Hello 2011 ILE’ers,

I am absolutely thrilled to be writing to you today-to wish you well on the incredible journey you are about to have. I should know; my entire life has changed because of the experiences I had, the friends I made, and the person I became through the ILE.

Little did I know when I showed up at the airport, that I would have the most influential month ahead of me, chalk full of amazing people, places, and lessons. The first of which came actually about a week before we left, when I was figuring out my money situation, and so we can thank my little banker for helping me figure out…

Lesson 1=Count on using your credit card because I tell you-the charming little stores are irresistible. Let your credit card company/bank know that you are traveling overseas, or they will do something sneaky, like put a hold on your card. It will get nasty when you have to tell Mrs. O’Hara at McLeary’s Handmade Gift Shop that you can’t pay for the 197 items you just had her spend the past hour ringing up.

The second lesson came actually as soon as we landed in the gorgeous city of Dublin and headed straight out to the hills-so…

Lesson 2=Bring shoes that are relatively sturdy and which you are not going to have an aneurism over getting some good ol’ Irish dirt on and/or fall down because they have absolutely no traction.

Lesson 3 came when we were doing…, well I won’t ruin the surprise, but we were doing some activities that required sneakers, and I mean actual sneakers (Ladies, seriously, Steve Madden Keds don’t count). And along with this goes some sportsy clothes-athletic shorts and grungy shirts.
Onward from the shoe department and into the cosmetic section, I would say that…

Lesson 4=Yes, bring the essentials i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, hair things and common sense needs, but as for breaking out the Deluxe Hair Mousse and Swiss Pumice Skin Therapy System-this is not the time. You will survive and you’ll be moving to several different locations, and gallon jugs of shampoo get tedious, so lug around the minimum.

Lesson 5=You do not need your entire wardrobe. And yes, I have faith in you-you can detach for an entire month. You will be going out to some nice places a few times, but prom dresses and tuxes are not needed, just one or two nice dress outfits will suffice. Otherwise I kicked around in shorts and comfortable shirts most of the time. Honestly. Bring a sweatshirt, it gets a little chilly, and some light rain gear.

Lesson 6=Do not bring a suitcase that you have to sit on and employ the help of your little sibling to sit on in order to close while you’re still in America. As I said, you will be buying things. I don’t care how much of a penny pincher you are, you’re going to get at least a few darling little things so plan on needing some extra room in your suitcase(s).

Now besides all the logistical/material things, the next few lessons are the most important:
You are so fortunate to be going on this trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Yes, there is some nervousness that accompanies the initial meeting of strangers you’re about to spend a summer with, but hey guess what? They’re all feeling the same way. I remember getting there and grouching in the corner for a moment, but then I was met with the most exuberant ball of energy, and because I decided in that moment, hey, I’m going to just go with it. We went on to have the most amazing, hilarious trip together, and he is now my best friend in the entire world. No seriously. I’m living with him. So…

Lesson 7=LET GO! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to embrace a new environment with the structure of the program, but the freedom for exploration and opportunity you’ll create-because you bring to it what you will, and subsequently take away what you let yourself. Whether or not you’ve been to Ireland before, this is your experience, so make the absolute most of it. And the people are the best part, both on the trip with you, and in the country. Which brings me to…

Lesson 8=Go for it. Or as Nike would say, just do it. Whether it’s gaelic football, step dancing, baking, learning, interacting with your team, exploring a new city, it goes by way, way too fast, so stay present, attentive, and open everyday. Some things will be your strong points, some quite the opposite (take me for instance whose athletic abilities range from about -4 to zilch to nothing to never-ever), but just be respectful, receptive, enjoy way too much fun, and have a safe, wonderful time. Congratulations and much love. Kiss the Stone for me.

Piper Martini

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Trip Dates: June 30-July 24, 2024