Happiness is defined slightly differently for every individual. Happiness for me means smiling, contentedness, laughing, etc., and taking what I have and placing personal meaning to it. Over the past couple of days I have encountered things that have bothered me and really put a different meaning to happiness and helped me to better understand that each person has their own definition.
I am more than grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be studying abroad in such a wonderful country. I am grateful for the amazing friends and family I have behind me, always pushing me to be the best person I can be. I am thankful to have come from such a great country and I am proud to say that I am an American studying abroad in a foreign country. There are so many little things that each and every one of us takes for granted and I think it is important for everyone to take a moment once in a while and be thankful for what they have and even maybe things they don’t.
This weekend, after a super fun night out, a group of friends and I came across a homeless man eating a meal that he quite possibly saved for that entire week. At his feet was a little puppy on a leash, staring so intently at him, shivering in the cold, alternating which paw was on the ground as a means to keep warm from the cold sidewalk. I knelt down and asked the man if I could pet his dog and he nodded. After a short moment he began walking away and it was obvious the dog didn’t want to go. As he began crossing the street the puppy was trying its hardest to escape its collar.
Now, it could have been the alcohol acting, but I did really feel bad for the dog so I followed them to the other side of the street. The man stopped to continue eating as the dog just stared up at him. I offered him money for the dog as it was clear it was hungry and very cold. The man declined and then a friend came over and doubled the offer. The man once again declined so we pet the dog a last time and went our way back across the street. I’m not sure what I would have done with puppy as I cannot have animals here in my apartment but I felt bad. And then I realized that the puppy is all that man has. It’s his happiness and I soon became more and more okay that he declined the offer. Yesterday, as I was walking to the bus stop in town, I saw the same man with the puppy, only this time the puppy was wearing a sweater; a huge sigh of relief for me.
Today in photography class we went around the room in a circle and introduced ourselves; where we’re from, what we’re studying, and why we chose to study in Ireland. I was the only American in the room among others from Zimbabwe, Australia, Italy, Spain, Russia, Turkey, and obviously, Ireland. It was interesting to hear a pinch of everyone’s backgrounds. We got to the student just before me and he told everyone his name and what he was studying.
“I am here to get my diploma and to not have to go back to Turkey.”
That obviously gained attention from everyone in the room. The professor asked him to further explain.
“I want to get my diploma so I don’t have to go back to Turkey. I want to live somewhere where everybody isn’t trying to kill each other.”
For any person with just a slight bit of knowledge of the world today, you know Turkey is not the best place to be. He continued, telling us how he loved his country but would only return to it if he absolutely had to. Again, this was a real eye-opener and I won’t lie, hearing this was a tear-jerker, and it really just makes you think about and to be thankful for all you have in life.
In other, more positive news, I am absolutely loving it here in Ireland. The seagulls here are the size of small geese or large chickens and that is certainly not an exaggeration. They’re almost intimidating to look at. I went for a walk, exploring yesterday, and saw only my second house cat so far since being here. I only saw two, yet I am convinced they’re small big cats in disguise; at least twice the size of American house cats.
I’ll leave you guys with one of my goals I have set for myself before I leave in May: to catch a pigeon by hand. Until next time, ladies and gents!