The morning of August 28th my nerves were at an all time high as I left my house for Newark airport to begin this journey. 88 days have passed since then and looking back I don’t see why I was so nervous, but I can understand it. Going abroad, especially freshman year, is a giant unknown filled with ‘what if’ situations. Even being abroad right this minute I still wonder from time to time, ‘what if I didn’t take the chance and go?’ All I can say is, I would have missed out on meeting some of the most amazing people and missed out on once in a lifetime experiences. Since my last blog post, sorry I may have gone missing; so much has happened it’s impossible to convey it all. I’ve been constantly on-the-go between completing my coursework, traveling, and participating in the almost daily activities around Dingle. So much has happened I’ve hardly had a moment to breathe.
For a good amount of our “classroom” time we actually get the opportunity to take what we are learning and go out into the community. We’ve been on a several field trips with Brother Sean A’hearn seeking out fairy forts and holy wells. Every time we get to go out with him we learn more about Dingle and its past.
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to go horseback riding on the beach! It was a lot of fun even when it started to rain.
During our time in Ireland we’ve gone on a couple of hill walks and at one point a few of the students took on the challenge of climbing Mount Brandon, which is the second highest mountain in Ireland. I wasn’t able to go that day due to knee issues but Stephanie, Brendan, Aaron, Kaitlyn, Kevin, and of course Big Red accomplished getting to the top.
One of the advantages I have found to studying in such a close-knit community is that they love for us to get involved. A few weeks ago we were able to go to the Mass of Remembrance at the Famine Cemetery. To stand by the chapel, surrounded by the unmarked graves of those who passed during a tragic time was thought provoking. We grow up learning about the Famine in our history classes, but to be able to come together in a community that was hit hard by the Famine is something that will stay with me always. While up on the hill, I looked around and recognized people I’ve come to know in town. You could really tell that the locals appreciated our being there with them.
The Dingle Food Festival was a fun and tasty event we participated in. We volunteered during this three-day event at various stations around the town, which filled up with over 15,000 people. The food was delicious and it was definitely an experience to be a part of such a huge, successful event that put a spotlight on the local cuisine.
Recently we celebrated Halloween! I was especially happy because my uncle and aunt were in Dingle with me after a week of traveling on school break. While the two of them went out on Slea Head drive, the eight of us including Professor Hulme and Lenka carved pumpkins. Later that night we all dressed up and had a group dinner then went to various Halloween parties around town.
Since coming to Ireland I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the Emerald Isle as well as travel to a few other countries. With SHU, we had the chance to go to Galway, Dublin and London; while over school break, Carly and I had the chance to go to Paris and Amsterdam with my uncle and aunt. In Dublin we visited the Guinness Storehouse, the Irish Whiskey Museum, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.
The most recent trip was to London. While there we went to Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, rode the London Eye and we were lucky enough to see Wicked in the West End.
Over our break Carly and I along with my uncle and aunt traveled to Paris and Amsterdam! It was seven days of nonstop moving; we ended up walking over sixty miles. Two of those seven days we spent in Amsterdam and while there we went to the Anne Frank House which was one of the most touching experiences of my life; I had chills the entire time walking through the rooms.
Being able to travel to Paris after taking French for five years was definitely an unforgettable experience. It’s difficult not to fall in love with the city! While in Paris, we went on two bike tours, a day tour and then a night one, which included seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and many more insanely beautiful places. We also had the opportunity to go to the catacombs and Les Invalides, which is Napoleon’s burial place.
For me personally, all I can say is my heart goes out to everyone in Paris after the attacks that just recently occurred. Having been there only three weeks ago and falling in love with this stunningly beautiful city weighs heavily on my heart. We have to overcome and not let the city of light fade.
Pray for Paris.