November 2004 Reflection

For just over two months the “place of foreigners,” or Galway, has been my home. What a fantastic home to have. I live in a quaint apartment complex on the water just beside the docks with four Irish graduate students. The city of Galway is extremely intimate, small enough to recognize familiar souls but exciting enough to make every night different. It is in these nights that reside some of my fondest times. The life of the public houses in Galway is always vibrant, never tiring, and now is a part of practically my every day. Also every day I go north into college along the main Shop Street, bustling with street performers, locals, and visitors. Every Saturday I visit the market by St. Nichols church to get fresh humus and a crepe. Every moment living here is different, slower yet more meaningful.

Most of my lifestyle here is centered on college, despite not having to attend lectures. I am in a full-time research degree in Zoology, which keeps me busy along with volunteering at the Atlantaquarium outside of Galway. A good bit of my time is spent with college societies. I have been serving on the Committee of the Political Discussion Society and the Zoology Society while writing a play for the Drama Society called “Paddy’s Day” that is being performed as part of Science Week at the Helix in Dublin. My spare time is devoted to taking Irish language classes, finishing my summer reading list, volunteering for the campus radio station, and trying desperately to stay in touch with old friends and family.

My Mitchell Scholar family has been my rock as I work to experience the isle of saints and scholars. Like some deranged fraternity of hopeless vagabonds, our good times together are like no other. Late night poker tournaments, our own unique brand of Irish national monument tours, and buckets upon buckets of red paint fill my memories with my fellow Scholars. They remind me of our combined purpose within the Mitchell Scholar program and the extreme fortune I have to be included among such a fine group of people.

The group of us traveled last month in Dublin and in some of the central counties of Ireland. It was simply fantastic. Soon our journey will take us into Northern Ireland and perhaps elsewhere. I personally took a weekend trip to Paris with one other Mitchell Scholar, Monica Bell, to celebrate the birthday of a friend of ours. I am also going with Monica to visit some friends of ours in London and Oxford for the weekend, a trip we have been looking forward to for almost half a year. Dublin seems to be a city that calls on me often, having visited Grafton Street and her surrounding tributaries now four times and counting. I know the fantastic USIT stipend and the aspirations of my friends will lead me on many other adventures, but traveling makes me weak and tired.

With every day, Ireland grows on me. True I do not like the candy bars here or the price of clothes and drinks, but I cannot imagine a more appropriate and loving country in which to spend a year. The music, the people, and my place among them have been quite magical… and surprisingly I can only imagine life getting better from here on out. As said in one of the more special Irish proverbs I have learned here, “Níl aon tintéan mar do thintéan féin (There’s no place like home).”

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