First off I would like to say a couple of things… I am not entirely sure where I am going with this post. “Why write it then”, you may ask? Because I am an external processor, recently engaged, who is primarily alone in a foreign country overseas for the first time and will remain there for the next 4 months.
I am studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland, for the next couple months. I will do my best to travel and keep Cody (my trusty Canon camera) busy, but even more importantly, take the time to think, read, and write (things that I felt had been nearly smothered out in the slipstreams of tornadic windstorms of my busy schedule (that is an inside joke for a few of my readers… don’t trouble yourself if you find the saying confusing… because it is)).
So to begin, here is a general overview of what my adventure to Ireland has looked like so far!
My Journey to Ireland
This is my first time ever traveling alone and it is safe to say I had enough unfortunate stories from my flights over here to cover for the rest of the trip. Knowing me, however, I expect there are still many, many more to come.
Here is a quick list:
- I forgot my earbuds and had to run all through the airport to find somewhere I could buy a pair from before my flight took off.
- I found my main travel bag’s pull handle was completely stuck in, leaving me to have to lean over and pull it by a short little strap. (Very thankful for that strap though!)
- My flight from Chicago to London was delayed three and a half hours. Of course this couldn’t have been determined before we sat down in our seats, so my seven and a half hour flight felt a lot more like a 10 or 11 hour flight. (After 45 minutes of sitting on the plane, the pilot informed us that mechanics were working on the plane trying to repair an air valve of sorts. An hour and a half later he informed us that they were just going to have to replace the part completely.)
- After landing in London, the very minute my next flight was taking off to Ireland, I was mistakenly led to stand in the wrong line for the “transfer flight”. (I only discovered this fact after waiting in line for 35 minutes)
- After waiting in line for 5 minutes or so, I noticed my main camera and laptop bag felt oddly light. I soon realized I had left my laptop on the plane, making the rest of the 30 minutes standing in line that much more agonizing.
- Being unable to connect to the Wi-Fi and no local cell reception, I attempted to use a payphone for about 15 minutes before I gave up. (I desperately needed to contact someone back home in order for them to notify the correct people in Ireland who were planning on picking me up)
- Having my United States dollars exchanged to what they said I would need for Ireland… the pound. (This is of course was wrong, as the vast majority of Ireland uses the euro)
To finish the summary of my travels (because I realize a list of my mishaps actually turns out to be about 85% of the full story 😛 )… Praise God that the flight attendants were able to find and return my laptop to me, that I was finally able to find a cell card to contact back home, and that although it turned into having to be a 5 hour layover, my last flight went quite smoothly!
After landing safely at the Shannon Airport, Stephen, originally just a friend of Erin’s, now also a good friend of mine, picked me up from the airport and graciously let me stay at his apartment for the first three nights until the university opened the student housing for the semester. There is a community church that my fiancee got connected to while she was in Ireland around three years ago. I am entirely indebted to the people of Elevate, especially their Pastor, who lovingly and sacrificially have cared for me upon my arrival. Stephen was also the one to take me on my first adventure in Ireland to visit the nearby beautiful town of Nenagh (featured in “cover photo” of this post) as well as my first grocery trip (which for you travelers out there who understand, is critical. 🙂 )
Nenagh is a beautiful small town around 20 minutes outside of Limerick. Stephen was kind enough to drive me all around the surrounding countryside, stopping at a couple breathtaking vantage points, and taking a break in town for some food and visiting the ever so common… castle in the park. It’s ridiculous how common these things are, especially to the people here. I mean I knew they would be, but it is still so cool to actually see them scattered everywhere in real life. Again… just kinda slaps you in the face with the reality of time and history.
One of the things I quickly have fallen in love with (albeit an agonizing sort of love) are the roads. Their age tangible, the scenery breathtaking, and the drive being a wonderful mix of anxiety and joy (much like a rollercoaster). Why I describe the love being agonizing, is the simple fact that I absolutely love to drive, yet have no real way of doing so. Not only this, but the vast majority of the country roads have these 3 foot high banks on either side, meaning that combined with the frightfully narrow width of the road, it feels like there would be literally no escape for anything on the road if you should happen upon it! Regardless, I love the joy of weaving through hilly green countryside of Ireland.
