I return to Ireland this week. My time in Texas with my family has been amazing. I feel FULL and grateful for the abundant amount of time; bills, credit cards, and expense be damned. It isn’t cheap visiting Austin for over a month, even if you sleep on someone’s spare mattress!
But as I sit here, suitcases half packed, I grapple with the urge to cancel my ticket.
Sure, why not? I just pay the penalty and use that flight for something else. I don’t have to go back. My stuff can be boxed and shipped back. It might be a hassle, but certainly Himself would understand.
I have been conflicted about expatriation since I arrived on Ireland’s green shores two years ago. The land and its people are the stuff of romantic legend: from the mist covered hills to the laughter filled pubs. But romanticism, like sentimentality, is nothing to build a life around.
Living abroad has been a wonderful opportunity; it has allowed me to experience another culture from an insider perspective and has been a truly epic adventure, but acculturation is challenging. When two cultures meet, change (and discomfort) happens. The prolonged exposure to Irish society changes me culturally and psychologically.
Heck, even if I remain in Texas now, I am no longer the woman who left.
As a psychology student interested in research on acculturation and Seasonal Affective Disorder, I know that those who integrate (defined as being engaged in both their heritage culture and in the larger society) are better adapted and more successful at acculturation. My intent, after this visit, was to return and dive in. To engage the society I now live within, while letting my Texan nature shine a bit more brightly.
But that determination is wavering.
I now wonder whether my time in Ireland is done. Whether I have had enough and am ready to return to the hot, dry nest of my bones.
In a way, I am my own research subject. And perhaps that, more than anything, answers my question. Another six months?
Ah, come on then. Let’s be havin’ ya!