Saturday, May 8, 2010


This last week I spent hiking through the Alps of Italy, Switzerland, and a little bit of France on accident. The plan was to fly into Milan, Italy to meet Brad TenHarmsel (friend from HC) and then we would make our way north into Switzerland, and hopefully be in Geneva by the time our flights took off. Everyday there unplanned adventures and obstacles, but those are what made the trip so much fun. We had no idea where we would be when, or how we would be getting there.
Here's a brief recap:
The first day I spent in Milan waiting fro Brad, he didn't show up until 1:30am, and the hostel that we found fell through - we didn'g get a lot of sleep that night. We caught the earliest train heading north the next day and ended up in Domodossola, Italy. From there we grabbed train into Brig, Switzerland. It was a beautiful city. We decided to start hiking from here - so we grabbed out groceries and other supplies and started into the hills. Once it started raining we set up camp looking over the city. The next day we took off (still raining, and now cold) and found a small village with a quaint restaurant, so we stopped for a "quick coffee and sandwich". 3 hours later we walked out having had our coffee and sandwich, but also a beer and a full hot meal. I think the lady felt bad for us, so she gave us yet another beer. We found camp that night underneath a big rock, out of the rain and with plenty of dry wood for a fire. The next morning we hiked to Visp, and took a train to Aigle. From Aigle we made our way to Montreax, and started hiking into the mountains. We found an old log cabin and camped out in there for the night. We woke up and kept going up the mountain, hoping to make it to the peak of Rochers de Naye. The weather was too bad, and the wind started to pick up to make it all the way to the top, but I did get enough reception to call Toby on his birthday! We camped that night above the cloud line, and watched the sunset over the mountains. It was a night I will never forget. We made our way down the mountain the next day (thanks to some nice construction guys with a big truck:) and caught a train into Geneva. We finally made it - the night was spent in the airport so Brad could catch his early flight. I thought my flight would be canceled due to the ash cloud over Dublin, but it made it through! This was honestly one of the best trips I have ever experienced. EVER.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recent Travels

Surprisingly, school has been keeping me quite busy lately. I haven't had the chance to go to many places over the last two weeks, but I still managed to fit in some travels - Last weekend we took another class trip, this time Belfast. Northern Ireland is still a part of England, and there is still a lot of tension between the Nationalist/Catholics and the Unionists/Protestants. We visited some of the murals commemorating the struggles, including Bloody Sunday. Belfast is also the city where the Titanic was born, so we went to the shipyard where that was made. What remains is pretty much a bunch of old empty buildings, and a parking lot where the boat was once. The tour guide was great though, he was so excited about the whole thing. One of the days we went up to Derry, the place where Bloody Sunday happened. We learned all about what led up to the massacre and got to meet some of the people who had lost loved ones back in 72. The part that gets me is that there are still hate crimes going on between the two groups. A peace line still exists in Belfast, which is a 50 wall dividing the city into the two parts. There are armed Land Rovers everywhere and the police do not mess around! But we were all safe, and didn't encounter and major issues.
Other than that, I've been doing a good bit of reading, writing and presenting for my classes. This is my last week of class, so everything is due. I leave on Friday for Italy, where I will meet up with Brad Tenharmsel. We will be hiking through the Swiss Alps! When I get back, I have two full weeks to study for my one exam. After that I have two more weeks, then I'm home!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Germany: This is Life!

