Tag Archives: New Experiences

Washington state bound!

27 Dec

By the time most of you read this, I will be heading west on a flight to Washington state. The roommate I had while studying in Ireland this past summer, Alex, lives there, and I am so excited to be able to spend the next 9 days with her. It’ll be the first time we’ve seen each other since Ireland, so this is an anxiously awaited reunion for sure. Though we won’t be in Ireland, I’ve heard Washington state has very similar scenery and weather, and I think that’s as close as one can hope to get without actually going to Ireland.

Since I will be posting tons of pictures while I’m in Washington state, I thought I’d post a few pictures of Alex and I from Ireland. Though we won’t be in the incredible city of Galway together, I am excited to experience Alex’s home state and get to know her family and friends. Though I have been to Washington state once before, I was only about 8 or 9 years old, so I don’t remember much. Therefore, it will be like I’m going there for the very first time, which is always exciting! 🙂

In Galway, Ireland.

In Galway, Ireland.

 

At Bunratty Castle.

At Bunratty Castle.

At the Roisin Dubh in Galway.

At the Roisin Dubh in Galway.

Stay tuned for pictures and bits and pieces of my adventures in Washington over the next 9 days! 🙂

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It’s never too late.

17 Oct

Max Patch Summit

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Photo Friday: Yearning for new insights.

12 Oct

Part of my driveway at home covered in fall leaves.

 

“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.”-Sylvia Plath 

Ireland detox: not as hard as I expected.

29 Jul

I returned from Ireland late Thursday night, or more accurately, during the wee hours of Friday morning. Even though I wasn’t quite sure how I would adjust to being back, I’ve drifted back into my life in North Carolina pretty nicely. However, at this point I’ve also realized that it’s only been a few days. A week from now I could be longing for Ireland in every fiber of my being. For now though, I’m loving being back.

I think it also has something to do with the fact that I’m jumping back into routines soon, so it’s not as if I’m sitting around for a few months before really getting back to my life. For instance, I start back at my internship with Lark Books (a book publisher in Asheville) tomorrow, I move in to my very first apartment on the 15th of August, and classes of the fall semester and my first day back to work at the bookstore both begin on the 20th of August. Therefore, I have things to look forward to and prepare for, which I’m thankful for. If I came back from Ireland with all this time to sit and think about what I was missing, I think it would be a lot harder to adjust to being back.

I also just love where I live, so it’s not as if I left the beauty of Ireland to come back to a place that I didn’t like. I absolutely love living among the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and I’m even more anxious to head back to Asheville so that I can be among my friends again. However, there are definitely things that I miss, most of which are the people who I met and got to know. Even though I know that I won’t keep up with all of the people who I met in my study abroad group, I know that there are a few that I’ll keep up with just because we connected so well when over in Ireland. In terms of smaller things, it’s a bummer that I have to go from being able to drink in Ireland to not being legal yet in the states. However, when I was Ireland, I talked to this Irish guy who said that he went over to the US when he was 20, and it sucked that he had been able to drink for 2 years in his home country only to come to the US and not be able to. Yeah, I agreed with him that that would have been much harder.

Despite knowing that there will be things that I’ll miss about Ireland, I know that I’ll find a way to go back one day if it’s something that I really want. However, during my time in Ireland, I also realized how many places there are in the United States that I’m longing to visit too. Therefore, maybe when the travel bug bites again, I’ll settle to head somewhere in my home country. I’ve got so many options regarding terrain though. I think that’s what’s so great about the US. There are so many different places that are a relatively short distance apart, especially compared to the distance between the US and a place like Ireland. Now that I’ve been to Ireland, I have no doubt that I’ll want to explore all the different areas in the US as much as I can.

When in Ireland, hurl yourself into experiences.

21 Jul

Today I went to Dublin with my study abroad group, and it was a blast. Even though my favorite thing we visited today was definitely the Book of Kells at Trinity College, the highlight of my day was sitting with my study abroad program director, Finn, after visiting the Book of Kells and just talking.

