So It Begins (In Ireland!)

There’s something about enjoying food and drink with one of your best friends while watching a hurling game. Maybe it’s just the food (and drink), maybe it’s just my friend’s enthusiasm, maybe it’s just a break from studying for tomorrow’s exam, but whatever it is, I like it.

Me and ErinIf you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, because yeah, it’s been forever (OK, so only 5 months), time for a few updates!

  1. I’m officially installed in Cork, Ireland for my semester abroad!
  2. My Early Start in Archeology is almost over (!!!) – hence the exam on Monday.
  3. The summer was pretty cool, but this school year is going to be AWESOME.

The past 3 weeks have flown by. I’ve seen so much, read so much, and just absorbed everything. Visiting a different country is one thing, but living in a different country is so much more complex (and beautiful).

In some ways, living in Ireland isn’t any different from living at home. I’m in my own apartment, I have to buy groceries and cook, and I have a decent walk to classes. Then again, some things are very different. I’m in a single bedroom with only one other roommate (from Dusseldorf), there is no such thing as bulk shopping and food spoils faster because there are fewer preservatives so I have to shop weekly, and it’s a 20-minute walk to campus. Maybe 15 if you have long legs.

Regardless of the differences, I love it here. I feel like I fit in fairly easily, and except for the American accent I’ve been taken for a local a few times. The Irish are very friendly and helpful if you’re a bit lost, and I’ve never seen a more diverse cuisine in restaurants. When it comes down to being comfortable and safe, I can actually call it home.

Yes, I do miss Loyola a bit, especially last week when everyone was posting statuses on Facebook about move-in. Luckily I’ve got a good friend base started here, and I’m sure that once classes begin next week and societies and clubs start up I’ll be very busy and not missing seeing people from home as much.

UCC Main QuadSpeaking of classes, in case you’re wondering what’s involved in an archeology course and why I would be interested in taking one, here are some of the (super cool) things my class got to see and do.

We visited Trim Castle in Co. Meath

Trim Castle

and Newgrange, the oldest Megalithic tomb.

Newgrange

We also saw the High Crosses of Monasterboice,

High Cross

and Christ Church in Dublin.

Christ Church

Another field trip focused on West Cork, where we saw the Garrannes Ringfort, Ballinacarriga Tower House, and Coppinger’s Court, and the Drombeg Stone Circle.

This kind of gives you an idea of the ring-effectTowerhouse

Coppinger's CourtStone Circle

Our most recent field trip was to North Cork. There we saw (and climbed in) the Labbacallee Wedge Tomb and toured the Rock of Cashel, a truly impressive medieval church.

Wedge TombCashel

I realize that was probably an overload of information, but now that I’ve started blogging again I’m going to keep posts about my adventures more focused.

For now though, I have to go back to studying, and try to get over Cork being tied with Clare for the final!

*Note: For more posts and pictures about my travels in Ireland, please visit roryroamingthegreenhills.tumblr.com.

Farewell Friends

Sometimes there’s so much I want to tell you, but I’m not sure how to start.
Sometimes there are weeks I stare at a blank Word document and have nothing to say.
Sometimes I’m afraid to type into that blank document because not everyone would be interested.
Sometimes I do it anyway.
Sometimes….

There are a lot of “Sometimes” in our lives. Not every one is pretty, and not every one dictates what we will ultimately do. It’s up to us to take those “Sometimes” and make them beautiful, make them count, make them worth our worries, heartache, and even hope.
As this year winds down, I’m left thinking about last year’s adventures and memories and wondering if 5 years from now I’ll be able to remember this year just as clearly. That the “Sometimes” of this year became an “Always” or maybe a “Never Again.” That the “Sometimes” helped me learn, grow, and become a better person. You are part of my “Sometimes.” And I really want to say Thank You.

Writing to you has been an experience I will never forget. It’s this weird combination of a journal entry, a college paper, a note to a professor, a biography, a recipe, and a letter to a friend. You’ve let me be myself in my writing, and for those who know me in person, thank you for letting me be myself everywhere else.

