How am I one week from leaving Cork and heading back home? It doesn’t seem real. The fact that I’ve been in Ireland for four months is still something i’m coming to terms with. It has felt like the shortest, but yet longest four months of life. I have learned so much from this experience, not only about myself but also about the various cultures from which I visited around Europe and of course Ireland’s culture. From traditional meals, to historical contexts, to social and political injustices; I have learned something new about the world in each place that I’ve been while abroad. This learning isn’t always deep knowledge. Sometimes it is as fun as learning the Irish slang for making-out; shifting. Either way, I’m fascinated by the connection of human beings on all levels and I hope to explore in the further into the global community in the future. While I definitely feel that this experience has taught me so much about being a member of the global community, I will continue to crave more knowledge.
In chapter 2 of Slimbach’s text he writes, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (Slimbach 54). This quote summarizes Slimbach’s message of this chapter that studying abroad can truly be a meaningful, right-of-passage experience if you are intentional in your thoughts and actions. I think one global connection that has really stood out to me in the whole experience is the ISIS threat and terrorism in general. When I was back home in the U.S. I never paid much attention to the actions of ISIS, I always felt so safe and far removed from that issue. However, after the Paris attacks and traveling through Europe and seeing how different cities have had an increased military presence, it has made me much more aware and involved. Now, I read news articles daily trying to keep up on what is going on in the world, not just with terrorism but also with politics in general. I never appreciated how much I have been given in this world, especially in regards to my education, and seeing the state of our global community worries but also saddens me. After being abroad, it makes me more inclined to want to somehow help, even though I can’t do much to combat ISIS myself, I can be an informed citizen and vote for the political candidate that I feel will best help the U.S. and it’s allies in defeating this terrorist organization. I think that the going forward, I am going to be more politically aware to the social and humanitarian injustices that exist all over.
Today the weather in Cork was beautiful and I just finished my last exam, so some friends and I decided to go into the city to buy some Christmas gifts. After we split up, I walked home by myself and really took each step to think about my journey abroad. I really had to appreciate in that moment that in a week this walk will not longer be my reality. It made me sad to think about, especially knowing that all of the friends I have made here will go back home to their different states and it won’t be as easy to just “walk” over to hangout anymore. Further, whenever I hear a Irishmen with a thick Cork accent chatting in the streets, I think about how much I’m going to miss their accents and awesome phrases like “brilliant” and “grand.” While I’m sad to be leaving Cork, I know that I will make it back to Ireland soon, I will make sure of that. Another part of me is extremely excited to be headed back home, as I have missed my family greatly! We still have a farewell dinner and few events with friends planned for next week where the “good-byes” will probably feel very real. I also have spent the past week thinking about how extremely lucky I am to have had this opportunity. I feel as though I owe everything to my parents for providing me with this life-changing experience and supporting me the entire way. I don’t know if there will ever be a way for me to repay them in words of love for this experience.
A quote that really resonates with my feelings right now and probably best describes my experience abroad is the following: “This is not goodbye, this is see you later – Anonymous.” I don’t want to see this final week as a goodbye to any of the friends I’ve made or to the country that I’ve called home for the past four months. I fully intend to keep these people, places and memories apart of me forever.