Monday, November 18, 2013

Emotional cliffs and the actual Cliffs (of Moher)

They tell you in orientation that there are highs and lows psychologically and emotionally when you're studying abroad. And you think "yeah, of course. That makes perfect sense. Obviously there are going to be low points." But then you assume the "lows" are mostly going to be in the very beginning, when you're frustrated because everything is unfamiliar and every little thing frustrates you and your emotions are firing on all cylinders because you're EXCITED but you're also completely on edge due to the unfamiliarity. I have gone into these deep slumps where I miss home so badly I can feel it in my bones. And that's largely what the last month and a half have been for me, if I'm being honest. But then I go on a tour, like the Cliffs of Moher one I did yesterday, and I remember why I came here. Because there is NOTHING like Ireland back home. I mean, even just seeing the scenery on the drive TO the Cliffs was worth it. It's so distinct and quintessentially Irish. And for as much as I have felt very down the past few weeks, I also know that this is one of the few times where I'm going to be able to see things and explore like this. And it's worth it, though the last month in particular has been hard. I don't why, but I expected the "low periods" to mostly be in the beginning, and let me tell you the first week (maybe two weeks) were up there with the absolute hardest things I have had to go through and I've been through some difficult stuff over the last 21 years. It wasn't so much the unfamiliarity as it was THAT and the combination of a loneliness that I hadn't felt for years. It pulled me back to the first two months of freshman year at W&J. Those first two months were a nightmare because I am painfully shy and don't like talking much (until you get to know me, then I don't shut up). I didn't really have friends for the first few months of freshman year, at least not friends that were like ME in any sort of way. I actually contemplated transferring to Waynesburg. But eventually, I got very lucky and made the friend (now roommate and one of my best friends) that I needed in order to meet the people I now consider to some of my other best friends. This took awhile and it hurt and I hated it and I hated how quiet I was, how hard it was (and still is) for me to actually speak to people I don't know. The point is, the first few weeks in Cork were like the first few months at W&J. And I don't know why, once I got past that (for the most part), I didn't think there would be anymore real low points. But the month of October, right after I got back from London, that was a low. And I'm just now starting to get past it, the Cliffs of Moher tour helped and so does the fact that I'll be home in Pittsburgh in less than a month.

Anyway, so I took a tour to the Cliffs of Moher yesterday. The Cliffs of Moher is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Ireland. It was one of the last major attractions that I hadn't seen yet. So, I decided to do that tour yesterday. Our first stop was Limerick, which apparently has a reputation that has led to it being referred to as "stab city" so, yeah. But as our tour bus driver pointed out, the city only has about 90,000 residents and supposedly most of the violence is because two families have gotten into a nasty feud that's resulted in around 60 deaths or something.

Then we drove to the Burren. Which is rock, all rock. Supposedly, the British commander Oliver Cromwell hated this area of Ireland in particular, saying something along the lines of there were "not enough trees to hang an Irishman, not enough water to drown an Irishman and not enough soil to bury an Irishman." In case you couldn't tell, Cromwell didn't like Ireland or the Irish AT ALL. But really, the place is literally almost ALL rock. We stopped at Poulnabrone, which is a rock formation (kind of looks like Stonehenge, I guess).

Again, all the pictures are my doing:

It takes awhile to get to the Cliffs, probably about 3 or 4 hours. Eventually, we got there. Unfortunately, it was raining and the fog was extremely thick. So my photographs weren't that great because it was hard to see. But, I COULD tell that the Cliffs were incredible.

 Also, we stopped at Bunratty Castle on the way back:

Overall, it was a pretty cool trip, even though the bus actually had to stop for awhile because we needed a new one (the door wouldn't shut), so we got back late. And then there was the rain and fog... But that's okay, you could still kind of see the Cliffs, which was cool.  

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