This is it…
My nine months abroad come to a close in just two days. I leave Belfast around noon on Sunday and plane hop my way back to Seattle, getting in around 11pm. This experience has been so surreal and I cannot imagine my life being any more perfect. I am fortunate enough to have two wonderfully supportive parents that can provide a trip like this for me. And I am even more fortunate that on this end of the world, there are people who are constantly looking out for me at every turn.
I had my last exam yesterday for my Security and Terrorism class. It went much better than I was expecting it to. On my two essays, I talked about how a state can act as a terrorist and why counter-terrorism efforts are hard to coordinate internationally. I really enjoy this class because it covered a lot of what I want to do in the future. I hope I can find classes back at Washington State University that challenge my views in the same ways this class did.
After my exam, I went into the city and met up with an old friend of mine. We met when I first visited Northern Ireland back in 2010. It was great getting to catch up and talk about our lives over an amazing chicken lunch at Nandos. She is planning a trip around America in the near future so that would be great if we had the opportunity to meet up again!
Last night was our last big outing as a group. It started off kind of emotional when Caitriona, Danielle, Niamh, and Vicky presented me with a scrapbook of memories and an Irish flag. I would be lying if I said I did not cry while reading it. Looking back at only a small portion of all our fun times together really got to me. I then presented them with my individual cards and pictures to thank them for being a part of my life. We tried to rid the emotions by going out on a little pub crawl. We started at one of my favorite places, Ye Olde Eglantine Inn (the Eg) and then worked our way to a flat favorite, the Parlour. After the Parlour, the emotions came back when I had to say my final goodbyes to Nathan. Nathan has been there from close to the beginning and our bromance is so strong. After that, we ended our journey at Scratch. Danielle continued on like a trooper and Caitriona and I had a heart to heart on the walk home. Looking back on the night, nothing too crazy happened but it was spent with the people closest to me and I will remember that night forever.
These girls have made my experience in Belfast unforgettable. I know I continuously say stuff like that but it is undeniably true. They always know how to cheer my up when I am feeling down and never fail to put a smile on my face. I know saying goodbye to them is going to be hard because we have grown closer than just friends. My relationship with each of them is special and nobody can do anything to separate us. I know at some point in the future our paths will cross and we will meet again. I cherish the thought of that day.
As for Belfast and Ireland as a whole, this island has been my home for almost a year and I have made it mine. Graham, Washington and “the 253” will always be my real home, but I know I have a special place waiting for me here once I decide to return. I could not have asked for a friendlier, livelier, or more perfect place to spend my time studying abroad.
“Good times, good friends, good health to you… And may the luck of the Irish be always with you!”