Even though I’m based in Limerick for the year, I’ve been in Dublin for about the same amount of time as I’ve been in Limerick since I got to Ireland in late September. My program is pretty unique — it’s a joint effort between five different institutions in Ireland: the University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the University of Ulster. Each institution offers its strengths to the program. For example, UL has a strong materials science program, so it teaches the biomaterials module, and Trinity has a strong tissue engineering program, so it teaches the cell and tissue engineering module. This year, Ulster is not teaching any modules in the program, but it plays an active role in program development. As such, I get to take several intensive week-long classes (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) in Limerick and in Dublin, do a lot of distance-learning assignments in Limerick, and carry out a research project at UL.
As soon as I arrived in Ireland, I headed to Dublin for three weeks of class. I lived out of my suitcase as I learned about human anatomy, hip implants, and ear prostheses. The classes have been great — I’m getting introduced to a lot of the practical, real-world applications of biomedical engineering, and I got to learn about the human body in the anatomy room using human cadavers. (As engineering students, though, we were only allowed to examine the different structures in the body. We weren’t allowed to any cutting — that was reserved for the medical students.) At nights and on weekends, I got a chance to walk around Dublin, drink my first pint of Guinness, and get together with the other Mitchells at our Mitchell orientation. Of course, as soon as I had finally settled into a nice rhythm and learned my way around Dublin, I was headed back to Limerick, where I’ve slowly figured out my way around a whole new city.
I’ve been in Limerick for around three weeks now. At the moment, I have no classes, only distance-learning assignments to submit, so my schedule allows for quite a bit of flexibility. I should get my research project assignment in the next month or so, and I’m looking forward to working in the lab again. These past few weeks have been great and given me a lot of time to think. I’ve also started expanding my cooking skills, though I don’t claim to become an expert chef by the time I leave. Even though the number of Chinese-Irish was higher than I expected, the Asian grocery stores I’ve managed to find still carry a much smaller selection of Chinese foods than I would like. It’s rained a lot less than I anticipated, but laundry prices are ridiculously higher — E5 to wash and dry one load of clothes! I’m hoping to do a fair amount of traveling this year, though I think I’ve done more planning than I have actual traveling so far. I’ve already explored Dublin, and I made a weekend trip to Galway and the Aran Islands with three other Mitchells. In a few weeks, I’m going to meet up with another Mitchell in London, and then I’m headed off to Paris.
My life here in Ireland is slower than my life was back in the States, which means I’ve had a chance to sit back and take a deep breath, and I’m definitely enjoying every moment of it so far.