Normally I get back from my amazing and exciting study abroad adventures and the first thing I do is sit down and write. I blog and I journal and I do everything I can to preserve the memory as best as possible. I want to be able to look back on this semester and remember all of the little details that made this experience so great.
But when I got home from our school trip to Northern Ireland this weekend, I found myself at a loss. I uploaded the pictures I took and taped my tickets into my journal, but that was it. It was Saturday night after getting home from one of the most incredible trips of my life, and I had nothing to say.
After mulling over this sudden bout of brain silence for a few days, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe it’s just because I don’t have any words good enough to recreate the beauty I saw. It’s like there was so much to say and no way to say it. I don’t think the smile left my face once all day on Saturday, not even when I was dead tired on the bus ride home that evening. But the process of translating that smile into words on a page? It sounds impossible, at least for now. What I saw was indescribable.
I think we writers often tend to write about the things that move us. We write about what has an impact, sometimes to explain, sometimes to connect, and sometimes in a desperate attempt to make sense of it all. But I wonder if some things are just too big. We all have those topics that are difficult to tackle — the ones that we just aren’t prepared to write about yet.
It’s not like our Northern Ireland trip was traumatic or anything. The exact opposite actually. But I think it was just too overwhelming (in all the right ways) for me to really do it justice right now. I hope eventually I’m able to sort through all of my thoughts and get them down on paper, but until then, I have a whole bunch of photos to share. (And believe me, not one of them is as beautiful as the real thing.)
We spent our first day in Belfast, where we started off with a black taxi tour. (Even though our taxi was white. Suspicious.) But the highlight of my day had to have been the Titanic museum. I don’t know why we’re so interested in tragedy, but like many others, I found it fascinating.
After Belfast, we headed off to the tiny coastal town of Ballintoy, where we got settled into our hostel and headed down to the local pub for some music and conversation.
The real beauty came about on Saturday, when we spent the day exploring the Northern Irish coastline. Our fist stop was actually just walking distance from our hostel — Ballintoy Harbor. Some say it’s the most beautiful harbor in Ireland. I haven’t seen them all, but they may very well be right.
From the harbor, it was off to the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge just outside of Ballintoy.
We ate some fancy chicken tenders (among other things) at a restaurant down the coast before heading to the Giant’s Causeway, a really neat place formed by slow-cooling basaltic magma thousands of years ago. Yeah, I pay attention in science class.
By this time, we were pretty much pooped. But we still had one more stop — Dunluce Castle. It’s in ruins now, but it’s situated on a sea stack and legend has it that the kitchen fell into the ocean when the cliff collapsed during a dinner party way back in 1639.
All in all, Northern Ireland was an A+ trip. And it came at just the right time. Every time I start feeling settled here in Dublin, something comes along to remind me what an amazing experience this is and how lucky I am to be here.
On a side note, it was Valentine’s Day yesterday, so special shout-out to my sweet boyfriend who makes me smile from 3,000+ miles away!