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The Irish Life Experience was truly a life-changing trip. My two older sisters had both gone on the ILE and I was waiting for it to be my turn. I had put it off for two years, but I finally came to my senses this year and went on #ILE15. I am so happy that I did. I would never want to see Ireland for the first time any other way. Before I left, I was incredibly nervous about meeting new people and going to a new country. I come from a small high school with about 80 people in my grade. I had never left the country before. I knew no one going on the trip and I thought the counselors would be super strict and scary. Everything about the ILE was out of my comfort zone. I was freaking out for days before I left and literally sweat through my shirt at Logan Airport.

In the end, there was nothing to be nervous about! From the moment we stepped foot in Dublin, I felt right at home. I made new friends instantly with both students and counselors. Over the next 25 days, I became a part of a new family. Strangers became my best friends and I hate not seeing them every day. We might live miles apart, but I know that we will be friends for life, even the counselors. I was a little nervous when I met the ILE Staff, because they are all older than us and I thought that they would be really mean. In reality, it was the complete opposite! Every counselor made an effort to get to know each and every student. Mama T cared for us as if we were her own children. There was never a moment on the ILE that I felt lonely or uncomfortable. #ILE15 became my second family and they will hold a special place in my heart forever.

Not only did I make new friends-I got to explore another country. I had always wanted to travel to Ireland, always hoping that my competitive Irish dancing career would take me there. ILE allowed us to travel throughout the country and every day was a new adventure! I loved the day spent in Northern Ireland at the Giant’s Causeway and the day spent biking around the Aran Islands. Even the rain at the Cliffs of Moher couldn’t deter my excitement. I distinctly remember a moment in Killarney National Park. A friend and I were standing on rocks in the middle of Torc waterfall and we just freaked out, saying, “We are standing in a waterfall in Ireland!” Every once and while, it would actually hit us that we were in a new country and we just could not believe our dream came true. I woke up every single morning excited for the day ahead and I went to bed each night with a smile on my face. The entire trip felt so surreal and sometimes I can’t believe that I actually got to go on the ILE.

On the last day, I was sobbing uncontrollably because I did not want to leave Ireland or my amazing new family. While most of us could not pull ourselves together, the counselors were completely fine. I asked them why they weren’t in tears and I remember one counselor telling me, “I’m not sad right now because so many people would kill to be on a trip like this. We were just lucky enough that it happened to us.” And that is so true. I am incredibly lucky and grateful that the ILE happened to me. I could not thank Taryn, Angie, Shona, Miles, Kate, Kent, and Casey enough for the summer that they made happen. The ILE was the most amazing trip in the world and words do not do it justice. I came home with a new family and a new home. The Irish Life Experience was the best summer of my life and I cannot wait to go back as a counselor!

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Ireland High School & College Trips To Ireland

Reviewed 08/17/15