I stepped onto the plane en route to the United Kingdom expecting to see incredible historic sites, experience a completely different culture, gain the credibility as a world traveler, and come home with two memory cards filled with my many adventures. Who knew that I would gain so much more, sixteen friends more that is. Before the trip we were all peers, we sat in the same classes and knew each other’s names, yet we never considered ourselves friends. However, that all changed after the trip of a lifetime, all thanks to meat and potatoes.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Meat and potatoes. In Ireland this dish is known more as a staple rather than a delicacy, and when traveling with a large group of adolescent students you are more than likely going to be receiving the dish that is easiest to prepare. So, meat and potatoes it was. The first day it was absolutely wonderful; it was warm and hearty, perfect after a delayed ten hour flight and an entire day of sight seeing. However it was after three days of meat and potatoes that we all began craving food that was something other than a slab of meat paired with a starchy vegetable. By the fifth day of, you guessed it, meat and potatoes, we began to wonder if Ireland ate anything else besides meat and potatoes.
That was when it happened; when all seventeen of us students bonded. We all unanimously decided that it was time for a change, that together we would find what else Ireland had to offer to our eagerly awaiting stomachs. So there we went–all seventeen of us–on a hunt for the nearest grocery store by our hotel in Killarney. When we finally came across a humble little supermarket, we each bought something we had never heard of and returned to our hotel lobby. There, we spread all of our treats across a table and shared. We shared everything from Smarties and Turkish Delight to fresh bread and chocolate Mars bars. We all dubbed the cabbage flavored Smarties a bit off-putting and the Turkish Delight somewhat unusual, but all went in for seconds after eating the Mars bars. We sat there in the lobby for hours, swapping snacks and stories, until curfew when we promised that we would do the same thing every night of the trip.
And we did. No matter where we were, whether it was Dublin, Ireland or Edinburgh, Scotland, we all gathered in the lobby of our hotels and munched on our recent findings, listened to each other's music, and shared our exciting adventures of the day. It was not until the last few days of the trip that I realized I had gotten to know all of my peers pretty well; I knew who favored fruit flavored candy over Cadbury chocolate, who jammed out to Led Zeppelin rather than Justin Bieber, and I knew that everyone had bought at least one Will and Kate souvenir to take back to their mothers. It was funny, in a way, that we all needed this international trip to jump-start our friendships but I am so thankful it did. By making these new friendships I was able to experience the United Kingdom through different eyes, enhancing my trip even more. And even though I do not want to see it for a while, I owe each one of my sixteen new friends to one thing in particular: meat and potatoes.
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