I’m sitting with two of my best friends by a window in the cafeteria. The sunlight is streaming in… it’s a beautiful Monday, a great start to the week.
As I look around at everyone entering, sitting, leaving, I see four different friends getting their own food and then sitting down at individual tables.
Less than three months ago we ate all of our meals together.
This is a thought that makes me pause. Can it be? My semester studying abroad in Ireland feels so long ago. It’s like it was a different lifetime, and I’m a time-traveler, jumping between two time-streams. I think about all the experiences I had when I studied abroad for three months in Belfast, Northern Ireland with 19 other JBU students.
College is funny. Your life is divided up into such distinct seasons.
We have labels and countdowns and events and meetings and benchmarks and the list goes on. Most people would think that Ireland was a distinct season—the 89 days I spent in that country.
I’m starting to see it differently, though. Ireland started for me in Sophomore year when I saw the Ireland team’s submission video for the Mock Rock lip-sync competition. Seeing the footage of the island Carrick-A-Rede and the ruins of Inch Abbey made my desire to go grow into a fire, a bundle of anxious nerves and a flurry of forms and activity until I finally got my acceptance letter.
Then I entered the season of anticipation. I had a Pinterest board dedicated almost entirely on how to pack for Ireland in the fall of my Junior year.
Finally, I traveled to and lived in Belfast, exploring and adventuring and discovering how beautiful life could be.
Now, having returned to the States, I’m still processing, learning and growing from this experience, which has influenced me well beyond the actual 89 days overseas.
JBU’s Irish Studies Semester was one of the best decisions I could have ever made while in college. It forced me to struggle with religious tension and to learn how to live with others gracefully, and it showed me how much I love to travel and experience new cultures.
While here at JBU, I’m still learning how to live out what I learned in Ireland. Reaching out to others, creating a culture of listening and understanding, and loving others well are things I haven’t figured out yet, but that’s the beauty of it. My Ireland “season” hasn’t ended—it’s still teaching me and showing me things I didn’t know before.
Life is fluid, constant. We can’t put things into boxes and stuff them behind nice simple labels. College is four years, divided into semesters and breaks and months. But what happens at JBU won’t stay at JBU—it’ll stay with you for the rest of your life.