First, if you are confused by the above title, let me clarify. “Craic” is a term used in the Irish language which means “fun” or “entertainment”.
I can’t believe I have already been in Ireland for about two weeks now. It doesn’t even feel real. But it’s happening, and I can honestly say I made the right choice in studying abroad and picking Ireland as the place that I reside in. I haven’t posted since before I left because I have wanted to give myself time to digest this experience myself, to not do too much reflection online, and enjoy the present as much as I possibly can. For this reason, I will not be posting too regularly. This blog is firstly a more general blog, and I don’t want to post too many details week after week. Rather, I want to post when I really have something I want to write about throughout this adventure, whether it is the places I travel or the emotions I am feeling or the lessons I am learning.
It was not as easy as I thought it would be to leave. I consider myself at this point in my life someone who longs for adventure and travel. I love the idea of going to places I have never been and meeting people I have never met, mostly because I feel like I grow the most in these situations, and I knew that studying abroad would be an amazing opportunity to deepen my understanding of the world and broaden my perspectives. But a couple of weeks before my departure, my family’s dog was diagnosed with cancer. He is very much loved by my family and I, and people close to me especially know how much he means to me and how much he has changed my life. So leaving with that news in the back of my mind was difficult. I try to remain hopeful, but a pinch of real life always pushes my emotions. I am thankful that I had some extra time off to spend time with him, in addition to my parents and youngest sister. I put on a brave face and as excited as I am for embarking on these experiences, it is never completely easy saying goodbye to my family. The first night that I arrived on the campus where I was studying, I found myself becoming homesick and not necessarily questioning my decision to come, but more so asking myself, “will I make any friends” or “what if something happens to my dog while I am away”. But I feel that everybody is always leaving something behind, leaving home without everything fully being in its place. And that’s okay. But into two weeks after that first night, I am reassured about how positive this experience is. Besides, if everything were perfect, then coming here would be too safe and too easy; leaving would not be a challenge and my openness for new possibilities and new risks would not be as intense.
Within the first week, past orientation, the small amount of stress of getting classes together, and figuring out all these different housekeeping details, I was starting to feel my place here. I met a lot of people, and have already made some friendships. My roommates that I share an apartment on residence with all have different backgrounds, and it’s very exciting to live with them because I feel like I learn something new everyday! One is from Mexico, another from Ireland and two from China! Within the first week, I really got to know the two girls from China, in addition to their peers from China that came here as well. The language barrier that they face here really opened up my eyes, and pretty quickly I found myself learning so much about Chinese culture and even a little bit of language from them. All of the people that I have befriended thus far are so unique, kindhearted, compassionate, and intelligent. I have also had the amazing luck of meeting people who have the same idea of travel as I do, which makes it more fun to think and plan of places to go.
I have already visited Dublin and I immediately fell in love. There are so many treasures and so many things to explore in this city. The fact that I reside very close only further encourages me to make frequent visits. This past weekend was only the second weekend in, and it completely blew my expectations out the window. It was a weekend trip to Cork, Kerry, and the Cliffs of Moher. I knew this country would be beautiful, because that was one of the many reasons I decided to come, but I was not fully aware or in tune with how truly incredible and majestic Ireland is. Throughout the whole trip, I was in complete awe of everything around me and my eyes were peeled to the window. I was on a bus tour with about 20 of us, which made it a bit more intimate and personal. Additionally, our guide and driver knew so much history about Ireland. So in between singing songs like “American Pie” and “With our Without you”, he would give us historical stories about Ireland and it’s people. The weekend included: driving the Dingle Peninsula, horseback riding through Killarney National Park, two spectacular beaches with breathtaking mountain backdrops, The Cliffs of Moher at sunset, the Rock of Dunamase and Blarney Castle. I kissed the Blarney Stone, which was way more freaky and awkward than I was expecting it to be, but it is said that if you kiss the stone you will have “the gift of the gab” meaning you will be able to be persuasive and clever in your words. The pathways and hidden gems around the castle were spectacular and mystical and it felt as if I was in an episode of “Once Upon a Time”.
With the evenings of the weekend holding memories of karaoke-ing till our voices blew out and dancing and drinking during our night in Cork for a new friend’s 22nd birthday, it is completely worth being sick right now.
Looking ahead to more nights out at the local nightlife here, and more weekends spent traveling and exploring more of this wonderful country and other outside countries, I am in a state of excitement for what is to come during this experience. But for now, I am just taking everything in day by day, moment by moment and enjoying all of it.