So here I am after an entire month in Ireland, sitting down to write my fifth post. It’s funny how time goes; the more desperately you try to grab a hold of it to slow it down, the more elusive it gets. Much has happened since I arrived four weeks ago; I’ve formed countless new relationships and have learned many things about myself and the world in which we live. Above all, I realize now just how privileged I am to lead the life that I do after spending some time outside of my comfort zone and away from anything that’s familiar.
Without a doubt, there are many things that I miss about home. Porkroll, for example, is nowhere to be found here. In fact, I’ve come to learn that porkroll is actually just a Philly/Jersey thing. During an orientation event, the moderator asked us (study abroad students primarily from the US) to name some of the things that we will miss about our respective homes. I raised my hand and (of course) said porkroll. Just about the entire room looked at me like I was some kind of barbarian. Well, I suppose, after some thought, that a roll of pork might sound a bit off-putting to those that haven’t had the great fortune of trying it. My friend, knowing that I can’t have any, constantly sends me pictures of his porkroll sandwiches to remind me of what I left behind. Life has been a bit difficult without it, but I will endure.
On a more serious note, I’ve discovered that adaptability and spontaneity are remarkably rewarding qualities. And I don’t think that qualities or characteristics are innate within an individual; they are learned behaviors that can be developed and nurtured. It may be true that individuals are born with certain personality tendencies, but I think personal change and growth are possible for everybody, regardless of circumstance. With this being said, I’ve made a conscious effort to shed old habits and patterns of thought since I’ve been here and to live as flexibly as possible. In doing so, I’ve been able to thoroughly enjoy the present moment and to engage and connect better with people. It’s really O.K. if things don’t go as planned.
I’ve also disconnected from the things that I ‘own’. Things are really just things that don’t mean much of anything. I only have as many clothes here as i could fit into my suitcase, so, needless to say, there isn’t much variety in my wardrobe. No one seems to mind. It’s easy to find comfort in your possessions; they can provide a sense of nostalgia or some degree of an escape from reality. I’m not denouncing possessions all together. I only mean to say that it has been refreshing to let go of some of the things that I used to consider important. Relationships and experiences are not dependent on the things that you own. Of course, the argument that supports the contrary can be made. But I think the contrary argument is predicated upon attachment and maybe even fear. I’m just as guilty as anyone else at developing a dependence on material possessions. After some time apart from many of those things I was attached to at one time or another, I’ve realized that attachment is unproductive and indulgent.
This weekend I set out on my first adventure outside of Ireland. My friend and I decided to book a random trip to Brussels. I’m not sure what’s in store for us in Belgium, but I have no doubt it will be quite an experience. There’s still plenty to do before we depart tomorrow afternoon, so I better start getting organized. I will leave you with a few photos from the Giant’s Causeway that I didn’t have room to put in my last post. It was truly the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.
“And if there is not any such thing as a long time, nor the rest of your lives, nor from now on, but there is only now, why then now is the thing to praise and I am very happy with it.” -Ernest Hemingway