Motley Memories of an Irish Adventure

NDMU student Jennifer Ashwell took this picture of a caste in Ireland during her study abroad this summer.
NDMU student Jennifer Ashwell took this picture of a castle in Ireland during her study abroad this summer.

By Jennifer Ashwell

Packing: A Necessary Less Evil Than You Think

This past June, as long as I could complete my dreadful, last-minute packing, I would be able to visit Ireland, a life-long dream. Two Notre Dame faculty-members, Dr. O’Donovan and Ms. Finlayson, had organized and were leading a trip there. Awaiting me were the grounds of Kylemore Abbey (home to Benedictine nuns), daily discussions about topics like femininity, my travel group (which included my love, Samantha, as well as other women’s college and Renaissance students), guest lecturers, and lots of tea.

The day before plane-boarding though, instead of imagining ‘postcard landscapes,’ ‘meticulously-manicured gardens,’ and ‘divine cheesecake slices,’ I stared deep into my empty suitcase and did not know what to bring. Surely, there are essential items to have on a grand adventure, right? What if I had brought 13 pairs of underwear only to need 14? While I can and have survived a day in dirty drawers, it would have been unpleasant.

Thinking of and placing aside the things I use every day, I made progress. For instance, I quickly had packed underwear, socks, hairbrush and toothbrush, wallet, cell phone charger, medication… you get the picture. On a whim, I threw my boarding pass and passport into my carry-on. With these things I could have easily survived the trip, but I was packing not just for survival, but for comfort and pleasure. To bring or not to bring my heavy, keep-me-warm clothes?

Samantha searched the Weather Channel’s website for Ireland, and found reports of warmer-than-average temperatures. However, I listened to my dad who said he could give Ireland’s forecast accurately anytime by always calling for rain. I packed long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

As for extraneous items, I included: [1] dress for Irish dancing, [40] colored pencils for sketching (I will only end up sketching once, for about 10 minutes), and [1] pairs of shorts (Rain, rain, and more rain is unfriendly towards bare legs). Ultimately, I packed well-enough, and realized that all you truly need when travelling is: [1] open heart, and [1] open mind.

[Part 1] More in Part 2, Schlep Away… Ireland is Waiting! [Part 3] [Part 4]

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