Halfway across the Atlantic, I'm nearly home after four months on the Emerald Isle. It's impossible to describe a study abroad experience without using clichés. My adventures will be ones I will never forget. I will always be grateful of the time I spent abroad and all the people I met. Near the end of the whole experience, I was getting rather culturally sick. I missed the things I took for granted in the United States, such as businesses being open past 6pm, cheap Mexican food, and the validity of a driver's license. I was telling Mark during the last few days that if I could take all of my friends from Ireland, Chicago, and Los Angeles and move them to one place (which would be Chicago, but transplanted to where LA is), I totally fucking would. While this wasn't the first time I've had to say goodbye to people I may never see again, it was definitely the hardest. Over the past four months, I gained friends that I was comfortable enough to be my nerdy self. They introduced me to things I would never have done before Ireland.
So, thank you. Thank you everyone involved with my study abroad experience in Cork. And I mean everyone. From my parents, for funding the whole trip; to Lynda, my best American friend; to Mark, my kindred spirit; to my crazy fucking roommates; to Haley, one of my few Stateside friends to regularly talk to me. And to you, reading my blog. If it weren't for all of you (yes, I'm talking about you), I don't think I could have done it.
If this sounds cheesy, it should. Thank you cards are always the cheesiest cards on the rack because even Hallmark hasn't figured out a way to make appreciation and thanks sound genuine. (And they've figured out how to say everything.) I wish I knew a way for all of you to feel how much I really appreciate the support while I've been in Ireland. To know that I wasn't forgotten on another continent is a great feeling. To be welcomed into a fairly established group of friends is overwhelmingly fantastic. To be able to break down and share the most intimate thoughts is so dear.
I know I didn't talk much about my feelings while I'd been away. If I had a problem or frustration, I couldn't find a way to work it into the blog. Either that, or I would sound like a 14 year old emo kid with a Xanga writing terrible poetry. I saved many of those thoughts for a different blog where I would complain about the weather in Ireland, how I stopped finding things to eat, or being constantly referred to as 'the American'. (Those who know how much I detest pride in America understand where I'm coming from.) My homesickness came late in the game compared to many of my fellow American cohorts. It didn't rear its ugly head until around November when I ached for certain pleasures (i.e. food) I couldn't find in Ireland.
I started hating Ireland during November. I couldn't wait to go home to my mom and dad, where I knew what I liked to eat, and could go wherever I wanted to go. Every time I left on a trip outside of Ireland, I never wanted to go back. I wanted to stay in Edinburgh/Berlin/Munich/Budapest/Prague/Krakow. I had had enough of Ireland and Cork. The more research I did into the politics of Ireland, the angrier I got. My entire final paper for my undergrad career was basically a rant on how archaic and unfair most of Ireland's laws are regarding families. I couldn't stand it. The more I looked into the place I was living, the more I hated it. Before the Extraordinary Eastern European Extravaganza, I loathed Ireland. I hated UCC and college in Ireland. I never wanted to go back. I've been paying attention to American politics and societal shit and I don't want to go back either. Yet, I know how to deal with it there. I know that despite my country going to shit, I can live around the laws and the policies in place. Ireland, I don't understand you. Mark explained it to me best: he doesn't find Ireland as crazy as the States because that's what he's used to. The U.S. is what I'm used to. Some cultural norms were driving me insane and I needed release.
Now that I'm leaving, of course I know I'm going to miss Ireland. Maybe not the crazy ideals or the chokehold Catholicism still has on the country, but I'm going to miss my friends and the craic. I may or may not miss Cork. Jury's still out on that one. I'll miss the ability to up and travel somewhere new in a different country. I won't miss the lacadaisicality of the education system, but I will miss the interesting classes I took while there (with the exception of Family Policy). I will hardcore miss WARPS and all the people there. You all are amazing and should know that about yourselves. I have never met a group of people who are so passionate about the nerdiest things and I love it. My only hope is that I can find a group like y'all when I move out to LA. I need RPG and nerds in my life at all times.
I know I thanked you, the reader, for reading this blog. It's tacky to thank the reader, but seriously, thank you. As a self-absorbed writer, I like knowing that people are reading what I'm writing and (hopefully) enjoying it. I write them as a reflective method for myself, but also as a way to share my experiences in a timely manner. Nothing's worse than asking someone "So what did you do overseas?" Unless you had six hours, three bags of kettle corn, and a 12-pack of good beer, I couldn't do it. It's hard to think back to everything you've done in four months. Bet you can't do it either. Blogs are so helpful with thought-keeping. I'm pleased to be returning to my LA blog when I get back there. I may even start another of just my random thoughts. (Have I ever told you my Brownie Theory?)
Goodbye, Ireland. It's been real good craic like. I'll be back to visit. Maybe not for a while (because I'll be poor) but I will be back.
Hello, Chicago. Sweet home Chicago. I'll be home for Christmas.