I know this post is long past due, but better late than never! Last Friday I left early in the morning to fly into Germany where Tilman, my German friend who studied at Holland Christian for a year, was waiting with his little (big) brother. We stayed that night at his brother's house, Sebi. Saturday we spent touring Heidelberg , found an old castle with an awesome fountain, and just strolled through the old city. That night we met up with some of their friends: Micha, the pastor's kid, and Kai, the two week old Christian. We walked through the city singing praise and worship songs, getting in trouble with the cops, and telling everyone we were celebrating Kai and Jesus, it was such a blast! The next day was Easter, and we went to the breakfast before the service and Sebi played the bass. Afterward, we drove to Tilman's house where he grew up. We had dinner with the whole family and just relaxed that night. On Monday we went to the place Tilman did his Civil Service and visited an old monastery in the same town. On the way home, I drove on the Autobahn! Vroom Vroom Party Starter!!! Tuesday we went into Stuttgart, the big city near their house. We toured the city, Tilman bought shoes, then we visited his aunt. We played frisbee in a courtyard of a castle and just hung out. Wednesday we had to wake up early because I had to be at the airport to fly home. The trip was such a blessing. I loved being with a family again, and the talks I had with Tilman were great. Him and I are in similar places in life, and can relate really easily. The pictures will explain more. Go to the link up on the right and you will see more of our adventures.

Monday, March 29, 2010

HALFWAY aready?!?!?

This past weekend was full of relaxing and enjoying the city of Dublin. Friday was spent giving presentations and touring the Southern part of the city and found the coolest coffee shop in Dublin. Saturday a group of us went south along the coastline to Bray. We did a little hike to the top of a small peak to overlook the town. In terms of weather, it was one of the nicest days we have had. Yesterday (Sunday) I actually did some studying and wrote a paper, I sometimes forget that I am here going to school! As I look back to the first half of this semester, I can see so many highs, as well as a few lows. Two months in and I already feel like a new person. All this traveling and meeting new people has really helped me to define and refine what kind of person I am, and also what kind of person I want to be. I am thrilled that I get another 2 months, I just hope they don't go by as fast as the first two! It feels like last week Isaac and I were waiting in the Chicago airport, wondering what I our lives would like in a couple of hours...

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I realize that it has been a few days since I've been back and still haven't posted anything... I had some things come up that I needed to take care of, classes. I Don't even know where to start with this trip! We flew into Girona, communication barriers brought us to a hospital instead of the hostle, two hours later, we found the hostle. The next day we toured Girona, and old Roman settlement with narrow streets and big cathedrals. That night we went to Barcelona and quickly found our hostle. We met up with my friend from HC, Lindsey Etterbeek, and her riend Mallory Missad. They took us around the city briefly that night and we spent a relaxing evening chatting and getting to know each other. Turns out Isaac and Mallory went to the same high school (Grand Rapids Christian) and didn't even know it! The next morning the two of us took off and saw some of the sights, meeting up with the ladies for a 4 hour lunch on the beach! Lunch is the big meal there and always takes a few hours to eat out. Again, we just chilled that evening playing cards, Scrabble, Uno and chatting away until the late hours of the night. The next day Isaac and I saw Park Guell and the Sagrada Cathedral, two amazing creations of Gaudi, a famous architect. We didn't meet up with the girls until later at a tapas restaurant. Our last day in Barcelona was spent exploring the Barcelona Soccer Club's stadium. We caught our train back to Girona that night and flew home the next day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

St. Pat's Day

I realize I haven't posted anything new for a while, I have been crazy busy traveling and things. I am going to split the last week into two segments. Starting with St. Patrick's Day. The night before a big group of us went into the city to get into the spirit of things, and I have never seen so many people crammed into such a small city! We stayed out far too late and got up early the next morning to get ready for the big parade. We went all out! Everyone painted their face, and we were all wearing our green and orange. We eventually caught a packed bus into the city and found somewhere to see the parade. This was unlike anything I have ever seen! The Macy's day parade is cool, but the costumes and floats of this parade put it to shame! Everyone was into it, and the crowd was going crazy the whole time! We left the parade sight a bit before the parade was done so that we could find our way to Croke Park, where we watched the national championship of hurling. One of our program leaders was there explaining all the rules to me, and I really wish I could have grown up playing this sport, it's so fast and action packed. So much fun to watch! Isaac and I left as soon as the game was over and headed to the airport, Barcelona bound!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Moher of Ireland

