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Ireland: The Emerald Isle, by Mary Lemmon, Plant Sciences major

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Posted: May 31, 2017

This experience was the perfect combination of challenge and fun and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a study abroad experience.
One of my favorite places on Earth! The Cliffs of Moher

One of my favorite places on Earth! The Cliffs of Moher

My name is Mary Lemmon and in this blog post I hope to be able to explain my new found love for the country of Ireland and the wonderful Irish culture. To start out the trip I traveled to the distant land of the Philadelphia International Airport. There we had the privilege of waiting an extra three to four hours to board our plane. This turned out to be good because many of the people in the class were able to get to know each other better. Once we finally arrived in Dublin we met Martin, the man who would be our tour guide for the next 10 days. Right away we ate lunch and then took a tour of the beautiful city of Dublin. The rest of the day we were left to walk around the city in smaller groups and do some shopping. We ended our first day by eating in what Martin called a "more or less authentic" Irish pub. The next day we took the bus to the National Botanic Gardens, Croke Park, Trinity College and ended the day with some music and dancing at another pub.

We started the second leg of our journey by traveling to Wexford, stopping at Teagasc, an agricultural research facility based in Ireland. We then traveled to a potato farm and learned about their production practices. Before leaving for Ireland, we were able to visit a Pennsylvania potato farm and it was extremely interesting to be able to compare and contrast the two. We then traveled and visited the Dunbrody Famine Ship and learned about the reasons and conditions that people would travel from Ireland to other places during the potato famine. After spending the night in Wexford we began the next portion of our trip to Killarney. Before reaching Killarney, however, we stopped in a quaint little town called Cobh where we visited a heritage center and learned that Cobh was the last stop of the Titanic before it attempted to sail across the Atlantic. We also stopped at the Blarney Castle and many of us were able to kiss the Blarney Stone, including me! The next couple days were probably my favorite days of the entire trip. We traveled around the Ring of Kerry and I took so many pictures I almost filled up my phone's storage space. We were able to see the Atlantic coast which was filled with teal and dark purple rocks. We saw farmland and hilly pastures, forests with streams and waterfalls, Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher. It was absolutely breath taking. No pictures or words could describe it. I also was able to hold a baby goat while I was there!

This experience has impacted me in so many ways. Not only have I been able to see a country I've been dreaming about visiting for years, but I also was able to make some fantastic friends along the way. It also widened my vision on agriculture. In my various classes I learned about different types of agriculture systems, but we always focus on the immediate examples around us in Pennsylvania agriculture. Sometimes I forget that agriculture is not practiced the same way everywhere. Having the opportunity to compare and contrast potato farms from PA to potato farms in Ireland, as well as the research being done at Penn State to research in Ireland, was probably one of the more eye opening experiences I have had my entire college career. This trip has taught me so many skills such as communication, self-motivation, and networking. This trip not only expanded my horizons and my knowledge, but it also increased my confidence in communication and my problem solving skills. This experience was the perfect combination of challenge and fun and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a study abroad experience.