Low: Complicated News from Home

The Cliffs of Inis Morr

The Cliffs of Inis Morr

by Josie Verchomin

High: My high for April would have to be Easter Weekend. I spent Easter in Galway with two of my good friends from Smith and one new friend I made while abroad. Many of my friends and my flat mates all went on a two week long trip to Italy and Greece, but I chose to stay in Galway. I made a great decision. The weather over Easter weekend was amazing. It didn’t rain, it was sunny and breezy, perfect weather to walk around Galway in and bike around Inis Morr. Brady, Mel, Julia and I had the entire apartment to ourselves. We cooked, drank tea, ate ice-cream and watched a movie. We planned little outings and managed to pick the best day to go to the biggest Aran Island, Inis Morr. Even though Inis Morr is the “biggest” it is still an island and when we reached possibly the tallest point on the island we could see where the ocean met the islands beaches and cliffs. We all got Aran sweaters and became those four American Girls in Aran Sweaters roaming around Galway. Several people said we looked absolutely grand and one woman even took our picture for her Instagram.

View of Florence

View of Florence

Low: My low during April hit when I received…complicated news from the home. My close friend, who I call my brother, was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I realize now, after thinking about this a lot, that I was devastated at first because I grew up with the diagnosis of Cancer as being a diagnosis of death. Hearing this news about one of my dear friends, who is only 21, hit me hard. The Doctors say he has a really, really good chance of beating this thing but it is scary non-the-less. A few weeks after hearing about him Baltimore, my hometown, began to rise up against injustice. Media reports blew the violence and rioting out of proportion and the time I spent reading about what was happening was emotional and hard to comprehend. April became a month of traveling, finishing school, and dealing with the thoughts of going home. I guess I had this idea that leaving for 4 months wouldn’t mean that things would change back in the states, that I would come home and everything would be the same. Now I see that things have changed, and there is more change to come. I have also come to realize that I have changed and that this change is good.

Cambridge

Cambridge

Glitter: It is hard to say what my Glitter is for the month. I had so many wonderful experiences. However with out a doubt visiting my dear friend Christopher Mergen at Cambridge in England was absolutely wonderful. I had this trip planned for quite a while. I knew I wanted to visit him since I found out I was studying abroad and he was going to Cambridge University for undergrad. I know Christopher from the school I went to for twelve years. I had been having a hard time with everything going on at home and visiting a good friend from home was just what I needed. Cambridge is absolutely gorgeous. Many buildings are very old and the University campus features many, many green spaces. I felt like I was at Hogwarts sometimes, and let me say Harry Potter was my childhood, so going to Hall in a robe and eating dinner was definitely a highlight. I also got to see Cat on A Hot Tin Roof , by Tennessee Williams. All in all visiting Christopher was amazing and calming, just what I needed to finish the month.

I am a junior at Smith College studying at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) this spring. At Smith I am working towards a theatre major, psych minor and Native American and indigenous studies certificate. While in Ireland I hope to explore the culture, and history, as well as the local theatre life.

Glitter: Travel Travel Travel

budapestby Josie Verchomin

High: I went to Budapest!!!

After having a rough week of work and writers block for days I met up with my friend Brady at the Dublin airport to fly to Budapest where we met up with Julia. We booked this trip through Weekend Study Abroad (WSA). They booked our hostel, bike tours, caving, and bath passes. After coming to the realization that I would need to write an essay while on this trip I figured my weekend would not be that great. Boy was I wrong. Exploring the city with two very understanding friends made this weekend productive and fun. I was only able to do this because my Mom gave me some great advise about doing work while traveling. She told me to put everything else aside and only allow myself to write this paper and be in Budapest. My favorite part about this trip was the Bike Tour. Our guide, Barbara, had grown up just outside the city and moved to Budapest to study the history and architecture. During her tour she was insanely passionate about everything having to do with those two subjects. IT WAS GREAT. I learned a lot about the city just from listening and biking with her. Biking through this city gave us a chance to see it all. I was won over by its ruins, cobbled streets, and intricate details. I fell in love with Budapest!

