“I know I have a whole year here, and I know how that year is going to fly by. I just take it a moment at a time, and never take those moments for granted.” This is what I wrote in my very first blog post, the day after I arrived in Ireland.
How time flies
Even jet-lagged and scatterbrained, I knew that my time here would go by in the blink of an eye, and I was right. I tried my hardest to savour every second I’ve had in Europe this year, even in the sky or sick with one of the many colds I contracted; I did my best, and sitting here reflecting, the day before I go back to the states, I don’t have any regrets.
My two best friends from back home came to visit me last week (the three of us sharing a twin bed and an air mattress was fun) and I got the chance to show them around my home for the past year. That was when it really hit me, how much this country and this campus has grown to mean to me, as I was showing it off to people who know the Arizona girl, not the Irish one. They were as taken with the green and cold as I was when I first arrived, and it was so bittersweet seeing them fall in love just like I had, knowing my time was almost up.
Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
The three of us and my roommate spent the day at the Cliffs of Moher, stopping along the way to explore several other castles and rivers. Reaching the cliffs, we found our way to the edge, the light rain spattering our face but the fog just holding off so we could see the the ocean stretching to the horizon, crashing against the side of the cliffs.
Even though peering over the side to the far drop below terrified us, it also filled me with awe, and I found myself comparing it to studying abroad. Sitting there on the damp grass at the edge of the world, with nothing but the wind in your hair, is both frightening and exhilarating, and so is travel; that leap into the sky when you leave home will be the scariest thing, and simultaneously the best thing, you will ever do.
The craziest of all
This year has been the craziest year of my life; I’ve gone to over ten countries, made more friends than I can count, and I found a new me in each place and person I came in contact with. I’m not the same person I was when I left Arizona last September. I’m not even the same person I was last week, or yesterday, or this morning; Ireland has changed me time and time again, and for the better.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience is that change is good. Scary, yes, but scary isn’t always bad. Sometimes you need a little fear to learn what it is you want in life, and who you want to be. And at the end of the trip, you take that person home with you and reintroduce them to the world.
My flight back to Arizona is tomorrow morning, and I’m not going to lie and say I’m ready to leave, because I’m not. Ireland has become my home, and I love it with all my heart; but I wasn’t ready to leave Arizona when I did last year, and I did okay. I know I’ll be okay now. A little fear is good, right?
“Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars…”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road