My Arrival

I’m hereeeeeeeeeeee: way far away across the ocean!!

Aside from heavy traffic on the way to JFK, there were no big hitches in my entire take off/landing (thankfully)!  It was so hard saying goodbye to Mom, Dad and Shan, but I’m not sure the distance and time apart have hit me yet… I’ve only woken up from a nap a little while ago; I realized I’d been up for over 24hrs straight, besides small naps on the 5&1/2 plane ride.  Aer Lingus was awesome to travel on, everything was taken care of and they were more generous with headsets, pillows, food, etc. than most of the other airlines I’ve traveled.  Once I’m able to upload pictures, I took a really neat one of the plane map flying directly over Oxford, CT which is perfectly labeled!  I looked for my house but no luck seeing it from 30,000ft.  I sat next to an adorable Irish woman from the Dublin area on the plane and enjoyed chatting with her (when I could understand her accent).  Mentally feeling exhausted; I’m not sure why, but I always get paranoid walking through security and all that airport stuff (for no reason).  Maybe the guy doing the x-ray machine is judging the fact that I have Gushers stowed in my purse or an embarrassingly big book of 500 Sudoku.  Between checking my bag at JFK and arriving at Shannon airport, somebody in the transfer process decided it’d be fine to completely smash one wheel of one of my suitcases, which was a lovely surprise as I picked it off the carousel.  Luckily, the nice RA carried the 45lb bag to my room when I arrived at Kilmurry village (my apartment-style dorm).  The Irish side of customs was not exactly the friendly welcoming I’d heard it would be, but they let me through all the same.  A coach bus ride brought all the Limerick students from two flights past little city centers, farms, and random castles on the way to the campus.  We have a formal bus tour Friday, I think.

After attempting to unpack for 15minutes, I realized with a shock I hadn’t eaten in 10hours.  Another study abroad student from CT, Jeremy, and I went looking for food like two lost, hungry American wolves.  We don’t have anything formal for orientation today or tomorrow, so we’re on our own for food and everything.  Unfortunately, with no tour guides to lean on today, we had to fend for ourselves with a poor excuse of a map and our even more poor sense of directions.  A 45minute lunch break turned into almost three hours of accidental, aimless wandering the campus.  The buildings here are all a semi-modern style with lots of wood, a little bit of a change from the Springfield College brick.  After 5minutes, all the buildings looked the same to us, and we had a heck of a time finding a place to eat, and navigating back.  While I pride myself on common sense and critical thinking, map work and directions are not my specialty.  Even with a GPS at home, I sometimes get lost.  Probably 4miles later, I was exhausted.  I slept for an hour and a half and was woken up by Irish roommates moving in downstairs and across the hall.  They seem nice so far, just kept to themselves mostly.  Although my individual room is almost reminiscent of my Springfield freshman year single, it has a sink, mirror, and big wardrobe.  The common area is fairly nice, and I’ll share a bathroom on this second floor with two others, with another bathroom downstairs for the other three.

Seeing as I have a fully equipped kitchen, but no food, I guess that will be my next mission!  Keep in touch, miss you all!

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“how do you like these seats?

Honestly, the number of people on “my list” isn’t very many.  However, this weekend another tally was added.  Some of you may know her by the name of Irene, but I know her simply as a jealous force of Mother Nature trying to ruin my perfect sendoff to Ireland.  What a jerk!  As much as she’s added stress to my packing and last-minute shopping schedule, (and I still don’t know the current status of my flight) she did have one glorifying quality about her.  Since buying pre-sale tickets on February 5th, I’ve been excitedly anticipating Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney’s concert tour to come to “Boston” (Gillette Stadium).  Now, oddly enough, these tickets were purchased before I had even picked a country to study abroad, nevermind booked a flight.  It is in this fact we learn my true priorities and obsession for concerts, plays, and really any type of live show.  The concert was scheduled for today, the night before I leave, which was going to be fine, yet a little hectic.  Because of two-faced Irene, the concert was magically rescheduled to Friday, not a cancellation, not a postponement of a month.  What luck!

My best friend Erin and I road-tripped to Gillette Stadium Friday for our grand finale of summer and our last night together before I fly away.  There we met no obstacles: no traffic, perfect parking, amazing weather, and the most decent seats two work-study college concert junkies could afford.  Billy Currington crooned on the distant stage while the evening sun beamed and we rocked out like nobody was watching, per usual.  Between his set and Zac Brown Band’s appearance, we patiently waited (sort of) our turn to spend too much money on yet another concert tee.  By the time the sun was setting and Zac Brown appeared, we were back in our second-tier end zone seats, donning our classy concert garb.  A fantastic hour of quality country music danced by as we waited for Kenny Chesney, the handsome main act to grace us with his voice.  I think it’s that moment in the dark when the entire audience is eagerly chanting and clapping for the performer to emerge that fuels my addiction to concerts and shows.  Every person has paid their hard-earned money, waited months, cancelled other plans, and trekked with friends to share a fun night of outdoor music together.  There’s something about that feeling that has me honestly addicted.  I could have saved up for a new laptop or something, but instead I’ve chosen to spend my Print Shop earnings on exciting opportunities to make new memories with my best friends.  Some may call me delusional, but I’d do it all again :)  Anyways, before long, our wish was granted and Kenny entered in Cirque de Soleil style: a swing from the air, singing ABOVE the audience as only this man, many time winner of “Entertainer of the Year” would.  He danced and sang out into the night three fantastic songs right to me and I sang every word back.  Smiling and serenading each other to his summer time hits, Erin and I couldn’t ask for anything more: great music, beautiful weather, and each in the company of a great singer ;)  We didn’t know that something more serendipitous was planned for us minutes away.  High up in our seats, thinking nothing could get better than this, we were approached by a middle-aged, gray-haired man in a Corona shirt with VIP badge proudly from his chest during the fourth song.  “How do you like these seats?” he asked us with a smile.

