Coming to Cork vs.
Coming Back to Cork
First time – study abroad
I came to Cork unsure. Picking a city sight-unseen was like signing up for a five month relationship with a person I had never met. So I read the blurbs in some brochures, did a couple Google searches, received confusing advice from my adviser and settled on a city that, on paper, seemed to work – Cork. Good size, right language, and a connection to my heritage. Sold.
I soon learned, happily, that the reading I had done couldn’t capture the vivacity of Grand Parade on a sunny day, or the undercurrent of city and county pride that so reminded me of home. I didn’t know I’d be in for the best hot chocolate of my life or the sincerest hospitality I had ever been offered. I never felt lost in the bustle of a global metropolis, but still made close friends from truly all over the world. I fell into a routine of shopping and dancing and chatting and tea, but I never lost my curiosity over the exoticisms that a native might view as banalities. I saw the (unintentional) wisdom in my choice. Cork was somewhere to which I eagerly wanted to belong again.
Second time as a postgraduate student
I came back to Cork as a postgrad with far more intention. I didn’t want a nostalgic holiday to revisit the things they put in the brochures. I wanted to experience every little triviality and imperfection it has to offer in a way only a resident can. So, when the unique scent combination of chips and low-tide drifts into my window, I smile at the contradictions. Warmly and peacefully at home, yet always with the underlying excitement of being halfway across the world. An outsider and an insider to the city all at once. A Corkonian and a Bostonian.
Kerri Blanchard, MA Irish Studies student UCC 2013/2014