The last weeks have been a blur.
I am now mostly settled in Cork after a whirlwind tour of Europe with my sister, but it hasn’t been easy.
Nearly three weeks ago, I woke up feeling excited – after months of anticipation, I would finally be moving to an entirely new country! But it couldn’t be that simple, could it?
We woke up early and headed to Dublin Heuston Station. Following my tendency towards being extremely early for everything (especially those things involving traveling across countries), we arrived two hours early. This would have been fine – Leslie had her sketchbook and I had my 800-page Ken Follett novel – were it not for the cold winds blowing in from all sides on account of constantly opening sliding door entrances. Essentially, we had been cursed to spend the next two hours shivering in a giant refrigerator, waiting for the comforts of our Irish Rail train.
The hours ticked by and our train arrived. The journey began well; we relaxed and watched the ever-greener scenery flash before our eyes. An announcement blaring over the speakers broke our reverie. A fault in machinery on the track somewhere ahead of us had caused delays for every train running between Dublin and Cork. And so we came to a halt at a tiny station in the Irish countryside, waiting for any sign of movement.
A couple of hours and a train change later, we arrived in Cork. My new housemate, Colm, met us at the station, we blissfully took the taxi home, and I entered my (cozy) room for the first time. After a few minutes of relaxation, I launched into action – I needed to make this place feel like home. Hence began three straight days of shopping. You see, there is no true equivalent to Target in Ireland. And so, I spent far too many hours those first few days simply wandering around the city center, trying to find every little thing I had dreamt up that would be of use in my room. It’s amazing how many bits and pieces are taken for granted when you live in an established home. I had shipped over a single suitcase, which was filled only with clothes, shoes, and a graphing calculator. I was truly starting over.
In addition to having to lug bags stuffed with sheets, pillows, cleaning supplies, and a mop back home, I also now had to sort out my academics. After all, I am here to study abroad! After a visit to the international office, I felt entirely defeated. My course selection sheet had to be completely revised; I didn’t have the prerequisites to take the only course I had pre-equated (and the same course that held some promise of putting my degree plan back on track). With no courses actually on my schedule, I put my mind to the work of enrolling myself in school – a pretty important step for a student.
Throughout this process, I kept having the same thought – back at OU, we choose our courses in March. I am not cut out for figuring out life plans in less than a week. I’m a years-in-advance kind of planner.
Fast-forward to today. After completely rearranging the furniture and spending an obscene amount of money on basic living supplies, my room feels like home. Following several days of sending thousands of emails and stalking professors and showing up at their doors with no warning, I have completely figured out my schedule for the semester and obtained all the proper permissions. I am taking five computer science classes. Talk about getting on track! One of them even has the same name as a required class back home, which I’m hoping will be a cheeky shortcut to getting the credits transferred properly.
I’ve made some new friends and thoroughly memorized my way around town. I’m starting to feel less like a tourist and more like a semi-permanent resident.
This place could be home.
Sláinte! (We’re not in a pub, but oh well.)
– Ellie (A new nickname for a new chapter)