T-minus 8 Hours Until I Leave for Ireland
In roughly eight hours, nine minutes, and fifty eight seconds, I will arrive at Denver International Airport and begin my journey to Galway, Ireland with IFSA Butler. But who’s keeping track, right?
The closer my journey comes, the more excited–and, naturally, nervous–I become. I can’t seem to control how eager I am to leave. Between all of the packing I’ve done and the errands I’ve had to run to prepare for my semester abroad, I’m finding that I’ll have little free time to really consider my expectations of Galway and my entire study abroad experience. However, one thought has been repeatedly popping in and out of my mind, lately. It has to do with the old idea of expectations vs. reality.
For those of you unfamiliar with the meme of expectations vs. reality going around the internet, I’ve included an image that basically captures the spirit of the internet sensation: [SinglePic not found]
As you can see, sometimes the sandcastle you build isn’t quite the one you had in mind. I keep on thinking of my semester in Ireland in these terms, especially as my departure date nears. I keep on thinking to myself, “What if you are only expecting to have a great time? What if you have a lousy time? What if every single individual in the country is mean to you for no apparent reason?” What if, what if, what if… I’ve bombarded myself with what ifs dependent entirely upon my expectations of Ireland–that I will have a wonderful time there–versus the bizarre realities that I can imagine replacing those expectations. And lately, I’ve actually been visualizing myself in one of those expectation vs. reality pictures: the expectation is me smiling and joyful in a wonderful country, the reality is me sitting in the rain, probably weeping. Perhaps the surrounding people point and laugh at my misery. The image is totally absurd.
My goal for the rest of my preparation–besides packing and making my plane successfully– is to replace my bizarre expectations vs. reality thoughts with thoughts of what is idealistic vs realistic. A situation doesn’t have to be perfect to make it meaningful. I may not instantly receive the gift of gab after kissing the Blarney stone, but I can sure as heck have a good time going there and having an experience. And I may feel homesick, or I may feel lonely. But that doesn’t quite mean that everyone on the island despises me and wishes me to leave. As much as I love extremes, they seem to be useless in this capacity.
My real goal? I’d say it is to experience this amazing opportunity, regardless of expectations vs. reality. Because, unlike all of my nightmares or dreams or expectations, living this experience is totally real.