At the UofR it was uncommon for me to make friends with anyone I didn’t work or live with (that is, people I was compelled to see on a daily basis.) Even more uncommon was my going out somewhere with said friends – I once went to a restaurant with my roommates only to find I was being followed by a film crew hoping to gather rare footage of me leaving campus which would later be incorporated into a documentary on hermits, narrated by David Attenborough.* So while what I’m going to talk about may seem kind of boring, it’s a Really Big Deal for me as I can be painfully shy, and it’s very related to the experience of studying abroad.
On Thursday, I went with a couple of friends to the movies. On Saturday, I went over to their house for dinner and drinks. Last weekend, we went to the Powerscourt Gardens. These friends do not live with me, work with me, or take classes with me. Yes, that’s right: I have actual living, breathing friends that I’m not obliged to know. I met them at Speed Friending, an event that one of the societies I joined hosted during Freshers Week. It is not the kind of thing that I typically do. In fact, I wavered on it from the moment I was told until I got on the Luas to go into town. Once at college, I nearly chickened out again, and it’s a miracle that I made it up to the society room at all. It was nothing to be terrified of; everyone was really nice and it obviously worked since, you know, I have friends now. But if something similar had been offered at home when I was a freshman, would I have gone? Definitely not. So why did I go?
Back in the states, I knew some people at my university from my high school, and it was only three hours away from where I grew up. I went home for holidays. Here, there is one girl from the UofR in the IES program, but I don’t have any classes with her and I didn’t know her back home. I’ll be spending Christmas with my extended family in England. I went to Speed Friending because the idea of spending an entire year in a foreign country alone in my room was more terrifying than an hour of awkward interaction with strangers. In a book I read for my 20th Century Irish Fiction class, Felicia’s Journey by William Trevor, an Irish girl goes to England all by herself and she’s taken advantage of because she has no one else to turn to. This is not to say that I’m especially afraid of being targeted by the likes of Mr. Hilditch (read the book to find out! do it!), but rather that it’s always better to have friends to lean on when nothing else is familiar.
Before I left, my dad told me to make the most of this experience because it’s once-in-a-lifetime, and I’m glad that I have. That advice is the same reason why I’ve gone out with my flatmates instead of making lame excuses to stay at home. Most of my friends are foreigners and none of them are American and we’re all sorting out living in our new country together. I’m barely a month into my programme, but I’m already grateful that I have them to get lost in exploring Ireland with me.
*As you may have guessed, David Attenborough has never narrated any of my movements. I long for that honour.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hannah Vose is a University of Rochester junior, majoring in English with an interest in literary translation studies. When not burying her nose in whichever book has most recently been plucked from atop the dangerously tall pile on her desk, she can be found obsessively learning new languages, squinting through her (very stylish, thank you!) bifocals at someone else's writing in her job as a Writing Fellow, drinking stupid amounts of tea, squinting through her bifocals at her own writing in her job as a scathing self-critic, or dreaming of living somewhere which gets even less sun than Rochester. Born in England but having lived most of her life in Endicott, New York, she has traveled back to the Land of Her People twice and visited Dublin once on the way over. She considered applying to Trinity College as an international student, but was deterred by tuition costs (yikes!) so she's absolutely 100% thrilled to be living in Dublin and taking classes at Trinity for an entire year (and only about 34% of that is because she might get to take a class on Patrick McCabe -- will it happen? Stay tuned!)</span></p>