Busy! Is it just me, or are all internationals hyper-organised? Something to do with making sure paperwork is in on time, all official documents accounted for and authorizations achieved. If you, like me arrived a month early, you too might have been making lists and filling your day with essentials such as house hunting and immigration appointments. And you too would have learnt that Ireland runs in a different time-space continuum and ‘urgency’ is not a meaningful word here. So perhaps, having invested in a ‘Don’t panic’ tshirt and ‘Sure, it’ll sort itself’ local mentality, you would have taken a moment of silent reprieve. Before the next great uncertainty, beyond that of attaining legal student status; shelter and food – hit you. Something you may not have considered since you first school days. An anxiety that made no sense as an adult. How on earth were you going to make friends?
Wandering through the campus, sitting in inductions, attending all kinds of meetups – well it just seemed that everybody knew everybody and went to a wedding of someone from a neighbouring county, who had a cousin who played GAA with…and so on and so forth till it became evident that all of Ireland was somehow connected and this was going to be a major endeavour to break into especially with a complete inability to take in the pace of conversation and variance of accents (my vocal twangs included).
So there I was; sitting in the international registration office wondering if this new social ineptitude was something only I was inflicted with. And then it happened. Looking down at my official introduction to Cork pamphlet for inspiration, confronted with the cover image of a man in what appeared to be a beret, with thumbs up saying ‘Welcome to Cork , like?’ I was caught in a paroxysm of laughter – it could have been sheer hysteria from a lack of social interaction – but no, it wasn’t just me! I could hear other muffled giggles in the room somewhere and I looked up – eyes met across a crowded room of diligent form fillers – and just like that I had made a friend. No we did not have the same lunchbox or sports logo on our bags or any of the other things that started those childhood connections. We had something better – the same sense of adventure, the one that brought us here to a place completely unfamiliar in which to create something new. And that is what life in UCC and indeed Cork is all about – opportunities. And there have been so many already, but that’s another story. And as it turns out, my new mate and I have developed a county connection – neither of us support Munster in the Rugby!
(NB. But we do support Ireland – so don’t kick us out just yet!)
Blog entry by Ravnita Sharma, MBS (Int Public Policy & Diplomacy)