I have to say, I didn’t think I’d open up as much as I have, and I definitely didn’t think I’d write as much as I did. Can you believe this is my 40th post?!? Just..wow. Your encouragement and commentary have truly helped contribute to that.

I’m sure you know where this post is going. This is the end. Finals begin tomorrow. All my brain power and energy will be dedicated to Philosophy, Italian, Microeconomics, English, and Printmaking. Well, there may be a couple movies in there, some hanging out with friends, and a good dose of procrastination on Sunday (I do not want to face the reality of packing).

But I’ll be back! Come August I’ll be in Ireland, by September I’ll be choosing between Geography and Imagination in Antiquity and the Middle Ages and Ireland and the Beginnings of Europe for my upper-level history class. Somewhere in there I’ll start writing to you again, blogging from the Emerald Isle.

So, I guess this is where I say goodbye. I’m really going to miss this though. Maybe I’ll write for myself over the summer, like my friend Ben. Maybe not. But no matter what I do, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you in the future.

To fellow students: Good luck on your exams! To professors: I hope you have a relaxing break and good luck grading all those exams! To parents: Thank you for sticking with me and I hope you also have a relaxing time with your family. To any and all in between: Have a wonderful summer and many adventures!

Sisters, Friends, and Study Abroad

I think I made what is to be one of my favorite college memories last night. It was one of those moments when you can step out of yourself and say “This. This is what I’m living for. And I don’t want it to end.” Of course it does, but now you have a snapshot of that one particular moment with that one particular set of feelings and that one particular smile of pure contentment playing on your lips.

Before I tell you what it was that had me loving life, I should probably give you some context before you think all I do is cook and partake in other house-wifey duties. I should also mention that this relates to my future plans for next year.

I know I’ve written that I have a sister, Curran, but I don’t think you know much more other than there’s 13 years between us and she is now raising a beautiful family with her husband Tim in Massachusetts. I didn’t get to visit her very frequently during high school, and I get to even less now that I’m in Maryland. However, since starting college, I’ve begun the practice of visiting her for about a week in the summer and winter. Those visits are truly a change of scene that I wouldn’t give up for the world.

In the winter we sit in front of a crackling fire and sip hot cider while reading books after the kids have gone to bed. In the summer we go to children’s museums in the day and concerts in the park at night. But no matter the season we always cook together. Curran has her own garden and a farm share to supply fresh vegetables and herbs; I swear it tastes different from what you buy in the store. When we start a recipe from her arsenal of cookbooks, I always end up learning something new about the art of cooking. From a faster way to chop onions to the proper order of making pesto, she makes these lessons family memories.

This is due in part to the conversations we have and the music we listen to, but the best thing we share during these bonding sessions is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s something that has become a family past time. As we mince garlic and wash lettuce, we try to guess the Listener Limerick and always have a good laugh when Paula Poundstone is on the show.

And as of last night, I was able to share this experience with my roommate Erin. After an exhausting week we wanted to keep our Friday night relaxing, so I made homemade spaghetti sauce with fettuccine for dinner. Instead of playing my usual cooking playlist and dancing along, or Erin watching Doctor Who in our bedroom, we enjoyed each others’ company in the kitchen. And listened to Wait Wait.

As I stirred the sauce, I looked over to see Erin laughing at Peter Sagal’s commentary while playing her 3DS, the warm light creating a comforting glow, and our future dinner filling the room with a tantalizing aroma. That’s when it happened. That moment of happiness: a sense of belonging based on the trust of friendship and the sharing of interests.

Now, as to how this could possibly have anything to do with my future plans, well…next semester Erin and I are embarking on an adventure. We’ll be leaving family and friends (though I’m sure we’ll make some new ones) to study abroad in Cork, Ireland! We’ve agreed not to be direct roommates for that time, but it’s reassuring to know she’ll still be there with me. To say I’m excited to share new experiences and make new memories would be the biggest understatement of the year. I am beyond excited.

I am impassioned, thrilled, wild, ecstatic; basically every possible adjective that could express happiness at this wonderful opportunity to learn about a new culture and make some amazing memories with one of my good friends.