February 6, 2017
I feel like I’ve been walking around for the past month in a constant daze. Every charming little town, every big energetic city and every stunning scenic destination seems more inconceivable than the last. The moment I stepped foot into Galway I fell in love with the city, and was in awe from its beauty, appeal and welcoming atmosphere. I couldn’t imagine a better place to live for 5 months…but then I started this whole traveling thing. Galway feels like home, but every place I have had the opportunity to experience has efficaciously stolen another piece of my heart…and something tells me that pattern will continue with each new place I go. I see the beauty in absolutely everything over here; whether it’s a 3 hour bus ride, gallivanting through County Wicklow (which is where this past weekend’s adventure took me, but its beauty is beyond words so I’m not even going to attempt to describe it in detail…you all just need to see if for yourselves) or anything in-between, I can’t help but take it all in with wide eyes and a full heart.
On the bus ride back to Galway yesterday, this state of perpetual bliss that I have been in got me thinking, still in reverence of what I had just seen in Wicklow. I started to tell myself that if studying abroad has taught me anything, its that there is so much beauty in this big, wide world of ours; beauty that I had never been exposed to before. But then that very thought made me wonder…is this how people feel when they visit America for the first time? Do they walk around in awe, amazement and utter disbelief? Like I said, there is so much beauty in this big, wide world of ours. But do I fail to appreciate the beauty I have been exposed and surrounded by my whole life?
I didn’t realize it before this inner dialogue of mine on the bus, but I now apprehend that unconsciously I have been comparing many of the sights and scenes I come across abroad to sights and scenes from back home. Standing on the coast of Galway or the Dublin Bay reminds me of my times spent on the East Coast of America. Wicklow Mountains, the Sally Gap and the Aran Island’s, with their rolling hills and unparalleled natural beauty, made me think of many infamous U.S national parks and vacation hotspots. Delightful little villages, filled with cottages, charm and the friendliest of people, remind me of the small town feel I get at our cabin Up North. Each place is special in its own way, but all beautiful and enchanting nonetheless.
Of course, there is something spectacular about experiencing things for the first time. Having spent my whole life in the United States (aside from the occasional vacation), getting out and exploring the world has made me appreciate all that it has to offer in a way that I never could have without this opportunity. When I first got to Ireland I wondered how those who live here ever get anything done, with all that there is to see, do and experience. I didn’t understand how the students I sit next to in class or the locals I interact with out and about seem so nonchalant about all that Ireland and Europe have to offer. But now I am realizing that back home, to a visitor, I am that nonchalant regular. While studying abroad has most definitely taught me that there is abundant beauty in this big, wide world…sitting here writing this makes me realize that studying abroad has also taught me how desensitized we become to all of that beauty when we are constantly surrounded by it. To me, every second of every day spent in Ireland (or Europe in general) is a whole new level of incredible. But to a local, it’s just another day. To me, every second of every day back in America is just another day. But to the person next to me, it might be a whole new level of incredible. Isn’t it funny how that works?
Being here, in another country, has shown me things that I never could have dreamed of. But more importantly it has made me appreciate the fact that there is beauty in everything, even the things we come across on a daily basis. While I am no where near finished exploring it all, I know that when I return back home I will appreciate not only the once-in-a-lifetime kind of beauty I have seen here, but also the kind that constantly surrounds me. Because if you choose to view the world in that way, life becomes a never-ending, dreamland kind of daze…