twenty-eight – adventure is out there

When I left for Dublin at the end of last summer, I thought a lot about the idea of leaving and coming back. I spent hours imagining what adventures awaited me in Ireland. Everything became an adventure, whether I was walking on the Giant’s Causeway or walking across campus with my laundry in tow. Ordinary tasks became extraordinary ones because I was in Ireland.

My friends and I would often take a moment on our trips–Galway, Cashel, Dublin, Belfast, wherever we were–to pause, look at each other, smile really big, and just say, “Guys. We’re in Ireland.

This typically led to all of us grinning rather goofily and jumping up and down at least once or twice.

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Exhibit A: Lis’s THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING, WE ARE ACTUALLY HERE AND I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT face.

Anyway, going home has been, while relaxing… a bit dull. Not because I wasn’t standing next to Lis on the Cliffs of Moher, or because my letters are addressed with Forever stamps instead of International stamps–more because of the small things, I think. Laundry isn’t an annoying adventure that takes me across a 400 year old campus, trains don’t drop me at Howth for hiking and seafood chowder.  In short, ordinary tasks became ordinary again.

And that is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to spend spring break of my senior year on a road trip with the lovely Meryl. Other reasons included: Meryl is the best, road trips are awesome, and Ithaca is gorges.

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Hi, Meryl!

Yes, we did use that pun at least ten times a day while we were there. No, we did not get bored of it. We were still using it when we hit Michigan.

The decision to go on a road trip went something like this. Continue reading

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twenty-six – three french hens

I have been staring at this little box for over an hour now. I woke up at 4:30 — yay jet lag! — and while my eyes aren’t bleary and heavy with sleeplessness at the moment, I know that will come back, too. Like I did.

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Yes, that sign does say “Welcome home, (girl) Connor! … yes, that is HER name!” Apparently I confuse people with that name of mine.

Well. As mother would say, I don’t appreciate being pigeonholed.

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twenty-five – city of love

Not the city of brotherly love (that one’s called home, and I’m not quite there yet) — and no, I’m not making some vague reference to falling in love or a whirlwind romance during my time in Dublin, as neither of those occurred (saving my falling in love with the city itself and my whirlwind romance with the pastries of Avoca and KC Peaches).

No, I mean it quite literally, presenting it as a title: Paris.

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… though, to be quite honest, I’d have to say that the City of Light seems more appropriate. I didn’t quite get the “City of Love” vibe (but perhaps this is because I speak no French other than mais oui, merci beaucoup, pardon, and bonjour).

City of Light, though — that’s a name I could get behind.

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…even if it is supposed to be due to the Age of Enlightenment and not electricity.

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twenty-four – all life is here, mrs. ainslie

Why would you not go out? There’s so much to see.

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Parnell Square East, Dublin, Ireland

I went to Italy this past weekend. Somehow, one of the biggest American holidays rolled around without me paying any attention to it: I turned around suddenly and the Black Friday e-mails had swamped my inbox, my mother was sending me pictures of one of my Thanksgiving favorites (squash rolls, for those of a curious nature), Hanna accompanied me to Thanksgiving dinner with some friends in Maynooth, and next thing I knew I was stepping off a plane in Italy.

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twenty-three – missed flights and other dorky moments

Otherwise known as Stories from Study Abroad: Dorks in London — the Extended Edition, or “Hanna and Connor adventure in London and then miss their flight back to Dublin.”

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Ah well, we had a good time. I’m always saying that the Extended Editions are the best ones… I suppose it’s time I took my own tastes into account for travel. In any case, moving on!

As it happens, Hanna and I are currently stranded in London. We missed our flight by one. freaking. min — nope, nope. I’m not going to go there yet; it’s making me wince just thinking about it.

On the bright side, this trip has been amazing and the friends we’re staying with are absolutely marvelous human beings of incredible understanding and are, to put it shortly, awesome. Also, we’ve succeeded in our mission to be as dorky as humanly possible. Now we’re just going to be able to take that a bit further!

Plus, as Basia always reminds me, It’s not an adventure if everything goes right.

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twenty-two – the return of quippy titles and self-deprecating jokes

Of course, while I thought I had a major problem to face in writing about my time in Berlin, I now found myself with a different difficulty: how do I even attempt to write something else now? The problem I have with writing lies in its addiction: as much as I hated it when I was younger, I have this rather driving need for it now.

… And, in case there was any doubt on the matter, my father responded to my last blog post with a lovely, heartfelt e-mail… that included the line that it was all “so different from the crying daughter in my Charlottesville office!” I may not remember that day, but I’m sure it happened more than once. I didn’t much care for writing when my lovely mother was homeschooling me (much, as she was an English teacher, to her chagrin!).

Leaving behind the fourteen-year transition from sobbing seven-year-old to sobbing twenty-one-year-old, I must admit that it feels quite strange to be writing about something that could, following on my last post’s coattails, feel rather flippant. Flippancy must be avoided, of course, but life cannot be all deep thought and gut-wrenching emotion. Even Tolkien, that master of heart-twisting writings (seriously, have y’all read those appendices? Tears. Everywhere. Not kidding.) — well, even his characters knew there must be more than sorrowful reflection. What is it Frodo told Sam in that letter?  In the book, it’s that he must be happy… and in the movie, they change it to that voiceover, remember?

My dear Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on.

And so, whilst you hastily wipe your eyes after reading Frodo’s words (be honest: the end of Return of the King makes you cry, doesn’t it? No? … Well, that’s just me, then. As you were!), I move onward to yesterday’s adventures.

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… I know. You weren’t expecting me to pull the police in on this.

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twenty-one

Nope, no quippy titles or alliterative themes for this post. I just can’t quite think of one that’s appropriate for the subject matter.

When last I updated this blog of mine, Lis and I had just concluded three marvelous, marvelous days of adventuring through Edinburgh. They really were quite amazing. Since then, we have gone to the Cliffs of Moher — or, for you Princess Bride fans, the Cliffs of Insanity — and, with our “reading week” off from class, I flew off to the Netherlands and then met up with Lis in Berlin.

Highlights from the Netherlands include seeing the lovely Erika, eating delicious Dutch food, attempting to learn Dutch — really, I’m quite dreadful at it — and seeing the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House.

Highlights from Berlin include my awe at their train system, a fun restaurant called Wok to Walk, a tour of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, a bicycle tour of the city and, on a lighter note, eating Berliners with Lis because, you know, Ich bin ein Berliner. 

But before diving in with the deep-thinking and heart-aching accounts of my travels, here’s a glimpse of the Cliffs of Moher  –because they are extraordinary and, quite frankly, staggering — not least because of the incredible gusts of wind.

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Do be warned: this post, at least, focuses on some rather bleak experiences, and if you are looking for another happy-go-lucky, all-is-well, “I’m seeing the world and study abroad is the best thing ever!!1!!!!11!!!!” post… this is decidedly not that, so read with caution.

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