Low: HOMEWORK!!!!! ESSAYS!!!!!

My first real assignment was due this month. I knew traveling would impede my schoolwork, but I was optimistic until I wasn’t. An Essay was due between two of my trips. I wanted to finish it before traveling to Budapest but hours before I was supposed to take a bus to start that journey I had maybe written 100 words. I was sitting in my kitchen staring at my non-existent paper in utter and complete writers block. I was so distraught I ended up calling my mom – who whipped me back in to shape. I have to say traveling while in school is hard, but completely worth it.

stonehenge

Glitter: TRAVEL!!! TRAVEL!!! TRAVEL!!!

I went to Bristol, Salisbury, STONEHENGE, Exeter, Dartmoor, Budapest, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. It was a month of incredible adventures in incredible cities, with incredible people. This is my glitter because the experience was dazzling and it isn’t over yet.

Hiking through Dartmoor

Hiking through Dartmoor

I am a junior at Smith College studying at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) this spring. At Smith I am working towards a theatre major, psych minor and Native American and indigenous studies certificate. While in Ireland I hope to explore the culture, and history, as well as the local theatre life.

Glitter: Joining the Choral Society

Julia, Eilis, Big Ben and Me – London, England

Julia, Eilis, Big Ben and Me – London, England

by Josie Verchomin

High: I met up with two of my very best friends

I met up with two of my very best friends Eilis and Julia in London City. We have known each other since first year at Smith. Eilis has been studying in Germany on the Hamburg Yearlong Smith Program. Julia is studying at Exeter for the semester. I was so happy to explore London with them as well as friends I have made here in Galway, and Julia’s friend from home Trudy. A Highlight of this trip would be the first night we were all together. We went out for dinner and as we were eating I realized how comfortable I was sitting with all of them. When exploring a huge, vast city like London comfort is something rare. With Eilis and Julia I felt at home.

Mosaic ceiling at a Church Julia and I stumbled upon - London, England

Mosaic ceiling at a Church Julia and I stumbled upon – London, England

 

Low: I barely got any sleep in London

This month my low was hard to pin down considering I didn’t have many low points at all. That said though the night I barely got any sleep in London would be my low. It was the first night we were staying in our hostel, the women sleeping in the bunk below me snored all throughout the night. I barely got three hours of sleep. This low has taught me to value sleep when traveling. During a time when you just want to see everything in a city you don’t know, sleep is a necessity for me.

josie3

Glitter: I joined the student choral society

Last month I joined the student choral society and I am so happy I did. Not only am I singing again but I am singing with a group of amazing people. At Smith I am a member of Glee Club but last semester I had to take a break from it due to my commitments in the theatre. I have been singing in musicals and choral groups since the age of seven, which made that time away from Glee extremely hard. Choral Soc is a stress free environment and everyone involved just wants to sing. Last weekend we went to the Kiltimagh Choral Festival. We didn’t win in any of the categories we competed in but our scores were high. However, while there I won something far more important than a place title; I won a new group of friends. Choral Soc is my glitter for the month because I know that through the next two months those friendships I gained will grow.

I am a junior at Smith College studying at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) this spring. At Smith I am working towards a theatre major, psych minor and Native American and indigenous studies certificate. While in Ireland I hope to explore the culture, and history, as well as the local theatre life.

My High: Day Spent in Dublin

Taken in Saint Stephens Green, Dublin Ireland

Taken in Saint Stephens Green, Dublin Ireland

by Josie Verchomin

High:  I traveled the 2.5 hours to this beautiful city with my new friends, Maria, Julia, Kim, Audrey, and Jordan. We left in the wee hours of the morning, 5am. We got to Dublin around 8am and immediately embarked on our mission to find Avalon Hostel. Of course none of us knew where we were or where the hostel was in comparison to our location but that did not worry us in the least. After pulling up a map and orienting ourselves to ‘the liffey’ (the local name of big river that runs through the city) we found our way to our one night home. We of course were not supposed to check in until 2pm that day but the people at Avalon were so sweet they gave us security passes and let us rent one of their lockers for the day (which fit all our backpacks). They also said we could help ourselves to the free breakfast, which we did of course (one thing I have learned here is to attend anything and everything that has free food).

