Irish Heritage Tour As Seen through the Eyes of A Student: Days 1 and 2

The Honors Program just completed its Irish Heritage Tour, where twenty-one students and two staff members traveled to the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland from May 8th through the 19th. We have asked a number of students to blog about the journey, so each day is written from the perspective of a different student or staff member.  Today's post was written by a sophomore accounting major in the Honors Program, Kristine Blackburn.  We hope you enjoy reading about our journey!

Students on the Ha'Penny Bridge over the River Liffey
Day 1: Monday, May 8th

Today started out just like any other—no matter how much I planned this out and thought ahead, I was still rushing out the door last minute. It wasn’t because I hadn’t packed—I’d packed all my clothes, which was pretty much the only thing in my checked luggage, the night before. I’d gathered anything else that I thought I needed that morning. I’d checked over my essay one last time before turning it in. this was all done before I left. And somehow I was still running late. I blame it on my nerves.
It doesn’t help that I’ve never been on a real airplane before, except when I was a baby, so not only did we get lost finding a place to park the car, but I was almost late. (Almost, as I hadn’t quite hit that 2:10 deadline, but I sure was getting close.) I was officially the last person to show up, making it with ten minutes to spare. Great start to this trip, right?

For someone who’s never had to deal with luggage, carry-ons, metal detectors or anything of the sort, it was a bit stressful. It took longer than I would’ve thought (when trying to judge how long these things should take), and I can understand why Dr. Swanson wanted us to get there early. We still had plenty of time to wait until we had to get on our first place—to JFK in NYC—before we’d have to do it all over again to get to Dublin.

Bird's Eye View
Despite how crazy this morning started, I’m still thrilled to be able to go. Mom says that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, to be able to go to Ireland, and this time I really hope she’s wrong. I’ll never get the same experiences if I go on my own, or with other people, but without even experiencing it yet I know that I’m going to want to go back. Ireland was my number one choice to go to on a class trip (I really want to go to Spain, too, but I have a solo trip planned for that one) and I’m forever grateful for this wonderful opportunity. Not everyone has the chance to be able to travel, but I’ve been given this chance. I refuse to waste it with being homesick. It won’t be long, so I’ll just have to cherish it while it lasts.

Just in case you didn't know...

Day 2: Tuesday, May 9th

My first introduction to Ireland was, while the plane was landing, five rabbits. I was able to count five rabbits in the grass near the runway as the plane touched down. That’s probably something most people didn’t notice. But it really did amuse me.
After that, everything happened so quickly. When we got off the plane, Ireland ‘day one’ had already started. At this point in time, I’d gotten no sleep—not for the lack of trying on that plane, but I hadn’t managed to find my earplugs and the plane had been so loud and cold in the air—and I was a bit exhausted. But that was fine, because excitement was enough to keep my body moving, full of energy.
Day one was our group’s first introduction to everyone and everything—after meeting up with Rikke, our guide, and the other groups, we started our adventure. Our bus driver’s name is Hugh. I think I’m going to like him and Rikke, and I’m glad they’re sticking around with us.
Some of our first views of Dublin included picturesque architecture.
Out first activity was a tour of Dublin, where we were shown all around the city. We went to Trinity College, among other places, and got to see the Book of Kells and the Long Hall, which is Trinity College's Library. We also learned a lot about the River Liffey and saw the Ha'Penny Bridge that crosses it--it's named that because people had to pay half a penny (a ha'penny) to cross it! It was all pretty interesting. (This part’s a bit of a blur, since we saw so many things—the Millennium Spire, this golden globe of leaves in front of a bank, so many statues and beautiful street art and wonderful street performers… There was a lot of stuff we got to see today.)  
The Long Hall Library at Trinity College

After a long day, we had a wonderful dinner (and dessert) before a group of us went off to explore Dublin some more—Bethany wanted to wander, and wandering sounded like a ton of fun. Seeing the city, exploring without a guide while just having a chance to look around, was fun. For a small-town girl, Dublin’s a bit overwhelming. But it was still a lot of fun.
There were thirteen of us in this group originally. By the time we made it back to the hotel, two groups of three had broken off for their own reasons. I really enjoyed ‘getting lost’ and wandering around, because that’s all we’d really planned on doing. No set place in mind, no specific time to be back, just… wandering. And it was fun.
Molly Malone selling cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o!
To wrap all this madness up, I think I’d say that getting to Ireland, getting to see another country, was my favorite thing that we did today. The plane ride wasn’t that fun—I’m never flying at night again—but just being able to see everything, to experience this different culture, was incredible. I love listening to people talk here, and I think I’ll keep a list of some of the terms they use that we don’t back in the US. Might be a fun list.

I’ll definitely have to come back here again.


Popular Posts