As I sit down to write this post, it is December 31, 2014, and I am at my gate at the San Francisco airport waiting to board from San Francisco to Cleveland, Ohio. After spending 5 days in sunny California with my mom, sister, new step-dad, and step-brother, I am bound for home, and then, Dublin, Ireland. I will be leaving my friends, family, home college, and home country, to study at Trinity College Dublin for almost five months. Reflecting on my year in 2014, it was filled with much change. My mother moved from Cleveland to San Francisco with her fiancé, and got married. My sister is now a legal adult (watch out!), and I completed my sophomore year of college, marking the halfway point in my collegiate experience. It was a year that took many turns, started off on a negative foot in the harsh winter of Rochester, New York, but with the renewing nature of the spring, lead into a cheerful summer and fall which held happy memories, new friends, and a successful first, and only, semester at the University of Rochester for my junior year. The year held a transformative quality, marking a significant turn around in the way I see the world and relate to others. Given this year of change, it seems strange to think that 2015 could whole even bigger changes.
As I sat at my favorite restaurant (Barrio in Tremont, Ohio) with my father last weekend and we talked about my eminent departure, I brought up a concept which I think is fitting to discuss in this post. I talked about the strange feeling one gets when waiting to embark on a journey which as identified by so many others will be life changing. Often life changing events hit us when we least expect it. With studying abroad, however, it is more like you are standing on a precipice waiting to free fall into the abyss of self discovery; waiting, to embark on an adventure, the course of which you could not possibly predict, and that you will not know until you’ve boarded your return flight home. The only catch, is that to proceed to this unknown course and free fall, it takes months of planning, applications, and organization to ensure you actually can get to the edge of the precipice. It’s hard to convey, but it’s kind of like planning something that according even to IES itself is “a life changing experience”, without your life changing until you actually set foot on the plane, not knowing by what means or influenced by what individuals that life changing experience will occur.
For now, all I know is my suit case, duffle bag, and backpack are packed, and later today, my father will be dropping me off at the airpot to fly to Washington DC, where I will board a plane to Dublin, and finally, step off the ledge into the abyss of the unknown. With my passport in tow I’ll step off the plane in Dublin, Ireland, just a 20 something midwestern girl from Cleveland, Ohio ready to take on Europe and to discover, finally, where the course of my five month adventure will take me.
Audrey's silhouette at Half Moon Bay, California at sunset on my trip to visit my mother.
The Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California on my visit to my mother.