I told Finn about my writing, my home, and just gave her a bit of a look into who I really am. She has been a wonderful person to be able to count on while I’ve been in Ireland, and I know that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself as much if it wasn’t for how comfortable she’s made me feel and how accomadating she’s been. Anyway, during our conversation she said, “A few days ago Kevin [her husband] and I were talking, and we both mentioned how we hope that one day our kids can grow up to be just like you. You are a true inspiration.”

Cue tears. No really. It made me feel so so amazing, and I’m still in shock. I’ve heard numerous people tell me over the past few months and years and practically my whole life how much of an inspiration I am…not just to kids with disabilities, but people in all walks of life. No amount of words can express how touched those compliments make me feel. Most of all, however, it’s hard to know how to react since in my mind, I’m just being myself.

Finn went on to say this: “Amelia, not everyone in your situation would go out and take life by the balls. I know people who would just sit inside all day and list all the ways that they are limited. But Amelia, in my eyes, you’re not limited. You’re doing this…full force and without hesitation. You’ve broken down those limits a while ago.”

Though I understand what Finn is trying to say, I know deep down that I still have limits. However, even though I am limited, I still go out and do as much as I can for as long as I can….here in Ireland and in life in general. However, in terms of Ireland itself, there hasn’t been a choice. Sitting around and missing out on things isn’t even an option. I don’t know when I’ll get this opportunity again, so I’ve got to take it while I’ve got it. So I’m going out and doing as much as I can so that I can get the full feel of this experience. Opportunities like this don’t come around every day. And even though I know that one day I’ll be coming back to Ireland, I’ve got to experience as much as I can now. Right now, I want to completely hurl myself into these experiences. It’s what I’ve done so far, and it’s been absolutely amazing.

When in Ireland, find home in the most unlikely places.

17 Jul

Twice in the past week I have heard two different Irish cover bands play “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. Other than “Wagon Wheel” being one of my favorite songs in general, it’s also a song that speaks of North Carolina, my home state. It’s just so weird to think that twice in one week I’ve heard a song that instantly has me thinking of North Carolina, Asheville, the mountains, bluegrass music, and the place that I feel most connected to. I’ve realized that even when I’m in Ireland, I can still receive the strong pull of home.

There are mountains here in Ireland, but they are nothing like the Blue Ridge Mountains that I call home. Every so often I find myself searching for the blue hue that holds so much security and comfort inside me, only to slowly realize that the specific color that holds so much emotion for me cannot be found in the mountains here. At the same time, however, I think if the Ireland landscape was more like the landscape that I’m used to at home then it would make it that much harder for me to leave next week.

It’ll be hard to say goodbye to a place that I feel has taken root so quickly in my soul. Before coming to Ireland, I was a bit hesitant. I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I had no idea what to expect, other than the fact that I was looking forward to seeing the green beauty that I had poured over during all the times that I watched P.S. I Love You. No words can describe how amazing it has been to realize that home isn’t always one specific place. When I come to think of it, I’ve found home in multiple places.

My first home was in a small town in South Carolina. It was where I grew up, and even though it has now become a place that doesn’t hold very much meaning for me, it will always be the place where I first learned about life. I think of riding my Barbie Jeep, my gocart, and my four-wheeler. I think of making mud pies in my Barbie kitchen. I think of my childhood friends…and the friends that ended up not being very friendly towards me. I think of finding my love of theatre, which is also when I realized that it was possible to have another family outside of my immediate family that was there to love and support me just as much. I think of growing up, of the days that I lost myself in books because I needed a way to escape the days when the pain was too much. I think of the nights when I made my own little space in the bottom of my closet that was equipped with a light, blankets, a pillow, a book, and a pencil and paper that I used in order to write away what I was feeling. I found security sitting in my closet…with the realization that the harsh world lay just outside. I found out what it meant to dream.

