May was a month filled with sadness and happiness. There were a few more trips left, happiness, but then there was the ever-looming aspect of having to go home soon, sadness. But, it does mean that I must do what I can to make my trip worth it.
Alexis originally brought up the idea of going to Ibiza before we even went on our exchange program. She told me originally it was for her birthday, so I brought it up to her during our trip to Berlin. She changed it up and decided to go to Greece but still told me that Ibiza was still on her mind. So, when she told me she was going to go, I decided why not? Ibiza is known to be THE place to go to for vacationing in Europe. When I got there, it was already in the late afternoon so we just planned on walking along the beach in Ibiza Town. With swimming and relaxing on the beach being done tomorrow, we decided to just find dinner and a place to get cocktails. This was the first time I had paella, which was pretty good. We decided that we should head back to our hostel and just sleep and have enough energy for tomorrow. The next day we were planning on going to San Antonio which was on the west coast of Ibiza. Our plans to rent a scooter fell flat and required us to rent bikes instead. For someone like me, who’s at a weird in between of fit and unfit, biking long distance was going to be a pain for me. It didn’t help that I feel down twice. The first was from changing onto the sidewalk at a bad angle and causing me to fall and scrape my knee. The second, was from me trying to get my phone out of my pocket. On uneven ground. Of rocks. Leading to me getting a few cuts on my other knee and a scrape on my palm. BUT, other than my grave mistakes, the beach we got to was worth it. The nice sun and breeze made it enjoyable, while I didn’t dare jump into the water and face excruciating pain. After our sun tan, we went on our trip back to San Antonio, another painful long bike ride. We went back to look for a sunset restaurant to get food and watch the sunset. With the gorgeous view over, we needed to head back to Ibiza Town to get ready and rest up for our night out at Ibiza’s famous club, which cost a staggering 40 euros to get into! I want to say it was fun, but their choice of music made it only so enjoyable. The amazing weather and views combined with the bad relationship I had with the bike still made this trip worthwhile and nice.
After my time at Ibiza, I ended up having a layover at Valencia. Alexis told me that paella is from Valencia, so I just knew I had to spend my 3 hours looking for some! And let me tell you, I can never eat paella again. At the same price and having the same amount (but probably due to Ibiza being expensive in general) as the paella at Ibiza, it was better! The rice was softer, the flavors in the rice were fantastic, the seafood on the paella were better suited and in great quantity. I’ve never had something as fascinating and gorgeous as this for a meal.
I originally never had plans to go back to London. Being that its expensive and that I’ve already been there before. But, I had a recent liking towards Manchester United, due to one of their players, Marcus Rashford, a young player with a lot of potential and my starting player in my soccer game. So, wanting to see Manchester United and a Premier League game pushed me to take a cheap airplane ticket to go see Manchester.
Manchester wasn’t that big a city. I originally thought it would’ve been close to the size of London, but it ended up being more calm and smaller. It was nice for me since it meant that getting around to the things I wanted to see wouldn’t be that hard. Starting from Heaton Park, I walked around a bit to see the famous park/golf course. I then went back to the city center and went on my pub crawl. Despite the high prices in England, I found that you could actually find a lot of cheap, craft beer if you go at happy hour, around 4-7. The rest of my afternoon was spent going to these pubs and my path even lead me to one of Manchester’s oldest pubs, City Arms.
After enjoying their vast selection of beers, I went on my way to Old Trafford. The game was full of fans rooting for Man U against Celta de Vigo, a team from Spain’s La Liga. This was the second game in the Semifinal round of the Europa League, a competition where teams compete to get into the Champions League, where the best teams in Europe compete, if they weren’t previously qualified or were dropped from the Champions League group stage. This meant a lot as this season Man U was only 6th, where you had to be 3rd minimum to get into the Champions League. Winning the tournament meant that they get into the Champions League and have a chance to at the title. The game ended up being very two sided and a goal for both sides. But, the game was the epitome of why Americans usually don’t like soccer, with Man U playing overly defensive that even the fans were booing and hissing the players decision. The reason being is that their manager, Mourinho, is known to have a defensive playstyle, ending with Man U having an 18-15-5 record, the most ties in the league. Nevertheless, Man U ended up winning 2-1 aggregate (as they won 1-0 in the first game) and moved on to the finals to win their first Europa League title. Despite this boring playstyle, I still can say that I finally have a Premier League team to support. My only hopes now are that they don’t ever face Bayern Munich in the Champions League, otherwise I’m just going to be straight rooting for Bayern.
