It’s always a good sign when you smile the second you land into a city.

When deciding to study abroad I knew that no matter when I ended up I would go to Ireland. (My school didn’t offer a program with any schools in Ireland, but if they did I have a feeling I might have ended up there if it worked out).

I have Irish ancestors from my dad’s side of the family, and growing up, being Irish was a large part of my identity. In my family, both of my parents made points to make sure that I was connected to my European routes, as their parents were only first generation Americans. Celebrating my heritage, including Irish, brings up some of my fondest memories, like learning Irish songs and phrases and telling my friends at school all about it.

Being in Dublin didn’t feel scary, like being in a new city usually does. I’m not sure if it’s because the Irish people I met were wildly funny and welcoming, or if it’s because I spent so long being surrounded by Irish music and stories, but Dublin was probably my favorite city to date. Music lines the streets and people are singing even if they can’t carry a tune. It’s beautiful! Even when the streets are lined with smashed beer bottles from Saturday night’s craic at the pubs.

It was good to feel a sort of sense of home while being away from home. I heard songs sung by street performers and pub musicians that I hadn’t heard since I last sang them with my family. Being connected to a part of myself for the first time in my life was amazing, and Ireland only exceeded my expectations.