Travelling is seen as part of the student experience, but what if the travel bug has passed you by? Clodagh McMeel argues that we shouldn't be judged for not wanting to jet off.
I lost count of the amount of travel albums that were uploaded to Facebook this year. America, Thailand, Europe; I went to them all without ever leaving my bed. The pictures were incredible, what these people visited, saw and experienced. But I don’t envy them.
I’m currently on Erasmus in France, and being perfectly honest, it’s only made me love Dublin more. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to have this chance to spend a year away from home, to have the opportunity to learn about new cultures, traditions and expand my horizons, and all those other travel clichés. But I’m also aware of the connotations that come with a year abroad. Many people speak wistfully about theirs and how it was the best time of their life. Constantly hearing stories like that in the lead up to moving to France didn’t make me excited, they made me nervous. There was such pressure to make the most of this year, to enjoy every single second of it and to fall in love with this new country. And if I don’t, does that mean I’ve failed? That I’ve wasted the year?
Travel is a part of life. But it’s not a part of everyone’s life. The travel bug must have missed me when it was going around because I have no desire to go travelling. Instantly after typing that, I feel the need to defend myself. Travelling has become such an integral part of youth today, it’s become the norm to spend your summers going to new places. A friend recently told me that I “was weird” because I didn’t want to go to America on J1 (although after this week, who knows whether that will even be a possibility). I found myself feeling like I was weird, like I was wrong for not wanting to travel. But is it so wrong that I’m perfectly happy where I am, and with my home bird status? I don’t deny that there are cultures and experiences that can be had abroad, but I’m happy enough to read about them or watch other people have them. For now, though, Dublin is more than enough for me.
The funny thing is that before I left home, I never saw Dublin’s attraction. I went back home for Halloween after a month in France, and it seemed different to me. Before, it was just a city where I lived and where I spent far too much money in Penneys. But now, I think of it as home. Home is now longer just the house with my bedroom; it’s getting the bus up the quays and getting off at Bachelor’s Walk. It’s enjoying the peace of Grafton Street after a night out. It’s complaining about the throngs of people on College Green and the Spanish tourists in the summer.
A year abroad is certain to teach you something, and I think I may have already learned my lesson. This year has taught me to appreciate what I have back home, and to realise that it’s okay that I want to stay in Dublin. Not wanting to travel doesn’t mean I’m weird, or closing myself off to experiences. I’m just looking for different experiences, ones that I don’t have to be jet-lagged for.