Four months. Four months has already come and gone. By the time you read this I will be home or on the way back to the US. It makes me sad just thinking about it! I really fell in love with Ireland and it’s weird to know I’m going home. This last month was brief and very exhausting but in reality I wish I had more time. I would give anything to have just one more month here.
During reading week, when we are supposed to be studying for finals, the international students run away to other countries and pretend that finals don’t exist. I intended to do a four day trip, 3 days in Berlin and 1 day in Brussels. The trip started out rough as my friend missed the bus to the airport and took a very expensive cab ride all the way to Dublin so she could make the flight. But we had a great time exploring as much as we could and eating as much as we could in our countries. I bought a ton of chocolate which I hope everyone back home enjoys. It has been very tempting to eat it but I suppose that sometimes I have strong enough will power to prevent me from doing so. On the day we were going to fly back we found out that: One, there are two airports in Brussels and Two, we were at the wrong one. We ended up having to miss our flight and pay a very expensive fee (Thanks Ryanair) to get on the next flight to Dublin from the airport we were at. We were stressed, tired, broke-ish and now we're worrying about getting to our finals so that we don’t fail our classes. We ended up staying at a fairly cheap airport hotel which was the best decision ever and we felt like royalty after weekends of living in hostels when travelling. The next day we got up and went onto our new flight home. Take note kiddos: Ryanair and other budget airlines can be a cheap way to travel, but if you aren’t careful and don’t follow their rules you could pay a lot of money! Be prepared for anything!
The next week I was doing finals. My first one was on a Wednesday and I’m not really sure what to expect. With these finals you don’t take them in the lecture rooms you took your class in. Completely different rooms! In fact, two of mine were in this huge empty room that they filled with desks and had more than one or two other modules taking their exams as well. They were very strict about what was brought in. No backpacks, no phones, no extra blank paper. Tissues had to be taken out of the plastic bag they were in to keep from making noise. If you had a jacket on, you had to either take it off before the exam or keep it on for the whole duration. It felt like I was taking the SAT’s all over again. Before I knew it my two hours were up and my exams had to be turned in. The entire week was just a huge ball of anxiety and cramped hands from writing for a solid 6 hours in three days’ time.
When exams were over I celebrated by going to an Irish concert. KeyWest was playing at Dolan’s and my friend Maddie had bought the two of us tickets to go. I had seen KeyWest performing on a street in Dublin when I was going to the Rugby game but had no idea that their busking was what made them so popular. The concert was great and my friend and I had a fun time. It was nice to relax knowing my semester was over. Then a few hours later we were on a bus to Dublin airport to go to London.
When I was 12 I went through a huge phase of music discovery. I fell in love with a lot of British and Scottish bands. I dreamed of living in London, going to Cambridge or Oxford for college. Basically, I just wanted to go to London really, really bad! Of the other two times I was in Europe I never had the opportunity to go to London. I decided that if I had no school conflicts I would go to London on this semester abroad for my birthday. Those three days were amazing! I turned 22 in London but acted like I was a pre-teen again. I went on the London Eye, saw Big Ben, bought more chocolate, went to the Harry Potter Studios and browsed the Christmas markets. It was easy going, and I loved every second of it. Once again, I will say that I didn’t see enough and that I will have to go back.
On the flight home, I realized that I only had three full days left in Ireland and that saddened me. I’ve done what I’ve could to make the best of this trip. Thinking back I have travelled to 8 different countries, travelled all over Ireland, made tons of new friends (two which I can say have easily become some of my greatest friends), danced, sang, won four contests, climbed down a mountain, walked up so many stairs, spent way more than I should have, and seen some of the greatest sights in the world. Easily well worth every penny.
I also know that this will not be my last moments in Ireland. I will find another opportunity to come back. I believe that there is place that is perfect for everyone. Ireland is my place, I guess you could say my soul country. I feel like a complete person when I am here. I refuse to say that this will be my last time here and at 22, I have all the time to find another reason to come back to this place.
I want to thank my parents for helping me to get to go on this trip. I know it was hard having me gone for so long but I will always cherish that I had this opportunity. Thank you to my home school PLU and my program Arcadia for guiding me into finding the perfect semester abroad. Ireland and UL were really the perfect fit for me. Thank you to UL for helping me transition to the Irish life and showing me all that Ireland had to offer while still being in classes. Thank you for all the friends I have made, whether Irish or international. You helped make this adventure grand! Finally, thank you to all who have read my blogs this semester. I have enjoyed writing about my adventures and I hope that this somehow inspires you to do some travelling of your own. It really does change you, but in a good way! I guarantee you it is completely worth it.