In early February, my friends and I planned a weekend trip to Paris for the end of March. When debating whether or not to buy cancellation insurance for our hostel, I remember saying, "I don't think we need it. I really doubt anything would stop us from going, and if it does, I feel like that would be enough of a crisis that going to Paris would be the last thing on our minds."
I have since learned a few things:
1) Do not ever be certain that a crisis will not happen.
2) Buy cancellation insurance.
3) When you have to leave your study abroad program a month and a half earlier than you planned, the knowledge that you're losing money from a different trip really doesn't help the situation.
4) Seriously, you should buy cancellation insurance.
This past day has felt longer than any day in recent memory. Last night, I woke up at four a.m. to the news that non-US citizens would no longer be able to travel to Europe, but went back to bed thinking everything was fine and I wouldn't be particularly affected. A few hours later, I woke up again to texts from friends asking if I was okay. At this point, I still didn't fully understand what was going on. I figured I had no reason not to be okay.
Two days ago, my biggest fear was being reimbursed for any part of my planned Paris trip, as it had slowly become clear that traveling outside of Ireland wouldn't be an option. Just yesterday, my biggest fear was that our classes would go online. I didn't even think of the possibility of being sent home, and I don't think anyone else did either.
But the more I spoke to friends and IES Abroad staff this morning, the more the heavy realization began to dawn — while there are no restrictions in place currently, the situation is changing so quickly and so unpredictably that it's best if we leave Ireland as soon as we're able. My flight leaves on Monday. I will be departing Ireland 33 days prior to when I had originally thought, which is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to accept. In all honesty, I don't think I've reached a point of acceptance yet, and I don't know when I will.
The situation feels impossible. It's a pain that I can't begin to describe.
But I have gotten through what I hope is the worst of it — today — and I will continue to get through. I am taking everything one second at a time, remembering to breathe, and letting myself cry. I am showing myself compassion in a time of immense stress, and it is okay if this is all I can do.
Today, my friends and I walked to the IES Abroad Center one last time and were able to say goodbye to a few of the instructors that changed our lives. We went to two bookstores and ate huge slices of chocolate cake at a cafe we've been wanting to try and got caught in the rain because it wouldn't be Dublin if we didn't end up drenched. Since nine a.m., I haven't been alone for more than a few seconds, and in this way, I am getting through.
The situation feels impossible, shocking, painful beyond words.
But I am not alone.
In this way, I am getting through.
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<p>I am a second-year student from Saint Paul, Minnesota, studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. I enjoy writing across all genres, especially within the focus of mental health, and I hope that my words can inspire education and awareness on the subject. Outside of school, I can often be found rock climbing, running, and spending time with my dog.</p>