Monday, August 15, 2011

I made it Back Home!

 You know how they say time flies by when you are having fun? I really believe it now. The trip went by so fast. 

I am so lucky that I was able to go on a trip like this one and attend a conference that was so meaningful to me. I am thankful to my parents for giving me the resources to go, and thankful to Mercyhurst for giving me that opportunity! I am also thankful for the 7 people I traveled with for giving me an experience I know I will never forget.

I learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. How excited I am to continue sharing stories with my friends and family and to show them all of the pictures the 8 of us have. 

I head back to school in a week. I know that it will be busy down there with the Welcome Week festivities and Summer Orientation #3. I cannot believe I am going back for Senior year. It seems like only yesterday I was starting at the beginning.

I suppose, the rest is still unwritten.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 13 - New Grange and The Hill of Tara

Back at school my friends always make fun of me that I have bad luck. I thought that once I spent two weeks in Ireland and even kissed the Blarney Stone, that bad luck was gone! Today reminded me of how the funniest things can happen which create the best memories!

Early this morning, we woke up and made our way to a tour bus which would take us to New Grange and the Hill of Tara. New Grange is the oldest standing building in the history of the world. It dated back to 5000 B.C. The New Grange structure is a circular rock building in which you walk through a narrow cave and end up in an open chamber room. Those who made the structure designed the narrow cave that only on the Winter Solstice will the open chamber be lit up by the sun. So, while our guide shut off all of the lights to portray the Winter Solstice, my foot was in the way and I ruined it for all of the visitors! WOOPS! But, everyone laughed (besides the guide) and it makes for a funny story.

New Grange

The next stop was the Hill of Tara. When we arrived we saw an open field full of hills. We decided to climb up to the top of the tallest one to get the best view. We were told that on a clear day, you can see 15 of Ireland’s counties. We were also warned that day that it rained earlier that morning, and that the grassy hills would be a little slippery. I had no problem climbing up to the top of the hill, but I had no clue how to get down. So, as I inched my steps to get down the hill, I finally fell on my butt and slid right into my friend Jeremy who slid down the rest of the hill with me. As we looked up to see if anyone was watching, there were about 30 other tourists at the top of the hill who watched the whole thing happen! Another WOOPS!

Me on top of the Hill of Tara!

Now that I am back in the hostel with a fresh pair of pants on, we are headed out for one last meal and another good time! Before we go though, I have a lot of packing to do!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 12 - Exploring Dublin

What an exciting day we had today! Dublin has buses that you can purchase a ticket for and it takes you to all of the major stops in Dublin. We decided to jump on the bus in the morning and make stops at Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Guiness Factory.

At Trinity College we were able to first take a tour of some of the campus. It was so interesting to note the difference between Mercyhurst to a school like that. Only students with honors are allowed to live on campus and they serve beer to those students with dinner! After the tour, we waited in line to see the Book of Kells which was located in the library. The Book of Kells are handwritten gospels. It was beautiful.
Trinity College

Next, we went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. When we walked in we heard the last part of their choir practice.  The singing was just as beautiful as the Cathedral itself. After some observation, we noticed that it was not a Catholic church. All religions are able to practice in this sacred space.

Outside St. Patrick's Cathedral

Last but not least was the Guinness factory. I have been there once before with my family, but this was a place I did not mind stopping at again! At the Guinness factory, we were able to roam around ourselves which ended us up at the top of the building for our complimentary pint. After that, we headed back out for dinner!

Tonight I am so excited that we will be meeting up with Killian Bowe. He is also a Senior at Mercyhurst and is home in Dublin for a couple weeks. It really is a small world!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Days 9-11 - Mercy International Conferencein Dublin

In front of the Mercy International Center on Baggott St. in Dublin
I have not been able to keep up on my blogs because we have been so busy with the conference! What an exciting conference it was. We met so many interesting people and made some international connections!

Every day at the retreat we would start our mornings off with prayer. Then, we would have a speakers who would be one of the Sisters of Mercy who would speak on various topics. We heard lessons about the history of the Sisters, volunteering, communications/marketing and leadership. We would then have a break and return to the auditorium for group discussion. We would break out into breakout sessions, take a tour of the Mercy International Center or have lunch. Our day concluded with dinner and a social. We would be at the conference from 9am to 9pm which made for a good night sleep.

