Parting is such sweet sorrow…

I have been back in the United States for a few weeks now, and have found a lot of time to reflect on what an incredible year I had in Ireland. The first question I get from everyone the first time I see them back at home is, “How was Ireland?” And I find myself telling a different story about a different aspect of my experience, so I am taking that as a sign that I had as much fun as one possibly could. I cannot begin to fully describe how incredible my year was. I saw things I never imagined, and had experiences I never thought possible. So thank you so much Trina, Jennie, and everyone involved in the US-Ireland Alliance for providing me the year of my life.

Since we last spoke, I went on a long vacation through Europe to end my year abroad. My classes ended in the beginning of April, so I first flew to London to meet my best friend and see the sights. I went earlier in the year to watch Van Morrison in concert, but this time I spent a little bit more time exploring the city. From there, I returned to Galway to spend a few nights packing up and saying goodbye to all my friends, teammates, and favorite Galway spots. Since returning to the US, most people I talk with about Ireland tell me that they have spent a day or two in Galway sometime during their travels. And we usually agree that Galway is the greatest place in Ireland. The people, music, energy, sights, and feel easily make it my favorite city in Ireland and one of my favorite cities in the world. It is a must see for those that have not been there.

After Galway, I spent a few days in Dublin hanging with fellow Mitchells and getting ready for the next leg of my trip (a big thank you has to go out to Kyle at this point for letting me store my stuff at his house). Next, I headed to Malaga, Spain. The Costa Del Sol is just beautiful, and I really love the Spanish energy (the late night dinners, the focus on health and vitality, and the youthful spirit). After Malaga, I headed to the Canary Islands, which are closer to Africa than they are to Europe. The Canary Islands are paradise on earth. It is all about relaxation there. From there I went to my second favorite city in Europe, Barcelona. I was there during a Champions League match and the city was just bonkers. My traveling companion had a college friend of hers living in Barcelona,  and he was gracious enough to show us all the local hotspots. It was a really great time.

From Barcelona, I went to Sicily. My first order of business was finding a place to do laundry. After a few weeks of traveling, I would have paid anything for clean clothes. Sicily is the origin of some of my favorite types of Italian foods: the rich gravies, lasagna, cheesy eggplants etc. I ate enough to keep me well fed for months and enjoyed every moment of it. Also, although my mother’s family is from Ennis, my father’s family comes from Sicily, so it was very special to get in touch with that side of my family. After Sicily, my trip ended with a four-day bike tour through northwest Sardinia. It was a grueling 60k-a -ay bike trip, but provided some incredibly gorgeous sea views to help pass the hours and make all of the pain worth it.

Since the trip ended, I have been crazy busy. Two of my best friends have gotten married, and I was in one wedding party and performed the other wedding. We then had Mitchell graduation in Dublin. Unfortunately, my flight to Ireland got canceled, so I missed a portion of the weekend. I did make it for the ceremony though, and it was a wonderful event and night. It provided the closure I think we all needed, while letting us know that we are now part of a Mitchell family that will keep us connected forever. I look forward to a lifetime of friendships with my fellow Mitchells, and staying as active as possible in helping the US-Ireland Alliance grow and reach all of its potential.

So I guess our time together has come to an end. But please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. My email address is joegraziano2@gmail.com. I will be staying in Washington DC , working at the World Bank doing anti-corruption work and finishing my last year of law school. I plan on being at as many Alliance events as possible. I hope to see you there.

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