Travel awakens something inside the human spirit that would otherwise lie dormant.
Yes, short trips to new places may jostle awake this part of our soul, but only for a moment. Living abroad for a period of time and traveling in a different part of the world is the best way to fully awaken a beast within us that has a thirst for life and a craving for adventure that parallels no other.
My time spent in Ireland reawakened this profound part of my soul.
Ever since my first trip to the Emerald Isle in the summer of 2010, I have yearned to live abroad in Ireland. I fell in love with the west of Ireland during my two weeks in the country and was determined to one day study in Galway. Last semester, this dream of mine was realized.
From the moment I could see the rolling green hills from my airplane window seat on that first day of September to every bus ride from Dublin airport after a weekend of travel to every walk down Shop Street, jaunt along the Corrib River and every moment by the water of the Claddagh where the river meets Galway Bay-in every moment of conscious contemplation it became so apparent that Galway, and Ireland itself, had cast a spell on me. There is a mystic quality about this country that both fills me with a sense of adventure and a feeling of home all at once.
From the sometimes seemingly formidable landscapes to the gregarious and cheeky effervescence of the Irish people, to the multifaceted history of the Irish culture that still bubbles to the surface every day and refuses to be ignored–it is a sense of resilience in the land, in the people and in the culture that seeps into your own skin, your own psyche, and slowly you realize a sense of quiet resilience awakened within.
I traveled to Scotland, England, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic during my time abroad. Each country and travel experience was unique and amazing in its own way, and I can’t wait for the chance to return to Europe to explore the land more and return to some of my favorite and most memorable spots. But, even with the variance in my travel destinations and experiences, I always found myself eager to return to Ireland at the end of my European adventures.
Galway has quickly come to feel like a second home. As much as I try to put the feeling into words, there truly is no way to completely capture the complexity of Ireland and my experience there.
I have returned to New England with new friendships that will surely last a lifetime, memories that make my heart full and swell whenever I reminisce, travel stories that will sate me until my next adventure begins and a new determination to return to Ireland the first chance I get.
Travel challenges, intimidates, encourages, strengthens, broadens and fulfills all at the same time. It is the friend who both gently coaxes you out of your comfort zone and pushes you into the deep end of the pool.
“If it scares you, it’s probably worth doing” and the experience of travel is the perfect embodiment of that sentiment. It is the experiences that challenge us the most that also give us the most and seem to leave the greatest positive impact on our life.
My only piece of advice for anyone already traveling; It is important to find a good balance between “capturing the memory” and “experiencing the moment”. A dip of the scale too far on either side and you’ll regret it. Balance is key.
And my advice to anyone thinking about traveling?
Caroline Alm can be contacted at email@example.com