This was easily one of the most beautiful hikes of my life. These cliffs are unlike anything I have ever seen, they are almost 4 times higher than the cliffs in pictured rock! The trail itself doesn't get more than 5 feet from the edge and everywhere you turn the view is breath taking. The trip started Saturday with an early bus ride out to Galway, then we took a guided tour out to the cliffs. That brought us through some interesting parts of the area, and a Celtic burial site. We stopped at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center, about the halfway point of the cliffs. From there we took the bus back to a small town, Doolin. We told the bus driver that we would be hiking from there, and thanks for the ride. We left Doolin at about 4, and began to meander our way to the Ocean. We had no plans of where we would be hiking, or sleeping, we just wanted to see some cliffs. We followed the coast until the beginning of the cliffs and hiked along them for about 2 hours to get to the visitor center just as the sun was setting. From there we found a farmer's field to pitch our tent and called it a night. The next morning (Sunday) we hiked out to a castle on the cliffs and took our time taking it all in. We kept following the coast (jumping electrical wires and playing with horses) and soon found the end of the cliffs. From this point we hiked along the water until the next small town, Liscannor. An old fisherman fixing his boat told us of a surf city just around the bay, so we went there. After exploring an old graveyard/church ruin, forging a river and walking through the icy ocean, we found Lahinch. We grabbed something to eat and found the tourist info office. They told us of the next bus, and we decided to hop on. The best part about the whole trip was not knowing where we would end up in the next hour, even the next 100 yards. Everything was unexpected!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


This morning we take off for the west side of Ireland (again) to visit the cliffs of Moher. we will see those later today and then start hiking south along the coastal region until we don't want to hike anymore. We are hoping to make it back to Dublin in time for St. Patricks Day, and then we fly out of the Dublin airport for Barcelona the night of St. Pats. I will try my best to keep you all posted throughout this escapade.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The West Side

This last week I have been staying on the west side of Ireland in a smaller town called Westport. My whole study abroad program went for a required 'class trip' to learn more about the legendary potato famine of the 1840's. We stayed in a really nice hotel where everything was already paid for, so it felt like we were getting a free breakfast and dinner everyday! Food was incredible too, all local products used in the cooking. We left Wednesday morning, stopped at the Strokestown Manor (a huge house where a landlord lived during the famine) on the way out there and got into the hotel just before dinner. Thursday we went on a sight seeing tour of Connemara (that was the name of the area we were in). WE saw some famine monuments and memorials, walked to the base of Croagh Patrick (Mount Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain), and made some stops at national parks along the way. Friday we set out to Achill Island in the morning and stopped at one of the few remaining famine-era farms. The guy who owns it collects things from that era and takes people on tours through his family's old home. The group left on Saturday morning, Isaac and I stayed back to climb the mountain we saw two days earlier. We made out way out there in the morning and took a good part of the day climbing it. It was a perfect day up for it! It's not very often that you get a day in Ireland when it is that clear. We got back into town a little early and met a bartender from Chicago who had moved out there! He was really interesting to talk to and hear his story. Then we almost didn't catch the train back into Dublin. It was an amazing week, a day of rest was much needed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Galway Climbing

Galway was such a blast! I would love to make it back there again before I leave. The city is a bit smaller than Dublin, and feels much more like home. There are tons of small little mom and pop shops (and pubs). We got into Galway Friday night, found our hostel, and joined the other climbers at the host school's on-campus pub. The rugby match between England and Ireland was on (it's a pretty big deal), so we watched that and everyone was getting really into it. When you get a room full of climbers, things start getting climbed, in this case it was the bottom of tables. Hahah, it was crazy. All day Saturday we climbed in the competition. It was set up in 15 walls. Each wall had two routes, A and B. If you climbed A you got 20, 19 or 18 points, depending on the number of tries. If you climbed B, you got 10, 9 or 8. The only difference was that the B routes had some additional holds thrown in. I started out doing pretty good, mostly 20's and 19's. Once the afternoon came I started burning out and in the end I was struggling to even finish the B routes in 3 tries. I guess climbing 3 times in the past 2 months doesn't help much. However, I did end up being the best climber from my school, DCU. On Sunday we spent the day in town, finding cozy places to catch the Celtic vs. Rangers game, and then Aston Villa vs. Manchester United. Very relaxing. We caught the bus home at 6, and got back to campus somewhere around 9:30. Tomorrow is my first day of interning; I have to go in really early, 10:00.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kylen the Intern Goes Climbing