One of the best parts of traveling in a group is that we always feel safe because we never feel lonely. This allowed us the freedom to roam around Dublin with little stress. Without guidance we managed to see some of Dublin’s greatest sites by just wondering (of course luck did have some say in the events that went down).

Have you ever been walking along and realized that everyone around you is extremely well dressed, oddly arranged in groups, and weirdly following the direction of a random guy telling them to quickly walk this way or that way….? Well this is how we felt when we bumped into the filming of either a tv-show or commercial shooting on the streets of Dublin. We did our best to get into it but alas were asked to wait until they were in between shots.

The next lucky thing to happen was our run in with a street musician who sang and played the saxophone. His voice was rich, bluezy, and completely his own. We stopped and all chipped in a couple euros. We even danced a bit. When he was done with his song he asked us to wait. He said that together we had given him 10 euros, which was the amount he was selling his CDs for so he gave us one to share.

Next we happened upon Saint Stephans Green another remarkable landmark of Dublin City. There we took in the sun, made friends with the ducks and seagulls, and made our wishes into one of the fountains. Next we accidentally found four museums, all free, and in the national library museum an exhibit devoted to the work of W. B. Yeats. Yeats was a huge contributor to the Abby Theatre. Being a theatre major I was truly happy we happened upon this exhibit. After stopping for lunch we visiting Trinity college campus a beautiful site. We did not go into the historic library, for another time I guess. After we left campus we ran into a parade of protestors against the proposed water taxes. After which we roamed the famous Grafton Street. Within ten feet of turning onto the street we came across a street performer who promised comedy, fire juggling, and for his finale sword swallowing. We stayed for his entire act, which was hilarious and terrifying.

I have never felt luckier walking around a new city, and to top it all off I met up with a Smith Alumna Shannon O’Brian, and one of my current Smith friends Brady. It was a great comfort to meet up with them. In many ways our dinner together made me miss Smith but also made me realize I was in the right place.

On a walk through Galway, Ireland

On a walk through Galway, Ireland

Low:  Week three I got really sick, not just runny nose little cough sick, but full on fever, could not hold a cup of water without it shaking, sick. This was definitely my low for this first month. The cold is still hanging on and I have a wonderfully loud cough in the evening because of it. However this low did bring about some good moments. I was able to check out the free clinic at my school, and the local Boots pharmacy! This low also brings me to my glitter.

With new friends on our trip to Dublin

With new friends on our trip to Dublin

Glitter:  Ok this may be a bit cliché, but the friends I have made during this first month are my glitter. Embarking on this trip I was most nervous about feeling alone. I understood that I would be the only Smith Student studying in Galway this semester but it wasn’t until I was at my new home that I realized I truly did not know anyone here. I quickly realized that I was not alone in feeling that way. This realization came when Julia (now one of my flatmates) came to with the assistant landlord. There was a mix up in housing. Julia along with three of the four other women from Canisius College were placed in a four person flat when they were supposed to be in a flat that could accommodate all five of them. The were hoping that, at the very least two of them could room together in another flat while I moved in with the other three. I decided to meet the four that were here and immediately knew that I had a wonderful opportunity. I decided to move in with Julia, Maria, and Kim so that Audrey and Jordan could room together in my previous flat. I am incredibly happy with how this all worked out. Going back to how my low brings me to my glitter, well, when I got sick my flat mates helped me out. Julia made me tea, Maria walked me to the clinic, and most of all after only knowing each other for a few weeks they cared about me, and I can say the same. 

I am a junior at Smith College studying at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) this spring. At Smith I am working towards a theatre major, psych minor and Native American and indigenous studies certificate. While in Ireland I hope to explore the culture, and history, as well as the local theatre life.