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Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough
Culture

My Virtual Camino Journey – Week 3

Within the first fifteen minutes of my daily Camino pilgrimage, I can tell whether it’s going to be a challenging or an enjoyable day. “One for sorrow, two for joy” automatically flashes through my mind as I try to spot pairs of Dublin’s magpies on the early stages of my journey. Most days I am lucky enough to spot two magpies within a close distance of one another, the golden ticket to a prosperous walking experience for the duration of my day. As I entered Week 3 of my Camino journey, however, the fates and the solo magpies were not on my side as I endured my most difficult days to date. 

Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough

As a final year juggling readings, assignments and extra-curricular activities on top of the usual demands of life as a student living away from home, I had crafted a carefully planned routine to ensure I would not get overwhelmed amidst my 4+ hours of walking per day; my daily allotment of leisure time was dedicated to my walks, a time where I could let my mind rest and enjoy the stress-free respite away from the books.


Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough

By waking early, catching the sunrise en-route and being home by mid-morning I had plenty of time to dedicate to my studies while allowing time for recovery before the following morning’s venture. This week, however, I partook in a virtual Model EU, a 4 day highly interactive conference which required an immense amount of my time and energy. From 8am-4pm I was completely immersed in negotiations about legislation and amendments to articles, even on my walks, and by the time I returned to begin my college work I was completely burnt out. 


Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough

Consequently, the thing I feared most began to happen; my daily walks went from being something to look forward to, to a chore. I found myself dreading the journey every day, acutely aware of my mounting workload and cursing myself for undertaking such a huge commitment. I was staying up later and later to get readings, meetings and assignments finished and to catch up on missed lectures. 


Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough

In between college work, I was researching EU treaties, statistics on natural gas in Europe, and formulating debate strategies. My time spent walking was marred; all of my concentration went on my points of contention to debate upon with hundreds of students from around Europe on Zoom. I was sleeping and eating poorly and was forced to take a day off to catch up to myself, overwhelmed with the sudden crash of responsibility I was facing. 


Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough

Despite it all, I survived. I got through this week with 158.6km under my belt and a fully completed checklist to rip off my noticeboard. On this wet and overcast Sunday morning, I set out with a weight off my chest, walking for the joy of walking. Turning the corner onto the green beside my apartment building, I spotted two magpies nibbling at the remains at a crisp packet as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for one brief moment. In spite of the lightly drizzling rain, I had a light heart strolling into Phoenix Park with a coffee and pastry in hand. 


Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough

Walking alongside a herd of deer, waving their antlers at me as I passed, I’d already forgotten how stressed I had felt the last time I had visited. While it is a blessing to be able to complete my college lectures through my phone as I walk, the freedom of walking unencumbered with just your thoughts or a good audiobook for company cannot be beaten. College can be overwhelming, especially during ‘assignment season’, and it can be easy to lose yourself in your work. Taking this time, however, to dedicate solely to putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the beauty of our surroundings is just as, if not more important than academia, and brings me more joy every day than I could possibly begin to describe.


Pictures of the Phoenix park in Dublin taken by the writer
Original photo by Aoife McGeough

Economics Politics and Law student in DCU. Lover of creamy pints and wishful thinking :)
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