It has officially been two weeks since I arrived in Tully Cross, Ireland, and what a two weeks it has been!
These first 14 days have been packed full of delights and challenges. This is my first time traveling outside of the United States, and I have already learned so much about myself and my ability to thrive in a completely foreign culture.
Tully Cross is a small village on the West coast of Ireland, in the Connemara region of county Galway. We are situated on the Renvyle Peninsula, surrounded by small mountains and vast ocean. I have the pleasure to study abroad in a more rural area of Ireland, which I feel has allowed me to really focus on the importance of the local community. Everyone here must rely on each other for well being. If one cottage is missing a can-opener, you knock on the cottage next door. If one pub is out of ice, you walk down the road to the second pub, and are welcomed with open arms and a nod of knowledge.
I was at first shocked at the openness of everyone to help each other, not in that I didn’t believe it was possible, but in how necessary it is. I’ve been met with a couple of challenges myself, such as no heat or wifi in my cottage, or having no food until a grocery run the next Monday in a village two towns over. But there has not been a moment where I was in dire stress or worry, because the community rallied around me to help. One local pub, Angler’s Rest, allows students to come and sit by the peat burning fire to warm up and use wifi for as long as they need, no purchase necessary. It feels to me that the businesses here are less of a profit based entity, but rather a second home where anyone can flourish in warmth and safety.
I will admit the struggles I have adjusting to culture. Sometimes I feel unable to understand certain cultural practices, or I feel constantly in the dark, unknowing of how to properly act in a respectful way. And yet I have faced no harsh criticism, only a gentle guiding remark, not to discipline, but to encourage growth.
I think this mural I found in the village of Letterfrack sums up what I am trying to say:
“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure”
For a people who have experienced some of the harshest realities and brutalist treatment, the Irish have arisen as a sparkling gem, reflecting light onto others to guide them to their own transformation to beauty. I hope that I may thrive under the pressures I face, and become that illuminating substance too.
Until next time my friends,