Feathers, Failures, and Farewells

Mariana Considine headshot
Mariana Considine
December 29, 2023
A small red and white bird is perched on a thorny branch amidst the darkness.

Trying new things can be terrifying. Especially when you’re in a new country, with strange people surrounding you every day. But sometimes, those people can be just the guidance you need to try something you never would have tried otherwise. At the close of my term in Dublin, I have been reflecting on all the new and scary things I tried. I remember my roommate telling me in the first week that her goal for the semester was ‘to be a feather in the wind.’ To say yes to everything, and follow your heart. It quickly became a joke, but also a word of encouragement through the first couple of insane weeks. 

I wrote in my very first post in Dublin about jumping into the bog at Causey Farm. It was freezing and muddy, so I was reluctant. But just when I almost chickened out, two of my classmates (who I hardly knew at that point) grabbed my hands and we all jumped together. I didn’t know then how difficult it would be to leave those filthy people. 

The bog was only the start of the leaps I would take, literally and metaphorically. One of my roommates favorite weekend activities was sea swimming - no matter if it was 35° or blistering hot. She convinced me and our other two roommates to go with her, twice with the air temperature about 35°-40° Fahrenheit and raining. I kept telling myself, the pain is momentary, but the memory is forever. Not exactly words to live by, but I’d give anything to freeze my bum off one more time with all of them.. 

I could write 10 whole more posts about all the hijinks my friends and I got up to, but I also wanted to reflect on the academic leaps I have taken. In every class, I found myself expanding my comfort zone further and further. My acting teacher frequently commented that I have a tendency to ‘pull back’ when I make an acting choice I don’t like, and the rest of the scene I let the discomfort take over. I felt a huge improvement from day one, where I was often uncomfortable committing to activities, or taking risks in performance. 

A pivotal moment for me was in an acting class with a local director. A little unprepared, my scene partner and I were cold-reading a scene in front of the class, and I could feel it was going poorly. Immediately after, the instructor turned to the class and proceeded to give a lecture on why failure is so important—referring to our scene. I wanted to shrivel into the floor. However, his comments were also weirdly encouraging—because I found that I was, in fact, comfortable to fail that day. If I had been put on the spot like that at the beginning of the term, I probably would have gone to cry in the bathroom. Now, I can roll with the punches—like a feather in the wind. Or something.

Upon returning home, I have had some difficulty coming up with the words to reflect on my term abroad. Everyone at the beginning of your term will talk about how life-changing it is, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably scoff at them. But you just have to learn for yourself. All I can hope is that everything I have learned and experienced will stick with me for the rest of my life. I know the friendships certainly will. 

The final fear I have worked to overcome while abroad has been a fear of sharing my writing. Ironic, I know, as you read this in my 10th lengthy blog post… But through writing these blogs, and the writing I have done for classes, I have been forced to share my voice and creativity with my friends and peers. For our final IES Abroad showcase, we each wrote a short piece recalling a moment during our time in Dublin. So to close, I would like to share this goofy little poem I wrote about the blanket I accidentally took from my flight to Dublin. (A blanket which even gained a starring role in our end of year showcase—pictured below!)

Ode to a Delta Airlines Blanket


I promise I didn’t mean to.

It just kind of, happened.

I didn’t know where to leave it, to move on. 

So I carried it with me, as the crowds pushed me forward.

Narrow aisles, armrests biting into my sore calves.

And I cling on.

To my blue, Delta Airlines blanket.

The blanket doesn’t leave my arms 

until I have collapsed into my new white sheets, 

And it covers me in a stale-airplane scented hug. 

Were you meant to be mine? Or did I tear you 

from the only life you’ve known,

A continuous cycle of strangers to cover

While they hurtle through the air sipping ginger-ale.

A new life for us both. 

Sleepless nights, laundry days, a blue sky in my lightless days.

Until we fly again through the boundless skies,

And while you curl beneath my palms,

I finally close my eyes. 

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