I have ached for this place, so long and so hard, and now, as I come to my final two weeks, and as I get this close to saying goodbye, I have to reflect on whether or not it was everything I could have asked for.
Ireland has always been the pinnacle of dreaming for me. Sure, there were other dreams, but this place, the idea of what I would find here, symbolized the apex of my young dreaming. Everything I loved came from Ireland. Great stories came from Ireland. Castles, beautiful scenery, four leaf clovers… everything a young writer could want in terms of inspiration was here.
I worked my tail off to get here. Of course, I could never have done it without the help and support of my family, but I worked three jobs and kept up with class in order to make this dream a reality. I stayed over school breaks to get extra hours at a thankless job to make this dream come true. I planned for nine months, I fought back anxiety and fear and bad thoughts, all to get to this point in my life where I could say I achieved my longtime dream.
Nothing about this is wasted on me. I knew I wasn’t coming here for a pleasure trip. I came with specific goals in mind. I came to be inspired, to write beautiful things, to learn, to grow, and to hear stories and see once-in-a-lifetime sites. I knew I wasn’t on vacation and I didn’t want to squander my nights watching the inside of pubs to the point that I was too exhausted to enjoy anything the next day. I was here for a purpose.
I still have a few weeks left, but so far, I have felt deep inspiration to write nearly every day. The words have not stopped coming, not for one moment, and they show no signs of stopping. I have learned so much about the history of this place and its people, the culture, the society, and myself. I have read great works and seen ancient structures, remnants of a past I still feel connected to today. I have grown so much as a person and learned what I truly am capable of if I set my mind to it. I’m not the same girl I was. And I have heard stories, so many incredible stories, from so many people. Some of them are legends, some of them are personal, and some of them are just fascinating and fun. I’ve heard them and can’t wait to hear more, and more than that, to share them.
There’s a certain magic about being here, especially in the more remote parts of the country, but even in the cities. There’s something incredibly special about this place, a living artifact, a reminder of a less pleasant past, a beacon for a brighter future.
Do I wish I could say I saw it all at the end of this? Of course I do. Do I wish I weren’t here to attend class? Sometimes, though more often than not class is part of the reason I am inspired to write so much. Do I wish there were more locals I could interact with? Of course. Galway is still a little tourist-y, and unless there are students working on their theses, they’re mostly Americans at NUIG right now. There are things I would change, there are things I would love to still do, but right now, I’ve done so much in so few days. Almost every day has been jam-packed with some adventure, some new sight to see, some new story to hear or tell. And the way I see it, I still have two weeks to do anything else I’ve missed. Past that, I have a reason to return someday, and I know for certain I will.
This place once represented all my hopes and desires, everything I ever wanted to be and do. While I won’t say it quite stayed that way when I finally got to see it in person (as nothing ever quite does), this place and this trip have been so much more than I ever could have asked for. I didn’t know what to expect, and in doing so got so much more than I anticipated.
To put it plainly, yes, I am so glad I did this. It was absolutely worth it. But no, it wasn’t everything I was expecting.
It was so much more. More than I had any right to hope for, let alone expect.
And I cannot wait to live it to the fullest these final few days.