Tick tock. The tedious sound of the classroom’s clock strikes again with the horrid sound we’ve become all too familiar with. Tick Tock. A few more seconds left until the bell rings, freeing us all from the confines of our school and into our two month hiatus. Ring. The halls finally explode with screaming teens – Juniors ready to call themselves seniors and Freshmen ready to move up the social food chain.
Despite all the chatter amongst students of different ages, there is always one thing that remains the topic of discussion – summer plans. Most people are excited to spend the next few months tanning in the generous sun of San Diego, but, for senior Marina Hettick, it seems that lazy summer days at the famed San Diego beaches just weren’t in her itinerary.
Hettick, not opting for the all too popular Caribbean or Hawaiian retreat, kicked off her summer with a quick flight to Montreal, Canada. Sure, Canada seems like a popular destination and not particularly noteworthy, but it’s not every day that one of our own is sent to compete in a National Irish Dancing competition.
“This was my second Nationals,” Hettick said. “But it was mostly for experience since there were people who practice like ten hours a day.”
Dancing has been one of the many ways Hettick has been able to connect to her Irish heritage. As if competing at the National level wasn’t impressive enough, Hettick took her love for the Irish one step further.
“When we were little, [my best friend’s] mom told me that when I turned 16 she would take me to Ireland because they have a lot of family there,” Hettick said. “So I spent three weeks in Ireland traveling with my friend’s family.”
But Hettick refused to settle for just an ordinary vacation – in fact, to say she immersed herself into the culture would be an understatement.
A casual stay at the renowned Cabra Castle isn’t a very common experience amongst us Californians, so an experience like this is a treasured rarity. Built in the 19th century, the castle still maintains its old Irish charm.
“I honestly thought it would be more like a hotel but it was a LEGIT castle – even in the rooms the walls were stone.”
Life in Ireland has since come far past the olden days of castles and moats, but the hop across the pond was still shocking.
“It was a definitely a culture shock. We stayed in a lot of her family’s houses and the lifestyle is very agricultural there,” Hettick said. “They all have cows – I’m not even joking you look out the window and there’s cows standing right there it’s ridiculous” Photos provided by Marina Hettick
At the very least, had her trip been terrible, Hettick would have been able to leave her experience knowing she had interacted with a remarkable amount of cows. However, the odd plethora of cows was just the tip of the rural living iceberg.
“There aren’t many restaurants at all – just a few; you have to drive into town to get there. So instead they have family dinners every single night.”
“They also have three different kind of potatoes with every meal,” Hettick said.
At this point, any person in their right mind would be packing their bags, booking a fight and moving to Ireland because what’s not to love about potatoes right? But of course, with every journey comes a bit of struggle. While most of us have become accustomed to the Americanized accents of celebrities Niall Horan and Pierce Brosnan, deciphering the Irish accent is still a mission to be left to the locals.
“The first night we were there, a woman was talking so fast with her thick accent that I kept on having to stop her and say ‘excuse me can you repeat that,’”Hettick said.
“By the end, she had rolled her eyes so many times.”
The accents may have been rough, but it’s clear that in the Irish experience if you give a little, you get a lot. Hettick may have sacrificed a bit of patience and humility trying to get her American ears to understand an Irish accent, but in return she got a three week journey throughout the stunning landscape of Ireland.
Additional photos of Hettick’s stay.