To say the Irish Life Experience program changed my life would be a massive understatement. It is no exaggeration to say my time with this group has transformed my life since the day I left and has set me on the path I currently walk.
The first time I left the United States of America was in 2015 with the ILE. Like many students my year, I have close familial connections in Ireland and relished the opportunity to travel abroad for a month as a teenager. Scary? Sure, a little bit. But taking that leap was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Aside from the tight bonds of friendship that were formed (Hey Amelia, Alice, and Eddie!) the experience was fun, educational, informative, and thrilling. In my not at all humble opinion this was the best introduction to the island.
We explored as scholars, not just tourists. We were young people eager to explore, learn, and grow. When it was over…, well that was sad. Awful, even. I messaged Taryn on several separate occasions throughout the years begging to let me be a counselor at 16, 17, 18, 19… I would do anything to recapture the magic and get back to the Emerald Isle.
Angie, Taryn, Kate, Miles, Scones and all the other counselors on the trip were so passionate, not only about education and not only about Ireland, but about thinking and acting globally that I could not help but agree. They showed me the joy in making international connections, forging international relationships, and appreciating life outside of my humble small town. And that is when it really hit me. The ILE had already given me the tools I needed to get back. It really was about taking myself there.
When it came time to apply for college, I knew where I wanted to go. Anywhere in Ireland. Very luckily I secured a spot at University College Cork and obtained my BA in History and Philosophy there. Living in Cork was an absolute dream in so many ways. So much so that when I was looking into furthering my education and pursuing a Masters degree, I could not picture myself anywhere else but Ireland. And that is how I ended up at Trinity College Dublin.
I have been living in Ireland for almost five years. It is hard to say what I love most about it as my life has so fundamentally changed since my first visit in 2015. My interests in politics, international relations, philosophy, history, art and more have forever been altered and enriched by going on this journey. I am confident that the only reason I am standing here today is because the Irish Life Experience, and all of the wonderful people involved, helped me find my way. I will be forever grateful.
What are you waiting for? Sign up for the Irish Life Experience and have the summer of a lifetime or contact a Destination Specialist to book a trip to Ireland and beyond with Juniper Tours to see the world. You will not regret your decision.
Written by Benjamin Costa