This teeny question lead to our being lead down to the field seating, about thirty rows from the stage for free moments later.  We were swimming in a sea of electric neon yellow bracelets on the arms of all the other VIPs while we danced 100 feet from the stage, and 300 feet closer than we had purchased tickets for.  Needless to say it was an amazing, lucky, and musical night that I wouldn’t have traded for anything.  My favorite quote of the night, other than the band’s upbeat and loving-life lyrics was as we were leaving Erin complained her voice hurt (from singing, screaming, and woo-hoo-ing for the past five hours).  In my most serious voice, I replied I could hardly hear her because my ears were ringing and noted that the two were probably related… ;)

So while I may be sleeping on the floor of JFK Airport tomorrow night and brushing my teeth in a germ-filled water fountain all because of Irene, all in all, Mother Nature was looking out for us at the concert!

Flower petals

Packing.  What a new range of meaning, a new level of respect, I forcefully gained for this word these last few days.  I never knew I had so many clothes!  Late into the night, I stood in front of my full length mirror and sorted the good from the bad, (and the bad from the ugly) and those I would take from those that were not lucky enough to make the prestigious cut.  I planted my tanned feet in front of my honest mirror and slipped into a thousand shirts, wiggled into jeans not worn all summer…  Besides clothes, small and lightweight mementos, and official documents, what do I need?!  What are things you couldn’t live without that I’m probably forgetting?  Help!

 

My feet are planted.  Why am I secretly so stubborn to “get a move on”, to finish the torturous cleaning and packing process, to say my goodbyes, to start planning this new chapter?  There’s something about the word “plant” that sticks with me.  Of course, the most fetching part of a flower is the part you can see: the brilliantly vibrant, colorful petals: the attractive piece that makes romantics adore them.  Appearance, friends, accomplishments, actions: things all prominently displayed like the delicately beautiful parts of a bouquet.  But, underneath the petals, the stem, and a mound of earth, lie the dirty white, tangled roots.  Though their appearance doesn’t do their important role justice, the roots have been there for the flower from the very beginning.  They lay the foundation for who one will become, tasks to tackle, choices to be made.  They embed my trust and well-being to a circle of family, friends, and mentors.  Long ago, I carefully planted those tangles in soft, fertile soil away from trampling feet, with plenty of sunlight but not too much shade.  Those preparations worked fantastically.  The roots gave way to an inquisitive stem, pushing curiously through the earth.  Dedication and time grew a flower eager to learn and love.  Now, although the flower is happy and healthy, she has chosen to be transplanted in a new garden far away in Ireland…  ;)

Free-climbing Mount Everest

My parents have been divorced for years, and I’ve been on my fair share of vacations.  Whether it’s a weekend at Dad’s or a week in Cape Cod, packing for me is second nature, a self-declared talent of mine, if you will.  However, packing up my life for four months in Ireland…. that is simply another story!  If a week in the Cape is a walk in the park, packing for this semester with merely two checked bags is like free-climbing Mount Everest barefoot: not predictably pleasant.  The first step in my painful personal packing process (sorry if anyone with a stutter tries to read that last part out loud) was to finish unpacking from school (cue disgruntled noise from both my parents).  At Springfield College, my books, binders, folders, and 10X15ft room are organized to OCD perfection (you know, in the case of some event I may need to navigate either without eyes).  However, my Connecticut room’s level of mess is on another scale entirely, as you may have gathered from the last post.  I’m not proud of this fact, and it did admittedly pose an extra hurdle.

Cleaning my closet, bureau, and basically my entire room has taken an unbelievable amount of time and patience (remember: I don’t clean much, so I didn’t know what to expect).  After about an hour, I was so tempted to buy a dumpster and just throw out whatever could fit through my windows.  I shot down that idea, but consequently had to pick through every stuffed drawer filled from the other times I had procrastinated cleaning since I was eight.  Anyone that was a kid, or had kids in the ’90s can imagine the amusement I found digging through junk like a toy archeologist: Pogs, Pokémon cards, Tamagotchis, gel pens, gimp string, Polly Pocket, Babysitter Club books, and Gameboy color games, just for starters.  Finding old favorite toys made it really hard to throw anything out.  Another hurdle: what to store in the attic V. trash.  Still, piles in my room are basically sorted by: “garbage”, “stuff to pack”, “attic”, and “to donate”.

To summarize, my room is still a mess, and I’m not halfway done packing.  Great!