Time and again I have thought about how this blog (meant to clarify the IFSA-Galway program/NUIG to interested students) has morphed into a reflective space where I talk about emotions and spice bags. I’m not overly repentant about the tangents I trekked down, but if you’re a prospective traveler or student who wants more specific info about Galway-town and/or the university, feel free to reach out. In the meantime, things are about to get a wee bit sappy so read at your own risk.
In a couple days I’ll be cozying up at home with my family back in the Pacific Northwest, eating my fill of holiday cookies. Until then it’s packing, valiantly stretching my last few bits of food, and saying goodbyes—a whole lot of them. I figured I would write out some thoughts in an abstract letter dedicated to this semester and the people, places, and things which made a lasting mark on who I came to be here. [I’ll be referring to Galway as a person because any place with grass this green has to be alive]
I’ve never written a love letter before so this is a first for me… hope it doesn’t come off awkward or forced. You know that moment in the movies where character A says, “I love you,” and the character B says, “I know,”? Yeah, well, I feel like you already know, you saucy, windy minx.
It wasn’t all clovers and honey, Galway—it was equal parts stress and sweat and mold and tears and a bit too much wasted produce, *I maintain that it does go off faster here, but yes, let the food waste police crucify me here and now.
The Miranda who landed here in September without a euro to her name or a familiar face in sight would laugh out loud if she stumbled across this letter. Laugh and maybe cry a bit, knowing just how well things would turn out. She didn’t know how strong she was but you taught her that. From September to October, November to December, four months passed and in the scheme of things that isn’t much at all. But four months isn’t exactly small potatoes—or spuds, as some might call them here—in the life of a student and a writer who feels a bit too much sometimes.
Scattered yet grateful, unhinged yet at peace, I am ready to get on an airplane and step into Christmas and try and fail to explain my semester to my relatives. I am beyond excited to hold my dog and eat home cooking and fall into familiar habits, but I am also terrified; there is no way I can accurately condense the time spent here into some elevator-pitch about how study abroad changed me, but it did. It did, it did, it did. I have to believe that. This is starting to sound cloyingly poetic and part of me can’t tell if I’m just trying to make it something more than it was. All I am attempting to do is write from a place of truth, so, woop there it is.
I don’t love endings but I do relish a good, hopeful, ambiguous, semi-conclusive conclusion, so I’ll leave it at this:
Galway, most of what I wanted to say is thank you. Thank you for teaching me
about rain and what a gift it is to feel dry,
that cheap chips are nothing but a vehicle for garlic sauce,
what burning peat smells like,
how to be a human who cooks for herself and goes to class and also has fun,
how the Irish sky can look like butter,
how to be kinder to myself,
how to successfully get lost, and
how to find home again.