As classes are intensifying, I found it increasingly important to take time to be outdoors. Between picnics in the park and spending weekends exploring the Irish countryside, finding ways to be in nature are plentiful. The landscape of the country varies in an instant, ranging from farmland to bustling city to mountains. It is clear that the Irish have an incredible appreciation for their land. There is a common knowledge of how the land has impacted history and how it continually supports the country. This is evident through St. Stephen's Green, a large park near the center of the city. Rain or shine, walking through the park is a beautiful and cultural experience. Tourism in Ireland is focused mainly on the natural landscapes and anomalies. The Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, and the Giant's Causeway are just a few examples of the amazing natural diversity which is abundant in Ireland.
This past weekend, some friends and I went to the Wicklow Mountains. The Wicklow Way is a lengthy trail system which runs through County Wicklow, just south of Dublin. After a short bus ride, we hiked 12 km from Roundwood to Glendalough. The next day we took a hike in the Glendalough National Park which meandered past a waterfall and led up a mountain through a forest. After a significant number of stairs, the trees thinned and we finally reached the summit. From there we could see the Wicklow Mountains and the upper and lower lakes of Glendalough. The trail continued, seemingly forever, up the mountain. Each time we stopped, the view became more expansive and even more incredible. On the descent, we met a group red deer and the grassy mountain gave way to rocky terrain. The trail followed along a stream which then became a waterfall. As the walk turned back towards town, we could see the upper lake peeking through the trees. In just 9 km, we saw so many different elements of nature.
After a lunch of fish and chips on the edge of the lake, we headed back out for another hike. That hike then turned into a much needed nap on a large rock in nestled in between the mountains, overlooking the lake. Although it was physically exhausting, our trip to the Wicklow Mountains was mentally energizing. After a weekend of being surrounded by natural beauty, it was incredible to see that energy manifest itself in our classes. We learn about the works of Irish playwrights and I wonder why their plays can so beautifully express life. This weekend I was reminded how incredibly nature inspires art.
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<p>Hi! My name is Kate Jones and I'm a Dramatic Arts and Performance Studies double major at UNC Chapel Hill. I am jazzed to start my study abroad program concentrating in acting this summer in Dublin, Ireland. This is my third time traveling to Ireland which should give you some insight into how much I love this country and it impact it has made on my life. I cannot wait to experience it again, but as a student this time around!</p>