January 2006 Reflection

I’ve just returned to Galway after three weeks at home in the US for the holidays. The distance from my adopted home in Ireland and being forced to answer the multitude of questions from friends and family about life in Galway provided me with a valuable perspective on my experiences thus far.

My social immersion in Galway has been the most formative part of my experience thus far. Whether reflecting on the hospitality of my new Irish friends or contrasting the bonhomous atmosphere of an Irish pub with the noisy and raucous scene at my local haunts in Baltimore, I’ve really come to appreciate my new home here. I’ve been invited to numerous strangers’ homes for dinner, drinks, and conversation. Perhaps a favorite memory was being asked ‘beer, wine, or whiskey’ upon sitting for dinner and then delving into conversation on topics ranging from politics to sports.

Additionally, my brief forays into other parts of Europe have been enlightening in a way that no classroom instruction ever could be. Although I’m surprised by how much economic theory I learned this past semester, the opportunities for travel and cultural excursions make me wonder whether I’m striking the appropriate balance between my formal economic studies and the cultural education that surrounds me. Since one can study economics in a classroom anywhere, I suspect that discussing intelligent design and creationism with a French couple and a New Zealander in a rural Irish pub may be the more memorable experience. Whether inside the classroom or out, I’m learning much more than I’d anticipated.

I’m excited to continue traveling and look forward to taking electives in health economics over the coming months. Having departed Galway temporarily for the holidays, I can already imagine how difficult it will be to leave once the year has come to a close.

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