Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Empty Pews


One quiet Saturday morning in April I revisited one of my favorite places in Ireland, Kylemore Abbey in Connemara. I had enjoyed my short visit there with the Willamette group, and I mostly wanted to return to take a look at the Victorian walled gardens, which had been closed when we visited back in February, and to take my mother who was visiting. While my mom was out marveling at the botanical gardens, I returned to the small Gothic cathedral that I had really enjoyed photographing on my first visit. Upon opening the doors, I was struck with the immense sense of quiet that radiated throughout the church. For once, I was alone. I had not really been alone since I had landed in Ireland, what with my five flatmates, constant Willamette excursions and busy class schedule. My moments of quiet were few and far between. I never begrudged the lack of quiet, I was busy and very much wanted to be so, but being inside that cathedral with the rain lightly misting outside made me suddenly realize how far I had come, and what I had experienced since I left home. In that perfect still moment, I came to peace with leaving Ireland, and leaving all the people I had met behind in those empty pews.

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