November 2007 Reflection

My time thus far in Ireland has been quite enjoyable. The last few months have been busy for me starting with my return home from Baghdad, Iraq in August. My wife, Carolyn, and I didn’t have much time to relax, as we quickly moved cross country and then embarked on our journey to Ireland. I’m now 7 weeks through my first semester and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experiences I’ve had the people I’ve met.

Dublin is a growing city, rich in culture and host to an international atmosphere. Regardless of your passions, there’s something to do here for everyone. I’ve been impressed with the Irish people who are proud of their heritage and hopeful for the future. I have repeatedly been welcomed with open arms by my lecturers, fellow students and neighbors. I think what I’ve most enjoyed is the laidback approach people have here (especially in comparison to Americans). One of my neighbors put it best by stating that “people here work to live and not the opposite.” Coming from a military background and a year in Iraq, the opportunity to stop and smell the roses a bit has been quite beneficial (don’t worry, I’m not smelling them too long!).

Besides a plethora of pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants, Dublin is situated next to so many beautiful landscapes (Howth, Malahide, and others), which makes it easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy a bit of the nearby countryside. Even within the city, there’s so many parks to walk through and enjoy (I think my dogs love this the most). The opportunity to travel all across Europe is another benefit to be found here. Carolyn and I have already taken a trip to Paris and plan on seeing Oslo, Stockholm, Venice and other beautiful cities during our stay.

My experience at Dublin City University has also been a pleasure thus far. The university and its staff have been incredibly helpful and accommodating from day one. My classes meanwhile have proven to be very interesting despite the fact that I’m only taking core modules in the first semester (which obviously heightens my excitement and anticipation for the rest of the year). My lecturers have provided me the opportunity to learn the material in conjunction with my interests by encouraging self learning and in depth research. My fellow students also provide me the opportunity to hear so many different perspectives. Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, the Gambia and the US are all represented in my class equating to only 30 people. Gaining exposure to various opinions and ways of thinking has been very enlightening in comparison to my past experiences (it also helps when planning trips in Europe!).

I have also found the Irish are equally passionate about their sports as we are in the States. The Rugby world cup was held this year in Paris and although the Irish didn’t fair well, the city was absolutely buzzing about the competition for weeks. Football (soccer), Gaelic Football and Hurling are also significant sports in Ireland with teams boasting many supporters. I have personally fallen for Rugby and enjoy watching “matches” with some of my classmates. In turn, I have tried practicing my skills as an ambassador by promoting Baseball and American Football here. Needless to say, I’ve had mixed results.

Overall, I’m having a great time in Dublin. I’ve enjoyed the several get togethers the Dublin based Mitchells have had and look forward to our Thanksgiving celebration. I’m also looking forward to the rest of my time here. I recently finalized my thesis proposal and am eager to delve into a subject that sparked my efforts to pursue the Mitchell Scholarship in the first place. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

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