One thing I quickly learned about Ireland (compared to back home in Wisconsin) is that although the outside temperatures feel balmy compared to Wisconsin weather (and the locals will be vocal about the cold), upon entering a building and taking off the extra layers, your feet and fingers will be icy. The temperature that you just commented on as being mild mystically follows you everywhere. But this cold (that took me an incredibly long time to adjust to) “the locals” don’t mention at all or seem to mind! I found it quite odd! Many buildings are old and drafty, central heating is unheard of, and electrical heating is expensive, which mean that you can no longer have an easy and for sure way to escape the weather outside.
My Personal Experience So Far
I have been in Ireland for close to three weeks now, and I am starting to feel it in many different ways. I have had up days and down days with no particular reason for either. I haven’t experienced a tight bond or attachment of Ireland yet, but that is not to say that I have not appreciated a lot of the sights I have seen or the people I have met. I am not too good with expressing myself or my feelings very well over text, but I think using some simple bullet points to touch on many of the different feelings/emotions I have been experiencing would be beneficial for both of us!
- I don’t feel lonely.
- I don’t feel homesick… but I definitely do not feel at home here.
- I have a better understanding as to how I experience things. I am not the type of extrovert that feeds off of people and energy at a party, or suffers in any way when not having that sort of socialization. That being said, however, I realize I really do experience things through the people around me, and without someone’s company, I quite literally do not have the same capacity for joy or sorrow.
- Similar to the one above… I feel disconnected. By not having someone to be by my side, or a go to friend to hang out and talk with, I don’t feel as in tune with my surroundings or myself. Basically, I think I really do understand just what my extrovertedness means to me now.
- I love photography, and I absolutely love all the opportunities to get out and grow as a photographer.
- I have greatly enjoyed having an abundance of time to myself (some of my introverted side I guess). Finally reading for pleasure, writing random stuff (including finally another blog post), and simply to just…. think.
- I absolutely hate the feeling of spending money without any income… It is actually one of the most painful things to me about being over here… I don’t know why exactly, but I guess I am just wired that way. Also it is incredibly frustrating to be agonizing over if I should buy and enjoy an amazing pizza, or just go home and cook some more eggs, only to turn around and find another required major expense (like a textbook, immigration pass, etc) that makes me feel like all those good decisions were a waste. lol. I know this isn’t supposed to be how I feel while living abroad and getting this amazing experience, but I can’t help it. Hopefully I will be able to work just even a couple hours a week soon… so that should be very calming and encouraging to me, and really help me to just relax and enjoy things better. 🙂
As you probably notice, many of these center around the idea of having someone with me to help experience things, grow, and savor every moment and memory. Also that I enjoy working but definitely need a balanced schedule. For me, these are all just reminders of just how excited I am for my return home and the start my life as a married man. I know this is a blog post about my Ireland experience, but a lot of it has just been eye opening to how much I love, appreciate, and really need Erin (my Fiancee). As much as I want to live in the moment and enjoy every ounce of Ireland, I simply acknowledge the fact that I am unable to do so to the same capacity as I could if Erin were with me. It’s how I am wired, it’s how God created me, and although it can make being alone in Ireland a little harder, I don’t wish it to be different and I know it will just be a different growing experience for me. I am okay with that.
I do pray and hope that as the semester continues that I would be able to find a guy who wants a friend and would benefit as much from my companionship as I will from his. As I mentioned, the pastor at Elevate has been such a Godsend, and many of the people there have been such a wonderful encouragement and church family for me. But I think I really would benefit from having someone who wants to spend literally as much time as possible with me this semester. Someone that is willing and ready to meet someone who would potentially become a lifelong best-friend. I just think I really need that type of relationship while over here in order to really thrive. So that is kinda my biggest prayer request right now. 🙂
I think that is enough for this first entry! By the time of posting this I have completed my first multi-day adventure where I stayed in Dublin for the weekend. I have a lot of pictures and experiences to share, but those will have to wait. I hope my random scatter brain writing wasn’t too repulsive, and that you enjoyed the update and might even look forward to the next. 🙂
And as usual… here is a song that has been on my heart and mind a lot over the past couple months.