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Around the World in One School Year

By February 1, 2020May 24th, 2020Connections

From the Viewpoint of the Youngest Family Member

My name is Maia Esbensen and I am an Issaquah Highlands resident. My family includes my mom, my dad, and me; I am an only child. I am in fifth grade this year, but I do not attend any of the schools in Issaquah. In fact, I am not in any of the schools in King County, Washington state, or the U.S.! That is because my family is traveling the world for a school year.

The little lightbulb of this plan first turned on in our minds a few years back. We really had no idea about any of the details; all we knew was we wanted to see the world, simple as that. First, to get our ideas down, we bought an enormous world map that covered a whole wall in our basement. We wrote down where we wanted to go and why on the map. This was a frequent Saturday afternoon activity. After a while, we looked at the map and saw we wanted to go to nearly every continent. Then, we bought a whiteboard and started researching the best time to go to each continent. We used that knowledge to make a simple layout of what our trip might look like. We decided to fill in travel details as each new stop got closer.

I have been asked to share a little about our trip in Connections. Over this series of articles, I will share exciting highlights from our trip, beautiful scenery from around the world, and lots more. In this first article, I will share some highlights from our initial stop: Ireland.

Ireland is a country with lots of history and many great places to visit. We went to Dublin, Galway, and Dingle.

Dublin is a modern city with lots of neat architecture. We visited Trinity College, the Dublin Castle, and Christ Church Cathedral. Trinity College is a very old-looking college. It is home to the famous Book of Kells, which is almost 1200 years old and made with poisonous ink. I thought it was funny that Queen Victoria signed the Book of Kells. No one knows why. Maybe she thought it was customary or something, I don’t know. The glass surrounding it is now bulletproof, shatter-proof, and tightly sealed. The students at Trinity College call it “queen-proof.”

We didn’t get to spend much time at Dublin Castle, but it looked very cool. In second grade, at Grand Ridge Elementary, I did a project with a friend about the Dublin Castle, so it was cool to see it in person. The big stone walls towered above me. No wonder this place draws tourists from near and far.

To tour Christ Church, we took the hop-on, hop-off tour bus. I highly recommend it. While at Christ Church, I thought it would be helpful to avoid the most crowded times, but otherwise it was great and very medieval-looking. Go and see Dublin!

Our next stop was Galway. I loved this city; it was so cute and fun. My parents called it “quaint” 30 times (I counted). Also, you absolutely need to go to Quay Street Kitchen! It had delicious food and a cozy vibe. We also found Taytos, which are Irish potato chips. Go to a pub in Galway. Also, between Galway and Dingle we saw the Cliffs of Moher. It was extremely windy, but beautiful.

Lastly, we went to Dingle, a beautiful little city that my family loved. There are also good pubs in Dingle. Just off the coast of the city is the island where they filmed “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” They have beautiful hidden beaches squished into the rocky cliffs. This city is also home to Europe’s friendliest dolphin named Fungie (pronounced “fun-gee”). He would come into a little cove at night and we would watch him swim around. It was amazing.

Before we left for our trip, I had no idea what to expect. I had gone on international trips before, but I had never lived away from home for so long. I knew I would miss my family and friends, my house in Roanoke Woods, and activities like holidays and school events. However, I also knew we would see new and interesting places and cultures. As I travel, I hope I will better understand what makes people around the world unique and special, but also what all of us have in common. When I get back, I hope to use that understanding to connect more easily with all different types of people.

Read my article in Connections next month to learn more about our trip and the world.

As published in February 2020 Connections >>