A Large City and the Smallest of Marvels

April Bannister
February 21, 2020

I tell my friends I don't want to talk about it, but the sentiment is inescapable: It's midterm break and our study abroad experience is halfway over.

As much as I try to avoid it, I have to face the thought at some point, remind myself that I can still appreciate Dublin while bearing in mind that my time here is temporary. Some days, this feels like the most difficult thought in the world; I have a hard time allowing myself to feel joy at all because I'm so preoccupied with how soon it's going to slip away. If I get too attached, how will I ever endure going back to the United States?

But I try to remind myself that life is as beautiful as I make it, and that this is possible no matter where I am. In doing so, I've been reminding myself of everything I love about Dublin, including the smallest details I've grown accustomed to over the past few months. When I really stop and think about them, I still become overwhelmed with sheer amazement. Even after a few months, I can't quite believe that I'm here and that I've able to live the experiences I've had.

Among so many others, here is my non-exhaustive list of little wonders:

  1. I wake up to the sound of seagulls. Surrounded every day by crowded sidewalks and the sound of cars honking, I appreciate the reminder that I am living on an island, only a short DART trip to the shores of the sea.
  2. At the IES Abroad Center, I can make tea in a mug and bring it to class. In one of my classes, the instructor makes tea for us, carrying in a kettle on a little platter and serving each and every student.
  3. I hear the phrase "You're very welcome to [place]" on a regular basis — not as a response to "Thank you," but an actual welcome to wherever I have arrived. It's a simple nuance in language between Ireland and America, and it never fails to make me smile.
  4. I truly do feel welcome here.
  5. I live two blocks from the River Liffey and can walk along it whenever I choose. My favorite views are in the early morning, just as the sun is rising, when I can see the buildings and the light reflected in the water.
  6. I am surrounded, always, by the most incredible community of readers and writers.
  7. I've come to expect the Irish accent from everyone and find myself surprised when I hear someone beyond my circle of peers speak in an American accent.
  8. Over the break, I took a plane for the first time since I arrived in Ireland in January. The second we left the ground, I felt an incredible longing for Dublin, for what came to mind as my city. Even as I enjoyed traveling in Scotland, I was counting down the minutes until I returned.

I feel more at home in Dublin than I have in any other place I've lived. That, alone, feels like the most beautiful of marvels.

So here's to the wonder, the amazement, the feeling of novelty I don't ever want to slip away. Here's to appreciating my life for its beauty right now, right at this moment, and reveling in all the ways I can continue to do so — whether I am in Dublin or anywhere else in the world.

April Bannister

<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>

Destination:
Term:
2020 Spring
Home university:
University of Iowa
Hometown:
Saint Paul, MN
Major:
Creative Writing
English
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