I have been in Dublin, Ireland for a little over three weeks now, and the thought of going home is powerfully sad. I can already tell that in my old age, I will look back upon this dreamy month-long adventure with the most vivid sense of my youth. The people aren’t lying when they tell you that studying abroad will change your life forever. And I wish I could be here a whole semester, even a year.
Homesickness, however, got real this third week. I found a US twenty-dollar bill in my suitcase and smelled it. What can I say? It reminded me of home. It is a confusing feeling because I am just as sad about leaving. I won’t be in this setting with these people at this age ever again.
This past weekend most of the homesickness subsided. I went to Killarney National Park with some friends. We went on a sixteen-kilometer hike through mountains, marshes, and forests, and I can safely say it was the coolest thing I have ever done. We walked through meadows that felt like the setting of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The birds were talking and singing to each other clearly and passionately like they were in a fairy-tale. At one point, we looked into the forest and saw a bird sitting on a deer’s back. It felt like we went back in time to a perfect world untouched by evil. We were standing in perhaps the most harmonious and balanced ecosystem one could imagine. I didn’t want to leave. We were so far away from everything, completely on our own in what seemed like an adventure in Lord of the Rings. It was a place where a belief in fairies could be a noble assumption.
Final piece of advice: If you are spending just a month in another country, especially one like Ireland that is an island, I recommend spending as much time as possible exploring that one country. Sure, you’re in Europe and who knows when you’ll be there again to see other countries. But when visiting other countries for a just a weekend, you’re only skimming the surface. You are only seeing it from a quick, shallow tourist perspective. So I recommend staying, exploring, and soaking up the full experience of the country where you are studying. I bet it will be a deeper and richer experience. But what do I know?