Two weekends ago, I spent a weekend on the Dingle Peninsula.  This past weekend, I took a weekend trip around the Ring of Kerry.  If I hadn’t already been so in awe of Ireland already, these two trips would have definitely left me speechless.  I now know why they call County Kerry the most beautiful place in Ireland.  The landscape was truly amazing.  During my tip around the Dingle Peninsula, I remember at one point just looking up into the sky and saying to myself “Thank you God for making such a beautiful place.  I realized at that moment I had fallen in love.  Some people fall in love with their careers, with religion, with other people, etc.  I had fallen in love with a country.  Ireland is everything I had ever dreamed of and yet so much more.  All those pictures you see of Ireland’s beauty are only a slim comparison to the real thing.  Nothing beats seeing things first hand.  Yes, I have fallen in love with Ireland; its land, its people, and its culture.  The land is amazing, the people are welcoming, and the culture is beautiful.  While I have heard recently from so many people that they are starting to miss home, I on the other hand, am dreading leaving Ireland.  Yes, I miss my family, friends, and especially my little dog Fox, I can honestly say I don’t want to go home.  I have found my place here in Ireland.  It truly is a magical place to be.  Littered with stories of ancient deities, faeries, saints, and legends, I can feel the energy of this magical land flowing through my veins and it has given me great inner peace.  So, I have decided that one day, I hope to remain here permanently.  I want to come back for grad school so that I can focus even more on Irish studies and thus focus my intended career in museum work with a specialization in Irish history and culture.  This decision will most likely mean I will have to live and work here in Ireland indefinitely.  I am fully aware of how fantastical this decision sounds.  However, I do not live in a fantasy world with unattainable dreams in my head.  I know full well what I am reaching for.  I understand the risks involved with picking up and moving to another country.  I am completely aware of how dangerous the world can be.  I have seen first hand the type of violence man can inflict on his fellow man.  However, I REFUSE to allow the fear of what COULD happen to impede my progress of attaining my goals and dreams.  Fearing the world we live in will only inhibit our lives and keep us from reaching new heights.  That is not a life I want to lead.  I think too often people allow fear to rule their lives and I believe society and the media plays into that fear.  I used to watch the news everyday, multiple times a day.  Now, I watch it only on occasion because it is mostly filled with violence and evil.  When you are constantly inundated with that, you slowly become poisoned by it as it fills you with fear, anger, hatred, and despair.  That is not a reality I wish to dwell in.  On the other hand, I am not naive to think that there is no evil in the world.  I believe that you must keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings as you continue to move forward.  I have met some really wonderful people in Ireland and have had great experiences here as well.  This would not have been possible if I had closed myself off out of fear.  I would not have fallen in love with Ireland.  My stay in Ireland has been the happiest time of my entire life.  The love I feel for Ireland is like a couple who have just begun dating and can’t seem to spend enough time with each other.  The very thought of being apart is painful to them.  When I think of leaving Ireland, I feel like a cold hand suddenly grips my heart in an icy grasps and squeezes until I can’t breath anymore.  I have choked up a quite a few occasions when I think of leaving.  I have finally found my place in the world and in a short time, I must leave it.  Yet, I know I will be leaving my heart and soul behind here in Ireland.  So I have decided to return in the near future.  That’s all there is to it.  When you have finally found true happiness and your place in the world, even though you may leave for a time, you work constantly to return.  Such is my relationship with Ireland.  Yes, my friends, I am in love.

Mary Holz is studying abroad at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland.