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Homesick for Ireland

| Friday, September 26, 2014

The best way to describe the end of the study abroad experience is like waking up after a dream which felt so real it made you wonder, “What just happened?” It almost feels like you were in a time warp. South Bend seems the same, yet you’ve changed so much in your absence. When I first came to college, the number one thing I wanted to do was study abroad, and I did. Now, upon returning to South Bend after a total of eight months (including the summer) away, I find myself confused as to what to do next. Everyone always tells you what to do in preparation for and during the study abroad experience, but no one explains how to readjust when you return. No one explains to you how to be less homesick for the country you’ve just left. Wherever a student goes, he or she leaves as a different person, and Ireland was no different. Forgive my cheesiness, but this special Emerald Isle captured my heart. I spent my spring semester in the tiny college town of Maynooth, Ireland, in County Kildare, home of the National University of Ireland at Maynooth (now known as Maynooth University). In a way, it is exactly what you imagine a cute Irish town to be: it has a medieval castle, farms on the outskirts, several pubs and a church. I have been to seven countries, and Ireland is the only place I have ever gone where I was awoken by mooing cows outside my window at eight in the morning after they escaped their farm and paraded around our apartment complex. Ireland is the only place I have ever gone where the two hour bus rides across the country to visit Galway were never boring because everywhere you looked was pure beauty. Ireland is the only place I have ever gone where I would go into a pub with a couple of my friends and come out having made several more. Ireland is the only place I have ever gone where a homeless Irish storytelling druid boarded my tour bus singing traditional Irish music with his guitar and refused to leave. Being a born and raised Southern Californian who grew up in a drought, I had never seen so much wide open green space. While standing atop the Hill of Tara on a clear evening with the sun just beginning to set, the seemingly endless emerald fields full of sheep, charming farms and towns boggled my mind. It was so beautiful. Yet none of this even begins to describe what it is like. It is just insufficient, and to be honest, I don’t know if I will ever be able to describe it in full. Returning from studying abroad makes you nostalgic, and I would be lying if I said this was not the most cheesy and nostalgic article I have ever written in my life. Yet I do not care because Ireland is worth every piece of sappy nostalgia that is here.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Kiera Johnsen

A SoCal native majoring in communications and political science

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