Kyra Levandoski: Similar, but Different

Giant’s Causeway (photo: Kyra Levandoski)

To begin the day, we went to Giant’s Causeway. I personally did not expect to do as much hiking as we did, so whatever nice hairdo I had at the beginning was completely gone by the time we got back on the bus. Although the places look similar, I was, unfortunately, told that the causeway was not the place where they filmed Luke Skywalker in the last Star Wars movie. But it was very humbling to think that we are in no way the first to step on those stones, and not even close to being the last. There are thousands of years of history connecting to those stones, and you can almost feel it in the air when you walk where great warriors, leaders, and explorers walked so long ago. All in all, the causeway was amazing and incredibly picturesque.

An aspect of Irish culture that I personally find amusing is the equal amounts of sheep and cows on the side of the freeway. It makes sense considering that the Emerald Isle is famous for its wool production. It’s definitely a refreshing break from the seemingly endless sea of cows on the sides of Wisconsin highways. As we drove back and forth between Belfast and the causeway, I noticed that things in Ireland are similar but very different. The street signs, for example, are generally the same shapes, but have different text or colors. It’s also a bit of a shock to wake up from a nap and find that your bus is driving on the “wrong” side of the road. I thought we were going to crash before I realized that we were, in fact, in Europe, and driving on the left side of the road is not only perfectly safe but expected.

The best part of my day was by far the concert. I didn’t expect many people to show up. I mean, an orchestra of children from a completely different continent? I would be wary at best. But Belfast showed up. When we played our encore, Irish Washerwoman, the audience clapped and cheered. I even heard some people singing along. That moment felt so validating as musicians, and we all felt like one community even though the orchestra and the audience were very different. I feel very satisfied with tonight’s concert as a result of this; everybody in the room had an indescribable energy as we played one of Ireland’s national favorites. This song, reprised from yesterday’s dinner, almost feels like the cornerstone of the trip, and I can’t wait for where it takes us next.

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