It’s been a big week: A week of adventure, fun and literally leaps of faith.
We had a big hike last Friday. The group got dropped off at an old church in a town about an hour from Bundoran, and we started by hiking towards an old coastal watchtower. When we finally got to it, we looked over the massively high cliffs and ate our lunch. After lunch, we slowly made our way along the coast, taking in the fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean along the cliffs.
The ground was wet and muddy, so we all spent a lot of the hike slipping and sliding, which was hilarious. There were a few pretty good wipeouts, and a lot of people’s butts were covered in mud at the end. We finally got to a beach and found the trailer with all of the camping stuff that had been left for us. We set up camp on a cliff overlooking the water. It was kind of a pain because we had to climb up to the spot with all of the sleeping bags and tents, but in the end, it was very beautiful and totally worth it. We ended the day by watching the sun set into the ocean, and telling stories around the campfire 😊
We started the new week on Monday with a long beach
walk and sand art. After lunch, we headed to the classroom for our second leadership workshop with Ryan. We discussed leaders we’ve known in our own lives and what made them great. We also talked about different forms of leadership and what effect each style typically had on a given team or group. Then we headed down to the beach to do the marshmallow challenge – The objective was to tape 20 pieces of thin pasta together to get the marshmallow the highest off the ground, we only had 20 minutes to this. We had some free time at the house afterward while the student leaders Anna and Dylan made mac n cheese for dinner. After we were all very full, we went to a workout class at the gym to learn about healthy living. We had a very hard cycle session, followed by some boxing, which I found fun and slightly ironic since we ate a massive cheesy meal right before (oops!).
Tuesday began with cliff jumping! I stayed at the lowest level, but I still had a lot of fun, and it was also enjoyable to watch other people jump from high up. After, we chilled at the house and packed for Galway, while also doing a deep clean of Bundrowes. In the late afternoon, we went to the beach for our Liquid Therapy orientation. It’s a very cool organization that works with young surfers who need accommodations. We learned the best ways to interact with them, and how to help them surf.
Wednesday morning, we hopped on a bus to Galway. We stopped in the town where “The Quiet Man” was filmed and went on a short walk through some woods and had a quick lunch.
We finally got to the city and settled into our hostel which was in a great location next to the harbor where the ships and sailboats come into Galway, it was only a 5 minute walk to the main street of Galway. The boys and girls were split up into two rooms with bunk beds, and although the beds were small, they were comfortable. Sarah took us on a small walking tour of the city, and we had free time to explore and shop. We made dinner in the communal kitchen in the hostel, which was kind of chaotic.
After our meal, Sarah and Joe took us out to a pub to see some live music. It was super awesome, and I even danced a little! It was definitely one of my favorite nights so far!
Thursday and Friday were split days which meant that 7 of us did one thing and the other group did another thing one day, and then switched activities the next. On Thursday, my group went to the Aran Islands. We got there via ferry, and rented bikes to ride around the island.
The weather was absolutely perfect, and the island was gorgeous. As we biked, we stopped to balance rocks, see barking seals, and make human pyramids on the beach. We parked our bikes and hiked a short distance up to an ancient Celtic fortress. The fortress was basically very old rock walls very, VERY high up on a cliff, the student leader did a short presentation on the history of the fortress, which was quite interesting and well presented. After exploring for a bit, we rode back to return the bikes and did a little shopping. Luke, Dylan and I got very nice wool sweaters!
On the second split day, my group did a scavenger hunt in the Galway public museum. It gave us a chance to learn some cool stuff about Galway and Ireland’s history. When we were all done, the seven of us walked around for a while, and then went back to the hostel to rest.
Mari, Eliza and I met up with Sarah after lunch and went to the climate strike. It was really empowering to see all of the students fighting for our earth, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it! After everyone from the other group got back from the islands, we went and got pizza. I got super good gluten-free pizza and dough balls! After dinner, Eliza and I got delicious ice cream and called it a night.
Saturday morning, a few of us went out for coffee and sat along the canal, basking in the sun before the clouds and rain came. Then we hopped on the bus and headed home to Bundoran.
In Memory of John Geerdes
On Friday night, September 13, 2019, a soul was lost. John Geerdes, a boy I graduated with, died in a car crash. I didn’t know him well at all, but I saw him almost every day at school, and he always had a big goofy smile on his face. He brought joy to the people around him, and I greatly feel that this loss was incredibly unfair. His time was cut so, so short, and it brings so much sadness to my heart. John’s passing made me reflect on my life and my decisions. I feel that I am so lucky to be in Ireland doing this gap year program. It has only been two weeks since I’ve been here, and I’ve already seen some amazing sights, and met some great people. Right now, I am incredibly happy and I think taking a gap year was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Life is short, so live it by doing something that makes you smile as big as John did. My heart goes out to John’s family and friends. Rest easy John. You were loved by many and admired by all.