Thanks for the Memories

Well, I’m back! Yes, the Evergreen campus is my home once more, and I have a feeling this semester is going to be pretty sweet. I spent the past two days in running pants and oversized t-shirts while writing, reading, arting, knitting, and planning for the next week or so. A comfortable and quiet weekend. It’s a nice buffer to the crazy weekdays.

But why does this even matter? Well, the chilling out time has allowed me to think about the past semester. Aaaand also think about what’s to come. You know, like, those questions everyone keeps asking me “What do you want to do with your life?” “What are your plans after you graduate?” (UGH) If you couldn’t tell, I don’t have the answers to those two questions. But I do have the opportunity to thank Loyola for the following Highlights of 2013.

The first thing I have to say thank you for is giving me the opportunity to explore. Not just Baltimore (although that’s pretty great). But also myself. For the past year, mainly through this blog I might add, I’ve been discovering new aspects of myself I hadn’t realized were there. Or maybe I knew they might be there, but I hadn’t taken any steps to access them. Loyola gave me the chance to write freely, in different styles, about unexpected topics, and without fear that my views would be mocked or rejected.

My second thank you goes out to the school’s faculty. This is probably the most obvious acknowledgment, but one that is very necessary. You challenge me to excel, and you expect nothing less than growth and improvement. Thank goodness. Because sometimes I lose my sense of motivation, and remembering the professors who said “You can do better” gets me out of bed and back to my desk (yes, I am very competitive with myself).

Perhaps this is also fairly obvious, but, well, to all my friends: You. Are. The. Best. And Loyola, thank you for hooking me up with them via the Alpha (now Messina) program, clubs, convenient lunch times, classes, and being a beautiful campus that everyone wants to be part of. You guys (and you know who you are) put up with so much of my crazy and I am so lucky to have you as part of my life. For those of you who may not know what this “crazy” is, I still say thank you for being part of my life, no matter how infrequently I get to see you!

And finally, thank you, Loyola, for sending me abroad. Last semester was…unbelievable. People say studying abroad changes you, but I didn’t realize how true that was until I returned. I’ve seen so many new places (and I can’t wait to see more), I’ve found out so much about myself, and I’ve met so many people I would never have encountered if I had stayed here. I’ve become more independent, organized, thoughtful, and open to new experiences. If someone told 13-year-old-me what I would be doing now, who I would become, I wouldn’t believe them. I don’t think even 18-year-old-me would quite believe it.

So where does this leave me? A little nostalgic, going through all those posts to find ones that I could link. But also excited. I’m 21, in a fantastic city, at an excellent school, with amazing people – I’m in control of my life. I have the power to say yes or no, to try new things, to choose where my life is headed. And to all of my fellow Greyhounds reading this: You have it, too. So get excited. Take your highlights from the past year and turn them into something spectacular.

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.