March 2005 Reflection

The months since January have been so busy that I’ve barely been able to keep up. In my world, hectic equals happy! Haha. I started off the new term in my wonderful Equality Studies program with a bang, having class sessions on everything from the ongoing debt crises in developing nations to the definition of marital consummation under the court s interpretation of the Irish Constitution. No matter what ups and downs I’ve had over the course of my time in Ireland, the Equality Studies students and lecturers have been a constant source of comfort, friendship, and intellectual stimulation, for which I am very grateful.

I am usually not grateful for the Irish weather, but even that has taken a turn for the better since the dark days of December. It has gotten so nice, in fact, that I can go walking outside now instead of doing walk aerobics in my room or hitting the treadmill. Walking into town is also a constant source of pleasure and allows me to save a whopping 1.50 euros. Being economical is important, especially when you’re living in Dublin. I also highly recommend the baguettes at Centra, which cost only about 2.75 with sweet corn, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Now that’s a meal worth eating.

Another meal worth eating was prepared by fellow Mitchell Zach Coelius for some of us who were in town at the end of March. He did a great job, and it was certainly nice to eat something other than beans on toast that day. A really nice thing about our Mitchell class is the abundance of chefs (or wannabes like yours truly.) I think it speaks to the rise in gender equity that the most male-heavy class aims so highly for culinary excellence.

There have been many wonderful Mitchell times since January. Our trip to Limerick with Dell of course springs to memory, the Cliffs of Moher were perhaps the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen, and the conversations were eye-opening. I feel very privileged to be a part of a group that can discuss something like tort reform with such knowledge and passion. The ideological diversity of our Mitchell class is astounding. Even though the comments of some of my new friends burn my progressive ears sometimes (as I’m sure I do to their conservative ones), the conversations I’ve had have been challenging and enlightening. It has been great, because in the real world, as I seek to effect positive social change, it will be necessary to understand all viewpoints. The wide range of ideological perspectives in the Mitchell community has gotten me started on this path ahead of time. The “unofficial” Mitchell gatherings have also been awesome times.

These few months have also been a time of traveling and hosting travelers. I took my first trip to Brussels early in the term, where I fell in love with gaufres de Liege (Belgian waffles made in the Liege style.) I made sure to eat at least one every day I was visiting. Manneken-Pis and Janneken-Pis made me laugh. I like Brussels because it’s a bit quirky, just like Ireland and South Carolina. I have also been to England another couple of times as well as exploring Ireland a bit more. One of my most fun Irish trips was to Cork, where a friend of mine took me to a Five Rhythms Dance workshop and I stayed in my first hostel (yes, I know.) Over the St. Patrick’s Day week my good friend from back home came to visit, and we really lived it up. It was great to have her visit, not only because I enjoyed seeing her, but also because seeing Ireland through a newcomer’s eyes reminded me of all the things I’d started to take for granted. Going to the Guinness Brewery was great, but it was nothing compared to grabbing pub food at the Trinity Arch Hotel, strolling around Grafton Street, or having tea in Temple Bar. Those kinds of moments make up the bulk of my experience in Ireland, and it was great to share them with other folks.

I’ve also been doing a lot to prepare for life after Ireland. After returning to South Carolina to work for the summer, I’ll be attending Yale Law School. I’ll also be munching on brown bread, beans, and soups and using sentences such as, “I quite like it” and “He’s kind of dodgy, like.” As they say, you can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl. You can take the Mitchell Scholar out of Ireland, but you can’t take the Ireland out of the Mitchell Scholar. And if you take the Southern Mitchell Scholar out of Ireland, you have a cornbread-loving, pecan pie-eating woman who likes a spot of sugar in her tea and her Irish cream on ice.

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