On the 3rd of January, I made my way back to the States after a lovely trip home for Christmas. My first stop was Dallas, Texas. It has always been a part of my American dream to visit the state that could be its own country – well, it is ten times the size of Ireland. I met two Study USA girls for this little road trip and as per usual, 'meet an Irish person in the states and you’ll be grand'. For the Dallas leg of our trip, we visited the Reunion Tower giving us a great view of the city and also went to the JFK memorial site. Our trip was cut short due to a few flight delays but we still managed to fit in a few drinks in a sketchy downtown pub.
A Greyhound and Megabus journey later, we arrived in to New Orleans early in the morning. It did not take long for NOLA to become my favourite American city. It is incredible. The people, the atmosphere and all of the attractions – there is something for everyone. We stayed at a great international hostel for three nights which allowed us to meet people from all around the world. Not only does NOLA have one of the best public transport systems I've seen here but its people are the friendliest bunch. The French Quarter is one of those places that I’ll always want to go back to – for its live jazz music during the day and its lively party scene at night. A must see city!
Another bus journey through Mississippi brought us to our next stop - Memphis, Tennessee. We were so lucky to be in Memphis for Elvis’ 80th birthday celebrations. The tour of his own house was well worth the money and was one of the most entertaining tours I have ever been on. Completely authentic. We had the opportunity to see the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and Sunset Studios. At night we took to one of America’s most famous streets – Beale Street. There happened to be a huge fraternity gathering at the time so the place was buzzing.
Our final stop was Nashville, one of my favourite cities from first semester. We really went here just to experience the nightlife which I had thoroughly recommended. The Nashville strip on a Saturday night is like no other. Cowboy hats, whiskey by the bucket and remixed country songs – what’s not to love? It was the perfect end to our southern cultural experience! A couple of months later, I returned to Nashville for the Hozier concert, on the eve of Paddy’s day. Not only was the show incredible, but we also got to meet the Irish man himself!
New York is always a good idea, and it’s an even better idea when you get to go see your family. I arrived on a Saturday afternoon, expecting to meet the family at the bus station. Of course, they diverted me to the pub where they had spent the morning drinking and celebrating Ireland’s victory over France. As it was daddy’s first time in NY, we did a lot of the touristy things like the Rockefeller and Statue of Liberty. However, the highlight of the whole trip was watching Les Miserables on Broadway – our favourite show. It was definitely a night to remember.
The three of us then headed off to the Windy City. Again, it was daddy’s first time here so Eimear and I led the way around the Magnificent Mile. Despite being the coldest we have ever been in our entire lives (-25 degrees Celsius), we managed to see all the wonderful things Chicago has to offer. The highlight of this trip was meeting some of daddy’s cousins, and reuniting with our great aunt. The craic was had until the wee hours.
SPRING BREAK 2K15. A group of eight of us along with many UE students, headed to Florida, for spring break. PCB is America’s number 1 spring break destination with over half a million students descending on the beach for one week of crazy partying. With a choice of clubs to go to every night, it was nothing short of what its hyped up to be. The craic on the beach during the day is 90, and everyone just wants to have a good time. It could be as tame or as crazy as you wanted it to be. I’m glad to say I have done it and survived. Waking up to the beach every day was enough to make it the best week.
For Easter break I headed to a friend’s house just outside of Indy. As it was the same weekend as the Final Four (college basketball championship), the city was absolutely buzzing. After living in a dorm for so long, it’s so nice to be back in a home! I even got an early surprise birthday cake. The highlight of this trip was the Indianapolis Zoo which is incredible. Anyone who saw my snapchat stories could tell I was loving life, or more importantly, the dolphins. On Easter Sunday morning, we went to Church and it was a completely unique experience compared to what I am used to at home.
For my 21st birthday weekend, I went to southern Illinois with my roommate and friend. We got to hike around the Garden of the Gods before heading to Burden Falls in the Shawnee National Forest. The weather was incredible and the views were beautiful.