Three weeks into school, I finally managed to find me an internship that will hopefully fit into either of my majors. I will be working at a place called The Sanctuary. From what I can gather, this place exists in the middle of Dublin to give a sense of peace to people through different classes and relaxation methods. (check it out online: It is a small organization, which means I will be able to do a little bit of everything. They have a big event coming up this summer, they sounded pretty excited when I mentioned that I could help promote it. They seem to be great people, and they already told me that I can take any time off to go travel Europe. I hope this will be a worthwhile experience.
Tomorrow at half three (thats Irish for 3:30) I will be leaving to Galway (West coast of Ireland) to participate in a climbing competition with the DCU climbing club. I have never done a competition, so this will also be a new experience. I will be back on Sunday and I will let you know how it went!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pancake Tuesday and a Relaxing Weekend

This past Tuesday (known to Americans as 'Fat Tuesday') is called pancake Tuesday here in Ireland. Why? I have no idea, other than the fact that instead of the traditional mass consumption of sweets, they instead eat loads of pancakes! However, pancakes aren't common here. You can only buy small bags of pancake mix in the stores, and it isn't even cheap! So some of us decided to make pancakes for Pancake Tuesday. We made some wholewheat strawberry pancakes, banana pancakes were attempted, and of course, we made potato pancakes. The rest of the week went by pretty normally, I went climbing for the fist since I've been here, and got invited to go with the club to a climbing competition this weekend. Still not sure if I'm doing that yet, some other plans are still in the works. This last weekend I was supposed to go with some friends to a hurling match (like lacrosse but with clubs, and bigger goals... wikipedia explains it nicely) on Saturday, and then we were planning on taking a smaller day trip on Sunday. When we got to the arena on Saturday (45-50 minute walk), we were informed that the game was in fact on Sunday. The person who had the tickets (she is interning at the GAA, the athletic club who sponsers the match) forgot to see what day the match was on. So no more day trip on Sunday, because we were determined to see this match. We walked back to the arena on Sunday, only to find that 1 inch of snow is enough to completely cancel a match! Needless to say, we got in a whole lot of walking this weekend!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"We just hiked a marathon in Kilometers!"

Well the weekend has come and gone! Isaac and I took a bus just about as far south as we could go, a small town called Enniskerry, where we had scoped out a Youth Hostel. We got dropped off, and then had to hike down some back roads for 45 minutes until we found the hostel. They gave a few words of advice and showed us the Wicklow Way. We hiked a few hours down the path until we found a nice place to camp. It was tucked at the bottom of a valley right next to the river that dropped off into a waterfall a few hundred yards down. AMAZING!!! We ate some spaghetti with potatoes and pepper, very tasty. We went to bed early in order to wake up early and hike the next 15 miles, all before 4:30. We had to catch the last bus to Dublin out of Glendalough, or we were spending the night... So we tried sleeping, but it got very cold and neither of us got much sleep. At 8 we woke up and tried getting some blood back into our fingers. Luckily for me my toes were kept warm by a fresh pair of knitted socks (thanks mom!). We hiked all day, saw some beautiful sights, even some deer up there. We made it to town in time, despite a collapsed bridge. We crashed for an hour or so in a hostel and caught the 90 minute bus ride home!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Interview @ PCC

