for the summer?