“Is this real life?”
That is the phrase that burned in my mind as I stared out into the raging ocean at the edge of a seven hundred foot cliff.One of the biggest perks of CEA is the included excursions, trips that help create the adventurous side of studying abroad. The Aran Islands, specifically Inis Mór, was the first place that my fellow CEA students and I explored. Knowing it was an outside, nature packed day, it was right up my alley. Along the coast, we biked through the rain toward the sunshine casting its light on Dun Aengus, an ancient fort residing on a one hundred meter cliff side. The sight was breath-taking but it was only preparation for our next excursion, the Cliffs of Moher.
Through a bus tour, we ended up in Clare County, our last stop. The moist, saltiness of the air was immediate, a sort of warning of the Atlantic Ocean that resided up the walk way. The view of the sea widened as I neared the edge. I took a breath and stepped onto the very outer brim of the rock, leaning over enough to see the long and jagged stone wall ending in a seemingly endless pool of water and waves. I looked to the right and my jaw dropped, a complete, full-length view of the cliffs, showing off the magnitude and height of the ancient shoreline.
Is this real life?” I muttered to myself. In that moment, I realized this was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.. something so beautiful, so powerful, so foreign to me, that it was overwhelmingly humbling. I’m not an overly emotional person, but as I stood, arms open wide to the sea in front of me, I couldn’t help but cry. This world is huge with experiences and views that are almost too great to comprehend and I, such a small piece of this Earth, want to see it all.
Some of my CEA friends and I have what we like to call “Galway moments,” times when you’re overwhelmed with gratitude and awe during your travels that you can’t help but stand dumbfounded and teary-eyed. And so, on what resembled the edge of the world, I had one of these moments and realized just how much this adventure is going to impact my life. This simple scene, a piece of nature that’s been standing for ages, would have been all I needed to decide that studying abroad was worth it. Exploring the Cliffs of Moher is an experience I will hold dear to my heart forever. Sometimes the most modest things have the biggest impact.
Rachel Balon is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Galway, Ireland. She is currently a senior at Keystone College.
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