I have been putting off my final blog post because I am not ready to leave this place. It’s impossible to believe that my 3 ½ months in Ireland are over. While I am excited to return home and to be reunited with friends and family, I have fallen in love with Ireland and it breaks my heart to say goodbye. This semester has been one of travel and of growth. It has taught me to look beyond my own little bubble at Gustavus and in Kansas City. My time abroad has inspired a passion for travel and for exploration. Ireland teaches people to appreciate natural beauty, places like the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway are absolutely breathtaking. I have met some of the world’s friendliest and kindest individuals and mastered the art of the weekend trip. To my fellow Arcadia participants, thank you for making me laugh until I cry, understanding my little bouts of homesickness, and supporting me through the highs and lows of my time here. You are all amazing people and I am so fortunate to have been able to share this experience with you. To my flat mate, Andrew, I cannot even begin to describe how much I will miss you. Thank you for all of the nights spent watching Gossip Girl and for being like my brother. I would not have understood Ireland and Irish culture without you and all of the people you introduced me to.
In August, as I packed to come to Ireland, I knew the semester would be full of adventure. I had pictured all of the great moments I would have, like Hillary Swank in “P.S. I love you” and Amy Adams in “Leap Year.” There was going to be a castle around every corner and rolling green hills as far as I could see. I was prepared for the weather and for the accents. I was ready to combat homesickness and to meet new people. But no matter how prepared I felt, nothing could have primed me for all that I would experience this semester. I may not have met my Gerard Butler, but Ireland was far better than I could have ever imagined. I had never anticipated that I would be able to visit 13 countries in one semester or that I would fall in love with a landscape. I had no idea that a semester abroad would teach me to become more optimistic, outgoing, and appreciative of the world. I did not expect to meet a group of some of the most inspiring individuals, the type of people that have made me change for the better. I have no doubts that these incredible people will have a positive impact on the world.
Before coming to Ireland, I would have never believed that I could survive a ten day trip alone, but I did. I would have never expected to have the opportunity to tutor amazing, funny, and brilliant kids in Shantalla. I would not have thought it would be so hard to leave. Ireland is the most amazing place I have ever been, for its landscapes, its people (and their accents), and for all that it has to teach anyone who finds their way to this island. I have 4 ½ days left here. All that needs to be done is one last final, packing, and to say goodbye. I desperately wish that I could go back to day one, but I know it is time for me to go home with my lessons from Ireland forever in my heart. Since August 30, Ireland has taught me to dance in the rain and appreciate the sunshine and I am forever grateful.