May 2005 Reflection

It seems incredible to believe that the school year is over. Classes ended a week ago and although most students are still in the midst of exams and papers, many of my classmates will be taking off shortly after finishing their work in a matter of a week. It’s a period of transition, or at least of contemplating transitioning. In the midst of trying to finish my final paper and garner more time to work on my dissertation, my thoughts also start to drift towards finding a job, thinking about where I’ll settle when I get back to the U.S., and generally thinking about the future of returning back from Northern Ireland. I’m definitely not ready to leave but I don’t think I’ll ever feel ready.

I went home for spring break in April, but took a second trip to London first. London has surprisingly become my favourite city in Europe, I think. It’s got the same cosmopolitan exciting feel of NYC, but just a slight bit of cultural difference to make it distinct. Going back home to the U.S. though was also a comforting reminder of all things familiar. Going to NYC and seeing the vibrancy of the city and the 24 hour restaurants, driving my car again, and going back to the immense Princeton library with renewed access to free printing and one of the most enormous collections of books in the world reminded me also of all the things I’ve dearly missed.

When I arrived back from the U.S., I took a trip to Edinburgh as well. Edinburgh is extremely different from the cities of Ireland or England. Its architecture is stunning and it has the feeling of being taken back in time. A trip to highlands was perfectly beautiful. Yet, one thing I found interesting, especially with my very patriotic tour driver through the highlands, is that the Scottish are immensely proud of their culture and signs demarcating this culture abound. Even in the cosmopolitan centre of Edinburgh, the sound of bagpipes can be heard regularly and the sight of men in tartans is quite common. The references to the English always resonate with a deep sense of history. That’s when I realized even more so how unfortunate it is that historical divisions of culture do not always play out peacefully. In Northern Ireland, this expression of cultural distinctiveness is not yet capable of being carried out with the same sense of history, yet without being tainted by the politics of sectarianism.

Otherwise my time has been spent wrapping up the last few work requirements left of the semester. After my last paper is handed in, I’ll be heading to Finland for a week at the end of May, and June and July will also be full of travels and Mitchell events, so there’s a lot to look forward to in the summer months even if the semester is sadly coming to a close.

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