At airports from coast to coast of the USA, the 2013 IRES students started early Monday morning to fly half way around the world to meet, some of us for the first time, the people with whom we would be spending the next five weeks exploring the Irish coast. Through multiple countries, passports, time changes, money differences, security, and jet lag we all arrived (minus one student, who will be joining us at the end of the week) with only one case of misplaced luggage. Later that evening we had dinner at our airport hotel and officially got to meet each other and Cynthia.
Charley DiBartolomeo excited for the trip
in the Harrisburg International airport
Packing seemed to be my biggest challenge before I left home. Travel space bags quickly became my best friend, helping me to fit everything I thought I would need for 5 weeks into one suitcase and a backpack. I was also excited but a little nervous about my flights, as Heathrow was a large airport I had never been in before. However, the size of Heathrow turned out to be a bonus as it gave me a good chance to stretch my legs as I found my way to my next flight. Three things stand out to me from my morning in London. First, I found Heathrow’s security measure of taking your picture as you got off your plane interesting. I carried the barcode they had given me after my photo shoot through the airport with me until they took my picture again in a different terminal before my flight. I thought it was a neat way to make sure that you were the same person catching your connecting flight. Second, while I was walking through the airport, I found myself being very buffeted by people passing. At first I thought that it was a big city and such a thing was common, but then I realized that I was walking on the right side, while everyone else who was walking my direction was on the left. It finally clicked: the left hand traffic pattern. Lastly, while I was waiting in the Aer Lingus terminal, it was a new experience for me that I was the one with the unusual accent. The flight passengers mostly consisted of people flying home and while their English was different to mine, my English was the outlier that was different to them. When I landed in Cork, Ireland looked as green as I had I had heard it would be, though, I must say, it is much prettier in person. At that point in time, I was ready for a shower, as well as my chance to finally meet everyone in the IRES Program. I look forward to the five weeks that I get to spend with the other participants, organizers, and hosts in this beautiful country.
-Written by Jill Lundquist