Life is Short and the World is Wide
It started off when I was a high school senior visiting Arcadia to see if it was a school I would be interested in. My tour guide enthusiastically explained all the opportunities Arcadia has to offer, specifically emphasizing the study abroad programs. “Preview is a great opportunity for new students; I regret not participating in it,” he exclaimed.
That sentence stuck with me.
Although I was generally timid about traveling, I didn’t want to live my life with any regrets. As soon as that sentence left his mouth, I knew I would participate in the Preview program here at Arcadia. When the class options dropped for the 2022 spring Preview, I jumped on it right away. To me, it was a no-brainer to go to Dublin, Ireland, considering the program ran through St. Patrick’s Day. I immediately put Ireland in as my top request and submitted my deposit. Months and months of talking to friends and family about going to Ireland flew by until the day finally came.
I had only been to one other country, which was Italy 10 years before this trip, and I was accompanied by my family back then. But now I was riding solo. It was nerve wracking to be traveling by myself, but I knew I didn’t need to worry because Arcadia had arranged all of the logistics for us. We took a long 4-hour bus ride to JFK and traveled as a group through the busy airport. The chaos of a NYC airport on a Friday night was definitely something I didn’t miss. By the time our group of 40+ got through security, it was just about time to board the plane.
It was about 8:30 a.m. in Dublin when the plane landed. I remember stepping off the plane, getting through the airport, and stepping outside to be greeted by the bright sky and crisp Irish air. I couldn’t wait for the week ahead. I remember walking through the city and being surprised that there were pigeons everywhere just like New York City but what really stuck with me was the friendliness of the people. Everyone I met was so kind and it was such a refreshing, welcoming feeling.
Almost immediately after dropping our suitcases at the hostel, we got started with our fun-filled day. Throughout the week, we went to several museums, including the Leprechaun Museum,the Museum of Archeology, the GPO Museum, and went on a bus tour and walking tour through the cobblestone streets. And, of course, we explored bars and restaurants, shops and so much more. Some friends and I even went off on our own one day and took a train to Howth, known for its beautiful lookout area. That was one of the best and most memorable days of the trip.
My favorite of all the activities was the Leprechaun Museum. I kept a journal while I was in Dublin and here is what I wrote: “Later we took a visit to the Leprechaun museum, which is definitely up there with one of my favorite activities from the trip. All of the rooms the tour guide took us into were so intricate and cool to look at. I loved the interactive part where all the furniture was so big that it made us feel as if we were leprechauns. The stories he told were also mind-blowing to hear about and through these experiences it made me realize how many Irish tales there are.”
It was the coolest thing getting to learn and experience Irish culture. From the heavy Irish accents that were hard to understand at times and the put-together fashion, it was a culture shock. Many people were curious about our American lifestyle, too.
The one day I was really looking forward to was St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, when would I get the opportunity to be in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day ever again? I remember waking up that morning to absolute chaos. We walked outside and it was just a sea of green, music, and yelling. Everything I would have expected. It was 10 times crazier there than here and we heard that about 500,000 people flew in to Dublin to celebrate. The people there are very patriotic. We got to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade, watch Irish tap dancers, and went to some of the bars and clubs that night. Responsibly of course, as our return flight was the next morning. It was the most fun week of my life. I made some great friends with people in my class that I still talk to today. I also really loved that even though we were on a school trip, they gave us freedom to explore and experience Ireland.
If any incoming student ever asked me if I think they should study abroad, I would immediately say yes. You’ll regret it if you don’t.