I had the interview at PCC earlier today. They work mostly with non-profits doing their advertising and public relations work. PCC themselves are not non-profit, they just work with them. Walking out of the interview I didn't really know what to think. He asked a lot of questions about what I want to do with my future and what kind of similar work I have done in this area. I told him the best I could, the last thing I wanted to say was that I have no idea. Overall, I think we had some good talks, we talked about school and my involvement at Hope. He wanted to know why I came to him directly too, I guess most people get to him through their study abroad programs. I explained my situation and told him that I was on my own on this one. He seemed to understand. Aslo, he had mentioned that there are a few other people also applying for this internship, so we will have to see. I am hoping to hear something from him towards the middle of next week. I will keep you posted.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Goodness, My GUINNESS!!!!

This evening we took a last minute trip to the GUINNESS FACTORY . This place is huge, complete mecca for anyone who have ever even seen, tasted, smelled, or felt a Guinness. 6 floors to tour, topped off with a 360 degree view of the entire city on the highest floor, which also serves as the bar where you savor the freshest Guinness imaginable. Our group made it to the factory about an hour and a half before it closed, so we had to rush through a few parts. As you climb up the 6 floors, each level serves as a different experience in the story of Guinness. There was a history floor, telling the story of Sir Arthur and his 9000 year loan on St. James Gate. a floor dedicated to the brewing process, another floor to the distribution of Guinness. One floor was all the advertisements every created by the company (SOOOO MUCH FUN). Another floor described the global impact of Guinness, including the famous book of records. This place just kept going and going. Finally we made it to the top just in time to drink our Guinness as the sun was setting directly over the main part of the city. I strongly encourage everyone to make it to this place at least once, even you don't like the beer. The style of this tour was such a blast, interactive and informative, yet never boring... Take a look at some of the pictures if you please.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

End of the first week of classes

( I had no idea you could part that much hair!!!)
Classes for the week are over. I do not have class on Friday, hopefully that will be a day of interning. We will hear more about tomorrow at 1. The other classes this week have all been fairly straight forward. Turns out two of my classes have no final exam at all, and the grade is based 100% on in-class evaluations. So some classes are all exams, other classes are no exams, really nothing in the middle. Isaac Sprik, my buddy from home, and I are hoping to go to a hurling match on Saturday with some free tickets from an intern at GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association). Then on Sunday we are thinking of heading into the Dublin mountains for a bit, hopefully back by Monday. This weekend will be full of good times. And its looking like we will go to Liverpool next weekend and partake in the festivities of a home match against Blackburn!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The first classes

Academics are very different here. To understand why, you have to understand that the government is paying for every single Irish student to go a University. With this in mind, students very rarely take school seriously: class becomes a time of chatting with their friends. Many of the students will tell you that the classes here are very easy and that you don't even have to go. But when asked if they get good grades, most will say no. This makes me chuckle.
School is set up differently here too, classes will usually meet once a week and then the class will break into smaller groups and meet on other days. Teachers assume that most of the learning is done independently. Come the end of the semester, we have to prove our independent learning which is based on one final exam. That's it. Some classes may have a paper due at the end, but other than that, the exam is our only grade for the whole semester. Crazy if you ask me.
p.s. I am no longer a simple 'visitor' of Ireland, we got our student passes (practically a visa) today. Those places take forever!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Howth is Magic

Today we took a little day trip to a small fishing town just east of Dublin, Howth. The sights were even better than I could have imagined! Everywhere was green and mossy with cliffs everywhere you looked. Even though the trail was a bit rough and muddy, three of us managed to trek all the way around the 6 mile loop that brought us back into the harbor area. We found a small fish and chips shop, (cuz that what you do in these places) and visited the local farmers market. I posted some pictures from the hike today, but pictures rarely capture everything! I have been itching to get out into the wild for a bit now, I can only be in a city for so long before I need a good dosage of fresh mountain air. Missing you all a great deal!

p.s. has anyone been able to post onto the picassa pictures?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Classes are coming...

