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December 1, 2013

Sine Metu


So if you guys have been keeping up with my blog, or Instagram, you probably know that I am in Ireland this week.  I’ve been doing some research, presenting some research, and trying to fit in touristy activities in my free time. Today is Thanksgiving, so a bunch of the Americans and some locals who we met, are making Thanksgiving dinner together. Throughout my travels, I have never celebrated Thanksgiving in a different country, but it is a cool experience.

There is an essay that I love called Why We Travel, by Pico Iyer. I first read the essay on my flight to Kenya two years ago and continue to reread it when I leave “home.”

Iyer says,

“The first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light, and from a crooked angle.”

Traveling always brings a sense of the unknown, change, and disruption. Over the course of the week already I have been doing a lot of things that I thought I would never do.

This photo is from Galway, Ireland. I went on a day trip to this western city, but spent most of the day split between a farm and gigantic cliffs.

As I captioned this photo:

I thought I was scared of heights until I climbed this 200+ meter little thing. Then I knew I was.


If I would have known what I was getting into, I probably would have opted out and just waited for the others I was with to climb up and down. Luckily, I didn’t know how high we were going to climb. A few hundred feet in up, I asked the guide how much higher we were going. He said I could just wait where we were, but in that second, I realized I needed to reach the top.

The next part of the day we spent hundreds of meters above water on the Cliffs of Moher, but it wasn’t as scary after the beginning of the day.


This brings me to the title of this post, “Sine Metu,” which means ‘Without Fear’ in Latin. I learned this in Dublin while I was on a tour. My time in Ireland made me think about what I am really scared of and why.

I spent the rest of the time in Dublin city and one day in Cork.

I get back to the States on Sunday night and then it’s full force for finals for the next week or so.

However, I always think another one of my favorite passages from Iyer and I have written many articles about it — the difference between a passport and a diploma. He writes:

“But for the rest of us, the sovereign freedom of traveling comes from the fact that it whirls you around and turns you upside down, and stands everything you took for granted on its head. If a diploma can famously be a passport (to a journey through hard realism), a passport can be a diploma (for a crash course in cultural relativism). And the first lesson we learn on the road, whether we like it or not, is how provisional and provincial are the things we imagine to be universal.”

As I wrote two weeks ago, I believe that the learning that takes places while not sitting at a desk, is much more valuable. Every time I visit a new place, I feel like years of school are combined in just weeks or months.

Living what you are learning is truly invaluable.

As finals approach, consider your motives, but realize that a grade is not going to define you as person – the life experiences you have will do that.

And with that, happy studying; but more importantly, happy living.

Sine metu; without fear.


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