By Fiona Lee
Halloween is probably my favourite time of year in Galway. The weather is cold, fresh and brisk, maybe a little bit wet, but any excuse to run into a sweet pub, or stay in with a good book or a few friends can’t be too bad. That being said, it’ll be interesting to experience Halloween in another country. I won’t lie though, I am missing Penneys, don’t know what I’m going to do about a costume.
The trees here couldn’t be more in keeping with the season and I’m very glad to be able to see them this side of the world at this time of year. I went to Gatineau Park for a hike last weekend, weirdly enough with the Ottawa GAA club. I’ve been doing introductory lessons to ‘Celtic sport’! Being someone who never got into GAA growing up, I appreciate being able to give it a go somewhere it’s common for people to pick up Gaelic football or camogie in their twenties, rather than before learning to read. Gatineau Park was gorgeous, there were nice walking trails, beautiful views and a cute tea house too. We even saw a small snake, which was much more of an event for me than anyone else as, for the first time, it was not in a glass box, but poking its head around like any of the rest of us, going about its day.
I feel slightly less agitated to travel after my trip to Boston over reading week, but myself and a group of friends are going up to Montreal next weekend. It’s the closest city to Ottawa and meant to be incredibly artsy and fun. Going to Boston was my first proper stint at solo travel (as a holiday, I wouldn’t count being in Canada to study), and it was slightly nerve-wracking booking the flights but I couldn’t have been more fine. As long as you’re good at navigating yourself from one mode of transport to the other, there’s nothing to worry about, and I made some effort to meet people during my very short time there just to make the most of it! I found an Ultimate Frisbee pick-up, so I got to spend an evening playing a game or two and meeting some lovely Bostonian frisbee players. One girl there even knew someone from my team back home from when she did a study abroad in Wales, so that was really cool! I found the pick-up on the app ‘Meet Up’, which I would strongly recommend if you ever bop to a new place for a while, or even in Galway! It’s a great way to try new things, or old things, and meet new people, and you can always go on your own. Also, if you’re ever in Boston, definitely do the Freedom Trail self-guided tour, and if you like art, visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It’s unusual, creative, homey and you could spend a whole day there!
I feel very settled with my group of friends now. They’re not just a nice group of people to wander around Canada with anymore; it’s a support system where I feel trusted and surprisingly comfortable, given that it has barely been two months since I’ve met them. The prospect of having to leave in December feels much closer now that our midterms are over. I’m very lucky with the people I’ve met here, and, while it will be sad to leave them all behind, I know I have a bed to sleep in in a lot more countries than I did before I came here, and I really hope we manage to plan that trip to Munich for Oktoberfest next year to meet up, all together again. I won’t worry about that yet though, we’re only halfway through!