Last weekend, two friends of mine from university visited me in my new home.
Rachel and Rylie studied at my university’s satellite campus in Italy this semester. On their trip to Ireland, they made a stop in Cork, for me a welcome visit and brief respite from finals.
Our day and a half together gave me three things to think about in the context of study abroad.
- A reminder of home is a beautiful thing. Familiar faces are a welcome sight; especially in the last few weeks of the semester when all anyone can talk about is final exams but all you can think about is your family. These two lovely gals caught me up on some of their stories and vice versa (in the limited time we had). Chatting over drinks in a foreign country with friends I originally met in Oklahoma was a strange but wonderful thing: it made the world seem a little bit smaller – and less intimidating.
- It’s ok if things don’t go to plan. Our first evening together was loosely planned – dinner at the deliciously hip Son of a Bun restaurant in town, then drinks at my favorite pub, the Franciscan Well. From there, the night was open. Thankfully so, since Ireland decided to welcome my friends with some typical rainy weather, and various pubs and clubs did so with 21-and-over limits. We decided to head to sleep early, but still had a wonderful time chatting over dinner. In the end, the girls probably needed the sleep after their day of travel, so all was well.
- I love being able to call myself a (sort of) local now. Showing the girls around town made me realize I knew it much better than I thought. Not only was I able to locate all the sites of interest, I could also reroute us and find my way from anywhere in town – like a human GPS! Or, like humans were before they came to rely on technology to do everything for them. At this point – 4 months into my time here – I can safely say I know this city better than Houston, my home of about 15 years. Thanks to European walkability, I have to pay attention to my surroundings in order to get to where I need to be. Consequently, I actually know the city pretty well!
Many thanks to Rachel and Riley for swinging by, and my door is open to anyone else who wants a weekend in Ireland with their very own tour guide!