November 2004 Reflection

Thank you for the US-Ireland Alliance for such a fantastic opportunity. My time in Ireland has been wonderful, and I am grateful for this awesome experience. This short year has already given me a lifetime of memories, but more importantly has provided me with time to carefully consider my own personal development. For the latter, I am forever thankful.

My time in Ireland has flown by. I have encountered a wide and varied group of experiences. It has already been a month, and yet everyday I feel as if I have just arrived. Studying at Dublin City University (DCU) has been fun and challenging – DCU is a very young, hungry university, and reminds me a lot of my alma-mater Duke. There is construction everywhere, and not a day goes by where I do not hear the sound of jackhammers. My program in International Relations has been both fascinating and eye-opening: fascinating, in that I am learning the discipline from a variety of different perspectives; eye-opening, in that I am coming to realize what Europeans think about Americans. As the election looms, I find myself falling into many discussions about American politics. Everyone I have met knows an incredible amount about both candidates, and many of my non-American friends stayed up until the early hours of the morning to watch the debates. As one of two Americans in my course, I have had to struggle with simply listening to different viewpoints, and to embrace both the respect and hatred that exists for our country. I am grateful that my program is filled with people from all over the world – our communication of ideas across personal cultural boundaries has led me to temper my old viewpoints and plant the seeds for new perspectives.

Within Dublin exists a young, vibrant society. The city is still trying to find its personality – having only just come into wealth over the past 10 years, Dublin is wrangling with the creation of a new Irish identity that incorporates both its rich past and its promising future.

Some of my most exciting times here have been just getting lost in the city and running into many of the local citizens. The city has a very vibrant nightlife, and a large part of my experience has been an exploration of the wealth of cultural options available. I have unsuccessfully tried to go to every show, pub, poker tournament, and concert in Dublin – but take solace that no one could possibly complete this task.

I hope to take the next couple months to travel around continental Europe. I will be going to Barcelona in two weeks, and hope to travel northern Africa and the Mediterranean countries this winter.

I am still settling in here, but hope to have an even greater wealth of experiences to share in my next entry.

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