Finding a home away from home

Friday May 16th 2014

AOÍFE NÍ SHIADHÁIL- AIBREÁN 2014

It has been almost dodhéanta to get a free space in this past week or so to sit done properly and write blog na míosa seo. With my first year in DCU drawing to a close and the prospect of going home to the hills for four whole months looming, there has been a flurry of visitors to the door of our apartment. Not gonna lie, the last minute cups of tea (we’re now too poor for biscuits), yet more movie nights, a prank or two and emotional sessions reminiscing over an incredible year have more than managed to distract me from the final batch of assignments (brón orm Mamaí). Thursday 2nd May brought the Summer Ball and our last opportunity to take ridiculous selfies, wear Dora the Explorer arm bands and just ‘act the maggot’ in general.

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Tá sé deacair domh a chreidmheáil that some of my closest college friends now are those I met during Orientation and Fresher’s week way back in September- I’m either very lucky or very unlucky! I measc rudaí eile, I will dearly miss Dee Murphy shouting ‘Donegal’ across our classroom to get my attention. Not to mention Ellen Downey telling me about her latest disaster to keep me awake during Perception.

So the Belfast City Marathon is done and dusted thank God and now I no longer have to dread the 5th of May! Running 7.1 miles outside my comfort zone was honestly one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done and there were so many times when I said to myself ‘I would rather repeat my Leaving Cert than do this thing’. However, the buzz and sense of achievement afterwards was overwhelming and I spent the rest of the day smiling like a real amadán. It was so good to complete it alongside my fellow scholars and I think it’s fair to say we can be proud of our very respectable finishing time. I couldn’t quite get over how supportive the people of Belfast were lining the streets, cheering us on and offering water and goodies to keep us going. The cineáltas and cairdeas of the other runners also took me by surprise and there truly was such a great atmosphere throughout the day. At one point during my leg I started praying the rosary to try to keep myself from stopping and, while a lot of people were probably thinking ‘Look at that crazy doll talking to herself’, it really did give me the strength I needed to see it through to the end. It would be unforgiveable to move on from marathon talk without giving a special mention to boy wonder, Stephen McCrystall. Who else would be able to secretly organise the design, financing and manufacture of bespoke O’Neills jerseys especially for race day? The epitome of a gem agus stud muffin ceart.

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Perhaps one of the most memorable weekends for me i mbliana was the Youth 2000 retreat in Gaillimh a few weeks ago. I can’t adequately put into words just how special it was and how grateful I was to be a part of it. It helped me to open my heart to God and to truly experience the joy that can be got from living your life in his name. One thing that can’t really be described was the sheer craic and spraoi that was had that weekend at what became known as ‘Jesus camp’. Chuir sé gliondar ar mo chroí to meet people so friendly and open and so in love with life. Nobody cared where you came from, what you looked like or what kind of life you were going back to which meant that it was a wonderful way to take time out and find síochán agus suaimhneas. One of the highlights for me was the flying high feeling that followed confession and the healing service. The following are just a few notes I took during the various talks:

  • FAITH= Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him
  • If he doesn’t give you exactly what you ask for it just means that he has something better planned for you.
  • The Eucharist is like a top-up of grace for your heart and mind.
  • Your mission should you choose to accept it is to light up the world. You’ll never walk alone and you’ll always have food for the journey. He will let you know when you’re on the right track. It’s not about where you are now but about the desire to go further
  • “Just have the craic with God, sure isn’t he nuts about ya”
  • Invite God into your life and say bring it on. Say ‘God, work on me and make me the best version of myself I can be’. He will take all the good things in your life and multiply them.
  • God’s plan is good news. He wants you to be happy and to prosper. People fear God because they think following God equates to a boring life. It’s true it can be a challenge at times but if you take up the crosses you also get to claim the promises.
  • God wants you to win. He knows you better than you know yourself and he will make your dreams possible if you cooperate.
  • We become what we surround ourselves with so surround yourself with goodness. We have a role of service to God. Give something back by being generous with your time, treasure and talent.

I’d just like to say focal nó dhó to my wonderful 6th year friends who round about now are trying to finalise CAO forms and make decisions that feel like they will map out the rest of your life. My first piece of comhairle would be not to think this way because it’s how I felt and it couldn’t be further from the truth. I changed my mind after I had finished my Leaving Cert from a course I’d wanted for three years previously to one that I’d never really seriously considered. And thankfully, since then I’ve never looked back. But if the worst comes to the worst and you make the wrong decision, it’s really not the end of the world. Whatever is meant for you will find you and I can honestly say from experience that everything works out sa deireadh thiar thall, no matter how bumpy the road is to get there. It’s tough not being sure of what you want but you just have to trust that things will fall into place eventually. Just keep trying and keep moving lá i ndiaidh lae and in the end life and God will guide you to where you need to be. Above everything else áfach, ádh mór with the home stretch of studying and try not to break your calculator. Now is the time when you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel (as well as the best sunshine we’ve had all year) and pity the current 5th years who have it all ahead of them. Make the most of your last few weeks sa mheánscoil and, most importantly, not having to decide what to wear when you get up in the morning.

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I’ve more than made the most of my last month in DCU with a day out at Belfast’s Lá Dearg, the student race day in Leopardstown and a trip to Páirc an Chrócaigh to see my beloved Donegal lose play being just a few of my many adventures.

 

When I consider that I’ve gone from being so homesick I wanted to get on a bus and head for the hills to dreading spending 4 months in glamorous Kerrykeel, I really feel so blessed. Hand on heart, it’s been the best year of my life and one that I will never forget. One might even go as far as to say that it’s gone quite smoooothly.

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Slán agus beannacht,

Aoífe