Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My final days are here.

I'm slowly accepting that the end is here. Over the next couple days I have two mountains left to climb in Kerry and Waterford, the weather is absolutely gorgeous and is giving me the perfect going away, although it's bittersweet. 

It's been the greatest year of my life that's for sure. It's hard to imagine how the next however many years I have could compare to something so incredible and life changing, but I sure hope they compete. In my wildest dreams I never imagined I'd be standing where I am today, experiencing all I have. It's fair to say I've pinched myself a few times over the past 8 months to see if this is more than a dream. To all the incredible people I've met and been fortunate enough to share experiences and memories with, Thank you. You truly made this experience once in a lifetime and it means more to me than you'll ever understand. I won't be saying goodbye, I will be seeing you soon whether it be in Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, Canada or even back here in Ireland. 

I can't thank Geroge J Mitchell and all involved in this program enough, you've truly changed my life. 

Go raibh mile maith agat. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

How my year studying abroad in Cork has ruined my life.

Because I've found a new definition for "home" it's everywhere and it's nowhere at the same time. Over this experience I've learned home is so much more than the place In which you reside, it's the place you feel alive, comfortable and happy. 

Because living in cork means you have to surround yourself with some of the most friendly humans on earth.

Because it took a 2 and a half hour train ride to be standing front row at a Mumford and Sons concert.

Because on any given night out you are guaranteed to get an overdose of Craic, not to be mistaken with the white powdery substance which is illegal. This form of Craic I suppose could be considered a "street substance", on the premises half of it takes place in the streets of cork. The Irish love to take the good times you have in the pubs out into the streets as soon as the pubs shut down for the night. Dancing, singing, gathering around the musicians playing on the street corners to sing a few tunes. Something you can always count on.

Because I've never valued sunlight so much in my life, it rains in Ireland.. A lot 

Speaking of weather, one thing I was worried about missing out on in Maine is our beautiful 4 seasons. Little did I know Ireland happens to get four distinct seasons as well. They just happen to frequently show up in the same day. 

Because an order of fish and chips will never be complete without a side of mushy peas,(better than they sound if done the right way)

Because if your meal at a restaurant comes with some form of potatoes you better be ready to get a side of chips with that. Potatoes are more than a staple, they're a way of life.

Because Irish time means anywhere from ten minutes to an hour later than you'd expect. (not sure how I'll ever be on time for anything again)

Because when I get back to the states I won't have to wait for a bus, or have the privilege of walking around the city for hours to pick up some groceries.(especially in the pouring rain)

Because each time I go for a run behind my apartment theirs horses expecting me to feed them my apples.

Because living at Eden Hall with 100 of the best friends I've ever made never leaves me constantly with nothing to do.

Because living In a community where everyone is speaking multiple languages has taught me nothing.

Because living in Cork means I can wake
Up in Ireland and fall asleep in France, Croatia, Greece and everywhere in between. It's just too easy. 

Because I'm sick of living in a city with an endless amount of talented musicians, live music on every street corner, and in most pubs any given night, must be something in the water here. 

Because eating local food and drinking local beers and whiskey is too self sufficient for one man to handle. 

Because I don't see how I'll ever make it through another day without a cuppa and biscuit. More than a warm beverage and a snack, it's an Irish lifeline. 

Because Ireland constantly smells,
Terrible with all the fireplaces in every Irish home, and all that fresh air floating around this Emerald Isle. 

Because theirs no gold at the end of the rainbow

How every time  I see the Irish rocky coast  I can't help but feel I'm at home, in Maine, even though we are separated but this large Atlantic.

Because after driving on the left side of the road a handful of times now, I know I'll certainly be causing some confusion once I'm back driving in the states. 

Because navigating through cities in Italy, Germany, Spain or France without knowing more than a common greeting is too much of a challenge for me.

Because a curry sausage and chips in Munich is just appalling. 

Because pizza in Italy isn't real pizza. 

Because Ireland has nothing to see.

I hope by know you've caught onto a theme here..Rather than getting all sappy and listing the hundreds of things I've loved and will deeply miss from this experience I thought I'd have a bit of fun with it.
This experience has taught me to celebrate life, take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. To never hold back, to not fear the unknown. That each and every one of us has more in common than we will ever understand. Each person we meet regardless where in the world they come from has something to teach us, and these experiences I've learned over the past 8 months have educated and influenced me in countless ways. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Off on my last European adventure

Heading to the airport in an hour or so to head over to Croatia for 9 days, do a bunch of hiking, a little bungee jumping and certainly spending time explore a few of the hundreds of islands off the coast. Perfect way to cap off such an incredible experience before heading back to reality. 
But over the past 2 weekends I've been exploring all I can of Ireland, trying to soak in every last bit of green I can. When I get back from Croatia I'll have 9 days left in Ireland which I've already made a bucket list of things I must do/see my last few days here. I have to say although the weather in Ireland is typically not the greatest, when summer arrived about ten days ago I have been blown away by how truly magestic this country is, seeing it in a new light I'd say(ya know since it's not so cloudy). So here's a few shots from my recent adventures around this incredible Emerald Isle 
These last two photos are from a trip we made to the Waterford Crystal fsctory tour a few friends and I went on last week. Absolute stunning work done by these craftsmen, who only work 3 days a week and make over 1,000€ per week. A pretty rewarding career I'd say seeing how they're responsible for creating all the PGA golf trophies as well as pieces for the president, NCAA football and many more. Really incredible to see how much work goes into the beautiful pieces.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thirty days

