The Boys Are Back In Town
With the last of the wintery weather hopefully behind us, the spring semester at TCD has finally begun, its doors open to a whole new realm of possibilities for misadventures within the confines of the college, the city of Dublin, the green acres of Ireland, and all of the shores and lands a short toss of the stone away, paid in by pennies in comparison to the hellish fees that US airlines subjugate you to. I thankfully avoided all of the horrors that my friends found themselves in while trying to get home from places like London; another wonderful benefit of being gone for a year and having no intention or desire to return to the freezing and godforsaken tundra that is oft called Minnesota is that I didn’t have to worry about storms closing down airports in two different places. I’ve expressed little interest (read: none) to my friends and family in going back to a place during when there are blizzards every day, you never see the sun, and for weeks on end the temperature is -40 which means it doesn’t matter which temperature scale you use because they meet up at that point, which is an awful thing to think about, so I won’t, and don’t.
Besides the usual drudgery of returning to school and thus the Irish version of work, of which I have come to love for how the ease I found in adapting to such a relaxed form, a new semester of school brings new surprises into the mix outside of the usual academic switch-a-roos. Like a new season of a television show, a new semester is a chance to introduce brand=spanking new characters into the situation to give it some spice, get rid of old characters for dramatic effect or because they just sucked, and push the show into new directions. The end of the fall semester meant goodbyes to friends who had to leave to go back to their schools back in the US (though I never actually said goodbye to anyone), but the opening of the spring had Butler building up their cast of students from just myself and my flatmate to an additional eleven students, bringing the total of Butler TCD students to an auspicious thirteen. Not only does the introduction of so many people change the feeling of the program, though neither a bood or bad direction, simply neutral, the bigger whopper in terms of dynamics is the wildcard of a new flatmate being tossed into the mix. Like any successful show, forcing in a new main character completely transforms the experience; for better, for worse, for anything?
I will admit a certain kind of disregard, which sounds so much harsher than I mean, for the new Butler students, not for their behavior or personalities, of which I’ve really enjoyed whenever I’ve gone out with them as they tend to have high and jovial spirits with a treasurable excitement for the adventure they’ve just begun. No, my distance from them is instead out of a fear that I might get caught up with them precisely because they are a fun lot that is so readily accessible, but they’re not the reason why I’m here: Irish kids are. One of the reasons I picked Ireland was that I knew that not only no one else from my college was coming here, but also fewer people tended to come to Ireland than say Scotland or England. Being in a program where I only had one other person that I could possibly spend time with “automatically” forced me to go out and find people to make relationships with, locals relationships, and now I have a healthy amount of Irish friends, something that I found my friends going on other non-Butler programs in England or wherever they went didn’t get, ironically so for a study-abroad program. Which is to say nothing of any of the new people or their reasons for being here, and already I am noticing their making local friends and finding their own lives is already happening, but the fear of having an easier path to slip onto was, and still is, a great fear of mine.
Away from that fear though, is a semester that I can look forward to, with classes I know I’ll enjoy that are full of friends previously made, events around Dublin up the wahzoo, and trips all over to make the most of my remaining months in Ireland; I have friends to visit all over Europe, like Spain and Austria, I’ve already lined up a pilgrimage to visit the concentration camps around Krakow, there’s a Butler trip to Northern Ireland in a few short weeks, I plan a return to England to visit more friends there, Scotland as well, and if all works out I may find myself back on the Aran Island with two of my best friends from home to celebrate Tedfest V, a tribute to the late, great, television show, Father Ted, held on the islands where my friends and I might find ourselves living in a Mongolian Yurt for a weekend. And of course, possibly the most celebrated holiday in all of Ireland, with its ripples felt round the world, Saint Patrick’s Day. Excitement is in the air, my notebook is ready, Ryan Air’s jets are fuelled and ready to go for cheap, and the Guinness is delicious, so, once more, into the mystic I go.