Wow, what a few months it has been. It feels like just yesterday that I was walking across the stage at Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ and receiving a maroon folder inscribed with the logo of Arizona State University as I was fake graduating.
“Wait, what? Fake graduating?” That may be what you are asking yourself right now.
Well, yes, technically, my walk across the stage at Gammage was a mere symbolic measure of my final semester in Tempe coming to a close. You see, I was heading to a new campus in a new city and country to finish my degree. Let’s start by telling of how I got there.
When I was a senior in high school, my brother studied abroad in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. For three years, I have heard all of his stories of his travels, what he did with his friends in Europe and just all of the crazy things he did during his time in Europe. I thought that sounded amazing, and I knew that I wanted to get over to Europe at some point, but for the first two years of college, I never thought that studying abroad was going to work for me.
I always had a plan. I knew I wanted to get into college, study journalism, then go out, get a job and work my way up to becoming the host of College GameDay on ESPN. Now, that in general still is the plan, and honestly, I think I’m jumping into the real world at around the right time, because when ESPN will be looking for the 3rd host of College GameDay, I should be a seasoned journalist (barring that Rece [or Reese, seeing as I have heard that he changed how he is spelling his name due to a promotional deal with Reese’s] Davis keeps the job for awhile). But never in that plan was a trip across the Atlantic to study at another university. Once I signed on the dotted line, metaphorically of course, due to today’s digital age, I became a Sun Devil for life. I never thought that studying abroad held any real value for me. Little did I know how much God had in store for me when it came to this possible trip in the future.
“What will being in another country teach me about being a journalist in the United States?” “Can’t I graduate and get working earlier if I stay here and finish at the end of my ‘junior’ year?” “Will I even have enough money to go over there?”
All of these questions, and so many more, went through my mind as I debated coming to Europe. I even tried to convince my mom and my brother to stop pestering me about studying abroad using these questions.
Well, as we can see now, my plan has changed, and I didn’t convince my mom or my brother.
During the summer and autumn of 2014, I kept debating in my head and listening to my mom and my brother continue their pleas until one day, I just relented. My mom had always said that my paternal grandfather would be willing to help pay for my trip, as it had to do with school, and I knew that it would be an amazing experience so I just decided to say why not? Basically, God had used my mom and brother to wear me down and to relent to Him wanting me here. I am very interested to search for why God wants me here in Dublin this semester, but as with everything He does, I am sure that there is an amazing reason as to why he brought me here!
I then started to research programs through Arizona State’s Study Abroad Office and I found a fantastic program in Dublin, Ireland, a city and country I have always wanted to visit, due to Irish roots deep within me. I decided to study with the CAPA Dublin program at Griffith College in Dublin.
I went about the various steps that I needed to complete before departure during the spring 2015 semester and after walking across the stage at Gammage in May and spending two final weeks in Arizona, I drove up to my hometown, Fort Collins, Colorado, with my girlfriend, Julia (with a stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to see one of my great friends and mentors, Chris Lindstrom), and began my summer.
I knew that I needed to get a job this summer to make some money for the trip, so I went out and applied at so many places before getting a job at a locally-owned restaurant called Café Mexicali. Café Mex is an awesome place to work, and I am so thankful for that place, because they are allowing me to come back and work after my trip.
Throughout the summer I made it back down to Arizona twice, the first time in June/early July for the wedding of two great friends, Chandler and Kellie Nick, and Julia’s 22nd birthday! She got a giant cinnamon roll at a restaurant in Sedona and then cake at dinner in Tucson. The dinner in Tucson was doubly special, as we went to El Corral, the restaurant my parents went to after they got engaged. The second time was about a week before I departed for Dublin, as a goodbye trip, since I will be in Dublin for three months. Julia also made it up to Fort Collins after her trip to Canada in July, and I was very happy to have her in Fort Collins for almost a week.
Pretty soon after my trip to Tucson over Labor Day weekend, it was time for me to board my first flight to Dublin! I don’t know why but I had been fixated on my 7-hour flight from Chicago to Dublin. I was almost fearful of it. I had never been on a flight that long in my life and to actually take one, well, I was worried. Julia, along with anyone else I had told about this, always reassured me and told me it would be easy. “They’ll feed you!” “There will be movies.” “Take a sleeping pill and it will all be over before you know it.” I heard those pieces of advice over and over, but that did nothing to calm my nerves. My nerves were never really calm until that plane came up off the ground and I muttered to myself, “Well, there’s no going back now.”
