Jack Rooney | Monday, January 26, 2015
My soul swooned slowly as I watched the snow faintly falling at O’Hare International Airport a few weeks ago — falling faintly upon all the living and the dead.
I stole pretty much that entire paragraph from James Joyce, but I’m in Ireland for the semester, so it’s okay. And besides, it was actually snowing when I left Chicago on Jan. 12. The snow followed me to Dublin, too, and it was indeed faintly falling when I arrived in my home for the next three months or so.
It hasn’t snowed since that first day I arrived, which is fairly typical of an Irish winter. Unlike the Fighting Irish winter weather in South Bend, the Emerald Isle usually only sees a few days of snow each year.
But in the two weeks I have been at University College Dublin, the mild weather isn’t what has struck me most. Rather, the entire notion of time in Ireland stands starkly opposed to the hectic life I live in the United States and has caused my biggest adjustment.
In part, this adjustment comes from the fact that I no longer have near constant meetings to attend nor as many commitments to keep. Overall though, Irish life still moves slower. And I like it.
I may not spend as much time on meetings and extracurricular activities, but I suddenly have time for lingering, leisurely meals with friends old and new. I do not spend as much time actually in a classroom (nobody tell my parents), but I have time to read and truly appreciate what I am reading for class.
At first I thought my perception of Irish time is something all study abroad students experience, and that may well be true. But my experience thus far has undeniably shown me an Irish life that delightfully lacks urgency.
Even in Ireland’s largest city, there is no rush, no hustle and bustle. People walk slowly, with their heads up, savoring the people and the places they see along the way.
I’m sure I’ll learn plenty in my classes this semester, but I think I’ve already learned the most important thing I will from my time in Ireland. Living slowly, wholly and with deliberate intention to fully experience whatever comes my way is something I will not leave behind in Ireland. When I arrive back home in Chicago in mid May (at which point I hope it’s no longer snowing), I’ll be sure to reset my watch to Irish time, and walk slowly, with my head up, back to my high-speed, American existence.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.