Although I elected to study at NUIG for the applicability of its particular graduate program in Economics (a MA in Economic Policy Evaluation and Planning) to my future academic and professional goals, my time in Galway has already been enriching in numerous and unexpected ways.
Galway is sometimes referred to as ‘the graveyard of ambition.’ Though I haven’t found it to be that exactly, the Irish pace of life is more relaxed than the frenetic and harried pace to which I grew accustomed while working as a consultant in DC. Living two blocks from both Galway Bay and Quay Street’s heterogeneous pubs and shops makes every day feel like as much of a vacation as a time to study and reflect. This calmer perspective and the beautiful and vibrant surroundings have enabled me to pause and really enjoy the present.
The Mitchell Scholars
The first congregation of the Class of 2006 in late September helped me really appreciate both the uniqueness and the significance of the Scholarship. As the first Mitchell to arrive in Ireland this year (in some cases by several weeks) I had developed a routine, albeit a fun one, that encompassed my academic, extracurricular, and social activities in Galway. Gathering as a group for the first time in Dublin, however, engendered a sense of community with the other scholars and provided a glimpse into the possibilities that this year promises to hold for camaraderie, travel, and new experiences.
The action-packed week in Dublin was highlighted by a picturesque hike in the Wicklow Mountains, a tour of the Chester Beatty Library, an all-male performance of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest at the Abbey Theater, and a reception at the Gravity Bar atop the Guinness Brewery. In addition, we learned a great deal about Irish politics, economics, law, and social life through a series of briefings from leading figures in each of these fields during an event hosted by British Telecomm. During our discretionary time, the inaugural guys’ night out (courtesy of Goton) provided an auspicious beginning to the craic. The opportunity to become better acquainted with the other scholars really enhanced each of these already tremendous experiences and I’m eager to get to know everyone during our year here.
Because my arrival in Ireland marked my first visit to Europe, I can now say with confidence that prior to arriving here I did not appreciate or comprehend what an incredible opportunity this year will be (and, consequently, how indebted I am to the Alliance, USIT, CIE, and all of the sponsors that make this year possible). To overcome my aversion to the stresses of traveling I have decided that the best way to proceed is to simply start booking trips. I have scheduled visits to London, Milan, and Florence and still hope to add Prague and Paris to my itinerary as well this semester. One year isn’t nearly enough time to visit the multitude of museums, cultural and historical landmarks, and beautiful cities in Ireland, much less Europe, but I hope to see everything that I can while I’m here.
I have, however, already traversed the West of Ireland extensively, taking weekend trips to the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, and Connemara. I also visited the Bens, Ashford Castle, and Kylemore Abbey with my parents when they were recently here on vacation. The trip with my parents was particularly enjoyable and I decided to revisit Clifden and the Bens with a college friend for a memorable hiking and hitchhiking excursion.
One of the highpoints from these many trips was cycling around the Aran Islands with fellow Mitchells Ben, Lily, and Melissa, my roommates from Galway, and my aforementioned college friend, Meg. Despite the fact that I have only been to the Islands once and do not read about the weather there frequently, I will make the bold declaration that we saw Inis Mor on the most beautiful day in its history (who doesn’t enjoy a good superlative?) Biking through the quaint streets and enjoying the scenic views along the coast and from the cliffs was an unforgettable experience and one that I hope everyone here gets to enjoy at least once.
Finally, the MA in Economic Policy Evaluation and Planning has been both academically challenging and very rewarding. After a two year hiatus from school while working in the field of antitrust economics, returning to formal classroom study has been rewarding not only for the intellectual stimulation but also for the interactions with the diverse and international student body. I have already begun expanding the frontiers of my economic knowledge after only two months and have thoroughly enjoyed classes thus far. In addition, all of the professors have been extremely accessible and willing to discuss both their ongoing research and my specific interest in applications to health economics.
I’d like to thank everyone who has made this year possible. It’s been tremendous and I’m looking forward to what the remainder of the year brings.