Gemma Good

Home sweet home!

In this week's Good Life column, Gemma was back home from Brussels to surprise the family and it seems she is still a Cavan girl at heart...

The past week has been consumed with nerves and excitement as I anticipated July 20, the date I would return home to surprise my friends and family.

I booked the flights to Ireland about three weeks into my adventure on a day I felt extremely homesick. I thought it would give me a boost and something to look forward to, and that it did. Day by day, the feeling of homesickness faded and my excitement grew. I was finally in a position to go home knowing that I would not dread returning to Belgium.

As reliability goes Ryanair wouldn’t be the best, particular since staff feel the need to protest for proper pay and working conditions.

It's a bitter sweet situation. I would love to use an airline that pays their staff more but, as a student, money talks!

Sure enough, a message into our office group chat informed me that the airline would be going on strike on July 23 and 24. I panicked, but these dates were at the weekend so I felt I was okay flying on a Wednesday. The day before my flight, I saw another notification in the office group chat. My fingers shook on my keyboard as I opened it, thinking my entire trip was doomed.

Relief washed over me, Ryanair had not extended their strike. Our director was informing us he had heatstroke. While I of course wouldn't wish this on anybody (he has since recovered), I was delighted my escape of this clammy city was unaffected.

I had the journey planned to the minute. I would leave work early and get the train to Zaventem airport, continue working there, get my flight at 8pm and finally get the 30 bus from Dublin airport to Cavan. There my friend (an absolute saint) would pick me up at the bus station at around 12am and drop me to the house. My doubting inner voice was telling me that something was definitely going to be delayed somewhere, but thankfully everything was plain sailing.

The only hold up occurred when we landed in Dublin airport. All passengers were waiting to get off the plane, however the cabin crew were not opening the doors. Anxious to catch my bus, I looked out the window to see what was happening. As hearty a welcome as you will ever get, there were eight guards waiting at the aircraft next to mine. As soon as the doors opened, a guy who looked to be in his 20s bounded out the door. It took six guards to restrain this weapon of super strength who successfully managed to kick two men halfway down the steps. When we eventually got into the airport, I heard passengers saying that he was caught smoking during the flight. Smoking what!? I’ll leave you all to make your own assumptions.

At this stage I was nearly running through the airport, fearing a hold up at passport control. I didn’t even take the time to read the Irish sayings posted on the airport walls on the way to the exit. I got through in five minutes and hopped on the Expressway bus.

“Can I get a student ticket please?”

“You can of course,” the bus driver replied.

I waited, wondering why he was half laughing at me.

“And where would you like this student ticket to take you to?”

I laughed. I really missed the Irish humour.

“Cavan,” says I, with probably the biggest grin on my face. It has been too long since I’ve uttered the name of that beautiful county. Finally I was going home.

Once we hit Virginia, I started to get excited. By the time I saw the Hotel Kilmore sign on the N3, I could not stop smiling.

When the bus pulled into the station I was shaking. Upon seeing my friend waiting for me, I was running.

Hugs and hellos complete, I was on the way home. It was around 12.30am when I reached Killeshandra. I hadn’t fully planned what I was going to do, but I had no key for the house so my only option was to ring the doorbell. I could hear my parents wondering who could be at the door at this hour. I could hear the panic, they feared something had happened. My mother opened the door and I watched as panic turned to shock and finally happiness within a matter of seconds. Her reaction was everything. I hugged her and ran up to my father, who was waiting at the top of the stairs in case his assistance was needed. His reaction was similar.

My entire weekend was filled with meeting friends and family whom I haven’t seen in what feels like ages. I returned to Belgium this morning with a few teary “see you soons” but nothing like the first time I left. While I love the experience of living abroad, home will always be where my heart is. It was amazing to breathe in the fresh air of the countryside.

* Gemma Good is from Killeshandra and a second year journalism student in University of Limerick.


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