My second home was Salem Academy, an all-girls’ boarding school in North Carolina. Though I didn’t consider it my home until my senior year there, by my senior year I didn’t want to leave. It took a year to find my own place, but once I did, I knew that I’d never be the same. I found a part of me…a part of me I hadn’t really embraced before. I found my true self…or at least the beginning of my true self. I wouldn’t have been able to embark on the journey of figuring out who I truly was were it not for my best friend Skidmore. I met her during my junior year at Salem, and she was the first friend that I discussed my entire life with, the good and the bad. Skidmore was the first person I completely opened up to, and having someone who reacted so positively to all that I knew I needed to say was also something that was necessary. Without Skidmore’s love and non-judgemental acceptance, I wouldn’t have been able to start to figure out who I was…or what the meaning of home really was.

My third home is, as a whole, North Carolina….but more specifically…the Blue Ridge Mountains and Asheville. I’ve always been a mountain girl, but I’ve never been able to say that I have had the chance to live among a landscape that I love….until last August. And being in Asheville makes home feel even more real to me because I’m in such an artsy city…while also knowing that it is a mere 5 minute drive to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway…or the place that makes me feel completely alive. Writing has done the same thing…given me that feeling of being truly alive. Therefore, being able to write among the landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains…it’s unreal, and yet, it’s what I’ve been doing.

It’s hard to imagine that Ireland has, in a way, become another home for me. And yet, I’m not all that surprised. I can’t think of one person that I know who has come to Ireland and not fallen in love with its beauty. But it’s more than just the beauty. It’s the people…it’s the quaint little village towns and the college cities…it’s the pubs and the pub atmosphere (which, I’m surprised to report, have held more character and comfort than I ever imagined), and it’s the music. I’m a true music lover, and I listen to music every chance I can get. Here in Galway, live music can be found all over the city on every night of the week. I love that opportunity. It’s probably one of my favorite parts about being in Galway. It’s not just live music every night though…it’s free live music. For a true music lover like me, it can’t get much better than free good live music every night!

So even though I’ll be leaving a home next week, I’ll also being going home to a place that I love more than anything in the entire world. Despite the fact that I’m leaving, I know I’ll be back. A place can’t take hold in my soul so quickly and not be a place that I don’t plan on returning. I don’t know when, or under what circumstances, but I know that I’ll be back. I can feel it. After all, there’s only so long that you can stay away from home, even when, sometimes, home has the ability to be so many different places all at once.

When in Ireland, don’t miss Shop Street in Galway City.

13 Jul

My roommate, Alex, and I have come to love Shop Street, which is right off of the main square in Galway City. As well as Shop Street having shops ranging from tourist stores, jewelers, and my favorite bookshop here, Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, there are also some great pubs that always have live music.

In terms of pubs along Shop Street, so far we have been to The King’s Head, The Quays Bar, and The Spanish Arch. The King’s Head was the first pub we went to along Shop Street, and it was a great pub to start with, mainly because it was really big and had loads of seating (as opposed to the pubs we went to in Dingle last weekend that were pretty small). Alex and I enjoyed the live music we heard at The King’s Head on Tuesday, but since it was a cover band playing American songs, it wasn’t music that we wanted to hear night after night. We can hear American music when we’re home. We wanted traditional Irish music like we had heard the first night that we were in Dingle last weekend.

Last night Alex and I went to The Quays Bar as well as The Spanish Arch. We saw a sign outside The Quays Bar that the live music was supposed to start at 10pm. Lesson number one in terms of Ireland pubs: don’t believe everything you see/read. We went into The Quays Bar, and despite it being absolutely huge, there was already anywhere to sit. Go figure, right? Eventually though, we did find 2 seats, so then we got drinks and waited for the music to start. I settled on pear-flavored Bulmer’s, or Irish hard cider, which is normally my drink of choice. It felt like we waited forever for the music to start, and in all actuality, we did. Despite seeing the sign outside that said live music at 10pm, the musicians didn’t even start warming up until 10:55pm. This morning the woman we’re staying with told us that that tactic is often used in Ireland so that people will drink more before the music starts. We laughed because the tactic had definitely worked. Sadly, when the music actually did start, it wasn’t the traditional music that we were looking for, so we left in search of better music.

