June 2006 Reflection

Two weeks ago, we had our final official Mitchell get-together of the year, which was also the five-year Mitchell reunion. It was both a joyous occasion, getting to meet many other fascinating and amazing people and getting our rings, and a sad one – I know that was the last time that I will see most of the other 2005-2006 scholars for an indefinite amount of time. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other Mitchells this year, visiting their respective cities and universities, and learning about each other through our stimulating conversations (which often somehow seemed to end up revolving around religion and politics instead of the science arena I know so much better!). After this school year, the eleven of us will be spreading out to all different places, parts unknown, and it’s hard to say when we’ll get together again. On the positive side, I’ve got ten new people to count as friends, and it’ll be fun to visit each other around the world in the years to come.

The first of the scholars in my class is already flying back to the States in just a few days. I, however, still have a few months left in Limerick and much remains to be accomplished. While others are preparing for exotic and exciting-sounding trips to Africa and Asia before their final farewell, I’ll be spending most of my summer months hard at work in the lab on my research project. I finished the last of my coursework requirements and took my final exams a few weeks ago, so now I’ll be able to concentrate on collecting data and writing my thesis. Past experience has taught me that scientific research can be a slow process with many setbacks before finally getting results, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well. After all, it would be hard to carry my cells and bioreactor back to the States with me!

This is not to say that I will be locked away in my lab until August – I do have a few small trips planned and the last of my USIT stipend to use. I just got back from a weekend trip to London, where I got to see a show at the Globe Theater for five pounds. I’m going to meet some of my friends in southern Italy for a few days later this month, one of whom will be a Mitchell Scholar in Galway next year. I’d like to go to Prague for a few days in August. I’m also hoping that my friend’s arrival in Galway will overlap with my last few days in Limerick – perhaps I’ll be able to meet up with her and help one of the next class of Mitchell Scholars get settled in before I head to Boston.

My Mitchell year is coming to an end, and I’m going to miss Ireland when I leave. Sadly, I still haven’t managed to truly embrace the Irish spirit of relaxing. I still show up to everything ten minutes early, and I still constantly stress out and worry about the million and one things I have to do in the limited amount of time I have left in Ireland. But, I know that my experience here has influenced who I am, helped me to grow and develop for the better, taught me about and allowed me to develop a deeper appreciation of all things Irish, and continued to open my eyes to the world around me. And, I imagine I’ll still slip out with the occasional “dodgy”.

I’d like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thanks to Mary Lou, Trina, the US-Ireland Alliance, and all the sponsors and partners for their generosity, help, and their belief in the scholarship that has allowed me to have this unforgettable experience.

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