My alarm rang. My eyes were barely open, but I managed to wiggle out of my bed. Why would I wake up so early on a Sunday? It’s because I was going on the Cliffs of Moher tour with my friends! It’s the place where one of my favorite movies, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was filmed, and that fact alone kept me up until 2:00 AM on Saturday.
9:00 AM. Our friendly tour guide broke the bad news.
Unfortunately, due to the storm, the Cliffs of Moher is closed. We will need to turn around.
I could not believe it. We already drove for 2 hours! I had gotten a storm warning email from Trinity and IES earlier in the week, so I was aware that the weather was not ideal. However, being the typical naïve college students, my friends and I enthusiastically decided to proceed with our plan and joked that (***SPOILER ALERT) it would be exactly like the Harry Potter scene when Dumbledore and Harry go into the cave to get the Horcrux Locket.
9:05 AM. Our friendly tour guide broke somewhat better news.
We will stop in Limerick and you will have an hour of free time. The tour will be refunded.
We were relieved to hear that we at least get our money back, but still, we were disappointed.
9:50 AM. We got off the bus in Limerick next to an old castle.
Let’s just explore the castle. Can we actually climb it?
Our disappointment turned into astonishment when we climbed up to the roof terrace of King John’s Castle, one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Europe. My limited vocabulary fails to describe the epic view, so here is a short clip.
This little adventure from Sunday signifies my experience in Ireland in a way. I expected to see the Cliffs of Moher, but instead, the bus made a U-turn and I found myself in a castle I had never even heard of. The best part was that I essentially got there for free because the whole trip was refunded.
Here is a little truth I came to accept after 5 weeks of living in Ireland: the expectation and the reality are often totally different. I expected myself to be truly immersed in Irish culture. However, I am not quite sure what that means anymore. The reality is that I almost feel like I am living the same life I was living in the US. The only difference is that I walk 30 minutes to school every day rather than 30 seconds and that I am much less busy now that I don’t have 3 jobs to juggle around. Making Irish friends is not an easy task and simply attending lectures or walking by Starbucks, Five Guys, Subway, etc. every day sometimes makes me think that I am back in the US.
Recently, nonetheless, I made a U-turn in my mindset and realized that I am incredibly blessed. First of all, the American friends I am surrounded by are pretty cool. They are from all over the US, and we all have the same passion to travel and try out new things. I expected myself to be studying all the time in the library, but the reality is that I have much more free time than I expected, and I find myself exploring new places every weekend with the friends I’ve made. Just like that, expectations and realities don’t always match but I kind of like to be surprised :). Thanks for reading.