After my high school graduation, my first big “adult” purchase was my laptop for college. I remember how good it felt to take it out of the package and turn it on for the first time, knowing I had spent my own money to buy it. After powering it on, I noticed a beautiful picture set as the automatic background, showing a strange rock formation in the ocean. Today, I saw that desktop background in real life, at the Giants Causeway.
As I am so accustomed to stock images online and CGI in tv and films, I never really take the time to stop and think about the landscapes that I am seeing and just where they are in the world. This trip has taken me to places I could only dream of before, or see during scenic shots of the worlds in Avatar and Lord of the Rings. The hike up to the causeway was a great bit of exercise, as we are on a three-day bus tour, which (although great) can be a little cramped. I could not believe the views of the lush green cliffs and the clear blue ocean; it seemed like a green screen, not real life. In all honesty, the hike to the causeway made me very emotional. As I was staring out over such beautiful landscapes, untouched by human machinery and technology, I could only stop and realize just how lucky we are to live on this earth, and how beautiful it is. Nature is absolutely amazing, and something that should not be so quickly taken advantage of. I felt so lucky to be able to see such pure, untouched scenery, as many people may never get that experience.
After the causeway we stopped at Dunluce castle, or rather, the skeleton of what used to be a magnificent palace. The site has largely diminished over the years, leaving behind a base and some walling, but it was amazing nonetheless. If anything, the views from the castle were well worth the trip there. Although it was hard to imagine the castle without walls to ceilings in all of the normal places, our tour guide did a wonderful job of creating rich imagery for us. She told us stories of the original family who built and lived in the castle, and how it came to be in its current state.
Our final stop was “The Dark Hedges“; a scenic road lined with twisting beech trees that has become one of Ireland’s most well-known natural phenomena. Again, I was taken aback by this location, because it had been another of the choices for my desktop background that was pre-loaded on to my computer. It is so strange to think that I have just casually glanced at such beautiful scenery in pictures, and now it is right in front of my face (and even more beautiful than on a screen). This site has also been heavily popularized by the hit television series “Game of Thrones”, but our tour guide sadly informed us that it may not be so great for much longer as the trees are starting to die.
One of the coolest parts of the day for me was coming to realize just how big the Spartan family is. As I was eating my lunch with Allison (another student) at the causeway, we noticed a man walk off a bus in a Spartan hat. I instantly yelled out the “spartan call” of “go green“, and received a surprised “go white” in return. We were all really happy to see each other, even though we had no other connection besides our amazing university.
Go green MSU, stay green Ireland.