Tag Archives: Irish Studies

When in Ireland, don’t let the joy get knocked out of you.

5 Jul

I just got out of my Literature and Film class in which Mary O’Malley, one of Ireland’s leading poets, came to speak. She read some of her work and then asked if there were any aspiring writers in the room. I shyly raised my hand, along with three other people.

She then went around the room and asked each of the aspiring writers what they prefer to write. When she came to me, I said that I’m working on a memoir and memoir-related articles, since that has been my recent focus. Her first question, “How old are you?” is one I get a lot in reference to the fact that I’m writing a memoir. However, when I said “19” she was surprised, but didn’t make any negative remark. She just said, “Good girl,” and all I could do was smile. She then asked what the memoir would be focused on, and I just said my childhood. Her next question caught me off guard. She asked, “When do you think that ended?” (referring to my childhood). I was stunned. I couldn’t answer, much less put together any coherent sentence. She then told me that she didn’t think she knew when her childhood ended either. However, our conversation, though very short, has kicked me out of my writing rut that I’ve been moaning and groaning about for weeks. Her final piece of advice to the aspiring writers was this: “Don’t let the joy get knocked out of you,” and I think that’s what really kicked me into writing gear. It’s something that I sometimes forget: the joy. The pure, simple, and yet strong joy that I get from just writing how I feel. It’s an amazing, amazing feeling. It’s the reason I began writing in the first place….because it was my refuge, my security, the happiness that overpowered the pain.

I think as writers we all need a kick in the pants sometimes, and I got mine today. I’ve opened the Word document of my memoir, and for the first time in weeks, I’m not at a loss for words. They’re there, clear as day, waiting to be written, waiting to come alive on the page as only words can do.

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When in Ireland, go see the NUI Galway campus.

4 Jul

I can’t remember if I’ve shared this photo with all of you already, but here’s a picture of the quad of my campus. It’s so gorgeous, and I absolutely love the ivy everywhere. When I first came on campus, my first response, “I’m taking summer classes in a castle!” Well, it’s not quite a castle, but I love the stone and the castle-y look that the buildings have.

Pretty, right? I love it!

When in Ireland, get lost in the words of W.B. Yeats.

30 Jun

I’m taking an Irish Literature and Film course at the National University of Ireland in Galway this summer, and for the first 2 class periods, we have focused on the poetry of William Butler Yeats. I’ve read Yeats’ poetry before, but there is something really special about reading poetry by someone who wrote his poetry in the country that you’re currently studying in. Or, in another sense, reading poetry in the country where it can be best interpreted.

According to the notes I took in class, William Butler Yeats was a late romantic poet who absorbed the impact of Gaelic folklore as subject matter for his poetry. He was interested in old legends, and therefore he took old folklore and tried to make it relevent. He also felt that the modern world had become culturally impoverished, so he strived to renew the modern world by showing the capacity of the imagination. Yeats was impacted by fairy stories because they had deep connections for him to the human imagination.

One of my favorite poems that we read by Yeats was “Song of Wandering Aengus.” In this poem, Yeats uses the idea of the supernatural as a symbol for art. Also, the poem discusses what it means to be a poet, while also emphasizing that you must follow your vision, no matter where it leads you. Here is the poem (from http://wanderingminstrels.blogspot.ie):

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

When in Ireland, take luck where you can find it.

25 Jun

Most of us have heard the phrase, “the luck of the Irish,” but whether the luck is still around or not, I’m not sure. I’ve never really believed in luck, but since coming to Ireland, I’ve learned to just take luck where you can find it.

For instance, I’m currently in Ireland and tomorrow I start my study abroad program at NUIG. That’s luck. Though it may not seem like luck that I am here, it’s lucky that the right opportunity arose to allow me to be here taking part in a study abroad program. There are not many people who get this kind of opportunity, but when I realized that I had this chance, I had to take it.

Even though I’m excited about what my program holds and I’m looking forward to meeting new people, I’m nervous. It’s scary….doing something this big. I don’t know anyone. I’m in a foreign country. Thankfully they speak English, but even that isn’t too much of a reassurance considering how big of a step I’m taking. Even though I went to Peru in January of 2010 with a group from my high school, this is a step up from that. Though traveling to Peru was my first time out of the United States, the trip only lasted 12 days, and I was with a group of students from my school, so I knew everyone. In this instance, I don’t know anyone, and I will be here for 28 days rather than 12. Quite a difference.

I know that it takes time to adjust, and my mom has warned me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself about not doing everything since just being here and taking classes for 4 weeks is huge in itself. However, there’s always that voice in the back of my head urging me to not hold back….that voice in my head that would rather go out and do stuff instead of hang out on campus and study and pleasure read on the quad. However, hanging out on campus and studying/pleasure reading on the quad sounds pretty great to me. Since it is luck that I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy this experience, I’m going to enjoy it my way. All students are different, and all of the students participating in this study abroad experience in Galway, Ireland have different expectations for how the program is going to go. Just because my expectations don’t match those of another student doesn’t mean I need to fret. Maybe it just means that I need to enjoy being in Ireland/taking classes/reading, and maybe by some small stroke of Irish luck, I’ll meet someone who’s looking for a similar experience.

Dreaming Of Ireland.

17 Mar

Since today is Saint Patrick’s day, I’m thinking of Ireland. And…..breaking news! On Thursday, I got the call that I’ve been officially accepted to API’s Summer Irish Studies Program in Galway, Ireland! HUZZAH! Even though I was pretty sure I’d be accepted into the program, it’s exciting to know that it’s official now. I’m finally going to Ireland. For four weeks. AHHH! 🙂 I can’t wait! It’s going to be such a great experience, and I’m excited to share my experiences with all of you!

I’m currently in Blacksburg, Virginia, visiting my best friend, Skidmore. She was a designer for her first fashion show last night, and I drove up from Asheville in order to support her. I’m so glad that I got to be part of such a wonderful moment, especially since she won Best New Designer in the fashion show. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud. Since she won Best New Designer, her 4 designs will be displayed in a store window in downtown Blacksburg.

Today, Skidmore, her boyfriend Sam and I got to have a photo shoot by Skidmore’s friend, Sidney. I’ve been wanting to have really great photos of me taken for a while, and I finally got to have them taken. We headed to a field that Sidney knows well. However, Skidmore, Sam and I just looked through all of the pictures, and they look absolutely amazing! Plus, the pictures we’ve seen are before Sidney has edited them, and they are incredible. It was so nice of Sidney to take photos of us today, and I loved the experience so much!

Anyway, since today is St. Patty’s day, I’ve been thinking of green. However, I have no doubt that the green fields around the US are nothing compared to the all of the green scenery that I’ll be able to see while in Ireland. Now that everything is official, I want it to be Ireland already. I want to be experiencing something new and growing individually all at the same time. It’s going to be so much fun, and I am so happy that it can feel real now. 🙂