Googling about Ireland for days, waiting at the airport for hours, experiencing turbulences during the flight for minutes, that’s how the journey of my first SU started. The first sign I saw at Dublin airport was “Tá cuid de na málaí an-chosúil lena chéile”. Yes, I asked myself “Where the hell am I?”.
Excited, a bit scared, and full of questions I travelled to our accommodation. When I arrived, those feelings changed completely to pure happiness. The organisers welcomed us warmly, and the other participants waved and smiled on our arrival. Okay, this is going to be amazing, I thought.
It was not … It was even more than amazing!
Standing in a circle with over twenty strangers during the introduction games, I wondered if I would ever be able to remember all their names. While writing this article I am smiling because, of course, I can easily list them all, even at in my sleep! All those people are my friends, it even feels like they are family.
“Sharing is caring” says the bracelet that I received from my new Slovenian friend. And it’s just like that: sharing rooms, beds, tooth-paste, and (most important) our lives. We created one big Irish family. Spontaneously dancing in a pub with locals, drinking one pint of Guinness after another, and talking about everything. It was so natural for us, like we had known each other for years. With them, the ‘craic’ was ninety!
Imagine, a day starting with Irish games: throwing giant wooden logs, running with buckets of beer; having burgers for lunch, and afterwards going to a park in the city centre where a “swing picnic” is held. Laughing, dancing, and falling in love with swing. Then eating the most delicious falafel you can imagine while lying on the grass, chatting to your “Irish family” and thinking about the fact that you must have deserved this somehow. Just imagine paradise.
Then European night (EN)… Did you ever drink Sangria prepared by a Chinese guy, or suspicious Finish black stuff? Why not try burning Mozart chocolate balls and then squatting, dancing, drinking until… Until I don’t remember.
First it sounded ridiculous to have a hike the day after EN. Our organisers pulled us out of bed and ignored all our swearing. And for a good reason: our moods completely changed as soon as we started the walk from Graystones. The cliffs, the sea, and the endless Irish greenness everywhere. Everywhere! We ended at the beach in Bray having a crazy (and quick) swim and a double ice cream. For a moment I wasn’t sure anymore in which country I was. Ireland has many faces, you need to give it a chance.
Without realising eight days past quickly. Visiting the Irish whiskey museum was on the schedule followed by whiskey tasting. Just one piece of advice: don’t drink a bottle of wine with your Finish friend just before such a tour. Do not!
Pouring rain? Meh! Let’s walk for an hour to a “nearby pub”! A traditional Irish show was waiting for us there. It was worth more than just a wet walk (according to the gossip box, the organisers made girls more wet than Irish weather did). Singing and dancing to Irish songs with live performance made me think “I don’t want to leave.”
That feeling stayed! On day ten, a trip to Galway and Cliffs of Moher was on the program. While sitting on the edge of the cliffs and staring at the Atlantic Ocean (maybe not clever, but breathtaking) I could only conclude “Yeah. That’s what Google said it would be like.” Endless beauty.
On the last day, only 10 of us were brave enough to join the optional hike. “Weather forecast: Irish”, my boots are still wet from that day. And honestly, walking with a pint of water in each boot for hours was rather fun. Plus, you realise that your company is as awesome when the only complaint is that it was too short. After the hike we rewarded ourselves with whiskey cake in a traditional pub in the mountains. Soon after that came the moment you hoped would never come, the goodbye party.
“Smile and the world smiles to you” was written on my t-shirt by one of the organisers. It’s not difficult to follow that advice during the 11 days described above. Neither is it difficult to do the day after, a week after, and even more than three weeks after the SU. For sure I will meet those people again. My favourite anonymous Spanish guy (a.k.a. the Spanish ghetto) will teach me Spanish again. I will hear “Kačičkaaa!” again, the only Slovak word I taught my Greek friend. Our “Irish family” is still in touch and will meet again. Connections are strong and experiences too amazing to lose. Therefore, I am smiling, and the world smiles to me.
Written by Ema Grajcarová, AEGEE-Brno