—by Todd Thorson, with correspondence courtesy of Molly Ammerman

(Roland-Story graduate and Central College senior Molly Ammerman returned December 21 from her fall semester studying in Bangor, Wales, as part of the Central College Study Abroad program. Molly chose Wales as her destination because, as a psychology major, Bangor University has one of the best psychology departments in the world. She also liked the idea that Bangor had a small town feel to it. Upon arriving in Bangor the second week of September, Molly was soon visiting such places as Ireland, London, Scotland, and, later in the semester, was even fortunate to travel to Rome, Greece, Krakau and Auschwitz, all during her three and a half month stay abroad. She began classes on September 30 and returned home in time for Christmas. This is the first in a series of articles about Molly’s "once in a lifetime" experience, using photos, recollections and postings from her own blog, "The Life of Molly: Adventures Abroad", which she regularly wrote throughout her stay in Wales.)

Last September was an exciting time for Molly Ammerman. Beginning the fall semester away from her familiar Central College campus surroundings was soon to become a rewarding experience for Molly. Studying abroad in Bangor, Wales was a "once in a lifetime" experience she will never forget. For three and a half months she called Bangor home; a town of approximately 13,000 people, of which, about 11,000 are students.

Some of her course work mix included an Outdoor Pursuits class. Taught at the Conway Centre in Anglesey, an island off the coast of Bangor and separated by the Menai Strait, it is also where Prince William and Princess Kate have lived since they were married. "But they were scheduled to move back to London within the next month, " said Molly back in September.

"I understand that they really loved living in Wales and would engage themselves out in the community a lot," continued Molly. "I know that last semester people in the (abroad) program saw Kate out grocery shopping a couple of times. How cool is that!"

Excited about her Outdoor Pursuits class, Molly was able to enjoy a wide assortment of outdoor activities, including canoeing, sea level traversing, mountain climbing, surfing, kayaking, Jorge scrambling, sailing, mountain biking and abseilling, to name a few. The class offered 17 different activities throughout the semester, all set in the beautiful landscape of Anglesey. It was an experience that Molly looked forward to including in her course work itinerary.

"This course worked with our schedule, in the sense, that it was taken one day a week, and was an all day class," explained Ammerman. The Pursuits class was also an optional course, whereas a class such as Welsh History was a required part of her course schedule.

The Welsh History class studied the history and past of Wales, and included lots of traveling and field trips. One of those "field trips" was a five day trip to Ireland (Sept. 11-15), where locales such as Cardiff, Liverpool and Chester were visited. This was one of the highlights of Molly’s semester.

Just two days after settling into her new surroundings in Bangor, Molly was off to Dublin, Ireland for two nights. She visited the infamous Guinness Brewery, where she was able to "build" her own beer. Her group also visited many of the other Irish pubs throughout the city of Dublin. The city itself, however, did not impress Molly that much.

"I was disappointed in the city," she said, "but I did enjoy the amazing Guinness Brewery and the Irish pubs. I even got to witness some real Irish music and folk dancing, which was quite entertaining, and made for a great night. I also got to pour my own pint of Guinness at the factory, and (even) received a certificate for doing it correctly. The taste (however) wasn’t my favorite, of course, but I managed to drink a few swigs before passing my pint on to the guys."

Also on the schedule were visits to Kilmainham jail, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, the Book of Kells at Trinity College and the Temple bar area.

Day three in Ireland was spent in the "wonderful" city of Galway, and it certainly lived up to Molly’s expectations.

"Galway was the city I had imagined Ireland to look like, full of open fields," stated Molly. The day was spent exploring the beautiful Galway Cathedral, and they also walked around the harbor and admired the green landscape, as well as the breathtaking views overlooking the sea.

Inishmor was the next stop, which is the largest of the Aran Islands.

"This was one of my all time favorite days, as we rode around the island on our bikes," Molly continued. "The most amazing part of the island was a place called Dun Aengus. This area contains famous prehistoric remains that are perched up on 600 foot cliffs above the sea. Luckily, we had an absolutely beautiful day, which glorified the beauty even more. This is certainly one day I will never forget."

The Cliffs of Moher occupied Molly and her group’s final day in Ireland on Sunday, September 15.

"The cliffs were incredible, like the Aran Islands, but the weather was crazy," commented Molly. "I’ve never been pushed around by the wind so much. If I have ever been close to flying, this was the day. It was a neat experience in all, but made for a very long day, as we were on the bus driving most of the time."

On Monday, September 16, Molly’s group left Ireland and headed back to Wales, where they relaxed and enjoyed a nice dinner. It was also time to get settled in to their permanent housing arrangements, as classes were set to begin on September 30.

"I was busy unpacking and getting my flat ready for the semester," said Molly. "The rooms were pretty nice and I enjoyed having my own room and bathroom. Also, I really looked forward to having my flat mates move in in a couple of days, and making some new Welsh friends, of course."

It was the end of a very exciting first week for Molly, as she started her second week by finally doing some laundry - in the kitchen sink! "It’s very expensive to do laundry here," she said.

More "field trips" were scheduled for the next week, in and around Wales. And as Molly posted at the end of her first blog on September 17: "I hope you will come along and enjoy this amazing experience with me!"

Next up: Exploring Castles and the Mountains.