If you wander far enough through the garden full of blushing blooms, mossy rocks, and murmuring brooks on the grounds of Blarney Castle in Ireland, you’ll find a set of magical stone stairs tucked away from the path. It was here, nearly four years ago, that I made a wish that I would one day return to Ireland. This very wish was the deciding factor in my choice to study abroad in Dublin this spring. The story goes, if you close your eyes, ascend the “the wishing steps,” and walk down backwards, thinking of nothing but your wish, then it will come true. The steps are hidden in the “fairy glade” amongst the shadows cast by the sunlight shining through the budding flowers and the outstretched limbs of the many trees. Ducking beneath intertwining branches, darting past the “witches stone,” and stumbling upon the waterfalls in the garden can suspend any remaining skepticism in even the most uncertain visitor. I was enamored by the beauty of Ireland, the charm of the people, and the evidence of history sprawled across the landscape. It convinced me that if anything was able to grant my wish to return to such an enchanting land, mystical stairs in a castle’s fairy glade didn’t seem like such a bad choice.

The history of Ireland sprawls the countryside and offers a tangible way to experience the Irish culture like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I was able to do a handstand on a fortress from around 800 BCE.

As I ascended the rather uneven stairs, climbing deeper into the stone channel in which they were nestled, I closed my eyes tightly. Gripping firmly onto the cold banister and shuffling up the steps, I repeated my wish over and over again. As I neared the top, the light from the clearing above warmed my face and I knew that somehow the flowers, trees, and streams around me were listening to my plea. When I walked down the steps backwards, I was sure that the magical garden of Blarney castle would somehow make sure I made it back to Ireland. This wish became a promise to myself that I would again experience the Irish culture.

This spring study abroad trip is my chance to make good on my promise. My head is swirling with anticipation and every second I come up with yet another castle I want to visit, food I want to eat, or activity I want to try. I am constantly packing and repacking as I worry about the necessities I should really include on my trip. I check for my passport nearly three times a day. While I still haven’t figured out exactly how to “pack light,” I know that no matter what makes it into my luggage, the experiences I bring back will far outweigh any sweater that I leave behind. This opportunity to return to Ireland is the realization of my wish made nearly four years ago. I hope that this trip will help me to continue to grow and expand my understanding of the vast world around me. If I could once again ascend the wishing steps, I would ask that this trip abroad help to reframe and broaden the scope of my education and the view of my place within the expansive world around me. As I prepare to leave the country for an entire semester, I constantly remind myself of these goals. I will be sure to make every decision with these objectives in mind in order to make the most of the fulfillment of my greatest wish.