On New Beginnings and Midwest Accents

Grace McGovern
January 12, 2017

It’s officially been one week since I left my cozy little suburb in Illinois and traveled across the pond to Dublin! Though it has been just a week, and I keep reminding myself of this fact over and over again, it already feels like I’ve been here for at least a month. The cafes and shops around me are becoming familiar, the swans a part of my everyday routine. And while it’s been comfortable and homey in so many ways, it’s also been a complete and utter rush. I landed at 5 AM Dublin time, and I stayed up virtually all day through orientations and meet ups, with those continuing through the week. Classes have just begun, and I’ve been enjoying them greatly. I hope to take full advantage of all the inspiration and literary history that pumps through this city’s streets. Adjusting itself has been a veritable rollercoaster; I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a strong combination of excitement, fear, infatuation and confusion all at once, and all in this incredibly short span of time. I always have undercurrents of excitement and stunned disbelief at the adventure I’m on, but it has been difficult. Nothing is familiar to you, and you are familiar to no one. At first I was almost ashamed of my American accent, trying to keep talking with locals to a minimum, shying away from making myself a presence. But I’ve realized that maybe there isn’t anything wrong after all in being a tourist. What a beautiful opportunity I have to be a stranger in this land, to see their busy streets and painted mailboxes with new eyes. To walk into each coffee shop like it’s a museum, stuffing those smells and sounds into my pockets like pennies off the sidewalk. To be given fresh eyes, to see the world as a brush to be held and paint with, is something very few people are lucky enough to experience. I’ve decided there’s nothing shameful about simply existing, and that welcoming the differences is what makes an experience like this truly meaningful. So, I will do something that’s hard for me: I will talk. I will ask questions, I will say hello, I will fill the world around me with those hard a’s and soft th’s that pepper my speech and make me a beacon, a symbol, a walking representative of my home. How can I ever expect this land of a thousand welcomes to greet me if I never give it the chance to say hello? I’d like to end with a little something I wrote in my Immersion Writing class. We were meant to write in class about our feelings after coming to Dublin, using certain word associations we had after being here in our piece. Through writing, as I've always found, I was able to find a bit of home in this new and unknown world. “Everything is different, and yet the same. It’s as though someone took my new life and plopped it into photoshop, refining this and tweaking that in ways that are all at once sublte yet vast, beautiful yet terrifying, and altogether new. My world is an open door, and I’ve been shoved into the dark unknown, cliché as it may be. But in those quiet moments, when I read my favorite book in this new bed that is beginning to learn the curves of my body, with the rain playing on the window pane in a way that always makes me feel warm, I find my own little sense of ground in this new life that is always flying 5 feet ahead of me, carrying me further and further, farther and farther.”

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Grace McGovern

<p>I am a junior English major at Illinois Wesleyan University studying in Dublin, Ireland. I love the rain, which is a good thing, since it never stops here. You can find me sitting in a café reading Sylvia Plath in my down time, as any good English major would. Poetry, the sea, and finding the best ice cream in any given location are just a few of my passions.</p>

2017 Spring
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