The first time I visited Ireland (in 2012), I was just about to start my last semester of my undergrad, and was going on a grand adventure with a load of people who I had never met before. I was pushing myself outside of my comfort zone in an effort to experience the “motherland” to the best of my ability.
And though I’ve done a lot of other traveling in the wake of that trip, including another trip back, I’ve thought about that first trip to Ireland almost every single day since then.
But it’s not the rolling green hills, or the beer, or the music that makes me long for my time on the Isle (though I can’t deny that they are part of it…mmmm…beeeeeeer). No, rather, it’s a lesson I learned on my first night in Dublin.
I’ve told the story time and time again, and I swear it changes every single time, but the main points always remain the same: April and I found a pub a few blocks from our hotel where we meet Gavin and Alan who operate as our older brothers for the evening (“Where are you two girls from?” “What made you know we weren’t from around here?” “Your accents are shit.”), we drank much more than we anticipated, we danced and laughed and sang, and we went home to bed.
But mixed in to this series of events, Gavin asked to borrow a piece of paper and a pen from my purse and proceeded to give us the best advice I’ve ever received from anyone. In better words, he told us to make sure to write down at least five things that we learned every day of our trip, no matter how small, and if we can do it on a trip, we’ll be more aware of it for the rest of our lives.
I know I said that I think about that trip to Ireland almost every single day since I’ve been back. But really, I think I’ve actually just thought about how Gavin had us think about what we were learning on our trip (don’t ever waste your money on a half-pint, you’re going to drink a whole one and you know it, for example), and how it was going to apply to the rest of our lives.
I need to get back to this thought process, I think; I need to remember that I’m learning even when I’m not deliberately looking for information, I just have to acknowledge it. This is the goal for the next foreseeable future: To realize at least one thing that I’ve learned every day.
Today, I learned that healthcare is a weird thing to navigate. More to come on that. Maybe.
So really, am I longing for Ireland? Or am I longing for the feeling of learning and knowing?
Let’s go with both.