This summer I had the opportunity to study abroad for six weeks in Ireland. My purpose in studying abroad was the chance to get to travel while earning six credits for my media arts and design major. Although long and sometimes stressful, I am glad that I took the trip and for the lessons I learned.
I am lucky to say that I have had the privilege to travel quite often. However, the study abroad trip to Ireland was the first time that I had traveled internationally without my mom, and by far was the longest that I had ever been out of the country. Initially, I thought six weeks was too short, but now I am glad that it was only six weeks and not longer because at the end I was homesick and ready to get back to the United States. However, the trip was a wonderful experience and I would not hesitate to go back to Ireland.
Our trip started in Dublin, where we stayed for seven days. After that, we spent five days in Derry, a city in Northern Ireland. Afterward, we traveled to Connemara (which is part of the Republic of Ireland) and stayed at a resort there for three days. Lastly, our journey ended in Galway, where we remained for the last month. I enjoyed Dublin and its bustling and international atmosphere. However, by far my favorite place we stayed at in Ireland was Galway. Galway had a wonderful charm about it, from the canals to the ubiquitous street musicians.
Derry, the city that we stayed in Northern Ireland, was very different from Galway and Dublin. It was more somber and serious there, as we learned about the Troubles and how it has affected both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We heard first-hand accounts from individuals who grew up through the Troubles. It was a sad but humbling experience.
After our time in Derry, we stayed at Delphi Resort in Connemara. This was a unique experience, as the entire time, we had outdoor activities such as kayaking and rock climbing. Connemara was a beautiful area, with gorgeous mountains and goats roaming about peacefully.
In Galway, you can't walk down the cobbled streets without hearing and seeing street musicians or performers. Although a small city, it has a vibrant art and music culture that is charming and enchanting. I loved Galway for its food, nightlife, and culture. While in Galway, we attended the Galway Film Fleadh, an internationally recognized film festival. I chose to volunteer for the Fleadh, and am glad that I did, as I got the opportunity to converse with local university students in Galway. I learned a great deal about Ireland from talking to them, and it was a fantastic and enlightening experience.
What I took from my trip to Ireland was not just the nightlife or the tasty food. I experienced firsthand the hospitality and friendliness of the Irish people. Very few places are as welcoming and accommodating as Ireland, and I feel lucky to have visited this wonderful and beautiful country.