As I woke up this morning I noticed it was May 5th, typically I'd be jumping for joy as to my day would be filled with a lot of tacos, guacamole, and maybe a margarita or two. But this may 5th is different, it marks the 30 day mark. That's all I have left of this incredible, life changing, eye opening experience that words can't even explain. I am caught in a battle of the past the future and this moment. My mind wants to start reflecting on all that has happened since September 1st and my heart is focused and excited for this next 30 days, all while I am trying to keep my emotions in check. So for now I am going to look at the next 30 days, I just had my last class, handing in my last assignment tomorrow and one final next week, after the final my class has organized a little end of the year party which will be full of goodbyes. The next morning I will wake up in Cork and hop on a plane for my last adventure, this time the destination is Croatia. I am exploding with Resfeber (one of my favorite words from this entire experience) over the span of 9 days I'll going all over southern Croatia, hiking, swimming, island hopping, tasting and embracing this hidden gem. When I return to Ireland I will have only 10 days left which will be spent with little sleep and a lot of exploring, celebrating, and last minute embracing of a place that will always be home to me. Over the next two weekends I've rented a car which with weather cooperating I'll be filling with a few friends and just going for a roadtrip along the coast, finding hidden treasure in West and East Cork, while trying to prepare myself that goodbyes are soon to follow. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Oh it's been a while I need to get back to this

So this past weekend I found myself walking the Streets of Morocco, my first experience really traveling out of Europe. Although some could argue Morocco is the closest African country to being in the EU. I learned so much in just a few short days which has sparked a large fire in me to explore much more of Africa over the coming years as well as any Muslim countries I can get to. Such a fascinating and beautiful culture, I plan to write more about this in my next post when I have a bit more of time. (basically when I get all my assignments which are due next week done) but for now I'll leave a quick story which had a great impact on me. Although the what I am about to write I've never really questioned it is nice however to take moments like these and appreciate such important experiences.

Whilst wandering these beautiful blue streets and alley ways of Chechaouene, Morocco I came across three young boys. I raised my hand and they all waved back, followed by each of them coming over to me and giving me a high five.  Certainly one of my favorite moments of my travels in Morocco. Moments like these are what drive me to travel, to see and feel other culture, to reassure myself that although we may have grown up worlds away from each other we are all still humans, and we can all be friends. Don't fear difference, embrace it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We drive on the other side of the car, and the other side of the road. That is if the road is wide enough for 2 cars.

(Note: the road above is a two way road) So this past week a friend of mine from Maine came over to Ireland and my goal was to give them the best Irish experience possible. Based on my experience in Ireland if you want to see the true beauty there's no better way than driving. So I rented a car with no prior experience to driving on the opposite side, when I pulled out of the parking lot I used the entrance lane not the exit lane, but fortunately that was the first and only mistake I made throughout the week. This gave me an experience I have never had in Ireland prior, we visited the beautiful Blackrock Castle which is actually owned by CIT and used as a planetarium. We then took off for the beautiful Ring of Kerry which I had always dreamed driving around and hope to do so again someday. Followed by the winding Gap of Dunloe, and Killarney National park. Then headed up the west coast to Galway and then went to the Connemara National park making many stops in between. I've really only travels Ireland by bus or train before and having the luxury to stop and pull over whenever you see an abandoned castle or a beautiful rainbow over the ocean made the trip that much more incredible. We were extremely fortunate to have spells of good weather since for the past month Ireland has pretty much been underwater.  But all I can say is even in bad conditions Ireland still holds many breathtaking views. 

Happy New Year!

2016? Wow how did that get here already. 2015 will surely be a year I will never forget, honestly I think it's been the greatest year of my life thus far. I have many many things to be grateful for, but I owe a massive thank you to Senator George Mitchell as well as the state of Maine for making the year of 2015 so special for me. The experiences I have had, the people I have met, and the places I've traveled wouldn't of been possible without this incredible opportunity. Ireland has become a home to me more now than ever, it's even to the point where in conversation when people ask me "oh ye here on holiday?" I look at them confused as I forgot I'm actually from the U.S. I have learned so much from this experience not only in school and about the Irish culture, but especially about myself, being able to overcome many obstacles, changing habits and conforming to a different lifestyle. It's been such a pleasure living in Cork and studying at CIT that I've actually decided to stay a second semester to continue on this journey. I will continue with this blog over the next few months as well. Although I won't be here as a Mitchell scholar, still be writing about Travels around Ireland and Europe and the experiences of being a Corkian.