Single Girl Diaries: So long, farewell, auf wiedershen, goodbye

(Exhausted) Columnist Ellise Verheyen on her return to the States after an Irish adventure.

After two days in my homeland, I’ve managed to muster just enough energy to move a total of 83 feet. I’m currently sitting on the floor of my parents’ bedroom binge-watching “Friends” while one of my two pregnant cats gives birth.

It’s so weird to be back home. It feels like I never left, as if the last four months of my life were just a crazy dream. But they weren’t, and boy, were those four months life-altering.

As I mentioned last week, I spent four days traveling alone in Ireland after my program ended. I was nervous and antsy, mostly afraid I’d mess up and miss a flight. However, you’ll be happy to hear that I managed to last the entirety in one piece.

I started my trip in Galway, a city on the west coast. It’s a quaint, little city compared to the bustling metropolis of London, but I still managed to get lost trying to find a place to eat.

On my first (and only) full day in Galway, I wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher. They were the main motivation behind my trip to Ireland. I’ve wanted to see them for years, and yes, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” might have played into that. So I joined an all-day bus tour that was much busier than I’d expected.

We traveled all around the area, seeing castles, graves, fairy forts and finally, the cliffs. They were beyond anything I’d ever imagined. I don’t know what it is about sitting on the cliffside and staring into the distance, but wow. I highly suggest it. (Granted, you have to hop a concrete barrier to actually sit on the edge.)

While on my tour, I met another American studying abroad and traveling alone through Ireland. Just when I was feeling good about myself, she tells me that she planned an 80-mile hike through the Highlands of Scotland. In five days. Alone.

After the cliffs, we made our way back to Galway, and I had a lovely night of relaxation in my hostel. I was in a room with six other beds, but both nights I spent in Galway, I had the room to myself. Monday morning, I took the bus to Dublin all the way on the east coast. To put things into perspective, it takes two and a half hours to cross the country of Ireland. It takes me three and a half hours to get to Columbia from Branson.

Once in Dublin, I dropped my things at the hostel and headed into town for a walking tour of the city. It was so interesting to see the history of such a unique city. The guide, Conor with one “N,” was a part-time actor, so he was sure to give us a show.

While on the tour, I met two really cool Australians, one of whom was working in London. At the end of the tour, part of the group went to a pub for dinner. I got to meet some of the most fascinating people there that, had I been a chicken and left, I’d never have had the opportunity to get to know.

I was chatting with the Australian from London, and she mentioned her desire to go to Whelan’s Pub, featured in the movie “P.S. I Love You.” I was sold the moment she mentioned Gerard Butler. So later that night, I met up with the two at Whelan’s, and we had a great time simply talking about life, culture, music and more. We parted ways later that evening knowing we’d likely never meet again, but it was still so great to have the chance to meet extraordinary travelers.

The next day was my last. I shopped and went to the Guinness Storehouse before hopping on a plane to London Heathrow to spend 14 hours in the airport before 10 hours of flying home.

While I didn’t travel alone long, it was one of the greatest parts of my study abroad. The independence I felt being able to decide what to do and when to do it in a completely foreign place gave me the confidence I’ve needed in order to know that I’ll be alright on my own someday.

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