I always wrote my blog on Sunday, sitting in the blue room because I couldn’t sit up in my bed due to the bunk-effect. Now, it’s still Sunday, but instead of Ireland, I’m in Iowa, sitting on my couch sandwiched between my cat and my dog. For the last week, I have found myself constantly checking my phone for snapchats from the Tot group chat (a play on thot), Dylan and Luke on their European adventure, and Christian in his much-warmer-than-Iowa Texas. It has been strange to be home alone during the day while my mom is at work and my brother is at school. I have spent the last three months constantly surrounded by the same people, and while they drove me crazy in the end, I’m finding I’m missing them. I made some amazing friendships throughout the program, and while some of them will fade away and others will stay strong, the amazing memories we share will stay with me forever.
While I am glad to be home in my own bed that I can sit up in without hitting my head, I miss being able to look out the window and see the ocean and the mountains. It’s bizarre to not be surrounded by Irish accents, and the fact that no one is driving on the left. In the three months I was there, I grew accustomed to the land and ways of the people. It was so nice to get an America detox. To be someplace else, and away from what I knew helped me to focus on myself and what I want from life. I know it’s super deep, but I needed that separation to find things I was looking for. I needed to challenge myself to believe in myself. My confidence grew tremendously. While yes, I was fairly confident before this program, it’s almost like it helped me to see that I had this confidence that I didn’t quite know was there. I can do things I’m not totally comfortable doing and I’ll be ok. I can talk to strangers comfortably. I can stop hiding and just be myself.
When I wasn’t comfortable doing things, Sarah was there to help me push myself. She motivated me up mountains, across ridges, and while climbing up rock walls. She supported my growth, helping me with that idea that I can do anything if I just put my mind to it. She was not only a leader but also a friend. She knew me, but I also feel like I knew her. I felt extremely comfortable around her, and like I could tell her anything. She put a lot of work into us, and I am so thankful to her. I already miss her greatly.
I’m not going to lie, Joe is a quiet guy. But he ended up being incredibly kind and funny. We were his first group, and we were very high energy. Every time he had an off day, we would joke that he quit because we were too much for him. It was very hard to say goodbye to Joe.
The entire Irish Gap Year team was incredible. Ryan did great leadership workshops with us and was constantly high energy. He brought pups everywhere with him and it was always great to see her.
Everyone in Bundoran knew who Killian was. Many people in town referred to us as “Killian’s Crew.” He led some very interesting workshops and was always at the house before trips to make sure we were organized and ready to go. Onora was fabulous, and I enjoyed cooking with her enormously. She became one of my most favorite parts of the week. Fran was an absolute gem. She was there when I was diagnosed with a concussion, and there were some very funny moments that I’m still laughing about (and I’m sure she is too).
Chris was a goofball who would occasionally show up at our house and mess around. We all shared many laughs with him. I didn’t interact with her much, but Caroline was an especially kind human being. The other Caroline and Rita were fabulous cooks, keeping our belly’s wondrously full. Caroline was always very sweet and cheerful while Rita whipped us into shape. Many of us had quite a few interesting conversations with Rita in the kitchen. Without all of these people, my experience in Ireland would not have been the same. They all shaped the program for me in their own special ways, and I am incredibly grateful to them all.
Thank you, Irish Gap Year. I will cherish this amazing experience for the rest of my life.
Signing off for the last time, Bella.
(Ireland’s the craic!)