Although my final week in Dublin has been spent doing all the routine “last things” like my last trip to the grocery store and last laundry run, I did manage to fit in one last trip before my last exam and my voyage home.
In all my travels this semester I had yet to make it to Northern Ireland, so my friend Mike and I signed up for an all-day guided bus tour from Dublin to the Giant’s Causeway, which also included a stop in Belfast. We left Dublin at 7:00 a.m. and drove about two and a half hours north, crossing from Ireland into the UK. Our first stop was the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge in Antrim. The famous bridge is 66 feet long and is elevated almost 100 feet above the water and was once used as a bridge by salmon fisherman to move between the mainland and a tiny island nearby called Carrickarede. Although I am terrified of heights and tend to get vertigo, I thought I would give it a try, but once Mike and I reached the actual site of the bridge I had to back out. The winds at the bridge were blowing at roughly 40 miles per hour so I decided to just watch the other brave souls from our bus group clutch to the swaying bridge as they shuffled over the bridge and back.
As the wind and rain started to calm down, we got back in the bus and drove to Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The causeway is an area of basalt columns (rock formations caused by lava from a volcanic eruption) that legend says were formed back in the days when giants roamed Ireland. After the visit to Giant’s Causeway we rode back to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and spent an hour walking around. We drove back to Dublin after a long day on the road. The best part of the day was seeing a crystal clear double rainbow over the greenest, most lush landscape I have ever seen. It was the perfect Irish day.
After my trip with Mike I had a perfect last weekend with my friends, but finally it was time for me to sit my last examination. I had my Irish History exam scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday in the Examination Hall. I walked in the entryway and looked for my name on the class roster to find out my seat number (seat #122). When I entered the hall it felt like I had walked into the world of Harry Potter. I felt like a student at Hogwarts sitting for the O.W.Ls. There were rows upon rows of seats all facing a desk at the front that was sitting like a throne upon a platform overlooking the hall of students. I have never taken an exam with so many students or proctors in the room. I felt slightly overwhelmed at first by the grandness of the hall itself, decorated with large paintings and a beautiful, high ceiling, but when the exam started it all faded away, as I scribbled to write as much as I could about Irish History within the two-hour time limit. I left the exam hall feeling relieved, but also a bit sad knowing that this was the last thing that stood between me and leaving Dublin.
I only have two more days in the city that I have come to love so much. I am not ready to say goodbye but I know that, ready or not, I have to board my flight to San Francisco on Wednesday.