Crazy to think that the next flight out of this gate will be my plane to #Chicago, the first leg of my trip to #Dublin! This has been a fantastic summer full of work at #CafeMexicali, trips to see the amazing, wonderful and beautiful @juliawristen and so much more but I am really excited to head over to #Ireland and get my #StudyAbroad adventure started with @capastudyabroad! This is going to be an amazing end to my college experience! If you want to contact me, use Facebook, viber, or whatsapp! Prayers for safe travels would be much appreciated! #USA, I'll miss you! #dublinhereicome #CAPADublin #CAPAStudyAbroad #ASUSAO #flying #airport #DIA #letsgoooooo #travel
And it did turn out to be a fairly easy flight! Seven hours is still a very long time to be cramped up in a metal tube (and I have no idea what I will do for the 10 hours of my flight from London to Dallas in December), but I sat next to a very nice couple who had a relative in the IRA during the Easter Rising and another one who owned a bar in Ireland, and a movie I had been wanting to see, Tomorrowland, was playing, so I talked to them, watched the movie, tried to sleep (and did, but only for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half), and ate when the flight attendants brought food.
At seven in the morning in Dublin (even though it felt like midnight for me), my flight landed safely and I went through immigration very excited and ready to begin my journey in Ireland. That journey got delayed for about four hours as I waited with other American students (some in my program, some not) who are studying at Griffith for the shuttle to campus and for everyone to arrive.
The logo for Griffith College, the university I am studying at in Dublin!
Eventually we did make it to Griffith and got moved into the rooms and it has been a very exciting first few days! I am living with RJ Murphy, who goes to Anderson University in South Carolina, and then we have two flatmates, Darby Vance, who also attends Arizona State, and then Thomas Kent Reddington-Kincaid III, who attends the University of Florida. In total there are 18 students studying here in the CAPA Dublin program and I am excited to get to know all of them over the course of the next three months!
So far, I have been all over south Dublin, shopping on Camden Row and Grafton Street, seeing St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and so many other sights on a historical walking tour and then seeing some of North Dublin, like Phoenix Park and the Spire, and then taking tours of the Old Jameson Distillery and, what has probably been my favorite part of the trip so far, other than meeting new people, taking a tour of Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced Kill-main-um jail), a very historic prison in Dublin, where the 14 leaders of the Easter Rising were imprisoned by the Crown of England and later executed. (Pictures from my trip so far can be found here: My Three Months as a Dubliner)
We’ve also found a few awesome pubs (it is Dublin, after all), with the top three so far being the Bleeding Horse, Whelan’s (where a scene from PS I Love You was filmed), and the Bernard Shaw.
The process of getting classes all sorted out has been a pain, but hopefully it will be done soon and I can update you all with the list of what will hopefully be the last classes I take in my life.
We have also gotten some fantastic weather while I have been in Dublin! It rained the first day that I was here, and it just started raining, but other than that, it has been sunny and amazing!
It has also definitely been hard being so far away from home and 7 or 8 hours ahead of everyone I know, especially Julia, but I know that God has reason for this trip and that He will reveal it to me during all of the fun times that I have here in Dublin and anywhere else that I may travel (including a possible trip to Galway this weekend)! I am very excited for Culture Night tomorrow, which is a once-a-year event in Dublin where all of the sights are open for free to celebrate Irish culture, and then for the All-Ireland Gaelic football final on Sunday between Kerry and Dublin (COYBIB! Go Dubs)! We will also be touring the national Gaelic football stadium where the final will be played, Croke Park, tomorrow, and that is sure to be a ton of fun!
Well, that’s enough for now, I’ll be back soon with updates from Dublin! If you have an iPhone and you want to iMessage me, I got an Irish SIM card and number, and you can iMessage me at +353 (89) 700 1277. I’ll be back at +1 (970) 556-2979 in December. Anyone without an iPhone or iMessage or any sort should reach me on Viber or WhatsApp where I go by the American phone number. My Skype name is jeff.vinton52 if anyone wants to video message me there!