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    Posted March 7, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Glorious Ireland

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    You Only Travel in Ireland for Free Once!

    I still remember sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to discover which country I would be traveling to over Spring Break. Why would anyone want to go abroad and not know where they were going beforehand? Having never stepped onto a plane or much less traveled out of the country, I was beyond ready to travel, even if that meant having no idea where I would go. When I discovered that I would be traveling to Ireland, tears of joy rolled down my face. What could possibly be better than traveling to Ireland? Spending your last day in Dublin on Saint Patrick’s Day, and having expenses paid for by a University! I could not have been more grateful, and I will never forget this moment that immediately changed so many aspects about my life.
    I traveled to Ireland with seven other students, a staff member, a University Board of Trustee, and two faculty members (one of whom was from Ireland). I could not have asked for better people with which to experience my first international journey. Everything was new to me at an older stage in my life. I still recall stepping onto the plane and videotaping as it took off; I had wondered what that was like for so long. I remember seeing my first glimpse of morning light with iridescent pink and blue hues in the endless sky. I would close my eyes, and open them again in order to take in the beauty of flying. No laptop or phone; just living in the moment. I truly appreciated every little detail, and did not want to miss anything about this trip that the University graciously offered me.
    The entire week consisted of traveling all over Ireland, and staying in different bed and breakfasts almost every night. A few of the key places we visited and saw were: The Rock of Cashel, the Blarney Stone, the Lakes of Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, Limerick, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Trinity College, the Titanic Museum, Queen’s University Belfast, the Guinness Factory, Howth Pier, and of course, Dublin. Yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone and hung halfway off of a castle. I remember when the clouds finally broke and the sun and blue skies appeared, just in time for our visit to the breath-taking Ring of Kerry; I really experienced all four seasons in one day. Being someone who was obsessed with nature and the outdoors, I was overjoyed when we went to the Cliffs of Moher. I would have been happy simply sitting on the grass overlooking the cliffs and ocean for hours. They were absolutely gorgeous; it was overwhelming thinking about the history of the cliffs and their natural forms. On a similar historical note, standing in the Long Room was so inspiring; being present in the authentic room that was occupied with great thoughts and knowledge was nearly inconceivable.
    Two additional opportunities which we had the absolute honor of experiencing included meeting the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí, and meeting with President Michael D. Higgins. The Lord Mayor of Dublin was so kind, and gave us a personal tour of the mansion house. He insisted that I play piano for him, which caught me off guard by far. I learned that when the Lord Mayor insists that someone play piano, you must play! President Higgins was beyond kind as well; he shook each of our hands and inquired what we were studying. We had tea with President Higgins in the Grand Room, and he even gave us the opportunity to capture a group photo.
    Saint Patrick’s Day was the perfect way to spend my last day in Ireland. The parade, shopping, dining, and live Irish music all created the ideal experience. Simply waiting to cross the road during the parade in and of itself was quite the adventure. I don’t recall too many locals being out and about! This trip to Ireland was more than anything I ever could have imagined. I will never forget my first flight and international journey to glorious Ireland.

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