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Ireland: Thanks A Million Ireland! An Unforgettable Journey to the Emerald Isle, by Kerry Smith, Food Science major, International Agriculture minor

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Posted: May 31, 2017

Overseas travel was a daunting process for an inexperienced traveler like me, but as part of the HORT 499H class, the journey was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life!
Enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather in County Cobh!

Enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather in County Cobh!

Hi, my name is Kerry Smith and I would love to share my stories of my time in Ireland with the Penn State class focused on the Irish Potato Famine. The beginning of our trip started out a little rocky with our flight being delayed three hours. By the time we arrived at the Dublin airport to meet our CIEE liaison Martin, we were travel weary and ready to crash. Martin would have none of this and lifted our spirits with the promise of real food and the beautiful sights we were about to see.

After some freshening up we took our initial walking tour of the city and were welcomed with banners celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising which took place in 1916 in Dublin and is considered one of the most important dates in recent Irish history. Dublin is a beautiful city and we ended our first night with dinner in a traditional Irish pub.

Our class was broken up in teams of two and each pair had planned an educational seminar so we could get the most out of our time in Ireland. On our second day in Dublin we wasted no time in getting started with our seminars, starting at the National Botanical Gardens, and then walking to our tour at Croke Park.

After another eventful day, we started our journey touring the lower parts of the country. Over the course of the next few days we stopped in County Kerry, Killarny, Wexford, Cobh, and a few others. As enjoyable as the city was, it was refreshing to drive through the countryside and see the iconic rolling green hills of Ireland that everyone thinks of when they imagine Ireland.

Each day was filled with fun and exciting stops such as our visit to kiss the Blarney Stone and a spontaneous roadside stop to explore an abandoned castle. One of my ultimate highlights of the trip was getting the chance to see puffins at the Cliffs of Mohr. Our nights were also filled with great opportunities to explore the towns we were staying in.

In addition to the beautiful scenery, the trip was enhanced by both the amazing faculty in charge and my fellow classmates! They were all genuinely great people and I am grateful that I was able to experience discovering this beautiful country with them.

Through planning my own educational seminar with my partner Olivia, I was able to work on my organizational and leadership skills. This trip also opened up my eyes to how cultures around the world can differ between two countries. If a future employer asked about this experience, I would be able to describe it as a real turning point in my education because I was able to apply what I learned in the classroom directly to real life situations which I believe is an unique opportunity that not everyone gets.

Again I would like to thank Ms. Kimberly Benner who lends her support through the Settlemyer Fund to countless students going abroad. I would also like to thank Dr. Dennis Decoteau for thinking up this amazing trip and to Dr. Tracy Hoover and Dr. Bill Lamont for their valuable contributions to the trip and making it unforgettable.