March 11, 2017
Hi friends. Just poppin in for a short post this week as I sit down at my computer, stalling any way I can before delving into working on this ESSAY (dun-dun-dun). That’s right folks, I said that correctly. Essay…as in schoolwork…as in I’m sitting here, on a Saturday morning, about to begin writing about the impact of mass media on digital economics (although I should probably start by learning about that impact in the first place, before I even think about trying to formulate cohesive sentences about it). What was I doing last weekend at this time? Oh yeah, exploring Belfast. The weekend before that? Scotland. And before that? Horse back riding through the Connemara. But okay, you get the point.
Before this semester, I vicariously lived through the study abroad experiences I saw and heard about from other friends. As I did, I constantly wondered why studying abroad is even called “studying” abroad. A more accurate description, it seemed, would be “exploring” abroad. While my time in Ireland (and elsewhere) has lived up to the later description thus far, I regret to inform you that there comes a time when the “study” part of studying abroad actually does kick in. It’s just not the part you see on snapchat and instagram or hear about in stories. Considering this isn’t just a 4-month vacation, and is part of my (and all students) academic career and staying on track to graduate, I guess that makes sense and is an important aspect to try (emphasis on try) and remember. But as I sit here and begin to plan out the 4 essays I have to write as finals for my 4 classes, essays that comprise my entire grade for that class, I am realizing something quite astonishing…that I’m remaining surprisingly calm. Why is this astonishing? Because as somebody with a Type-A personality, who is generally very goal driven and focused on priorities, I am used to taking school seriously. In fact if I were in this same situation back at Madison, attempting to write 4 final essays after almost 3 months of putting play before work, I’d probably be writing to you from a mental institute (that might be a little dramatic, but I’m trying to make a point here people). But nope, here I am, still managing to procrastinate…a word I don’t even think was in my vocabulary before coming to Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, I fully intend on putting a lot of effort into these papers over the next couple of days. I mean I haven’t had a complete personality change, and am still fully aware that the grades I earn here at NUIG do transfer back to Madison and can effect the progress I’ve made over the past 3 years. But lets focus on the fact that I’m practically stress free at the moment. On top of all of the other things that studying abroad has taught me, that I have already touched upon in previous posts, being a student at NUI-Galway has also shifted my perspective a bit when it comes to my educational mindset. A shift I think I desperately needed.
If your one of those people who doesn’t think twice about grades and graduation, deadlines and due dates or goals and objectives, and who happens to successfully glide through life worry-free, then you probably can’t relate much (yeah Drew I’m talking to you). So feel free to stop reading now. But if you’re anything like me, then studying in Ireland and embracing the culture will lead to personal growth that even grades can’t measure…therefore I would highly recommend it. Living here has taken my routine oriented, constantly achieving, work hard study harder frame of mind and forced me to reevaluate it. The Irish have a completely different way of going about life, especially compared to the hustle and bustle that is so characteristic of American society. Now, I do think that these qualities of mine, and so many other Americans like me, are beneficial to a certain extent. But with that said, I am also a firm believer in the concept of balance, which is easier to believe in theory than in practice. Nonetheless, the Irish have successfully “balanced” me out…well, at least tipped the scales a bit.
Over here there is a laid back and relaxed approach to virtually every aspect of life, which has been so incredibly refreshing. No wonder the people are so exceptionally friendly! It seems that they don’t have a care in the world. Socializing and making time for friends and family (or complete strangers, it doesn’t make a difference to the Irish) takes precedence over the more mundane tasks of daily life. If I didn’t have the experience of being constantly surrounded by it, I’d wonder how anything ever gets done. But that’s the thing; it always does, only without the highly competitive and stressful mindset. Now doesn’t that just make for a much more enjoyable work life or educational experience? I’ll tell you right now…it does. It’s not that people over here don’t realize the importance of education or getting work done, its just that it isn’t made a way of life like it is for so many back in the states. People work so they can live, not the other way around…and that’s how it should be. There are more important things in life than stellar grades and perfect punctuality, and truly learning that while being here has been more valuable than anything I could learn in a classroom. So once again, thank you Ireland.
And as I bring this (not so short) post to a close and begin to draft my essay, I remind myself that it’ll get done when it gets done, and eventually it will. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and my finals won’t be either. So yes, I will take time to do fun things this weekend like FINALLY go to the Cliffs of Moher and Kylemore Abbey…and here are some pictures to show you how worth it that decision was.