Elizabeth Hurd is a student at Saginaw Valley State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Elizabeth is currently studying abroad with ISA in Galway, Ireland.
If you’re planning to study abroad, or even just take a trip, it’s always good to have some insider tips. So, I’ve decided to share some of my knowledge of the city of Galway. First of all, if you do want to study abroad, I highly suggest Galway, Ireland. It’s a fantastic city. The university is one of the best reputed in Europe, which is good academically. The city itself is also great. Pubs, shops, and restaurants make up the downtown area, which allows for some relaxing days and fun evenings. I’ve decided to share some general tips of what to check out in the city and how to survive life in Ireland generally. Let’s begin with where to go:
1) The King’s Head Pub: Located in the heart of downtown Galway, the King’s Head is reportedly the oldest pub in Ireland. It has a great atmosphere, lively and upbeat. They charge about 4 euro for a beer, so going out to this place every once in a while won’t do much damage to your wallet. That being said, if you are at a pub, they frown on over drinking. If you are loud and sloppily drunk, many people are disgusted by that and it’s a sure sign you’re an American college student. So have fun at the pub, but don’t go overboard.
2) The Marketplace: Say you’re not really into pub life. Then make sure you are awake early in the morning on Saturdays! Every Saturday in downtown Galway there is a marketplace. Everything is sold there from knitted items, crafts, jewelry, fresh food, cooked food, flowers, literally everything! It’s so much fun to wander through the marketplace, see what’s for sale, and talk to some locals. One place I suggest you check out is a crepe stand, if it’s there. They make delicious crepes, and for pretty cheap too. A cinnamon sugar crepe cost me only two euro! The marketplace opens at 9 and closes at 6, so it’s easy to go downtown and grab a bite to eat before checking the marketplace out.
Those are just a few cultural places to check out in Galway. There are tons of shops downtown to wander in and out of, so you can easily spend a majority of a day just shopping there. Now, I want to share some tips with you about day-to-day life in Ireland.
3) Rain gear is a must: The weather in Ireland is crazy, especially in the winter time. One day the sky can be clear and the sun shining, and the next the wind and rain is blowing and pouring. Always carry some rain gear with you. The wind is pretty brutal, not even the most expensive umbrella in the world could withstand a windy day in Galway. I would suggest a sturdy raincoat, with a hood that can be tightened and not blow off of your head. I also suggest investing in rain boots. If you’re studying abroad, don’t bother packing them. Plenty of stores sell them, and they’re not too expensive.
4) Take the Gaelic class: Take this class! It’s fantastic, and fun. It focuses on the oral and conversational aspect of the language, so you learn to speak it before you write it. I feel so much more confidence in my Gaelic skills after four weeks than I do with four years of middle/high school French in the States.
5) Get out and explore: There is so much to do and see in Galway, but make sure you get out of the city. Galway is great, but there is so much more to see. Go to Dublin, go to Waterford, even get out of Ireland! Have fun, make the most of your time, and explore!