Today I was introduced to Gaelic football, the Irish national sport, which gave me the impression that someone said, Wouldn't it be so cool if we played basketball, baseball, soccer, American football, volleyball and a little rugby ALL AT ONCE? To which the masses replied, YES. I watched in a pub with my slightly eccentric but always friendly Airbnb host, Martina. I've developed a unique relationship with Martina this week, wherein she tells me intimate details of her unstable financial profile and complains about other house-guests, while I sip coffee and try not to give away that I feel that I'm absolutely not the person to be fielding this commentary. Anyway, she's an alright lady and it was "good craic" to watch the match, which happened to be the final championship of the season.
My first week had all the essential elements of a made-for-TV coming of age story; excitement, adventure, self-reflection, a few tears, and some slow parts that should have been cut.
I've really come around to the au pair idea, if simply for a lack of any other viable options. This afternoon I met a family with whom I could really see myself staying; the 3-year-old twin boys are pretty spirited - "spirited" sometimes being the Emily Post version of "flipping crazy"; but seriously, they're little boys so they seem to have about the right amount of "spirit" for their age. The hours are structured to where I have plenty of free time for school work and for myself; and the bedroom I would have is large and they don't mind Mathieu staying with me when he visits. They're a nice couple, and I really connected with the mother, which I find is just as important as getting along with the kids. I'm still planning to visit one other family that lives a few hours north, in the countryside, (if only for the trip!) and will make my decision by Tuesday. SO, hopefully within the next few days I'll be well on my way to being settled.
As far as my mental and emotional adjustments go, I have my highs and lows. Some days I feel all the "right" things; happy to be in a cool new place, inspired to discover and experience. Other days I binge-watch episodes of New Girl on Netflix because I figured out how to toggle between country settings for greater title selection. (I WILL NOT BE JUDGED.)
Yesterday was probably my favorite day so far. I took a ferry boat to the Aran Islands with my new friends, and picked up a few more new friends along the way. The islands are just off the Galway coast and mostly residential and farm lands, but a tourist destination for the amazing landscapes and seascapes. We rented bikes and cycled all over; saw some intense cliffs dropping straight into the blue-green water; hiked over farmlands, sometimes right in with cows, who were actually pretty chill about our brief invasion of their snacking territory. We put our toes in the sand and walked (timidly) a few feet into the chilly Atlantic; I even fed a donkey some wild flowers I'd picked. I mean, seriously? Such a great Saturday. And for dinner, we put back all our biked-off calories with a few pints and some fish and chips. Hashtag Ireland.
In summation, despite my brief (perhaps period-induced) emotional breakdown while on Skype with Mathieu, it's been a nice time so far. Ok, maybe it wasn't an emotional breakdown, but hearing his voice just made me homesick which made the tears come pouring and I'm sure that's normal. (I'm sure that's normal, I'm sure that's normal, I'm sure that's normal). Also, the pressure to find a job and a home has interfered with my ability to appreciate the whole thing, and I'm just ready to be settled so I can enjoy my new surroundings with less distraction.
In the meantime, I'll be reading up on the rules for the other Irish sporting event, hurling. Not to be confused with curling, it seems to be some sort of lacrosse/rugby situation.
(BUT, I think we all know I'm really just going to continue watching New Girl.)