One thing I’ve most definitely learned since arriving in Ireland, is that very few things ever go as planned. We were told before our departure that we would need to adapt to a more laid back culture, one where buses and people rarely arrived on time and life in general moved a bit more slowly. This would definitely come as a culture shock to many of us Americans who were used to the ‘if you’re not early you’re late’ mentality of college basketball in the U.S. Patience is most definitely a virtue I quickly learned would become essential over the next ten months.
However, I’ve also learned that with patience and unexpected changes in plans comes a silver lining. Last Sunday I visited Howth, a beautiful fishing village right outside of Dublin, with a few other scholars. In classic foreigner fashion we read the bus schedule completely wrong and ended up waiting thirty five minutes for the next bus, only to start our journey just as it began to down pour. Rain in Ireland, shocking I know. But, as soon as we arrived we were greeted by a rainbow over the ocean, and breathtaking views of the harbor that immediately made me feel at home. We then proceeded to walk around the open air market in what seemed like 50 mph winds, with our umbrellas flying in the air and flipping upside down. I guess that’s what you get from an umbrella you buy at Penney’s for three euro. Our day continued on with a walk up to a castle that was in fact closed to the public, but still provided us with some beautiful pictures, sights, and laughs. We ended with a seafood supper that would bring a smile to the most weary traveler, complete with clam chowder, fish n chips, and seafood linguini. We went home happy, full, and rejuvenated, laughing at all of the misfortunes and setbacks that made our day that much more interesting and ultimately memorable.
Mackenzie and I had a similar experience yesterday as we visited Wicklow Mountains National Park and hiked the Spinc trail. Upon exiting the bus we double checked with the driver that the bus would in fact be departing at half seven, to which he then informed us that it would be leaving at half four. Once again, we stepped outside into the gusting wind and rain prepared to embark on a hike that was said to take four hours in under three. We picked up pace and trekked up the steep incline of the first summit where the rain eventually cleared and revealed some of the most breathtaking views I’d ever seen in my entire life. As we briskly jogged across rocky terrain and down wooden paths nearly twisting our ankle several times, we were in absolute awe of the beauty that surrounded us. We were less than two hours outside of the city, and it seemed as though we had entered another world. We experienced every climate and environment during our hike, from rain, to wind, to sun, to rain again. We ended with an hour left to spare before the bus was set to depart, feeling extremely accomplished and impressed with ourselves. Note to self: whenever you think you’ve got it figured out, you don’t. We ended our hike lounging peacefully on a beach waiting to depart before realizing that our bus was in fact leaving from a parking lot that was a fifteen minute walk away. After a ten minute full on sprint we arrived on the final bus home at 4:29, sweating, tired, and relieved that we wouldn’t be stranded in Glendalough for the night.
The moral of the story is that I have definitely been frustrated, confused, and humbled by the lack of structure and consistency in my day to day life since arriving in Ireland. But, more than anything, I’ve learned that with each turn of events comes a new adventure, a chance to learn, and a hilarious story to recount with friends down the road. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches to catch the rainbow.