Just like that, my Irish adventure is at an end. I had a beautiful 12-months in Galway and countless memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. My return home is bittersweet to be sure, as I am living firmly in the space between nostalgia for those I left behind and the euphoria for those I am about to reconnect with. Any big transition brings a grieving process of sorts and I write to honor my emotions.
Here are some treasures I uncovered along the way:
- I came to Ireland for my Master’s Degree in Film Production and Direction, with the sole intention of teaching storytelling at the collegiate level. My passion for inspiring others still burns, but my time spent consuming the practice of cinema has helped me rediscover my own creative voice. I have stories I want to tell. I am grateful that I have produced multiple short films over the recent academic year, several which have already screened at film festivals internationally. I have a voice and I finally feel as if I have the confidence to express it.
Long-distance relationships are a difficult marathon. But they are worth it when your partner is the most patient, courageous and supportive person you know. I am grateful beyond words for my stunning companion. Let’s keep writing our crazy story.
- I’ve often felt like a bit of a loner all of my life. Chalk it up to a misplaced sense of Peter Parker-syndrome; maybe it came from my difficulties with a stutter as a child. Regardless, I’ve often felt as if the best road was the one with the least amount of interaction along the way. And yet, community is joy in its purest form. Every soul that welcomed me in Ireland, every heart that kept me, every laugh that was shared with me, brought a glowing feeling of truly being alive. I feel as if my newfound extended Irish family saw me for who I strive to be. When you have so many people that believe in you, it’s time to start believing in yourself. In opening ourselves to human connection, the true alchemy of life unfolds.
- On a related note, when the Irish chastise you for being the first one to leave the pub (at 2am on a Sunday), it’s really because they care about you. Also, don’t bring up the fact that you are a U2 fan, unless you want to incite further ridicule. It comes with the territory. Rebuke equals affection.
- Speaking of the pub, I was always a little intimidated by alcohol. In growing up in an alcohol-free household (for the best of reasons), drinking was never something I was exposed to. Even throughout my late-teens and twenties, I was often uncomfortable around it, thinking that having a drink was unhealthy on every level. After living in Ireland for a year, where the local pub is an epicenter of culture, I feel comfortable in the fact that I can have a drink or two and it does not mean that I have a problem. Some of my finest Ireland memories are anchored in the back corner of a pub, pint glasses in tow, connecting with friends in meaningful conversation. Getting drunk has never been an interest of mine and it never will be, but I alone determine my relationship with alcohol. And it can be a healthy one.
- If I can live on the west coast of Ireland in January, where there is barely 7 hours of daylight and the sun goes into hibernation for weeks on end, I can live anywhere. The Irish rain is no joke, but at least it keeps everything green. And, when the sun finally does make an appearance, it feels as if you’ve been given a new lease on life. Therefore, take advantage when the weather is kind. Get out and play!
- The wealth of your experience is always determined by the depth in which you give. I gave all I had to my Irish journey and in turn, received more elation, education and evolution than I could ever ask for.
Onto the next adventure.
(Copyright 2018 ~ Jason Natzke)