Hello dear readers!
Well, I’ve been back stateside for a grand total of five days. Of those five, I’ve worked two, St Patrick’s Day was one, and I was just off recovering for the other two. I’ve been a bit, shall we say, lost for words since my return as well, hence no posts of follow-up.
Today, I break that small hiatus. I have prepared a short lost of things I’ve learned from my recent international trip.
1. More jeans, less dresses.
If you know me at all these days, I practically live in dresses and leggings. They are comfortable, and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. It’s fantastic, I tell you! But, whilst on vacation, it’s less of a practical outfit for me. I literally walked holes into two pairs of leggings in one day. Two. In one day. It was ridiculous. In hindsight, I very much wish I had another pair of jeans with me instead of the three dresses I brought.
2. Hiking socks are made for walking all day, athletic socks are not.
The first two days of my trip, I wore the only two pairs of hiking socks I brought with me. My feet were totally fine, even after walking literally all day long. Day three, I switched to my athletic socks. Good gravy was I wishing for hiking socks. By the end of the day, I had three blisters and my ankles hurt like nobody’s business. Hiking socks=far superior.
3. GPS navigation is a lifesaver… When it works.
I would not have made it half the places without good ole Google maps giving me turn by turn directions. That being said, when maps didn’t work, I was so incredibly lost. The most important part of this little PSA – user error is almost always the reason. I found myself walking in the entirety wrong direction, then blaming Google maps for leading me there. Spoiler, it was not Google maps.
4. Food in America is bigger and sweeter.
By the beard of Zeus, we eat too much. Portion sizes in Ireland made it feel like I was being skimped on food, but I was never hungry at the end of my meals. Coincidence? I think not. Also, literally everything is sweetened here in the US. Bread is sweeter. Salad dressing is sweeter. Cake is much sweeter. After getting accustomed to the flavors of Ireland, eating back in the states was pretty intense.
5. Nobody cares if you’re alone.
I struggled with this before I left. I was so worried about eating alone, walking the streets at night alone, going to new towns alone. The reality- no one cares. Sure, some people who want a bit of a chitchat notice, but nobody is sitting there thinking “oh look at her all by her lonesome. Must be terrible”. As soon as I got over that, life was pie.
6. You are not obligated to bring back trinkets for everyone.
When I was younger, I always thought it was customary to bring back some kind of souvenir for your close family and friends. This trip, I was short on space and weight, so I didn’t bring home much of anything. My last day in Dublin, I found myself going from gift shop to gift shop in search of gifts that were light and small for my family. After several hours of searching, I realized it didn’t make sense. Not because I don’t love them enough to get something for them, but because they don’t expect anything. This experience was purely my own, and therefore getting souvenirs for others to remember it by is a bit unnecessary.
7. Plans will be broken.
After months of planning, I felt as though I was prepared for anything. I had everything planned out. But, I learned very quickly – first day in fact – that you can’t plan for it all. I didn’t plan on getting lost in the rain at six in the morning. I didn’t plan on spending 2 hours in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral or for the Jameson Distillery to be closed. I got frustrated a few times in the beginning, but I learned to just go with it. I had a much better time with just a general idea of what I wanted to do instead of a strict itinerary.
8. Coming back is the hardest part of vacation.
I had an amazing time in Ireland. Dublin was brilliant, the countryside was beautiful, the people were friendly. But the best, and entirely unexpected part, was that Ireland felt like home. It’s a hard feeling to describe. As soon as I got off the plane, it was as though life just fell into place. Like the country itself was saying “oh, there you are! I’ve been expecting you for a long time!” I just fit.
I knew it would be difficult to leave, but I was sure I would be sick of being alone. I was sure I would miss states by the end of two weeks. I did not. So when the time came to leave, I was genuinely heartbroken.
I know it sounds insane that one can fall in love with a place after merely visiting. I tried to rationalize it myself. I tried telling myself that living in Ireland would be very different, that vacation is just a highlight reel of the best parts the country had to offer. Truth is, I wanted to get up in the morning to go to work. I wanted to go grocery shopping and walk my dog through the cobblestone streets. You know, normal, boring life stuff. I didn’t need the best of the best the city had to offer. I just wanted to be there.
Obviously, I made it back to the States. I had to employ my hostel to book return transportation to the airport in order to get me there, but I made it.
After a few days of readjusting to “normal life”, I realized it didn’t matter what routine I was able to get myself into, or how much of much free time I planned out to distract me, I would always long to be somewhere else. I can’t really call the US home anymore. Sure, this is where I grew up, where all my family and friends are, but my heart is in Ireland. There will always be a void within me when I am here in the US. A void that can only be filled will when I am in the Emerald Isle.
Fear not, I do not plan on disappearing anytime soon, but I am going back as soon as humanly possible.