If someone had told me one year ago today – the Holy Cross student-athlete trying to get comfortable on probably our longest bus trip to Bucknell over Christmas break while drafting my application to Sport Changes Life – that I would be in Cork, Ireland heading into the second semester of my masters, coaching two teams for Brunell, and continuing to play basketball, I most likely would not have believed them. However, halfway through this year, I can genuinely say that Cork feels like (a second) home. On multiple occasions while I was back in MA for the holidays, I got asked when I was heading back to Ireland, and immediately responded that I was going back “home” in a week and a half.
My trip to America and quick turn around back to Ireland was a much-needed whirlwind of a break where I got to see all of my loved ones and spend some quality time in Needham at good old 96, in the beautiful city of Boston, and in Worcester at Holy Cross. It was this great time at home that made me appreciate how much I love living across the pond.
To capture this unfamiliar feeling of home sickness for another place while being at *home*, through my nerdiest of efforts, I resorted to Google to see if such a word exists. I naturally ended up reading about words in other languages that do not completely translate to English. After reading definitions of beautiful, different words that cannot be properly translated into our language, I landed on a Dutch idea that is inherent to their culture. “Gezelligheid” (I’ll leave it to you to look up the pronunciation), converted into a bunch of English words, describes a “convivial, cozy, or warm atmosphere, but can also refer to the warmth of being with loved ones, the feeling of seeing a friend after a long absence, or a general togetherness that provides a feeling of warmth” (shoutout to the worthy sources of Wikipedia and Buzzfeed). This definition resonated with my feelings of loving being home with friends and fam and doge (and everything I listed in my last blog), while also recognizing how excited I was to return to Cork with all of the “gezelligheid” it has to offer as well.
Once I got back, three of my classmates – that have become great friends – and Ian and I went to Dingle in Kerry to celebrate New Years. While the sights, tastes, and smells of this oceanside small town were more than enough to contribute to the gezelligheid vibes, I actually got to meet one of my distant cousins who lives in Dingle. He owns Kennedy’s Pub, a very small and very charming pub in the center of Dingle, where my great-grandfather on my mother’s side grew up before moving to America. Chatting with him, albeit the time being brief due to the craziness of the pub on New Year’s Eve, was so interesting to hear about his family, time studying at UCC, and experience running Kennedy’s. Although meeting an Irish man related to me was definitely enough, the small-worldness of the moment became even greater when my friend Miriam realized that her grandfather actually knew Michael’s father. Overall, Dingle was great “craic” – full of meeting family, exploring new beautiful Irish landscapes, and making memories with friends.
Back in Cork, reuniting with my U12 team was also full of gezelligheid. Our game this past weekend, we got our first W (it was a forfeit, but hey) ! One girl on my team who is typically really hesitant and never wants the ball had not one but TWO fast breaks and the team played their best game by far. Only losing by 11 and actually walking away with the win because they played a girl more than her allotted two quarters, the team was ecstatic. Even though our not-so sparkling record is definitely not guaranteeing us anything in the playoffs, the girls have for sure improved over these past few months and it was wonderful to see.
Ultimately, I am very happy to be back and see what this new year and new semester has to offer – hopefully many more experiences full of the Dutch gezelligheid – a word that may not be able to be translated into English but is definitely very prevalent over here. Happy 2018!