Putting on a dry suit was among the most physically uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in. Compared to a wet suit, you put on a dry suit to stay dry (naturally!), which is especially important when you’re in cold water where you’re otherwise running the risk of getting hypothermia. A dry suit is quite heavy and consists of many different materials, none of which make it easy to put the suit on. To avoid entry of water, the head opening as well as the hand openings have an extra layer of what can only be described as creeping death at it encloses both your wrists and your neck resulting in blood circulation stoppage and a slow painful strangle. Really, you must have a death wish to put on a dry suit…
But see, once you get used to feeling of being imprisoned in a much much much heavier and funky-smelling second skin, you tend to forget that you’re actually wearing it. You feel warm and cozy, almost comfortable and you think to yourself, ‘I’m in a dry suit, I’ll stay dry and warm, let’s get this party into the water!’
Ha! It’s called a dry suit and not a warm suit, so within seconds of entering the water the cold water smacks all the senses out of you, regardless of how many layers of wool you wear underneath. That initial shock is enough to send you in complete disarray. You’re trying to regain your composure and it takes all your willpower to continue. On top of that you loose all sense of direction, the ability to move where you want to move and just generally are not a capable human being anymore. See, to stay afloat, there is a bit of air in your suit, this means that once you’re in the water, it’s like you’re in the passenger seat of a white van in a high-speed (or medium to low speed) car-chase in the tiniest streets of Italy: Not comfortable for anyone.
All of this pretty much sums up my time in Ireland, so far. When I arrived, I was immediately thrown in the deep end in a dry suit that slowly but surely is trying to suffocate me. I have been desperately trying to grasp whatever I could grasp to move forward, while in the middle of a hurricane. I’ve been battered and bruised (figuratively), I’ve felt extremely tired and exhausted every single day and yet, I’m already in the water. I’m already committed and I’m constantly reminded of the reason why I put on the dry suit in the first place…
See, in a dry suit, entering the ice-cold water and almost fearing for your life has the upside to being able to witness the incredible beauty that only underwater seascapes can show you. It’s awe-inspiring and figuratively and actually literally breathtaking and no matter how cold the water is, you just want to keep going. You look around and wherever you look there is more and more to see. There is constant movement around you and underneath you carrying you, so you don’t need to worry about getting where you want to go, the water carries you to where you need to be. Once you’re immersed and give it your all, it makes all the uncomfortable things disappear instantly.
The last month has not been the prettiest or the best and I don’t imagine the next three years to be a delight every single day, I don’t pretend that my emotional situation will change any time soon, after all I just started the journey, I just entered the water… I work long days, sleep short nights, and I foresee even longer days and less sleep in the future, but that’s just how it is and you know what?
I’ve never been happier in my life, wherever I looked, I am amazed and in constant awe. Of course, some days are more difficult than others, but being here, being in this situation, having started a PhD in a foreign country, dealing with moving-bureaucratics, being in a thriving academic environment, this is what I wanted for as long as I can remember. I just didn’t know it, when I was younger. But now that I am here, I am embracing it and I am absolutely loving it, every fiber of me is utterly excited every single morning, and even more excited every evening about the things I have accomplished in a day and that I yet have to accomplish the next day. So yes, you will find yourself in many uncomfortable situations throughout your lifetime but it’s worth it.
With this, I’ll float on in rigid cold water, with no sense of direction or ability to move where I want to at the speed I want to, or in other words, I’m excited for yet another amazing day of reading, thinking, and writing and loving every single second of it.