An open letter to this semester’s Mercyhurst in Ireland crew:
A few days ago, you embarked on the first step of a journey that you’ll never forget. Cliché? Yes. But true, nonetheless. I know this because two years ago I was in your place, now I’m wishing I could be you again.
From the moment I stepped on the Aer Lingus plane at JFK airport, turned the corner to find my seat, and accidentally collided with some random guy who had an incredibly charming Irish accent, I knew I was in for an adventure. Guess what? I wasn’t wrong.
My three months in Dungarvan, Ireland during sophomore year were undoubtedly one of the highlights of my college career. Looking back now as a senior and seeing you, a new slew of giddy travelers take off across the big Pond makes my heart yearn to return.
It’s the little things that remind me of Erie’s sister city. Things like yesterday’s 50-something, drizzly weather, or a song I used to listen to while I was there.
So here is my advice to you: take advantage of everything. Visit the Thursday market in the Dungarvan town square, buy macaroons and fresh bread and maybe even fish, if you’re feeling daring.
Plan weekend trips to London and Barcelona, like I did, or any other European city you’ve dreamed of. Now is your chance. Rent bikes and explore as much as you can.
Spend too much money on souvenirs and delicious food. You’ll earn it back at some point or another.
Get to know the locals. I’ve never met such warm-hearted people as I did in the Emerald Isle. Ask them about their history, absorb their culture and pick up their lingo. (It’s some good craic!) You might just end up with a new international pen pal (even if it’s just through Facebook).
I know you’re going to want to sleep on those three-hour long bus trips, but don’t forget to look out the window and take a mental snapshot of the countryside once in a while. It really is as green as they say.
Go to class and learn all that you can. You are in a truly unique position, getting to experience Ireland right alongside your Mercyhurst peers and professors. It might not seem like it right away, but you will form a bond with these people.
Document your trip, but don’t let it take away from the moment. I took tons of pictures, but wish I had done a better job of keeping a blog or journal to re-read now. As incredible as things seem now, your memories will begin to fade.
Above all, cherish this opportunity and soak it all in. One day you’ll be in my place, reminiscing on memories as a new group takes off for their trip.