Our final day abroad started early as we had to be to the airport by 9. Thankfully the Doolin Hostel where we stayed was nice enough to start their breakfast earlier than normal so we would be able to have something to eat before we left. After breakfast, we boarded the bus at 7:20 and headed for the airport. Once we arrived, we took one last photo before the group started to go their own way. Three people split off to catch flights to other countries to visit other friends. The rest of us would be taking the long 8 hour flight back to Chicago.
The flight back to Chicago was a lot more comfortable than the flight to London. The food was still disgusting but there were a lot more options for in flight entertainment. We each had our own screens and were able to pick from a wide variety of TV shows and movies to watch. The luckiest person on the flight was Eric as he was able to sit next to Santa!! As for being sustainable on the flight, the crew made an announcement that they do recycle everything that they possibly can. I even noticed one crew member separating all of the cans into a separate bag to be recycled.
When we finally arrived to Chicago the group split up even more. A few people stayed to meet family in Chicago and a few took another flight to Des Moines. One person was lucky enough to catch an earlier flight back to Cedar Rapids. There were a total of 13 of us remaining for the last flight to Cedar Rapids. After a long layover we finally were able to board the plane and arrived in Cedar Rapids a short time later. We all said our final goodbyes before heading out to meet our families and get our luggage.
Looking back on the trip I was surprised by how much I learned about sustainability. Every place we went seems to be so far ahead of the United States in terms of sustainability and they are so proud of it. There were signs everywhere explaining what they are doing to be more sustainable. A lot of the things that they are doing are so simple that it is amazing we have not started to do them ourselves.
I know I am not alone when I say this was the most incredible experience of my life. I saw things and accomplished challenges that I never thought would be possible. I made so many great new friends that I am excited to keep in touch with. I heard many people say they were excited to come home because it was a long two weeks but the number one thing they were going to miss was being around so many great people every day. Thank you to Eric and everyone that put so much time into planning this once in a lifetime experience.