Till Later

Taken on Inis Mór

Last September, one week after arriving in Galway, I wrote a note to myself and stuck it in the depths of my 300-something page scrapbook. I’d completely forgotten about it until a few nights ago, when I was sorting through the book to find a home for the miscellaneous paper junk I’ve acquired over the year. The letter reads:


September 3rd, 2023

Hiii—I’m writing this letter from my new room in Galway! Ahh! Everything feels so strange and weird and wonderful. I was up until 3 AM last night unpacking the last of my suitcases, and the room is beginning to feel familiar. I can see the ocean from my room’s window, and I just came back from a sunny, 79-degree weather day reading on the beach (wild, right?). The September Summer is real, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to experience it.

I don’t have anything specific to say. I just want take note of how I’m feeling before I forget. Grandma and Mom went home several days ago, and I’ve felt a bit anxious since they’ve left. Everything is new and stimulating, and it’s all so exciting, but I feel a bit out of my depth. Perhaps my anxieties will dissipate once classes start—I imagine that they will. 

I want to learn a new creative skill while I’m here (maybe bodhrán? pastels?) and take full advantage of my proximity to the sea. I plan to write a lot of letters (this is me practicing my cursive), take as many long walks on the prom as I can, and become a regular somewhere. TBD where that place will be. In the meantime, I’m going to stop by Secret Garden to get a pastry and buy some stamps so that I can send my first round of postcards. I wrote a few on that grassy patch along River Corrib yesterday and it helped to calm me down, so maybe I’ll do that again. I hate to end this so abruptly, but the weather outside is too good to miss! Till later…

Reading the letter back, I realize that I had completely forgotten about my feelings of apprehension at the start of the year. In the weeks after, I became close friends with the girls I met through my course, and we spent the next eight months hosting weeknight dinners, gossiping during lunch between our classes, going for morning swims, exchanging family recipes, frequenting the monthly drag shows at the Róisín Dubh, and spending more time in the Secret Garden than I’m willing to admit. I bought a set of oil pastels, filled an entire sketchbook with drawings from my travels in Ireland, and spent my Thursday nights in the Galway Pottery studio learning to never attach myself to a pottery creation, because it will inevitably fly off of the wheel and morph into an unrecognizable vessel that I’ll say is intentional.

In the spring, I went hiking in Connemara with the university’s mountaineering club, and enjoyed dozens of morning and night walks along the promenade. These walks particularly humored me when the weather broke 50 degrees and I saw the masses flocking to the Creamery for a 99. Ali introduced me to the finest wine bars that Galway has to offer, and never ceased to amaze me with her graciousness, humility, and ability to light up a room, no matter who’s in it. Rabhya generously hosted me for wonderful sleepovers, which made the long nights feel cozy, not oppressive, and Zoha always had the perfect book/song/TV recommendation that I didn’t know I needed. Alex and Sam provided first-class entertainment whenever I was cooking, and Vikram made me laugh often about philosophy, of all things. 

In such a short time, my apprehension about moving to Galway disappeared and was replaced by the fear of ever having to leave. As I write this from the Dublin airport waiting for my return flight to Chicago, I am immensely grateful for the Mitchell Scholarship and all of the people who made this year the most enjoyable and memorable year yet. Till later, Galway.

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