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The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End

As May begins, so does my final month abroad. In a few short weeks I will back in the US,  and while there are some things I am looking forward to- seeing friends, my dog, eating Skyline and Graeters, and of course, reuniting with my family- there are so many things I am leaving behind. I have been fortunate enough to truly see almost all of Ireland. This past weekend I took my final Ireland trip, as I headed up north to Belfast. Before we reached Belfast though, Marypaz and I finally had our government weekend. However, as soon as we walked to the bus stop in Cork we realized that we had booked our tickets backwards (to Cork from Dublin instead of to Dublin from Cork) but Irish hospitably never ceases to amaze me, as the driver let us both on anyway and said he would call the office so our tickets would be correct for the journey back. We arrived in Dublin early on Friday and planned on touring the Dail (Ireland’s parliament) but unfortunately Parliament was in session so there were no tours. Next, we visited Kilmainham Gaol, which is the jail in Dublin which is infamously known for the killing of the 14 leaders of the Easter Rising. Touring the jail was eerie and while most of the information from the tour were facts and stories we had already learned from our Irish Politics class, it was still unreal to see the jail and firing squad sites first-hand. After the jail tour we went back into Dublin where we met up with a few friends and spent a night out at a local Dublin club– Coppers (there’s the shoutout you wanted Marypaz).

awesome mural in Dublin to promote marriage equality!
front of Kilmainham Gaol


Marypaz and I then woke up the next morning bright and early at 9am, seeing as we had to check out of our hostel at 10, we figured we had the whole day ahead of us. Our plan was to tour the outdoor stadium– Croke Park. However, as soon as we walked outside, in true Irish fashion, it was pouring down rain. We both had our big backpacking backpacks with us, and no desire to spend the day outside in the rain with our backpacks on. So with 4 hours to kill until we needed to catch the bus up to Malahide, where we were meeting Shane and his car, we had no game plan. Logically, Marypaz and I spent our final 4 hours in Dublin loitering in a variety of shops until we could catch a bus. We first started in a small mom and pop breakfast restaurant, where we spent an hour before we realized we had to leave. We then spent an hour in Starbucks, followed by 30 minutes in Penney’s and 30 minutes in Carroll’s, until our time was up and we went to catch the bus. Needless to say, we were a bit embarrassed but our spirits were lifted once a little boy on the bus asked us if we had just come from the mountains because of our backpacks.

Once we met up with Shane, we took our 2 hour ride up North. We arrived at our Airbnb in a nice college area outside of Belfast, and ate some pulled pork sandwiches for dinner. (Something that I had mentioned hours earlier that I had been craving, so I guess luck was finally on our side). Up North, I was able to see the beautiful capital of Northern Ireland, some peace murals that coated brick walls outside the city, and was able to go an hour outside Belfast, up to the tip of Northern Ireland where I was able to see Giants Causeway. Giants Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and 100% deserves all the recognition that it receives.


The trip up to Northern Ireland only reinforced how beautiful the island of Ireland is and how lucky I have been to spend the past 4 months here. While I don’t leave Cork until May 25th, my month of May is packed with European adventures, meaning that my days in Cork are numbered. My long time friend from home Kitty, along with her roommate Jess arrive here tomorrow. Once they have a few days to settle, we gear up for 2 weeks of traveling together, and our itinerary is packed. We fly out of Dublin early on May 6th and then travel to Copenhagen, Berlin, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, and finally Budapest. We are staying in hostels and Airbnbs, taking night trains and buses, and surviving out of a backpack until we return to Cork on May 20th. Leaving me just 5 remaining days in a country that has become my second home.

While I can barely contain my excitement for the travels that lay ahead, as these are all cities I have never been to but can’t wait to visit, I know my leaving on May 6th is bittersweet. While I am returning to Cork, when I get back, the number of people waiting for me will have severely dwindled. My group of 10 friends who have been with me every step of the way during this great study abroad adventure, are also departing on their own journeys. When I get back May 20th, I will return to 2 of my favorite people, but everyone else will either be on their way home or traveling in Europe as well. This all means that our big goodbye is happening sooner than expected. Tomorrow we will be having our final gathering where I am sure there will be many hugs and a few tears, because I don’t know what I’m going to do without having these people around me 24/7 (because they all were around me practically 24/7). But never fear, because we did of course make matching t-shirts and have reunions planned (ye better be coming to Chicago).

I won’t end on too sappy of a note, because while this is the beginning of the end, it is still a beginning. I have many many adventures ahead of me and my study abroad days are not over yet!

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