With the stress of exams looming, many students are faced with two options: accept a fate of libo-cops, library baes and the blinding low sun of Hardiman’s second floor; or run a mile. Without condoning the second option, there are ways you can make the most of your desertion, meaning you can get it all out of your system and maybe come back sometime. A couple of days escape from the country will refresh you far more than a week of Mammy’s slow – cooked stew. Here are our favourite student escapes this winter that will be kind to the mind and pocket.
Less than an hour’s flight away, you’ll make it to Edinburgh faster than you can leave in an exam. Start your trip with a free and freezing hill walk up to Arthur’s Seat where you’ll get incredible views of the city. Before converting a single euro, you can check out the Scottish Market on George’s Street along with the Street of Light which begins 21 November and sees 60,000 bulbs light nightly to the sound of choirs, bands and orchestras. All that without even mentioning battered Mars bars and shortbread.
Snow – seekers take note, Poland is your winter wonderland. With food and drink prices to bring you to tears, Poland is every student’s dream. Krakow with its many parks, provides ample opportunity for free snowy frolicking. For history – lovers, Auschwitz is a 4 euro bus away, free to visit and something you’ll never regret. Krakow’s salt mines are also a real treat and provide some respite from the snow. Heading further North, the country’s capital, Warsaw, is home to the beautiful Old Town that is sure to get the bells jingling. With ice-skating for less than a fiver situated in the Old Town Square, you’ll be left humming Let It Go for weeks.
For the authentic types, Strasbourg is the home of Europe’s oldest Christmas market, Christkindelsmarik. With a bunch of Erasmus students out there, you wouldn’t be hard pushed to find a fellow Irish student who might have room for you at the inn for a night or two. The market which was first held in 1570 has over 300 stalls spread across the city. A wide range of live music and cultural events also take over the city. Throw in four Advent Concerts and a Living Nativity for good measure and you’re sure to feel safely hidden from the memories of Hardiman and co.
The Scandinavians, a great bunch of lads. They know how to do Christmas they do. Get the earmuffs on and head to the city’s Vinterpark, the largest ski resort in the Oslo area. Without forking out the zeros for a week long skiing extravaganza, at Oslo you can waltz in and out in a day whether you’re a beginner or a pro. With the only superpipe in Europe open to the public, it’s all snowboards at the ready. Say no to the snow? The Oslo Christmas Theatre and Oslo Markets will fill you with so much culture you’ll never leave Ireland again.
-By Aisling Bonner