It can be challenging, straddling life between time zones representing an eight hour difference. We are now on the countdown until our daughter heads for Ireland for her semester abroad at University College Cork. Depending on when you are reading this, it may be only a matter of hours until takeoff—or perhaps her plane will already be airborne and she is on her way.
Those who like to micro-manage life eventually come up with crazy ideas on how to bridge that difference between Pacific time and Greenwich Mean Time (although, I suppose, if you wish to get technical, the specific target time right now would be considered Western European Summer Time—or its much cuter and less unwieldy acronym, WEST).
At any rate, the sleep schedules around this place have been going through contortions. After all, it was only a matter of time until said daughter would board the plane that will whisk her—well, assuming you consider a non-stop thirteen hour marathon to be a “whisk”—straight to Ireland. When she steps off that plane and onto terra firma in the Emerald Isle—hopefully not in a sleep-deprived stupor—it will have taken more than a clichéd click of her heels to make it so.
So we’ve been spending the last couple weeks doing life in tag-team shifts. One team retires in the evening as the other begins the day. (This was not my idea.) Mental math gets a workout, with every matter of time translated to a number-plus-eight-hours. Sometimes, we are still in today, while she is in tomorrow. All under one roof.
It’s good practice, she says. After all, that’s what will be required after today, when we want to connect through anything besides asynchronous means. The beauty of email and chat will really shine during this semester abroad, the only way to get messages back and forth without having to carve out time from two schedules a continent—and eight hours—apart.
Even if there weren’t any challenges to calendaring in FaceTime events or Skype conversations, the next five months will still be an adventure. Up first on the academic agenda will be a survey of Irish archaeological digs, one of the prime reasons for selecting University College Cork as the campus for this semester abroad. Hopefully, before the official start of the fall semester, a quick hop to London, Scotland, or Paris will make it onto the itinerary.
But before any of that can happen, eight hour time difference or not, there will be one doting mom holding her breath until that most important message comes through: "Landed safely in Ireland."