To Wish Upon A Dandelion: What I Hope To Achieve in Ireland
Dandelions are my favorite flower. They grow where they aren’t supposed to. Kids blow on the tiny white puffs as they squeeze their eyes tight making a wish and hoping whatever they hope for will reach the stars.
In a couple days, I jet off for Dublin for a three-month internship with Extreme Ireland. I’m ready for my time abroad, but I have some nerves.
I was in my hometown of Grand Blanc, Michigan over the weekend. It’s a small town people leave but often come back to. I took the fifteen-minute stroll to my elementary school and walked towards the open field behind it.
Dandelions, scattered throughout the grass, dusted the field with what looked like magic in the orange-hue of the sunset. I walked up to one and picked it. Shutting my eyes tightly, I made a wish. I did this with five dandelions, watching the white fuzz dance in the breeze. I made five wishes, all for Ireland and I’ve decided to share them with you – I know people say once you share a wish that it won’t come true, but I’m going to take that chance.
I wish to thrive.
I’ve been working since I was sixteen – as an ice cream shop employee, fudge girl, and administrative assistant at a car dealership. I’ve had pieces published on ChicagoTalks.org and I’ve been writing stories for close to five years, but I’ve never had an official internship or job doing what I’d love to do – travel writing or inspiring others to travel.
This will be the first time I’ll be doing something relevant to my dreams – it’s slightly terrifying. I want to impress everyone, give 110 percent, and make others proud. I have some anxiety, but I hope that the moment I walk into Extreme Ireland’s offices, I will connect with my co-workers and do a kick-butt job.
I wish to make new friends.
Whenever I go somewhere alone, I hope to meet friendly people and form a solid “crew.” Flying three thousand plus miles away from home, I wish for it a little more. I have no problem initiating hellos and polite conversation, so I hope to find others who are on the same page. I’ve heard Irish people are pretty sweet and I hope to find this true. It would be nice to have a couple of people to take on wacky adventures, meet for coffee, or just take a stroll through Trinity College with.
I wish to say “yes.”
I’m a bit of a homebody. I enjoy working in the quiet of my Chicago apartment – reading, watching movies, cleaning. I often prefer that to going out until 4 a.m. My wish for Ireland is that I become someone who doesn’t turn down the invitation to go out, to go to a concert or festival, to take a spontaneous trip. I don’t want to miss out on anything because who knows when I’ll get the chance to come back again. I’ve walked the same road hundreds of times in Chicago and in Michigan; I look forward to setting foot on cobblestone streets I’ve never crossed.
I wish to get a little lost.
The best days, moments, and experiences happen when you get a little lost. I have a horrible sense of direction, even when there’s a map in front of me or a GPS telling me where to go, so I’ve gotten off-track quite a few times (especially when I’ve been abroad). During these times, I don’t panic, I tend to just go with the flow. I might wind up on a narrow, cobblestone street, happening upon a local delight or a deserted beach. Eventually, I ask for directions to get back on the right track, but there’s no harm in a little pit stop especially if it means beautiful sights (tourist-free), local markets, or hidden gems.
I wish to figure out what’s next.
I have an insatiable appetite for travel. I’m constantly thinking about what’s next as far as where I’m going to explore. I’m hoping that this summer puts me on to the path for what’s next for my career. Will I continue to work for a travel company in Ireland after school? Will I realize I want to take a couple of years and teach English abroad? Will I come to the conclusion that I want to stay in the States?
I’m hoping the next three months will help show me exactly where I belong.
Alexis Castanos is a soon-to-be senior Journalism major and Public Relations minor at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up in a town of 3,000 with three brothers, she would take day trips to get a taste of something different. She loves discovering the pulse of a new city, writing songs, giving a voice to the voiceless, and inspiring others to see the world (or just the town next door). For more goodies from Alexis, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.