This post comes to us from Briana Flaherty who studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland at Maynooth University from the University of Massachusetts. This post was originally published on her blog that you can follow here.
Well… I knew this time would eventually come. I never knew how hard it can be to say goodbye. I found it the most difficult to say goodbye due to the fact that I have so many memories with these people. We were strangers four months ago and now we will be friends forever, regardless of distance. However, I am ready to return home and see my family & friends. The anticipation is killing me and I just want to be on my flight home at this point. Since I am one of the last people to depart Maynooth, it is incredibly quiet here on campus and around the town. All of the students are preparing to return home, whether that be to the states or somewhere in Ireland. This semester truly flew by and I have absolutely no regrets with my trip abroad.
Instead of being emotional, I decided to head into Dublin today and do some final exploring. Even though I feel like I’ve seen every part of Dublin at this point, I decided to visit a jail in Ireland called Kilmainham Gaol. I was able to tour the jail and get an in-depth story about the people who were imprisoned there. It was super interesting and one of my favorite attractions in Dublin. I returned to the city center for some last minute shopping before taking the train back to Maynooth. Knowing that this may be my last time in Dublin, it was sad leaving the city that means so much to me. I made sure to take a second look at my surroundings and take in all of the sights, glancing at the River Liffey one last time. I will miss the culture, the people, the pubs, and all of the sights around this city. I can honestly say that Dublin is by far my favorite city visited and feel at home here.
However, I truly felt that Maynooth was my home during my stay. The town is so incredibly small but has such an amazing sense of community. All of the store employees are friendly and want to engage with you. The restaurants serve great food and the pubs are even better. I will never forget our crazy nights out at “The Roost”, “Bradys”, or “Mischief”. The town may be one street but it’s a street of amazing culture and community.
At this point, I have actually managed to pack all of my stuff into my two suitcases. I did not want to feel rushed tomorrow (the day before my flight). I may take one last trip to Dublin before I depart. While I look back at my journey, it has been 103 days of traveling throughout 8 different European countries; countless meals and dinners; lots of pints; and a whole lot of fun. I must say, I am blessed for this experience and all that I have been able to accomplish. Without the help of my parents and family, I would not be able to have had this once in a lifetime experience. Huge shoutout to my mom, dad, sister, and brother for being the best support system out there. Even though I haven’t seen you guys in four months, you have always been there for me. I have been blessed to have such amazing friends back in Franklin and at UMass.
They have constantly kept me in the loop and were always keeping me updated with everything happening back in the states. I cannot wait to see all of you guys back in the states. My entire extended family has been great and super supportive of my trip. I have also been able to find my heritage and roots here in Ireland. I cannot thank my family for meeting me for the first time and taking me in like a true family. One of the major highlights of my trip was being able to meet my family (cousins, second cousins, cousins once removed, and my great-aunt). Looking back on this experience, I could not ask for a better semester in the most amazing country. Ireland, you will always have a place in my heart. I may not be back for a while… but I will be back. “To travel is to take a journey into yourself”. Thank you for taking this journey with me.