Postgame Wrap-up: Galway
“You’ll have the time of your life!” “Take lots of pictures.” “Don’t go anywhere without a buddy.” “Time is going to fly by!” “You’re going to meet so many amazing people.” “Don’t forget to stop and look around every once in a while…”
It still surprises me how much cliché advice rings true to experience. Closing the book on my five week escapade in Galway was one of the most bitter-sweet trials that I’ve ever had to endure. Everything from the flight plans to the class schedules to the pub hangouts equaled an all-consuming adventure that will stay with me for decades. Much like how I was told, it was the absolute time of my life…and yeah, it flew by.
So what now? Leaving all of the people behind that had become my closest friends and family was a testing experience that only goes to prove how close we had all become. The only thing that was forgotten in the dramatic goodbye process was passing around a yearbook for everyone to sign beside phrases like “Don’t ever change” and “Have a kick ass rest of your summer” jotted sloppily along with a phone number for emergency late night gab sessions. It feels a bit cheesy to say that I plan to keep in touch with these people, but I do. I think we experienced things together that no one else will really ever understand or be able to connect with. That’s why we have each other; so when a memory becomes too much to bear to hold to myself or when I just want to see how things are unfolding on their end of the country, they’re there. It will take a bit of time before I grow used to not being able to just hop next door and go down to Shop Street, but I’ll get there.
Being enveloped by the 100 degree Nebraska heat is yet another thing that will take adjusting. After spending weeks in a mostly misty and mild climate, summertime became a distant memory that came back with a vengeance. So far, that’s my largest reverse culture shock incident. Getting back into a routine before school begins will be a rough go at first. While it’s tempting to lazy around all day looking at pictures of Dublin and crying into my Cherry Garcia ice cream, I’m trying to be productive. Do I miss Ireland? More than anything already. But I know that it’s up to me to take those experiences and memories with me and help fit them into the puzzle that is my life in college.
Basically this has all added up to nothing and everything at the same time. As our Resident Director kept reminding us, I’m not a whole different person. But bits and pieces of me have changed and grown and stretched, and now I know that I can. I can travel to a foreign country. I can go somewhere without knowing anyone at all and make life-long friends. I can be self-reliant. I can make important decisions. I can be confident in myself. I can do this whole “real world” thing. Keeping all of this in mind is what I know will ultimately make me a better person, roommate, sister, employee, daughter and friend. Well, that and all of the cliché advice.
Kara Verlaney is studying abroad with API in Galway, Ireland and is a regular contributor to our Tumblr blog.