By more than a few strokes of luck and some financial assistance, I have found myself waiting to leave on a flight to Dublin tomorrow. UA’s program in Ireland ended up as my choice for study abroad for several reasons, among them being able to keep my job because of the relatively short length of the trip. But the opportunity to read James Joyce’s intimidatingly massive and complex magnum opus Ulysses in the city of its origin is not something that will come up twice in my life. While we only spend a few days in Dublin and then take our classes in Galway, being able to visit the setting for this novel will make it an experience unlike any other book I’ve read. In preparation, I have made perhaps my most pretentious purchase ever in the annotations for Ulysses, which are as long as the book itself. I’ve also spent time reading Joyce’s other works Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners, and a little bit of Irish history, so hopefully I won’t be completely clueless once I arrive.
I have to say that one of the things I’m most looking forward to is avoiding summer in Alabama for the first time in my life. No 100+ degree weather and no mosquitoes is almost worth it just for that. But I will be saddened to say goodbye to my family and friends for so long, and I know that my parents will do more worrying about me than is healthy. Now that I’m so close to leaving, it almost feels real, but not quite. I don’t know if it will feel real until I step off the plane. But I’m also incredibly excited to leave the country for the first time, and to experience what it’s like to travel and experience a new culture. I’m not quite sure what to expect, and I think that’s a good thing.