Words cannot express how excited I am, writing this post in Galway, Ireland! I don’t think I have been in the country for more than six hours and I know that I belong here. I don’t mean that my generic outward appearance matches all the other white people and I somehow gain acceptance from that. No. I mean personality wise…
I haven’t posted in a long time because I was prepping for this departure. So any and everyone that is reading this, I hope you follow me throughout the next five months as I study abroad!
Getting out of the East Coast was a nightmare this past week. My original flight was cancelled and then booked three days later. Once I finally returned to Dulles Airport, my father, girlfriend, and I were attacked by the luggage Nazi; (yes, just like the Seinfeld soup Nazi). We had to do the luggage shuffle for no apparent reason. Maybe it was to appease this woman’s weird obsession with luggage weight and size. But in the heat of my passive-aggressiveness, I hastily pushed various items to random areas of my three bags. The result was me stuck in Dulles (2 hrs), a transatlantic flight (6 hrs) and then Heathrow (4 hrs) with no phone, a laptop with a dead battery and no charger, and a pen and a fresh, empty journal.
To summarize the more personal journal’s theme that I was left to write, I’d say that I have my work cut out for me these next five months. I need to do some serious soul searching; be my own version of Alexander Supertramp. It’s by no coincidence that the country I am staying at is the motherland of my maternal ancestry.
While waiting in Heathrow, my stomach growled as it digested British Airway’s delicious dinner from hours ago consisting of chicken curry, white wine, and apple-cinnamon cake. I guess I can sit for four hours in a hungered daze, staring at the same people, waiting for a flight. The shoe shiner was really interesting to watch; do Brits generally not have a shoe shiner in public transport hubs? People were walking by the elevated chairs, gawking as if it was some obscene novelty. Three other side notes I picked up on while waiting. First, British guys are better looking than girls. Second, this is because British guys do way too much to look like David Beckham. Call me gay, call me crazy, call me whatever–but it was simply a matter of fact as I witnessed the 6-11 am shift at Heathrow. Third, Americans, you suck. You are easily the loudest, poorly dressed, and consequently, easiest to spot in a large crowd of travelers. That is all.
Anyways, I didn’t eat anything at all because I was too hungry to ask someone if the euro is accepted in a British airport. Obviously it is. But I didn’t feel like spending big bucks for some crummy food.
So maybe it was my stomach, or my light-headedness, but my heart was pounding as we flew over the Irish countryside. I have said that there is something ancient about the Blue Ridge Mountains; they’re full of lore. But me oh my was there something about flying over the patchwork-quilted plains of Ireland! Words like majestic and awe-inspiring now come to mind, but while sitting in a window seat, I experienced something existential.
Miniature chapels, which were most-likely cathedrals or large churches, littered the various shades of green. With clean, white clouds scattered below me, there was an incredible amount of saturated colors throughout the scenery. I cannot help but think about the past few weeks in Charlottesville where I was thinking how tainted and drained the colors are in this sub-freezing winter. My eyes watered at the burst of solid, full range of colors. Dark blues and greens contrasted against the limestone buildings and stone fences; I couldn’t help but think of all the opportunities I would have to shoot some great photographs.
By the time I touched down at Shannon, I felt a never-before-experienced high. I thought that Ireland had been built up; ruined by modernization. At this international airport, I thought I had landed in someone’s cow farm! It was dainty; I can’t help but think of the odd Led Zeppelin IV album cover when trying to describe what it looked like. It wasn’t what I expected.
I was told to move to the side at the immigration checkpoint when I said I’d be there for five months. Obviously I wasn’t the only one to have arrived to study abroad. One quick aside on airport employers who are outside of the US: they are incredibly friendly, sweet, and genuinely nice people. Whatever the UK’s equivalent of our awful TSA was enjoyable; the agent was cracking jokes as he did a full on frisk search on me! Frisk away British man! I don’t understand your accent…hahahaaa (true story).
So I skipped over to a bench and waited my turn. If I cannot hear a British accent, I most definitely cannot understand anything that comes out of an Irishman. I keep telling myself, “No, that’s not Gaelic you’re hearing. See? They just said an English word!” To no avail, I openly admit to hearing maybe 1 out of 6 words they say. That improves when they realize I don’t have a similar accent, but when a conversation between two Irishmen takes place around me, I wince.
The gentleman at the immigration desk asked a few general questions, to which I strained my neck in order to comprehend. At one instance, I was nodding my head “yes” when he casually asked, “Why did you choose Ireland?” When he repeated himself (maybe twice) I answered that I’m being picked up by my relatives, a major part of my experience to come. If the guy wasn’t friendly before, at that point, we became friends. Blood runs deep in Ireland. There is absolutely no doubt about that.
(I apologize for not posting any photos just yet. And I have so much more to write. But I must go!)