The better music was found right across from The Quay’s Bar at The Spanish Arch. We knew as we went through the doorway that we had come to the right place because number one: they weren’t playing American songs (what a relief!) and number two: they were playing the type of songs that are normally associated with traditional Irish music: jigs and reels. Even though the musicians didn’t have all of the instruments that I have come to associate with traditional Irish music (acoustic guitar, accordion, and fiddle), the simple fact that they were actually playing Irish music (except for one slip of Free Fallin’ by John Mayer) made me happy. As well as coming to the simple realization that my favorite thing about Ireland has been having the chance to listen to live music every night for free (minus the Euros that I normally spend on cider), my favorite instrument is definitely the fiddle. Granted, I’ve loved the fiddle before I came to Ireland. It’s such an amazing instrument, and I knew there had to be a concrete reason as to why I love Alison Krauss so much (not counting the fact that I just love bluegrass music in general).

Last night was also the first night that I experienced having someone buy me a drink (and buy the end of the night 2 people had bought us drinks at 2 different pubs). It was a very strange feeling. Since I’m not of legal drinking age in the states, it wasn’t something I was used to. So when a guy brought me another Pear Bulmer’s when Alex and I were at The Quay’s Bar, I was very hesitant. Thankfully, Alex could tell that I was really nervous, so she talked to the guy who had bought us drinks so that I didn’t have to say anything. It was in that moment that I realized what a great friend I have in Alex, and after talking to the guy who bought us drinks, we realized that he was harmless (plus the fact that Alex said she would kick the crap out of him if he did anything that made me feel even the slightest bit weird, which was a definite relief). I think it was just weird for me because since I don’t go to bars in the states, I’m not used to the normality of just having someone buy me a drink. However, Alex pointed out to me that it’s a pretty normal thing. However, to be as safe as possible, we created a believable back story. We were sisters, Alex and Annie, from Oregon, who had spent the past week traveling around Ireland and were heading back to the States in three days. Honestly, it was pretty exciting and fun, and I’m truthfully glad that Alex had thought of the idea before I introduced myself. I don’t think I would’ve thought to lie. However, Alex told me later that she did it because it’s fun and because she knew how nervous I was so she wanted to reassure me that nothing bad would happen. Thankfully, it helped a lot. As well as liking the idea of introducing ourselves as sisters from Oregon, last night will definitely be one that I won’t forget. It’s pretty cool to say that the first time someone bought me a drink I was at a pub in Ireland.

The night ended with Alex and I ordering pizza and cheesy bread from Papa John’s, which we completely dominated in about 20 minutes. I knew that I would need something to soak up all the cider I had enjoyed (plus the fact that the walk home consisted of me saying ‘I’m SO hungry’ every few minutes), so why not make it a food that’s super greasy, super delicious and cheesy and wonderful, and super American? Yummy Papa John’s + watching about half an hour of the third Harry Potter movie before going to sleep was the perfect way to end such a fun night. I really think it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in quite a while.

Last night’s live music hunt was a definite success, and in a little while Alex and I are heading back to Shop Street so that I can begin getting gifts for friends and family. When I realized yesterday that I only had 2 weeks left in Ireland, I realized that I better start looking for gifts. As well as needing to head to Shop Street in search of presents today, we’ll also be back there later tonight in search of some more music. The great thing about Shop Street though is that it’s packed with pubs, so I’m pretty sure that we could go to a different pub every night from now until we leave and still not be able to say that we’ve been to all the pubs on Shop Street. We’ve got to at least try though. How else are we going to spend our nights in Ireland? In all reality, spending them hunting for the best live music and enjoying cider is the only way to go.