A High School Study Abroad Like No Other

The Irish Life Experienceis “a summer study abroad program in Ireland offered to both American and Canadian High School students. Over the course of four weeks during the summer in Ireland, students are introduced to its magical landscape and rich heritage through a variety of workshops, classes, and tours. Emphasizing culture, education, travel, safety, and fun, our programs insure a unique and unforgettable journey for every student.”

The summer of 2015, I was 17 years old and ready to be anywhere but my hometown. Luckily my father secretly applied for a scholarship to the Irish Life Experience,a 4 week study abroad program. I was granted the partial scholarship and away I went. Here is diary snippets from my adventures, experiences and friends, all of which I still speak highly of to this day:

"28 strange faces stood before me; 28 new names to remember with several different American accents to decipher. Wide eyes and smiles that stretched from one ear to the other seemed to fill the Boston airport from the excitement that in just a few short hours we will all be in a foreign country, traveling and experiencing a new culture. 

“'Don’t fall asleep on the bus.. ever.” One counselor from South Carolina warned, “We will take pictures, and we will post them on Facebook.”  Jokes like this weren’t infrequent on the ILE, but hearing this on our first bus ride at 6am local time jolted me awake. Little did I know, napping on that first day was not on the itinerary. We ate lunch picnic style, took a beautiful walk through Glendalough, and ended the night with icebreakers. We were finally allowed to go to bed at 9pm, the earliest we would go to sleep for the next month.

"During the first few days of the ILE, I was struck with unexpected homesickness; between the 8am wake up calls and the bare dorm rooms of Newtown School in Co. Waterford, I felt completely out of my comfort zone. Like anytime someone is with a new group of people, it could be hard to open up and find a friend that is most compatible with you. I remember the day I felt like I made my first friend on the ILE: I was walking around with a different group of people that I didn’t seem to clique with, so I took a deep breath, walked over to another group on the ILE and said the simple words, “Can I hang out with you.” From that day forward the whole trip seemed to fall flawlessly into place.  "Between Irish dancing, touring castles and hiking different terrains, there was never a dull moment on the ILE. The counselors were wonderful and always had activities planned, such as life sizedTic-Tac-Toe, and Minute to Win itgames, but I can’t seem to find anything that compares to the nights where we had to entertain ourselves. As teenagers of the 21st  century who are attached to the internet and social media, it was a refreshing change to spend a month almost cell phone free. One evening a few ILE’ers claimed that they were the fastest runners of the group. So we scurried around the Newtown campus asking everyone if they wanted to participate in a race. We gathered a few contestants, along with some spectators, and conducted a race right on the local track. It’s the nights like those that I remember most fondly. 

"The 'holiday' part of the trip started in Co. Kerry, and then Co. Galway. We had finished the last of our Irish language and history lessons in Dublin, so now our evenings were filled with free time around the city. Day trips became longer and a further distance. One beautiful day, we drove along the Dingle Peninsula and stopped frequently for the perfect Kodak moments. Our last adventure brought us to the island of Inishmore, where we rented bikes and admired the beautiful beaches. After every long trip, the bus was filled with heavy eyelids and a few loud snores.

"Everyday on the ILE was filled with trips, and laughs, and adventure. The memories I made in the summer of 2015 will stay with me forever; the friends I made are friends for life, all thanks to the Irish Life Experience." 

Don' wait! Sign your loved one up for next summer's trip. To learn more about the ILE and how to apply visit: https://irishlifeexperience.com