So heres the thing, I show up at DCU and 3 months ago I gave them a list of 8 classes I could get credit towards at Hope. I found out yesterday that I am not even registered at DCU, let alone any of these classes. The people from the study abroad program were working on it they said that it shouldnt be a problem and that I am in some classes that I wanted. And now theyre telling me to just do the drop-add forms until i switch into all the classes that I wanted. Things have been a bit stressful. I found out I might be able to get an internship at a local non-profit organization, which is really just like doing charity work if you think about it. They go around to different high schools encouraging kids to become Young Social Innovators (YSI). So I meet with them at the beginning of this next week and see what that consists of. I will try to keep you all posted with these trivial matters.
On the brighter side, we did into the city center today to watch Ireland play Italy in rugby, and we won, of course. We found this big pub that had dozens of huge tvs and projectors everywhere you looked. This place was full of people dressed up and yelling and singing and cheering... everything you would ever imagine it to be. Very fun times. As always, love you all,

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Okay, so after trying to figure out the limitations on uploading that DCU has, I have found the Picassa works to upload photos. So I have changed the link on the right-hand side of your screen to take you to my picassa pictures. more will be coming shortly, I have to upload them all one at a time, so it becomes a bit tedious after a while. I hope you enjoy them!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

And so orientationing begins

Yesterday all the other students in the CIEE program showed up, they seem like a nice bunch. Big populations from the Boston/New York areas, theyre a bit different out there i guess. haha im kidding. but really, odd. All the guys are really cool, and I feel like the girls might a need a bit of getting used to... so is life. A group of them wanted to see the city last night after they flew in, so Isaac and I showed them some sights. the city is a very nice place to be. Currently I am sitting in an orientation class, I think theyre discussing how to use their email systems or something like that. I should really get going before my mother gets upset at me for not paying attention. and everyone knows that will happen anyways :). I will hopefully know my classes soon, and I will tell you what I am taking! As always, love and miss you all!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The first days

well now that i have had some time settle in and have gotten to know the area, it is time for another post. After we were picked up from the airport we went to DCU (the school im studying at) and got a brief tour of the campus. We put our bags into our rooms and went into the city center, which took about 15 minutes by bus. Isaac and I found a nice little restaurant and got some food and our first pint of Guinness! Soooooo good! Then we were too tired to do anything so we came back to campus and slept. Yesterday we spent the full day in the city center just walking around and enjoying the sights. everything is like a fairy tale here. there are the little irish people playing music and singing in the streets, people actually dressed up like leprechauns and the streets are spotless! I couldnt help but laugh to myself on many occasions. We found The Porter House in the Temple Bar area and watched the Liverpool game, and everyone was into it! And no today we got our basic groceries and have decided to relax here on campus, even though everyone is home for break.
I miss you all very much and hope to talk to you soon. emails are very welcome. (

Friday, January 29, 2010


Well after a fairly short plane ride, Isaac and I have safely arrived in the Dublin airport. His flight was delayed out of Grand Rapids so he missed his flight from Chicago to Dublin- meaning he was bumped back to the flight I was on. The plan was under half-full, and we both had empty seats next to us, however the leg room was nice so we didnt sit by each other. We are waiting here for the people from DCU to come pick us up, which should be in about a half hour. Thanks for all your prayers and I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leaving soon...

Well today I got a good ways on my packing, and tomorrow will be my last full day in this country for the next 5 months! I have a lot to do within the next few hours before the flight. Thanks for lining up a going away dinner too, that's pretty cool!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From the BIG APPLE

Well, I am sitting here in a small coffee shop, (Legal Grounds) ---> not staryucks, awaiting AG Silver's big show tonight. We're parked in a RV lot about 10 minutes out of the big city via the PATH trains. The band members are having lunch with some important people so Dave and I are just chillin until we need to drive REV and the trailor into the city. haha-- that will be interesting.