The month of March flew. January gave us a gradual ease into the new year, a new city, and many of those first few days felt like weeks, the constant influx of new information making the hours stretch. February picked up a bit, as routine and familiarity started to settle, but then the travel started - first a weekend in London, then a ten day midterm break in Amsterdam, Paris, and Northern Ireland.
I returned to Dublin as February turned to March, as the winter months tried to clear a little for spring. And it was like I’d been on a roller coaster, slowly ticking up the tracks. The midterm break had been a pause, those ten seconds they hold you at the top so your anticipation can rise, and then March came; we all inhaled anxiously, and we were off.
I don’t think I’ve been able to catch my breath since. Looking back at the calendar for this month, I understand where the whirlwind of this month has come from. The weekdays were full of classes, of settling back into this Dublin routine. There’s a definite comfort in familiarity, but there’s also a speed to it, too. When you become accustomed to everything around you, sometimes you stop looking. Moments of March slipped away because of this.
On Tuesday of the second week of March, I made an offhand comment to a friend about travel plans during lunch. Everyone was listing where they’d been, where they were going, and I said something like, “I looked into going to Reykjavik a few weeks ago, but it was too expensive.” And it was true, I had. Tentatively Googling flights had left me grimacing, because poor college student, because four hundred dollars for anything is a number I don’t wanna look at. I’d wanted to go to Reykjavik since high school, since the discoverance of Bjork and pretty pictures on the internet, but I had realistic goals and expectations.
But then, that Tuesday night, my friend messaged flight information: Dublin to Kaflavik, Iceland’s international airport. Less than two hundred dollars round trip. To leave on Friday morning and return to Dublin early Monday. Perfectly inline with not having to miss class. Well. Damn. I messaged my friend back. And then: a link to a hostel.
Tuesday evening, we booked flights and hostels. I was buzzing for at least two hours after that. Flights!! To!! Reykjavik!!!
After zealously telling pretty much everyone I know (there’s some embarrassment that comes with that now - I’m really not humble when I’m that excited...) and getting a few recommendations, off we went.
It’s only about a two hour flight from Dublin to Reykjavik, one of the shortest journeys. We landed in a country that felt calm. It was all vast landscape, grey skies and masses and masses of land.
My condensed review of Reykjavik is this: beautiful, almost-serene. Expensive, but worth it.
The weather was kind of miserable. It went from sunny to sleet-snow to winds so strong you almost fell over to sunny again in the span of ten minutes. Most of the nature tours were cancelled because of strong wind, and the streets were the emptiest I’ve ever seen it for a capital city. One afternoon I walked through the city centre to the public library and saw only three people.
Still, weather aside, it was a weekend full of magical moments. There are too many highlights to list, probably (though if you want a list, hit me up), but a few: the first afternoon, walking out of the hostel and immediately going west, towards the ocean and towards the mountains. There was a moment of clear in the sky, the sun shining. And then there were these mountains - these mountains that looked cinematic, like heaven, like salvation. The closest physical representation to purity I’ve ever seen. Then: standing at the very top of the church. You can go up a lift at the Church of Iceland for somewhere around 6 euro, which takes you to both an enclosed viewing tower, and then the very top, to the bell tower. The wind was howling through the slats in the windows. It was freezing cold. I clutched onto my phone, afraid the wind would slap it out of my hands. I stared down at the city before me, the rows and rows of multicolored houses. And then, just a glance to the right: the houses, the ocean, the mountains. The most beautiful thing that I have ever seen.
Reykjavik was a trip of complete serendipity and spontaneity, a happenstance that fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. It was most definitely my highlight of March, if not one of the very many highlights of my time abroad.
The last two weekends of March were occupied by some of Ireland’s biggest holidays and celebrations - St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Admittingly, I didn’t do much for St. Patrick’s Day, only going out to glimpse at the parade for less than an hour, but the atmosphere around the city was lively.
As for Easter - this year is the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising, so the Easter weekend was both a religious celebration and a nationalist one. There were many activities over the weekend commemorating the event. I walked around town a bit, as cars were barred from the city centre, and saw some of the parade projected on the live screens.
March is almost over. My time abroad is almost over.
It’s a scary thought. I’ve enjoyed my experiences this month, though I wish my perception of time would slow down a bit.
It feels like things are just going, going, gone.