Time Abroad: Fall 2007
Major: Finance and Marketing
Hands down, one of the best experiences I had was our trip to Galway and the Aran Islands on the west coast of Ireland. Imagine the picture you've seen of Ireland and the daunting cliffs, the image of peering over and the possibility of plunging 500 feet. Yeah, that's the Aran Islands. After a bus ride, we emptied our time at a pub and got to wander around the quaint and touristy town of Galway. I found Galway to be absolutely quaint, quiet and cute. There is a lot of shopping, with tourism being so strong, and the nightlife is constant. It's still odd to see the Irish finish up with a pint at the local pubs, then walking across the street to the Cathedral for Mass, and then returning back to the King's Head for a pint with the mates. That night, we stayed with a friend's family and experienced the TRUE nature of Irish hospitality: loads of craic and lots of talk. My favorite part of the trip, though, was taking a ferry to the nearby Aran Islands where we rented bikes for the day and rode across the island, Inishmore. This was the image of Ireland I had in my head of a countryside. Between the stone walls, the terraces, the sheepdogs, the quiet pace, and the one-laned roads, I will forever cherish the sunny day. My favorite site was Dun Aonghasa. This was a semi-circular celtic stone fort built by Celtic Tribesman around 2000 BC. This big guy is old! On our beautiful, cloudless day in Ireland, we were able to see the entire island and the vastness of the ocean. It was absolutely spectacular. After returning from our 6 hour bike trip, we stopped at the Aran Sweater Market, followed by a quick bite to eat. If you aren't aware of the folklore behind the Aran sweater weaving style, I will enlighten you. Myth has it that the Aran Jumpers were traditionally used by the islands' famous fishermen. It is sometimes said that each fisherman (or their family) had a jumper with a unique design, so that if he drowned and was found maybe weeks later on the beach, his body could be identified. A bit morbid, I know, but such is the Irish sometimes. I was hesitant to leave this beautiful and tranquil home, but responsibilities and new adventures called me back.
College opens experiences and potential for freedom and independence. But being on your own in another country blows that opportunity out of the water. This time in your life is one for exponential growth, no matter where you are. However, as a Cherrington Global Scholar, travelling internationally is one stroke of luck you can't pass up. Think of any place in the world you'd like to go, and GO. This is your time, your opportunity, and your path that will never be the same. I'm not saying that your life will turn a complete 180 degrees, because you can't push 4 months against your 20 to 21 years. But your outlook will change, you'll have a new perspective on life, and you'll be learning so much more about so many people. And realizing just that we're all people. No matter their country, no matter their religion, no matter their political views, we're all people. And expanding outside of the DU bubble is a crucial aspect to your experience.
The greatest thing that Ireland gave me in my experience was a peace of mind. I had always been one of those very busy people, but after going abroad, I was able to give myself a chance to see what life could be if I gave myself sometime to experience everything around me. I take that freedom with me every day and in every venture. For me, Ireland was what I needed to find myself, of who I wanted, and really how I could have fun in life. It's hard not to when the Irish take fun and pride to heart; it's great craic.