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June 30, 2015


June 24 - June 28

For the past 6 months I have been planning a study abroad trip to Ireland, and I am finally here!

My friend, Erin, and I decided long ago that we wanted to study abroad this summer.  After perusing all of the wonderful programs and countries Cal Poly presents us with, we decided to go to Ireland through a program called USAC (University Study Abroad Consortium). We've been planning this trip since December, and we are so excited that our time has finally come.

We left early Tuesday morning for LAX, ready to start our exciting adventure.  Our flight left at 7:30 in the morning, and after around 13 hours of flying we finally landed in beautiful Dublin.  Early on the program presented us with an optional trip to Dublin before our actual study abroad time began, and we eagerly signed up for it.  We got to Dublin at 5:05 A.M. their time, which was 9 P.M. our time.  We are 8 hours ahead here in Ireland, and jet lag has been one of the most difficult parts about the beginning of the trip.

Almost half of the first day, from 6 in the morning till about 1 in the afternoon, we sat in the hotel lobby waiting for our rooms to be ready.  We were the first people there, and throughout the 7 hours of waiting the rest of the 39 students arrived.  That morning was really difficult because we were sitting around with nothing to do, and while it was Dublin's day time it was really our night time.  The program directors tried to get us to stay up though because the only way you can really overcome jet lag is to stick immediately to the days and nights of the new time zone (no naps!).

View from the hotel room!

The afternoon of the first day we took a walking tour of Dublin, looked around Trinity College, walked through Temple Bar (one of the coolest parts), and saw the Book of Kells. I wish I had been more coherent for these parts because they really were exciting, but everyone was extremely tired from traveling and jet lag, so the trip was not as easy as I would've hoped.  The town is beautiful though, and I was happy to get a glimpse of it!

The second day of the trip to Dublin was significantly better.  After 12 straight hours of sleep, I got a yummy breakfast at the hotel with some of my friends, and we were off to see the city.  First stop was Dublin Castle, which might have been one of my favorite parts of the trip.  We had a guided tour of the place and learned a lot from it.  We went down below the castle, where there is a whole wall remaining from the Viking period, about 900 A.D.  It was crazy! The stones were pieced together with egg, ox blood, and horse hair, and there is still an entire piece of wall that has stood the test of more than a thousand years.  We also learned, among other things, that the Irish Crown Jewels were stolen about one hundred years ago and never recovered.

The second day we also went to a cool museum and went on another walking tour around the city with a very funny and brash man named Larken. That night we went to a play at the Abbey Theater, which is was a very great and memorable experience.  The play was called The Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O'Casey, and we have been told that seeing a play by this playwright at the Abbey is one for the books.  After the play we went to a fun pub and snagged our first Irish beer.  We were still very tired though, so we stayed for a little and then headed back to the hotel to crash.

Friday - our third day in Dublin - was wonderful.  We started off by visiting a breathtaking cathedral in the heart of Dublin. It was huge and had beautiful stained glass windows with some very intricate architecture.  After this trip, we took a tram back to Abbey Theater and participated in an acting workshop.  This was a really cool experience because we were coached by one of the women who worked with the actors from The Shadow of a Gunman. We got to do the workshop were the actors in all of the plays there practice. She had us do a lot of different fun exercises that loosened us up, and then we went down to the set of the play and got to see a little behind the scenes.

That afternoon, we went to a little city by the ocean called Howth.  We took a quick train ride there and stayed for a few hours.  I was so happy I went on this little trip because we took time to relax, reflect on the past few days, and just enjoy our time there. We sat near the water for awhile and then got some gelato.  Later on we went back to the city, got some yummy Italian food for dinner, and then hung out at the hotel bar for a little bit.

Our last full day in Dublin was Saturday.  We took a day-long trip into the countryside of Ireland where we visited two different places: the Hill of Tara and New Grange.  They were both called passage tombs. New Grange was built in the Neolithic times, around 3200 B.C., making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids.  We don't know exactly what these places were used for, but they could be places of religious significance. New Grange consisted of a large hill with passage ways inside that are shaped like a cross. It is aligned with the rising sun and the chambers were built specifically to only be fully lit up on one day of the year, the day of Winter Solstice.

Looking back, I am so happy I decided to go to Dublin.  While the experience was exhausting and difficult, it was very rewarding.  I was overwhelmed most of the time because everything was new to me: new city, new time zone (jet lag sucks), all new people to meet, new experiences. Despite all of this, I learned so much on this trip, met some really nice people, and got to see so many parts of the beautiful Dublin.

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