My Predeparture Predicament

Fiona Kelly headshot
Fiona Kelly
January 15, 2024
A screenshot of an email from RushMyPassport, telling me that my application for a new passport has arrived at a government facility to be reviewed.

On January 7th, I was exactly one week away from embarking on the experience of a lifetime. The date was set. On January 14th, I would board a plane out of Nashville and from there I would eventually find myself in Dublin. 

I was beyond excited, evident in the fact that I told every person who would listen to me for two seconds that I was going to be living in Ireland for four months. This was the fulfillment of a dream I’ve held since I was a child and I learned the origin of my name. Fiona is an Irish name meaning white or fair. My parents gave it to me as a nod to the country from which my great-grandparents emigrated with their children. I’ve never been to Ireland, and what better way to introduce myself to the country than by living in the capital city and studying the thing I love doing best: writing. I was so excited to sit and read and write in cafes in the literary city of Dublin. 

Then, on January 7th, one week before my departure, the worst thing I could have imagined happened: I lost my passport. 


I had been traveling with my boyfriend through the Canadian province of Sunny (and cold!) Manitoba during New Years so that I could meet his grandparents and other family members that live there. It was a nice little vacation for the two of us that included some outdoor ice skating and snowshoeing, and I had a lovely time getting to know his family up there. The trip back, however, was less than pleasant. 

We flew out of Winnipeg at 7 p.m., and after some delays we had to spend the night in the Toronto airport which has no places to lay down and rest your eyes from the blaring overhead lights. Our flight out of Toronto was also delayed, so suffice it to say, by the time we touched down in Nashville we were exhausted. I had been carrying a small purse and a backpack on my person, both of which I placed under the seat in front of me. The purse surely got stuffed further under that seat and out of sight. We walked off the plane and made it all the way home before I realized that I had left it, along with the passport and wallet held within. Thus, the nightmare ensued.

I’m not sure if the hardest part of this whole situation has been dealing with the bureaucracy or the emotional toll it’s taken on me. I deal with anxiety that stems from perfectionism, so I was immediately dragging myself down for what had happened. Who could be stupid enough to lose their passport, and one week before they move abroad? 

Luckily, the easiest part of this whole process was contacting IES Abroad. Rather than waiting on the phone forever and having to deal with robots telling me to press this button and that button, I was immediately in touch with my IES Abroad Program Advisor, Macey Schondel, who was nothing but kind to me. The same goes for those at the IES Abroad office on the Dublin side, who are accommodating my late arrival. I will unfortunately be missing orientation, but I’ve already been informed that I will get my own personal orientation upon arrival. So, if you find yourself in a predicament right before you depart, just know that IES Abroad is there to take care of you and make everything as smooth as possible. 

Unfortunately, dealing with the airline, airports, and the Department of State has not been so easy. Losing my purse has given me an unwanted, but useful, dose of adulting. After many tears and hours on the phone, I could finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

The airline appears to be too disorganized to locate my bag in a timely manner, so I’ve taken it upon myself to replace everything. After quite a hefty fee, my new passport is being expedited and is set to arrive on or before January 19th, the day before my rebooked flight is scheduled to head to Dublin. I’ve ordered new credit cards, obtained a new driver’s license, and found a new purse which I will keep a much better eye on after the trauma of this event. Now all I have to do is wait anxiously for everything to arrive in the mail. 

Naturally, this is not how I would have liked to begin my study abroad experience. I do wish I could’ve arrived in Dublin at the same time as the rest of my classmates, but instead I get another much needed week at home to spend time with my parents and lounge around. This just proves that there is a silver lining in every bad situation. Life is full of unexpected challenges, and each one trains us to be prepared for the next. I’m sure many other challenges await me in Dublin, though I hope they’re nothing like this. I’ll be happy to face them, as soon as I get there. I will see you in Dublin, one way or another, so stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed for me. 

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Fiona Kelly

Hello! My name is Fiona Kelly and I'm a Creative Writing Major at Sewanee. As an aspiring novelist, you can usually find me typing away at a fantasy novel or world building. I also love to read and spend as much time outside as I can!

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Creative Writing
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