My family is 100% Irish. I competed in Irish dance competitions called feises for 8 years. I have a shamrock tattooed on my heel. Needless to say, the weekend trip I was most excited for during my time abroad was Ireland. My two friends and I flew into Dublin. After a full day touring the Guinness factory, eating fish and chips, and exploring the city, we decided that the next day we would go see the famous Cliffs of Moher. We asked the man at the front desk at our hostel what was the best way to get there. He replied in his charming accent that the hostel organizes tour busses that make the drive out there on weekends. He called the service to reserve three spots for us on the tour bus. With his hand covering the receiver of the phone, he said, “She’s telling me the tour is full but that there’s another bus making the trip tomorrow at the same time… you three don’t happen to speak Spanish do you?” We all looked at each other and grinned.
At 6 am the next morning, we all boarded the Spanish-speaking bus tour to Galway. It was overtly ironic that we had just left our Spanish study abroad program in Madrid only to be greeted by Spanish, in Ireland of all places. The four hour trip never got boring, thanks to the picturesque rolling green hills of the beautiful Irish countryside. It was everything I had ever dreamed of and more… and we had not even arrived at our final destination! The bus pulled into a parking lot and a voice over the intercom said, “Hemos llegado. Por favor vuelve aquí en dos horas — We have arrived. Please return here in two hours.” Two hours? As excited as I was, I could not imagine looking at the same scenery for two hours. Would I get bored? Would the cliffs live up to my expectations? These thoughts rushed through my head as I climbed the steep, stone steps to the top of the hill.
When I reached the summit, I audibly gasped. All of the thoughts and doubts I had dispersed as I was greeted with the most beautiful and breathtaking view I had ever seen. The jagged green cliffs stretched to my left and to my right. Below me was a steep and daunting drop to the water. In front, was the clear blue ocean as far as I could see. It felt as though I were standing on the edge of the world. Then I knew, two hours would not feel like long enough. My trip to Ireland was one of the most memorable experiences of my time abroad. I can’t imagine not seeing the Cliffs of Moher and I am so grateful for my study abroad experience for giving me this opportunity. It brought me closer to my heritage and reminded me that you never really know when your Spanish speaking skills could come in handy.
For more information on the CGIS Madrid Program visit the MCompass program page.