The Mitchell Scholars Whatsapp messaging thread is a traveller’s dream. All semester long, impossibly exciting plans pop up weekly. “I’m going to Iceland next weekend, who wants in?” “Anyone up for Morrocco in February?” “Planning a trip to fabulous city in literally every single month we have left in Ireland, who’s free?” My initial impulse is always a resounding ‘yes!’ but the reality of my program is usually a resounding ‘ha!’. Since I’m studying theatre directing, a lot of my coursework requires me to be in Dublin, on campus, working around my actors’ schedules outside of classes. Weekends are prime rehearsal times, so I’ve had to wish my fellow Mitchells well and then drool over their travel photos on my phone while hiding in the bathroom on breaks from rehearsal, which I almost never but sometimes often do. Don’t feel too sorry for me, though- I love my program!
When I found out I received the Mitchell Scholarship last November, my heart soared with all the travel possibilities a year studying in Europe would afford me. I have had some very exciting travel opportunities in the past (friends living in Hawaii, backpacking through Vietnam, staying in a fully sustainable handmade clay house on top of a mountain in a cloud forest in Costa Rica) but Europe is still largely unexplored territory for me. I had toured Ireland with my dance school when I was a teenager and returned in 2014 for some travel photography but had never been anywhere else in this part of the world.
I snuck a quick weekend trip to London with my classmate Andy during Reading Week and hopped up to Galway with a few Mitchells on a bank holiday, but otherwise I’ve been firmly Dublin-rooted, grappling with the challenges and rewards of a very demanding one year fine arts degree. Before I left home, I was convinced that I’d be fine spending the winter holidays away from home. A year seemed like such a short period of time and I decided that if enough of my family came to visit me in Ireland, I’d have no need to return to NY before the year was up. My boyfriend booked a monthlong ticket to visit me here and travel together months before I left for Ireland. I had a plan; to go on holiday during the holidays.
Creeping in everywhere. When I’m tired. When I’m listening to the radio. When I’m doing homework. When I’m walking to class. When I’m eating breakfast.
Jorge’s ticket was bought, our excursions to Barcelona and Paris were planned, the holidays were speeding near and I was beginning to regret not scheduling a trip home. Fun fact- I’m almost 30 and I’ve never lived more than 3 hours away from my family. The longest I’ve gone without seeing them is approximately 7 weeks.
The final weeks of the semester were a blur. I performed in a collaboration with designer Valentin Eisele (video here), pulled two all-nighters to finished my end-of-term assignments early and scooped my boyfriend up at the airport for a joyous reunion. I gave my fellow Trinity Mitchells (Rishi and Stephen) a final farewell hug for the holidays before they jetted out of Dublin. Below is a taste of my 3+ weeks of traveling, which took us to Barcelona, Zaragoza, Paris, Provins, Wicklow, Sligo, Birr, Liscanor and Quilty.
The view from above- flying into Spain.
Playground pitstop between Barcelona and Zaragoza.
Pulpo a la gallega at Pulperia O’cachelo in Zaragoza- one of my top 5 meals in LIFE.
The breathtakingly beautiful Monasterio Veruelo near Vera de Moncayo, Spain.
Attention to detail in Barcelona.
The bread in Paris. That. is. all.
Bumping into Belfast Mitchell Scholar Rachel at the Louvre!
Skyping with Santa Claus (my father) from Paris.
A little hint of home!
The Eiffel Tower.
Caving in Provins.
Recreating one of my favorite recipes from my mother on a wood burning stove!
Mossy close-ups in Sligo.
Hiking around the Ox Mountains.
Enchanted forests! Seriously.
Two of approximately one million farm animals I photographed.
Though I’m already planning a nostalgia-packed Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year for 2016 with my family to make up for lost time, I’m really grateful for the experience of these past few weeks. A holiday to remember, for sure.