Flights, kennel, hotels and rental car: check, check, check and check.
Time to pack our bags: Andrew and I fly to Ireland tomorrow night to spend a few days with Andrew’s college friends, Kim, Ben and their little tyke, Luca, who are in Europe for a vacation and conference.
This trip is a homecoming of sorts for me as I spent a cold wet six months in Galway for a study abroad program. (Perhaps to prepare me for a future life in Seattle?) So I’ve been strolling down memory lane.
2007- The year I studied abroad, visited Paris and London for the first time, told Andrew farewell as I didn’t accept a job offer from Boeing (we were just friends) and graduated from college.
I had a chuckle when I read my journal from January of 2007. At the time I knew I wanted to travel and/or live abroad. I believe my time studying in Ireland paved the way for Andrew and I to embrace a UK adventure.
In college I knew I wanted to study abroad but was set on studying in France. The conflict was that I wouldn’t be able to meet my goal of graduating in four years if I studied in France due to the way the credits transferred. While my junior and senior year were some of the happiest days of my life, I struggled for a patch of time during my senior year when I wasn’t getting enough sleep and wasn’t managing my time, my social life, and sorority obligations very well. The overwhelming reality that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up felt suffocating. With all the chaos in my head, I wrote off studying abroad.
Plot twist! The week before the deadline to apply for a study abroad program an Irish student spoke in one of my classes about his experience at MSU. A lightbulb lit up above my head. I made a split decision and turned in my application to the College of Business Office the next day. (I wouldn’t have made the decision to go if it weren’t for my mom’s encouragement and support. Thanks, mom!)
And so I went. And journaled. I’m struck by how my entries from that spring are full of optimism: everything was novel and exciting:
I arrived in Ireland on the 1st of January. It was a long plane ride, but somehow not as tiring as my flight to Lithuania last May. After staying in a hostel for a few nights (an excellent experience, resulting in new friends all over Europe) I moved into my apartment.
My Irish, roommate, Dervla, has been a good resource, educating me on the colloquialisms of Ireland (many of which I’ve integrated into my everyday speech). College started on the 8th and has been an experience in itself. Registration for classes is done in person and differs from department to department. This proved somewhat frustrating, but as they say ‘nothing worthwhile is ever easy.’ I’ve navigated the campus fairly easily and am no longer lost, as I frequently was during orientation last week. (The trick was to look for other lost-looking Americans and band together.)
My apartment complex, Dunaras, is a 20 minute walk from campus. It’s not a bad walk, but the rain takes some getting used to, or rather, learning how to stay dry and be prepared for frequent down pours. A good deal of Americans live in the complex and I’ve met many of them. Some seem surprised when I tell them I didn’t come with a program: in fact, I’ve gotten a bit tired of telling them in essence, I traveled here alone and yesterday jested that I came with the ‘Rachel Hofacker Program for Excellence.’
Yesterday I registered for an Irish language course: while the course is not-for-credit, it’s a once in a life time opportunity and seems to be a good bit of fun combined with a dynamic learning environment. I’m also registered for a ‘Women in Irish Society’ course that commences next week and an English class that studies literature concerning the American South (it seems somehow unreal to be sitting in a lecture hall in Ireland hearing my professor explain the historical context of works written about slavery in America).
All in all, things are grand. The few hiccups are simply static compared to the friendly demeanor of the natives, the beauty of the land and the unbounded opportunity for travel during my hiatus in The “Emerald Isle”.
I’m so excited!
We’ll explore Galway, the University and the surrounding national parks and find some live music!
Cue Galway Girl. Which was shot in Galway!