Wow, it is hard to believe that the year is already over. When I last wrote it was March, and I was headed home for reading week. While I was there, I went back up to New York to see my younger sister’s high school musical. Strange, I missed the one her freshman year, but I was only in DC then, not Dublin. When I got back to Ireland, I had six weeks of classes left and a dissertation to write. Second semester with the specific subject area classes was so much more interesting and engaging than first semester. It was also nice that in second semester, classes were shared between the MA in International Security and Conflict, the MA in Globalization, and the MA in International Relations. It made for a nice change of pace as different voices entered the daily debates.
The big project of the past two months has been getting my dissertation done alongside of classes and final papers. It wasn’t due until mid September, but with summer jobs, buying a house, and law school coming up, I had resolved not to bring it home. My adviser at DCU really pushed me to clean up my format and clarify the overall argument, as well as to clearly define each step in its progression. It must have been worthwhile, because when I presented the paper at the International Sunbelt Conference for Social Network Analysis in Corfu the first week of May, it got a very warm reception.
One interesting feat has been applying for summer jobs and fellowships in DC from Dublin. I remember when I was in Florence for the spring semester of my junior year how badly I felt for all those trying to manage applications and expensive phone (if not in-person) interviews. I had gotten lucky and had a job through my scholarship with the DHS, but this time around, I wasn’t so fortunate. Skype, however, once again has managed to save the day. I have done no less than four full telephone interviews from my computer at a ridiculously low rate of two cents a minute. As a result, I will be working as a research intern for the Council on Global Terrorism, and I have an interview for the Deloitte Emergency Preparedness Fellowship two days after I fly home. It really has been amazing how much easier technology over just the past year and a half has made studying abroad.
The last week, however, has been bittersweet. Throughout the year I have loved getting together with our entire Mitchell class for our various trips and events. Unfortunately, the ring ceremony in Dublin and the trip out to Limerick mark the last time the whole class will be together like this, outside of future reunions that simply won’t quite be the same. At the ring ceremony, I couldn’t help but be impressed at how accomplished this class continues to be as I heard what the Scholars have planned for the next years. It truly is a special thing to be a part of such a group. Another bonus was that I got to see my internship host one more time, and I got to introduce him to everyone in the program who up until then had been only names to him.
The next night, the girls threw me a hen party. Granted, I’m not getting married until August 2008, but they thought it was the perfect time and excuse to go out to a bar and wear silly masks in a tame version of what we heard Irish bachelorette parties could be. From there it was off to Limerick where we got to spend a fascinating evening with an unbelievably talented father/two sons set of musicians. It was a night of home cooked food, casual banter, and listening to original music on piano, drum, and guitar. The last thing I got to do with my class of Scholars was go to Glenstal Abbey the next morning. The Abbey is located in an idyllic setting of woods and flowers and waters. It was so beautiful and peaceful that I couldn’t help thinking how perfect it would be for a week-long retreat. Sadly for me, once I got back on the bus, the spell was over, and I had to head back to Dublin to pack up and ship out for DC.
It really has been a memorable year full of learning, making lifelong friends, and getting an entirely new perspective on the world. I know that my future study and work will be strongly influenced by all the things I have experienced here this past year. While on the one hand I am returning to my home and my fiancé and my family and my school, I will never entirely leave behind all the people I’ve met over here and lessons they’ve taught me.