After returning from Australia in 2012 and starting Tourism degree studies at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, it took me about 6 months to realise I need to move again. I applied for an exchange semester for spring 2014 in Athlone, Ireland. Why Athlone? Because my options were Athlone or Tralee. If you’ve ever been to Tralee, you understand my choice. As a city Athlone is not any better but the connections to Galway and Dublin are better!
Athlone is situated in the middle of Ireland. Its attractions are a cathedral, Athlone “Castle” and Sean’s Bar. Out of all these, the only place I visited was Sean’s Bar. It is the oldest Irish pub in the WORLD. Been there since 900s! Imagine that! I don’t know if even Jesus is as old.
Athlone is a small town. At the time there were 19 000 people living there, two malls, some cafés and restaurants. Mostly, there were pubs but you can always count on finding pubs in Ireland. My favourite in Athlone was Sean Og’s because next door had the best chicken burgers and chips (almost too convenient) and there were no tourists! I don’t feel like a tourist in Athlone or Ireland, more so I felt like coming home. I had been to Athlone before and I had friends in Ireland. What I meant to achieve during my exchange was to figure out if I wanted to live there. Well, here’s a tip for ya’ll: DO NOT MOVE TO IRELAND unless you love cold, rain and wind.
My spring in Ireland went just as planned: I do not remember much. My days off consisted of watching films and series and eating chocolate. This is all really clear when I look at pictures of myself from this time, because I was about double the size I am now. But luckily that’s all in the past!
I did go to school most days, studied some and took trips to Galway, Dublin and Edinburgh. I also took advantage of Ryanair and went to tour Belgium, parts of the Netherlands and Luxembourg. But maybe the most important trip I made was to Venice, Slovenia and Milan. My classmate was on her exchange in Portoroz, Slovenia, and I just wanted to see the place so I asked her if I could go visit her. We did not even know each other, but we do now! She’s grown to be my travel-addict friend, my go-to person when furious about something, and she’s the one who always tells me not to be so dramatic.
I don’t have much more to say about Athlone, so here’s Athlone in pictures:
My room, my home for the 5 months I stayed in Athlone. Pink room, I do not miss you.
This is why I love Ireland: the nature’s greeness is from another world!
Life in general. Not bad at Sean Og!
On a Uni trip, maybe in Sligo.
Even though life in Athlone was rather boring and tough, I did have good times as well. I learned that I will not – ever – move to Ireland again, but I am so thankful that I got that idea off my head. Before that spring I was all about moving to Ireland, living there forever and forever, happily from pub to pub. Now I know better!
Next post is all about my hometown and my current (and perhaps final) home. Tampere in Finland! We just got our first snow of the year yesterday, and the Festival of Light started. Amazing<3