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Alumna, Caitlin Hayes, Shares Her Experience in Ireland

We recently chatted with Caitlin Hayes who just returned from the Tiffin University trip to Ireland. Caitlin received a bachelor’s in psychology in 2017, and a master’s in psychology in 2019. Hope you enjoy our Q&A with Caitlin.

What was the purpose of the trip?
The purpose of this trip was twofold. One, for alumni of Tiffin to gather together and have an amazing experience. I, as a Tiffin alumna, appreciated this because I obtained both my undergraduate and graduate degrees online. This gave me an opportunity to get to know people involved with Tiffin, when I was not able to before, since I was based online. Secondly, and on a personal level, the trip was meant for me to broaden my horizons and explore the world.

What was your favorite moment of the trip and why?
It is hard to determine my true favorite moment. I loved going to the medieval Tudor style home in Kilkenny, called the Rothe House. I also loved seeing the Cliffs of Moher! Pictures just do not do it justice. However, I think I enjoyed getting to know everyone the most. This experience was amazing, but it was only made better by the great company of my fellow Tiffin travel companions that made the trip extra special.

What attracted you to going on this trip?
I was attracted to this trip because I have never been to Europe and I have always wanted to go. When I decided to go, I knew I would attend by myself, but what was a great comfort was knowing that I was able to travel with other people who were at least affiliated with something I was affiliated with. It was much easier going, knowing that other people at least had one thing in common with me – Tiffin. I also felt as though I was at a time in my life where it was the best time to go. I had just finished my master’s degree two weeks before we left, and knew I needed to reward myself. I also knew that this trip may not be feasible one day, based on my life. In other words, I followed the mantra of “carpe diem!”

What is one piece of the Irish culture that you have learned about?
I knew Ireland had a deep history that was rooted very far into the past. However, what I did not know what that Ireland has only been a country a little shy of 100 years. There was so much history I just was not aware of when I went. I also loved interacting with the Irish people. Many of them were so kind and helpful. If I got turned around somewhere and needed directions, there was always a kind face willing to take me there, or give me great instructions. The kindness of the people and their willingness to help is just not seen very commonly in the United States.

What is the best food you ate there?
I learned on this trip that Ireland is not a place to go if you are wanting a food experience. While the food was decent, and always VERY hot, it was not the highlight of my trip. We had potatoes on potatoes. We had potatoes with every meal and sometimes more than one type of potato with a meal. My favorite meal was at a place called Trayvaud’s. It was one of the last meals we had. I had ricotta filled tortellini with a rose sauce.

What is different in Irish travel and accommodations that are different from us?
One travel accommodation that was interesting to me was that a few of my hotel rooms required the key card to turn on the lights. There was a slot where you would slide the card (the same one used to enter your room) into a holder and your lights would come on. Another interesting accommodation were the plug ins. Luckily I did not blow anything, but I think I came close!

Is there anything else you want to share about the trip?
While on the trip, I tried to soak up as much as I could, knowing I may never be there again. Coming home from the trip, I did a great deal of processing what I had experienced. I realized that this trip was life-changing. I met wonderful people, saw beautiful things, but most importantly, I learned things about myself I never knew. I came home more confident knowing that I bonded with the people on the trip, and I feel more educated on how some areas of the world works. Looking back, I am so glad I decided to go on this trip, and that my family encouraged me to do so. I did not let my fear prevent me. I am already starting to plan my next trip.

Thank you to Tiffin University for allowing me this opportunity to go and thank you to Dr. Schumacher, Ron, AJ, Leslie, Aaron, Mitch, Patty, Dan and Nikki for the great times!