The Best Memories Are The Moments You Can’t Predict
by Katrina Carlson
Here I am, less than three weeks from my departure date, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous! It’s a feeling that I’ve come to know well. I welcome it as an omen that I’m doing something good for me and stepping out of my comfort zone.
Generally, people call this the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. As I begin packing and training my replacement at work, I reminisce about working as the records custodian at a local chiropractic office for the last five years; I started there before I could even drive. That job has given so much to me. It is a support group that has encouraged many of my endeavors. It has also provided me the financial means to travel (to France twice and Ireland once before this latest stint for my internship abroad). I am indebted to the individuals who helped me grow into the person I am today.
So, to refer to this part of my life as a chapter would be an understatement. Instead, I would say that this is the end of the first book and the beginning of the next instalment in my saga.
That’s what people ask me after hearing about my impending international internship. To be fair, it is a great question, especially since I’m known for being an immense Francophile. The thing is, when I stepped foot in Ireland in May 2014, I fell in love with the country.
Ireland had always been on my bucket list. When my college sent an email advertising a trip to Ireland for students as well as the community, I had to learn more. I applied and was accepted into the program, having received two scholarships as well – upon agreeing to take the associated humanities course. I was thrilled to have another destination and goal to work towards! That trip was the first time I travelled by myself as well as with a group. During our orientation, I met three of my best friends; our friendship would grow its roots on Irish soil.
I was enamored with Ireland the minute I looked out of the plane window as we were flying into Dublin. I had never before seen so many shades of uninterrupted green!
One of my fondest memories of my time in Ireland was the older Irish gentleman who drove us from place to place, divulging history and politics, pointing out where nobles resided and battles were fought. At the Titanic Museum in Cobh, after I finished walking through the exhibits, I saw him sitting at a table drinking tea so I joined him. A former Garda (Police) Officer and a fellow history enthusiast, I chatted with him until it was time to leave, asking him questions and receiving a personal history lesson.
The small island of Éire offers so much to travellers who are willing to take it. Every little detail made me fall in love with a nation of beautiful people and sprawling landscapes.
How could I not go back?
This time around, I hope to appreciate Irish culture on a personal level, one born out of living as a local, and to learn from my fellow Stinters. Just reading their introductions on the Facebook Group makes me excited to meet these strangers. It’s intriguing to learn where everyone comes from, where their interests are taking them, and how we’re already like-minded in that we all chose Dublin to make our home for a short time in our lives.
I hope to take the opportunity to see parts of Ireland that I have not seen before such as the Wicklow mountains and the Giant’s Causeway, as well as revisiting a few places I’ve been before. My heart yearns to sit atop the Cliffs of Moher again. Who knows? Perhaps I might be able to hop on a plane and add another stamp or two to my passport (fingers crossed for Scotland)!
My fears, I know are in my head. I have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills, constantly thinking about every single little thing that could go wrong – I’ve had nightmares about forgetting my passport at home and losing my debit card abroad along with flight-related woes. Unfortunately, these fears won’t subside until I’m safe and sound on Irish soil once again.
Budgeting is a concern too. I am notorious for spending too much and not having anything to show for it. However, I realize this and have calculated my funds and set out a weekly allotment, taking into consideration everything from groceries to money for fun things like going to the pub, the occasional lunch out, or trips to museums.
Homesickness is something I fear will hit me from time to time, but I won’t let it consume me. My family (pets included) are so important to me. This stint will be the longest I have ever be separated from them and it will be tough at times.
I’m confident the best parts of my time in Ireland will be the ones I can’t predict, ones that’ll involve new friends and hopefully visits from old ones. My favorite memories from Ireland in 2014 were ones of laughter on stool tops in pubs, standing in the shadows of castles, and most of all, admiring the way the perfect blue sky kissed the rolling fields of green, the sheep and clouds becoming indistinguishable far on the horizon.
Ireland is a magical place beckoning any traveller willing to take the chance to experience it.
On my last trip to Ireland, a man who worked in the House of Ireland store near Trinity told me not to fret upon hearing that it was sadly my last day in the country, because folks have a way of finding their way back to Ireland. I tucked that into my heart as a sort of prophecy, and now here I am, a mere two weeks from my return to Dublin, realizing that the man was right and just how grateful I am that he was.
I can’t wait to feel Ireland’s embrace once more!
When she’s not busy planning her next adventure, Katrina Carlson can be found trying her hand at various art forms from knitting to painting, delving into the past through historical fiction novels, or spending time with family. She is a recent graduate of Tidewater Community College in Virginia and plans to further her education with a concentration on European history. Her wanderlust stems from years of daydreaming and a hunger for being immersed in foreign cultures. She aspires to be a published writer for publications such as Travel & Leisure or the next Samantha Brown of Travel Channel.