My last week in Derry came and went far too quickly. After winter break officially began, the Student Village, including my particular flat, was a ghost town. Only the international students remained. I tried to get out into the city as much as possible during this time to keep from contemplating my impending departure. Never have I felt so conflicted in my life. On one hand, I could not stand to think about leaving my new home, but on the other, I could not wait to return to the utterly familiar. The only word that could describe it is bittersweet.
I decided not to travel during my last few days- more due to insufficient monetary resources than to any other factor. It was fulfilling, however, to just concentrate on completely absorbing my new favorite city. It was rewarding to tread the same beaten path that had seemed so new and unfamiliar three months prior. It is amazing to see such quick adaptation in myself. Where once I had stared blankly into my wallet before pulling out the correct coins a minute later, I could now blindly navigate my purse in seconds. If I had gained nothing else from this experience, I am now proficient in three currencies thank-you-very-much. To this day, I only have a £10 Irish note in my wallet… the re-assimilation process is slow going to say the least.
During the past month or so, I had been rushing around in Derry and on campus like a crazy person. My main focus at the time had been academic work, work, work. Now I actually had time to stop and just enjoy the expansive views of Derry. Because the Foyle River cuts somewhat of a valley through the city, from the top of campus you can see clear across the river to the neighborhoods and fields on the other side. It is amazing how much you can see on an average day- providing that the weather is clear of course. It just makes the city of Richmond seem too flat, or too big, I suppose. Here is a picture of the city:
Making the leaving process so much easier though, was having a close friend who was going through the same thing. Megan was set to leave the night before I was, so we were both sadly counting down the days. She and I frequented our favorite restaurants and pubs in our last days. We shopped for souvenirs to bring home and went to places we had been wanting to go to all semester. We were determined to leave no rock unturned in that city. On our last nights we visited Peadar O’Donnells quite a bit. This is everyone’s favorite pub in Derry. It is the most authentic, right down to the live Irish music played every night. To our great fortune, the father of our best Irish friend Tomas’ band played there most of those nights. Here is a picture inside of the pub with an Irish flag proudly hanging on the ceiling:
There is no better way to take in the Irish culture than to stomp and clap along to Irish songs with friends in a pub. Here is a picture of Me, Tomas, Megan and our friend Ronan on my last night in Peadars:
I was holding back the tears after Tomas’ father dedicated a song to Megan and me. This was the best form of farewell I could have asked for.
Fun Fact #17: Similar to how some Americans refer to their mothers as “ma”, the Irish refer to their fathers as “da”.
Fun Fact #18: Some Irish pound notes feature a picture of the Bushmills whiskey brewery that I visited earlier in the semester.