In June I experienced the trip of my lifetime thus far – a nine day excursion through England, Wales, and Ireland. I fell in love with Europe every step of the way and I was certainly blessed, for I was able to witness things that I will never forget.
London, the first stop of the journey, was absolutely amazing. The nonconformity and diversity of the energetic people was fascinating; the history of landmarks such as The Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral was nearly impossible for the mind to grasp; the beauty of the centuries-old architecture was breathtaking; the tongue of the English people incredibly rich. It was a city where I was instantly able to feel at home. After London, we went to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we visited the birthplace of William Shakespeare. It was places like this which made me realize just how times have changed and how much we currently take for granted, especially when Shakespeare felt compelled to will to his wife, upon his death, only his “second-best bed”.
Wales, the next leg of our trip through the United Kingdom, can only be described in one word: gorgeous. We stayed in Wales only one night, in a small town named Llangollen, but the weather could not have been more perfect. We happened to be staying directly on a river which was comprised of dozens of trickling waterfalls and which was snuggled between astonishing mountains. The next morning, we traveled through Snowdonia National Park on the way to Holyhead Port, where we met our ferry to Dublin.
Our Irish experience began in Dublin, where the first sight we saw was an enormous billboard which read “Practice acts of random kindness and senseless beauty” and a sculptured replica of the emaciated emigrants in the time of the potato famine. Although this was certainly a humbling beginning to my experience in the capital of Ireland, I did not feel the love that I did during my stay in London, for there was little open after seven p.m. besides pubs, and consequently there was little to do for a sixteen-year-old such as myself. However, we then traveled to Killarney in County Kerry, and spent an entire day driving along the coast of the Ring of Kerry – by far, the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. It was, simply put, the greenest grass and bluest water you could ever possibly imagine. While traveling the Ring of Kerry, we were able to visit a sheep farm and watch the shearing of sheep and the herding dogs do their job. And kissing the Blarney Stone was more than memorable, even though climbing the castle’s stairs was extremely treacherous and down-right scary.
My European trip was simply the most amazing experience that has ever happened to me. For the first time in my life, I was a foreigner, and I feel that I can now sympathize with the thousands of people who will step foot on American soil for the first time. I also realized, over the course of those nine days, that America can be extremely close-minded. In the eyes of most, we are the greatest nation; but when it comes down to the truth, we are a part of something much greater – an Earth that doesn’t dawdle in “betters”, but that needs the cooperation of all involved. And although being overseas made me realize how much I truly love this country, it also made me realize something much more important: we are not just Americans or British, Welsh or Irish; we are humans and therefore, are all the same.
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