A Winding Winter Road: My Last Days in Ireland

As I sit down to pen this account, I've been on the island of Ireland for 72 days. For 72 days I've been confronted with new sights, sounds, and smells and have had to navigate my way through it all. For 72 days I've been a stranger in a strange land and for 72 days I've been attempting to make sense of what exactly that means.

I came across the sea searching for an unlike place among the noise. I sought to learn the language that has been cultivated as my native tongue in a context divorced from that nativity, at once wholly familiar and wholly unique. I sought to find different ways of doing things and to compare them to the old. To broaden my horizons, in every cliched sense of the phrase.

And I'm happy to say that I've seen the old buildings and old roads and walked amongst the people so like and so unlike myself. I've acted in plays, told jokes, and danced the night away in dimly lit traditional Irish pubs. And most of all, I've made friends. I've met wonderful, colorful folks who are as complex as they are interesting. I've met people not only from Ireland but also from the Netherlands, Canada, England, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Austria, Italy, India, and so many other fantastic places. I've truly carved out a space here and made myself at home in it.

So, I can't help but turn my thoughts to what comes in the next 38 days. My last 38 days in Ireland. I won't deny that at the outset of this journey the combined total of 110 days abroad seemed daunting, especially considering that I'd never before spent more than a couple of weeks outside of the United States and never on my own. 110 days felt like an unbearable weight to be away from my friends and family and those I love. And truly it is not an insignificant amount of time. Yet, it has also slipped away much more quickly than I would've thought. Already my stay is more than half expired, and I can't seem to fathom that in just a few more weeks I'll be back home on the Wisconsin tundra.

When they reached this corner of the world, the Romans deemed Ireland "Hibernia" or the "land of eternal winter." They thought its shores were wild and populated by a savage race of peoples that they dared not cross paths with. This, of course, is a falsehood. Yet, I can still hear some power in the call of winter. The year is coming to an end and so is my time at Trinity College. Soon too it will be the twilight of my time at Emory College. And as imminent as that end my be, I am not frightened as the Romans were. Even in winter there is new life. After the darkest of days comes the light and I can't help but be bolstered by a sense of eternal optimism as things draw to a close. I can't help but sense that there are more adventures around the corner, more plays to be played, more jigs to be danced, and above all else more friends to be met.

I may have only 38 days remaining on this rock, but I plan to make the most of them.

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