November 2004 Reflection

It is hard to believe that I am sitting here and writing a journal entry especially from Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The last seven weeks have been a truly fascinating experience for me.

I’ll openly admit that when I first arrived in Derry/Londonderry, I was convinced that my trip to Northern Ireland was cursed. First of all, I sent three cases to myself over a month before I left the United States. None of them arrived by the time I arrived. I finally got the last case a week ago. Furthermore, when I landed at the airport in Derry, I got the worst surprise. At the airport, the conveyor belt stopped and my luggage was not there. Yes, the airlines had lost my luggage. I had been awake for a little less than 24 hours. I just wanted a shower and to sleep, but I could not even do that because I had not put anything in my carry on luggage except for my laptop and a book. That was the first lesson of my journey. Always carry a change of clothes in the carry on luggage. Thankfully, they found my luggage and got it to me late that night. After that bumpy start, everything started to pan out and Northern Ireland became the grand adventure I had hoped it would be.

I was in Ireland for a little less than two weeks before I was skipping my first class ever. Thankfully, I had the professor’s blessings. You see it was to go to the Mitchell kick off event in Dublin. That was a weekend that I will never forget. My absolute favorite part was the trip down the River Shannon. I love the outdoors and appreciating nature and I got to do a lot of that. Also, while I was in Dublin, I had a life changing experience. I had my first Guiness ever at the Guiness Store House. According to my favorite Dean, Dean O’Brien, it would be uplifting for my spirit, and it was.

I actually just got back from another weekend in Dublin with the other Mitchells. By the way, I just have to say that the Maura O’Connell and Brian Kennedy concert was amazing. I had a great time.

Derry, to me, is the best city in the world to study Peace and Conflict Studies. I realized that on the first day of class when I started my first debate/argument/conversation with people in our program. You know also on that first day of class I found out that I was the only Republican (United States version), Free Marketer in Northern Ireland. It has made for a very interesting balance in class discussions-everyone else in class versus me. Just like I like HA!! I’ll be honest with you, I am probably the self proclaimed King of the Nerds. Three weeks ago, I locked myself in the library and did all the essays and assignments for my class for this semester and I have spent every weekend revising that. I find myself trying to get used to the British System of education, which is quite different from the American system, so I spend a lot of time in Derry learning the city and its surroundings. Also, to pass the time I have signed up with ILEX, the Regeneration Company for Derry-Londonderry. I am putting my undergraduate work in Economics and Finance to use trying to help ILEX rejuvenate the economy of Derry. I love every minute of it. I enjoy looking at problems and searching for solutions. It appeals to my meticulous nature.

Oh yeah, I had a real big highlight to this trip last Monday. Despite being far from everything, Derry and the Magee Campus really bring out the big name speakers. Last week, I got to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations Koffi Annan and Nobel Laureate John Hume. It was amazing. Secretary General Annan gave a very interesting lecture on peace and the peace process. It was one of those amazing highlights to an already great year. I really hope some more people as interesting as him come up.

Well, I guess I have bored you enough. I promise come the next journal entry, I will be a more fascinating Mitchell. By then, I will comfortable with the British Education system and will quit fretting over grades. Take care.

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