My final trip of my exchange would be a trip with my roommates from Uruguay, Juan and Jorge. Funny thing is, along with London, Dublin also had cheap tickets, which meant they also wanted to come too. Our plans for Dublin were really simple. Drink as much beer as we can and go to the Cliffs of Moher. The first night we got there we went straight to the Temple Bars. Being a Sunday evening, we assumed there wouldn’t be that many people at the bars. Yea right. There were a bunch open, but their oldest bar, The Temple Bar Pub, was packed to the brim. Even when a pint cost 6 to 7 euros and the music was mediocre, people still enjoyed the atmosphere. The interesting part about the night was that at the three bars we went to, they all had some sort of aspect that counters the other. The first bar, The Temple Bar Pub, had a lot of people, high costs, and the worst music of the three. The second place we went to had great music, a great selection of beers, and very little people. The third had a lot of people, good prices, and good music. It ended up just being what you wanted.
The next day we went on a walking tour around the city. It was great as we saw a lot of the city and in a way that didn’t require us to just slowly find the places. Afterwards, we went straight to Phoenix Park, known for deer roaming the plains and forest of the park. With over 40 minutes of walking, we finally found the deer and started to try to pet them. I’d like to say it was an easy job to coerce them, but it wasn’t. We found out the best way was to bribe them with leaves off the trees. Being that they can’t usually get those leaves meant that they usually would stand still and even walk to you to get the leaves. This part ended up being our favorite for the deer that we saw and for having a lot of flat land for us to toss a football and just enjoy the weather. With all the walking we did and needing to wake up at 6 AM tomorrow, we decided to call it a night and just head to bed.
The next day we went on a whole day trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. We were really worried if we would’ve been able to see the Cliffs or not that day. The forecast for the week was cloudy and chance of rain. Even the day before on our walking tour and the moment we got to Galway was raining. We got lucky though when just five minutes later at Galway the clouds cleared for the rest of the day. The Cliffs were just breathtaking. We were both in awe in what we saw there and scared of falling off the cliffs. With how big the Cliffs were, we had to do a lot of walking and trekking just to find all the best views we could. Afterwards, we went to get our first taste of authentic Irish food and went on our way back to Dublin.
My last trip of my exchange will go down as one of the best trips for me. I got to do things I wanted to do with friends I wanted to do them with all while seeing the amazing sights. This trip was the trip I’ve always wanted this semester.
Getting back home was going to be a pain. I had two check-ins (that were 23 and 53 kg, meaning that one was over 20 kg over) and a carry on to bring with me. Unluckily for me, the train station was a 20 minute walk away and there’s a hill to the train station. Luckily for me, my roommates were nice enough to come with me to help take my luggage and see me off. It took me a solid 30 minute to walk through the airport due to how heavy my luggage was, making it stressful and frustrating. The flight overall wasn’t that bad since it was an hour shorter than was planned. Until I came back and felt the humidity.
And with this, my exchange program is over. All the friends and people I made, all the places and cultures I saw and experienced, and all the things I learned about myself will forever be with me in my memories and pictures. If I could ever do this again I would, because I know that the memories I make are worth it. Heck, my friends and I have even talked about meeting up sometime for them to experience American culture and for me to experience Uruguay and Portugal, which along with Spain, Greece, and Croatia were regrets of mine for not visiting. Even though all this may never be available to me again soon, the ease of traveling and having fun, not much pressure bearing down on me while doing so, I know that I’ll eventually have the time to do this all over again. And with this, all good things must come to an end.