Nicola Kenny discusses how she has expanded her world in the past year and offers escapism suggestions during current restrictions.
The Pandemic continues. And so too does our desire to travel and experience the world once again. As vaccines roll out, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But how do we quench our need for adventure and wanderlust in the waiting months? How can we find ways to connect with other people and cultures?
Escape with words
Travelling has opened me up to new ideas, people, and places. It has drawn me into unfamiliar territories of the mind. During the pandemic, reading has provided me with a similar sense of relief and escape. Reading is an adventure from the moment you pick up a text, sparking conversations and inspiring ideas. Reading transports us to new and exciting places.
There is a fantastic selection of Irish travel writers, namely Manchan Magan and Rosita Boland, who describe their thrilling global adventures in evocative and colourful detail. Reading Magan’s Truck Fever and Boland’s Elsewhere, we become a part of the extraordinary journeys they have taken across the world throughout their lives. Exploring different cultures and societies, their writings reflect how the experiences we have on our travels and the people we meet along the way can dramatically shape the course of our lives.
Exploring different cultures and societies, their writings reflect how the experiences we have on our travels and the people we meet along the way can dramatically shape the course of our lives
See the Cuirt International Festival of Literature from the 21st to the 25th of April for further escape and inspiration. This festival aims to celebrate and shine a spotlight on national and international literary talent. Hear from different voices at home and abroad that will be sure to lift and excite.
For me, photographs highlight the magic of every day and allow us to discover and delve into alternative worlds. Take a journey to the mountains of Northern Albania or across the Atlantic Ocean by looking at young Irish photographers’ work in Point.51 magazine. This is a new independent print magazine exploring essential contemporary issues in Europe. Working with people worldwide, their visually arresting images offer something unique and appealing during this time.
Taste the world...
Flavours feed the mind and soul, and should be celebrated and explored as we wait out the coming months. There is a delicious and diverse offering of student-friendly recipes online from Irish Cook’s such as Donal Skehan. Skehan’s food reflects the time he has taken over his career to travel and find inspiration. His ‘You can do it too’ approach on his website and YouTube channel is precisely the kind of encouragement we need during this time. Equally, The Happy Pear brothers have a brilliant collection of cookbooks, inspired by their adventures and international café team. These can be purchased online from Irish retailers.
Pick up unusual ingredients from your local supermarket’s global shelves and organise a cultural feast with your flatmates or family. Bring the joy back into your kitchen by cooking together while dancing to complementary music. Make it an occasion that will carry you away to the places you desire to visit.
Pick up unusual ingredients from your local supermarket’s global shelves and organise a cultural feast with your flatmates or family
…and watch something afterwards
Screen media’s immersive quality has provided me with the pleasure of adventure and delightful escapism during the pandemic. Transport yourself to the West every Sunday night by watching North America with Simon Reeve on the RTE player. In this series, explorer Reeve travels the entire length of the Americas from Alaska to Costa Rica while learning about contemporary social and political issues, experiences epic landscapes and meet fascinating people along the way.
There is no shortage of immersive foreign language films to watch as part of this year’s Oscar celebrations. Open your mind to provocative ideas and culture and engage with favourites such as Danish film DRUK or Tunisian film The Man who sold his skin. These films and many others are available through MUBI, an online streaming platform focussing on classic and arthouse cinema. An exceptional student rate is available and worth looking into considering the quality of the foreign language films available.
Or catch up on online events
During the last few months, I have been amazed at how Ireland's cultural centres have found new ways to adapt and produce work that reflects the diversity in Irish culture and society today. Of note is the third edition of Dear Ireland, a series of three-minute postcards from underrepresented voices in Irish society, hosted online by The Abbey Theatre. This latest edition asks the question: ‘What does it feel like to be you, right now, in Ireland?’ Featuring a superb range of voices, including the Discovery Gospel Choir, Tailtiu Theatre Company and the Africa Centre, this series offers new angles and perspectives on Irish society and culture today.
The Project Arts Centre have made similar efforts in recent months to provide its audience with new ideas and culture. In February, they hosted SPOTLIGHT: Eire to the world, a collaborative, creative and interactive project focusing on highlighting artists of black heritage in Ireland. The film, available on YouTube, shows live performance, spoken word, acting, podcasts, and fashion from a diverse set of voices from different cultures and backgrounds.
Audio is an imaginative medium that brings us to faraway places. In the last year, I have found that by closing my eyes and listening, I can connect with something greater than myself. Outlook from the BBC World Service brings you extraordinary, first-person stories from around the world, with recent episodes transporting listeners to places like Egypt, Cameroon, and New York. These stories are, at once, expressive and enlightening. Equally, RTE’s The Documentary on One podcast features stories that connect us with the broader world as told through the Irish lens.
Additionally, tuning into music offers a fantastic sense of escape. Streaming platforms have become places of great discovery and cultural diversion. In the dark of night, escape your 5km by popping on your headphones and dancing to the widening beat and rhythm.
As we wait for our next great escape, feed your mind with what is available to you at home. Encourage and maintain your curiosity and sense of wonder for our incredibly diverse world. Soon enough, we will be able to embrace the outside once again. What a joy that will be.