Day 1 of the Conference – This day was exciting, emotional, intimidating and successful. It was exciting because I was in a totally different situation than I have ever been in. It was emotional because I was learning things about myself and leadership that I have never thought of before. It was intimidating because I was one of 140 students in attendance from all over the world. It was successful because I was happy with what we are doing and what the agenda will be for the rest of the Conference.

Day 2 of the Conference – This day was similar to day 1. Today we heard from Adele Howard rsm, she is in charge of Marketing for the Sisters of Mercy. To get involved with this would be something I would love to do. Through these past two days I have met some very exciting people. I was in a group with students from London, Australia, Pittsburgh and my New Zealand roommates.

Our roommates from New Zealand!

Day 3 of the Conference – The last day of the conference wrapped up everything that we learned. We heard from Sister Sheila who spoke on Mercy leadership. She focused on the strategies that the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, used. I think I will be able to take many of these techniques back to Mercyhurst and use them in my day to day activities. I sat in a session with Sister Adele – the rsm who oversees the Marketing and PR for  the Sisters of Mercy.  We agreed to stay in contact, and I made sure she knew I would be graduating in May!

The Conference was a great learning experience for me. After attending a Mercy high school in Buffalo, and now going into my last year at a Mercy College, I have a better understanding of where my education stems from. Mercyhurst College is only one small part of something bigger, bigger than many of us even know. It was interesting the past couple of days to see the passion that all of the students and chaperones had for a Mercy education. I have learned lessons of leadership and also of spirituality.

There are only two more days left of the trip. We will be exploring Dublin and the surrounding areas for the reminder of our time. I am SO excited!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 8 - Glendalough & Dublin

This morning we woke up early and left Dungarven  to head to Dublin. We all knew it was going to be a long drive, but the narrow roads and driving on the other side of the road made it much longer.

We made a stop Glendalough for a couple hours. Here we saw the old monastery of St. Kevin. It was another beautiful stop along the way. To be perfectly honest, I do not know the significance of everything we saw. This trip made me realize that I need to be more appreciative of things around me. People come across the world to see the sites I’m given the chance to see. Some people who would love to visit these place may never get the chance to like I have had!

After hours of traveling through mountains, hills and back-roads, we made it to Dublin! It was a bizarre feeling going from the countryside full of grass and cows to the city full of energy. When we arrived to Dublin, we felt as though we fit right in. Myself and the three other female students I am traveling with shared a room with 16 other girls. We are sharing the room with girls from New Zealand. I am so excited to get to know them and learn more about their culture. It is a place that I have only heard of but did not know much about.

Tomorrow is the first day of the Mercy International Conference!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 7 - Ardmore

The group with Mr. Mooney

This morning we got an early start and drove to meet the Mooney brothers. They explained to us a lot of the history of the area and took us on a tour of the area. There were many beautiful sites full of grass, water, and cows. The view that the town had to offer took our breath away. We saw sites of sacred graves, and took a drink out of a well which is thought of as the purest water Ireland has to offer.  

The rest of the day we were able to enjoy the bed and breakfast. After traveling for a week we are all exhausted. I took this time to take a nap, to re-pack my suitcase, and to sit outside to journal. The family who was hosting us had a couple horses, so I pet a horse for the first time – ever! There were some hurling sticks around the house we played with and a swing we used to relax!

It was a great day today in Ireland. Sometimes less is more (oh wait, is that another lesson I learned?)


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 6 - Dungarvan

So, while we have been in Ireland almost a week and have seen some great locations and beautiful scenery, today has been my favorite day. It was very simple and got to see the real side of Ireland.

Today  was a big hurling match between County Waterford and Dublin (Dungarven is in Waterford). 

We woke up and headed to church. The mass was beautiful. Everyone was sporting their navy and white colors to support their hurling team. This simple game took control over the lives of the locals for the day. At mass, the priest was asking for everyone to pray for the success and safety of the team.

After mass we walked in to town, grabbed some lunch and headed to the mall. Hannah and I purchased Waterford jerseys! We wanted to fit in with the locals. We made it to the local pub just in time to get a seat to watch the big game with the town. It was so much fun. Everyone was just, happy!  Waterford lost to Dublin, but everyone was still excited to see their team play.

It is all just so interesting because while I was witnessing all the pride for the county’s team, the NFL lockout was just completed. The hurlers play for only the counties they come from. There are no trades or hurling politics. The players also do not get paid, they play the game for the pride of their county. It was just so heart warming to see how much a sport is embraced and loved by EVERYONE!

Tomorrow we are meeting with Alex Mooney’s dad. She is a junior at Mercyhurst. Her dad is a history-extraordinaire.