“Be grand.” – Pre-Departure Reflections by Kate Brock, UCC Postgraduate Student Ambassador

Howth HikeYou should be excited. Right? There should be a very definitive sense of apprehension and anxiety and jitters and all those knots in your stomach should be distracting you from the work that you ought to be heeding. You know… your summer job in that grey cubicle answering phone calls about homes for lease, and writing tiny stories for the company’s newsletter because that at least is kind of in your area of expertise! Of course, you have so boggled your mind with the finances and the lodging queries that you haven’t really settled into the idea.

You did this the first time you left. That short stint only lasted four months, but it felt like an eternity of slaving away at three or four jobs. The penny-pinching reassurance that it would be just fine once you get there only made you more focused on essays and coffee beans roasting in five pound machines. The churning lulled you into a dreamy reverie built on unfulfilled and unrequited notes of ambition. You can enjoy it once you’ve arrived on that separate shore far from home where all your friends and family pray you don’t get too attached to that fresh green space.

You have not yet discovered the source of ecstatic wonder, nor have you made great lengths to prostrate yourself at the feet of whatever deity extracts slumbering optimism and eager aptitude for dancing and all-out contentment from you, but your daydreams, made of unruly skittering winds and sheer Irish cliffs, clamber to the surface of each cup of tea and poorly brewed American cider. The unnatural mornings that arrive with their cool colors wash your Indiana world in a mist akin to the pale veil of light that emerged at dawn in Maynooth where the green light determined your countenance, and that of your friends, as you jogged to modules during torrential and soft showers alike.

It’s that world you have so romanticized that calls slender tendrils of glee from you at odd moments. In the middle of an ‘80s ballad you hear trad music, full and free. At a flea market, Irish linens sport proverbs and small prayers for the weary and wayward. And, every once in awhile, the closest city sends a gust of Dublin air your way. You await your return to gorse-strewn motorways and craggy rock walls separating campus from city and vice versa. In a coffee house, you turn over pictures from your last impossible journey, marveling at the people and the life that you came to know in a way no one else may. How poignant and perfect and incandescent this knowledge is.

You will go back.

In a few weeks, you will emerge from a plane under the cover of dappled clouds, trading leather espadrilles for forest green wellies. You’ll meet the end of an Irish summer with brightly-hued scarves and crisp, new notebooks ready for autumn. You should take a minute to breathe and replenish before diving into this next adventure. You’ve earned it. So, take your books and read awhile uninterrupted by the thoughts of schooling and education, but for the mere love of learning. Pour yourself a cuppa and gather the blankets up tight about your feet and neck and breathe in that sense of accomplishment. Exhale…

Honestly, you don’t feel gleeful or prepared or aware of the endeavor. You feel rushed and unstable. You don’t believe you’re ready for it in the slightest. And yet, that is the nudge necessary to appreciate what lies ahead. Again, breathe in… breathe out…

Be grand.

Blarney Kennel Shot


An avid NPR addict, cappuccino connoisseur, and chocoholic, Kate Brock is a Mid-West native with Irish roots and a penchant for travel and second-hand books. During the 2016-17 year, she will pursue an MA in Creative Writing and procure her thesis, a book of essays about culture shock and its effect on nomadic students. At least, that’s the plan for now!

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