The Beginning of the End (or not?)

Hello again! I know it’s been forever since I’ve written, and I really do apologize. Between the experience of celebrating Thanksgiving in a different country, to visiting Amsterdam, to writing two 4,000 word papers (that’s about 15 pages, double spaced) and getting through two exams, it’s been a bit busy here. Not to mention the usual adventures in Cork with my friends.

Originally, I was planning to write this on the plane ride back to the States, but the weather seems to be conspiring against me – my flight was one of thousands to be cancelled due to the snow storm blowing through the east coast this weekend. To be fair, it isn’t too pleasant here, either. As I’m writing this the wind is howling through the alleyway, pushing up against my window and seemingly trying to get into my room to introduce me to its new best friend, Sideways Rain.

So now I have an extra day to reflect on my time here, to ponder over my experiences, and to share some sort of insight with you.

Honestly, that scares me a little.

I’m not…I’m not ready to leave yet. Or rather, I’m not ready to leave permanently. I’m kind of excited to go back home: to see my family and friends, to enjoy the snow (instead of rain), to snuggle with my cats, to read my leisure books, to sleep without an alarm, to knit, to, to…to do everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to do those things here, too. But a little bit of home would be nice. Especially a little bit Baltimore, because I’m really missing that right now.

But back to that ‘scary’ part.

I think a large part of me doesn’t want to sit down and analyze my time here because that would mean it’s “over.” It would mean accepting that I may never come back and see all the amazing people I’ve met and become friends with. It would mean fully realizing I’m almost 3/4 through college and have more questions than answers about my future. Studying abroad has given me so many more possibilities to think about, not just in regards to traveling outside the US, but also to where I see myself in the future (I’ve been toying with the idea of Washington and Oregon).

So maybe I’m not totally ready for a tell-all blog post. Give me a week or two to filter and adjust – then I will be. In lieu of that, I propose a few other posts to break up the introspection:

  1. Adventures in Amsterdam! SO MANY PICTURES. Really. It’s an amazing city.
  2. 10 Things I’m going to miss from Ireland
  3. 10 things I learned from study abroad

I look forward to writing again over the next week!

Midnight Inquisitons and Afternoon Examinations

My roommate has taken to asking me questions before bed, but they aren’t the kind of questions you’d expect. Nothing mundane like “How was your day?” or “What do you have coming up this week?” (She already knows those answers, anyway.)

No. She goes for the obscure, strange, and surprisingly morally probing questions:

  • “Would you rather have to live with a smudge on your glasses for the rest of your life, or have a constant ringing sound in your ears?”
  • “If you could go inside the belly of a whale, would you do it?”
  • “Which would you rather wake up and have under you in bed, a rat or a snake?”
  • “Would you rather save 5 people that you knew (not intimately) or 100 complete strangers?”

I usually stare at some of my postcards as I contemplate the answers.

postcardsmore postcards

Sometimes the answers take a while to think of, sometimes I refuse to answer, and sometimes I respond with my own questions like, “How did the rat or snake get there in the first place?”

Yeah, these questions are really weird, but I think they give a fairly accurate representation of my relationship with my roommate:

Really weird but adorable at the same time (aaaawww, she just came over to give me a hug!)

Now, I’ve gotten used to these random once-a-month inquisitions, but imagine my surprise when a group of friends (those folks I talked with about authenticity) started a meeting with similar questions. Well, they didn’t include any weird animals, but they got pretty deep.

Would you rather be able to speak every language or play every instrument in the world?

Well … I used to sing in a choir (homeschool choir, actually), and I’m not a big fan of singing solos, or drawing unnecessary attention to myself (I have horrible stage fright), so I would have to say I’d rather be able to speak every language. I love learning from others and about different cultural experiences, and I think the best way for me to go about that would be through listening and talking to others. Some people in the group said music is a universal language, which I won’t deny, but I don’t know if I’d ever be comfortable using it in front of others.

Another question from our meeting that had me stumped:

If you were a member of the opposite sex (or whichever leaning you prefer), would you date yourself?

I don’t know if I want to say “Yes” because I hope there’s someone out there who wants to date me, or if I truly think I could put up with myself. I’m starting to think it’s the former. Because let’s face it, if I heard the excuses I come up with about being too busy and not being able to give enough of my time to the other person, I wouldn’t want to date me either.

Here’s the question that revealed more about ourselves indirectly than any other I heard at that meeting:

What is one belief, value, or priority that you will pass on to your own children someday?

Although I never see myself having children, or getting married for that matter (a topic I’m not about to get into), there are three things I want to impart to my nephews as they grow up:

  1. Acceptance of yourself and of others, for all your differences and similarities.
  2. The ability to celebrate those differences and at the same time understand people even if you don’t agree with them (empathy).
  3. Curiosity in the world around you and a love of learning for the sake of learning

There were so many different values shared; everyone had a different answer. Somehow by talking about what we wanted to teach others, we explained more about ourselves than we ever could have in a year of knowing each other.

Asking questions of each other is so crucial to building relationships, and it is so often overlooked. No matter how strange or intimate the Q&A process is, I think we all get something unique out of it.

So surprise each other. Ask a question next time you’re with a friend, or new acquaintance, or me.

I’ll try to answer as best I can.