From the very beginning of my travels, I knew this was a period of my life which I would be learning. I’m not quite sure I understood the depth to which I’d be learning – until I sat down after a week of being in Ireland and reflected.
Similar to the way you would attend classes and study for an exam in school, I am finding that as each day passes, you easily forget the little things up until you review them. Each day I sit and write out what I have done, what I have seen, and how I felt about it – almost as if I am taking notes from a personal lecture. I have been in Ireland just over two weeks, and it is scary how amazingly easy it is to forget an experience. I don’t want this time to be as momentary as a stamp on my passport or as distant as a photograph. I want to memorize these moments so they aren’t just a chapter of my life which comes to a close and gets reopened in order for me to say “look at what I did.” Rather I want to say “look at who I am.”
Classes have yet to begin but my studying abroad has undoubtedly started. Here’s a look at a few snapshots of my week.
May 26 – Airports are fascinating. They are carefully organized labyrinths which guide people scattering in countless directions at varying speeds. Everyone has a place to be and a place to go. Everyone has a final destination. Traveling alone, I met many people with different plans of action. The crazy thing was, some of them were going to Shannon, Ireland just like me. One older woman was traveling with friends but had decided to join them last minute and booked her flight days before her departure. Another woman had dual citizenship between the U.S. and Canada and was on her way to see a sick friend. A group of young students were going on a European tour. A family was going to see their grandparents. Some people were going to see new things, adventure and explore. Others were going to grieve or have a final experience with someone. Be aware that not everyone is on the same momentary or life journey as you.
May 28 – Bed and Breakfasts are a lost art. In Ireland, these welcoming open homes make you feel like part of the family. Not to mention, you are given a beautiful, often homemade breakfasts in the morning. We stayed with a woman named Florence who my Grandmother has known for a while. In the past year, she has been met with numerous tragedies. However, she has the most wonderful disposition and kind heart. She warned me multiple times throughout our stay take time for yourself and your family and don’t work all the time; in the end family is what matters. She also elaborated on how the Irish have a different sense of time. It is not unusual for people to have clocks that don’t tell the accurate time, or even work at all. Instead, they come when they come and leave when they leave. Don’t live your life on an inflexible schedule, you miss out on unexpected beauty in life.
May 30 – Perspective is everything. I have visited the Cliffs of Moher three times. Each time they have been breathtaking and incredible. This time was different though. I took an 8.9 km hike from Doolin to the top of the cliffs led by the farmer who created the trail. This time was incredible because I hiked for three hours and was rewarded with countless stunning views of the cliffs. You may think you have seen all there is to see, but a change of perspective can transform the beauty you see. The farmer told us his story as we walked. He convinced thirty-nine farmers that creating a trail on the edge of the cliffs through their land was a good idea. It took him years, but he finally did it, and now it is one of the most beautiful experiences I (and many others, I am sure) have ever had. He told us at the end of the hike, we are only here for a short amount of time – do something with it.
June 1 – We are connected with the place we inhabit. Driving through the Doolough Valley promotes a myriad of thoughts. During the Irish Potato Famine, a group of people walked 19 km through the valley in order to request food from the guards at Delphi. Many died from starvation and fatigue on the way. When they were denied food, they turned around and walked back with many more dying on their return trip home. On the road into Delphi, there are tall mountains which enclose the way. It seems as if the road goes forever, sandwiched between the rocky, green walls. Then all of a sudden, you turn a bend, and there is a lake. The scene is beautiful, filled with hope. The villagers had that same sense of hope as they walked toward the possibility of being helped. When they were turned away, they walked back into the desolate land outside of the valley. When you are in that space, the history surrounds you. The land tells us about the people who have gone before.
It has been a beautiful and reflective week leading into my formal educational study. The most impactful thing I have learned so far is that people want to tell their story and many will invite you to share your story, too.
As I was walking around one day, I saw an old Irish blessing written out on the pier. Now I’m taking those well wishes onto the next leg of my journey at the acting school in Dublin. An entire period of my life which concentrates on the telling of stories in a country that loves telling stories.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi! My name is Kate Jones and I'm a Dramatic Arts and Performance Studies double major at UNC Chapel Hill. I am jazzed to start my study abroad program concentrating in acting this summer in Dublin, Ireland. This is my third time traveling to Ireland which should give you some insight into how much I love this country and it impact it has made on my life. I cannot wait to experience it again, but as a student this time around!</p>