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“Leaving”- Emily Stakem, UCC US Student Ambassador

I’m writing this on my last full day in Ireland. I’ve turned in my last assignment, almost all of my things are packed away, my kitchen is down to bare bones, and my heart is heavy. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to go home. I’m ready for Christmas, seeing friends and family, snuggling with my dogs, and, of course, getting Dunkin Donuts. At the end of most semesters, I’m itching to come home, counting down the seconds until I can load up my car and leave all the stress of finals behind. But this is the first semester I’ve ever wanted to stretch on just a little longer. My time here in Cork has been amazing, breathtaking, eye opening, awe inspiring, and any other positive adjective you can think of. I’ve fallen in love with every single place I’ve visited in Ireland, and I just haven’t been able to comprehend that my time here is coming to a close. It’s still hasn’t really hit met yet that I will be on a plane home this time tomorrow.

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When I first got accepted to study abroad, I was excited, but also terrified. Four months in a different country seemed like an eternity, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to possibly be away from my comfortable, familiar surroundings for that long. But, sitting here four months later, I’m not quite sure where the time has gone. On my first day here, I walked to get groceries with two of my flat mates. We had walked to Lidl together, but decided to come home separately. The feeling of accomplishment when I made my way back to the apartment without help or directions was the first of many small victories I would experience while here. If you know me, you’ll know that getting myself anywhere without a GPS is an actual nightmare. I learned how to adjust to being in a large lecture hall for classes, instead of a small seminar. It became easier to look right first when crossing the street instead of looking left. My goal was to adjust, but I really think I thrived.

I’m also not great with saying goodbye. Sometimes my goodbyes go on too long with “just one more hug”, and other times I just forget to say goodbye at all. Just the other week, I had difficulty saying goodbye to a pair of socks that had gotten holes and needed to be thrown away. I can be too sentimental, and keep little trinkets and things as a memory of a certain time. I’ve been known to keep caps from a unique bottle, or coffee cup sleeves from little cafes. So of course, as I pack my things, I will be tucking away a bag full of maps, napkins, and trinkets from my travels. My favorite memoir I’ll be carrying with me is the numerical map coordinates of Cork City, which I’ve gotten tattooed on my arm, lest I forget my time here.

staken-2I’m excited to go home, for sure, but there are endless things I’ll miss about living here. I’ll miss the coffee shops and cafes filled with scones that are a thousand times better than any scone that I’ve gotten in America. I’ll miss walking through the city, and meandering down the side streets and alleys trying to find cool new shops. Most of all, I’ll miss all the wonderful people I have met and befriended, without who my time here would not have been as great. But I know that tomorrow as I board my flight, it won’t be the last time I visit this beautiful Emerald Isle.

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