May the road rise up to meet you.

I’ve got my hot cup of tea, so I think i’m set to write for a little while :). This past week was freshmen orientation, which left us international students nothing to do. Except travel! Along with four other international students, I book a flight to Kerry, Ireland. We started out by travelling about four hours into the heart of Doolin, Ireland.  Check it out on Google maps, it’s so small! It was four hours of long, narrow, winding roads. The countryside is absolutely beautiful. We ate in a locals pub that evening (Irish bacon and cabbage was my meal of choice), and then we stayed in a quaint, 300 year-old farmhouse hostel. In the morning we took a two hour hike to one of Ireland’s top sights: The Cliffs of Moher. We walked on a trail along Ireland’s coast. There were rams who joined us for part of  the path, and at another time we had to walk through a cow pasture. There was literally no one around, just the cliffs to the right and the hills to the left. Definitely one of the best landscapes that i’ve ever seen. It was as Irish as it gets.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We then spent two days in Dublin. We toured Trinity College, the Dublin Castle, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (My favorite part of Dublin). Overall I wasn’t incredibly impressed with Dublin, mostly because it just seemed like another big city, and lacked much Irish charm. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was amazing though! It was built in 1192, so it is one of Dublin’s oldest buildings. The cathedral was really large, and filled with memorials to Irishmen who had made their mark in history. One of the epitaphs really stood out to me, as it read:

“He faithfully testified the Gospel of the Grace of God, teaching and preaching Jesus Christ. And he exhibited in a useful and devoted life, the practical influence of the truth that he preached. To his exertions the institutions of the Deanery for relief of the destitute and education of the young owe their origin and prosperity…His spirit rests with the Saviour he loved and glorified.”

I just love that living “radically” for Jesus isn’t anything new. That throughout history people have truly known and loved God, and changed the world through that relationship. St. Patrick is a prime example. I’m so fortunate to get to travel around and see places like the Cathedral, which has had such a monumental impact on the history of Christianity. Yep.

Overall, Ireland is absolutely a European must-see! I would go back to Doolin in a heartbeat, heck i’d probably move there in a heartbeat. The countryside and the friendly people are a combination that just can’t be topped.

School really will start soon. Promise.

Love,

Rachel

Touring the Netherlands

So, I arrived in the U.K. this past Tuesday morning, and took off for Amsterdam Wednesday morning. Didn’t give myself a lot of time to catch up from jet lag, but I managed surprisingly well. Since i’m 1/2 Dutch, and only an hour’s plane ride away from the Netherlands, I decided I should go. I stayed in a hostel right in the center of Amsterdam, which was nicely located, but a bit grungy. Amsterdam most definitely has quaint and not-so-quaint areas, mostly due to weed and prostitution being legal. Even with the Red Light District, all of Amsterdam’s buildings and canals really are picture perfect. 

So during my first full day in Amsterdam I got up early and beat the lines to the Anne Frank Huis, which she and her family hid in for two years during WW2. It was very cool to walk where she walked. I then went to a popular street market, the Albert Cuyp Market, and then the Jewish Historic Museum.

The next day I traveled west on the train to Haarlem, which is a completely adorable town. Haarlem was the home of Corrie Ten Boom, one of my personal heroes. Corrie was a Christian and during WW2 she and her family hid and helped transported between 600-700 Jews in and out of their home. The tour was led by an older woman who was full of stories about Corrie’s work and life. Definitely my favorite museum in the Netherlands, if not ever. It was just very personal, and still very focused and affirmative of Corrie’s faith. If you haven’t read about Corrie’s life, then I encourage you to read “The Hiding Place.” Or atleast watch the movie. It’s very inspiring. After that I spent the rest of the day touring Haarlem and eating and people watching in a cafe in the center of the town, Grote Markt.

My last day in the Netherlands I went southwest to Rotterdam. Rotterdam was pretty badly destroyed by bombings during WW2, so it lacks Amsterdam’s characteristic 1700’s look. Instead, Rotterdam is famous for its modern architecture, which sprung up in the mid-1900s after the bombings. So I went to the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the Sonneveld House (famous modern home of a dutch millionaire, filled with all kinds of modern luxuries including an intercom system, and a laundry chute), and the famous Cube Houses.

Well, I feel like this post was just a history lesson. Whoops. I also moved into my flat today, unpacked, and am starting to get a feel for the lay of the land :). I’m meeting lots of great international students as well. Grocery shopping, laundry, and orientation meetings tomorrow.

Goodnight.

Love,

Rachel