I can hardly believe that I’ve already spent over two months in Ireland. Having just graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in May, I spent the past four years getting up at 6:30am and often not turning in until the wee hours of the night. As you might imagine, I am in heaven now with my new Irish schedule. Although I have several classes each day, the earliest doesn’t begin until 10am! I have never felt so rested and healthy as I have these past few months. It’s amazing what eight hours of sleep a night can do for you…I’m going to be quite spoiled when I return to flight school next fall!
My course in Meteorology has been rigorous, but my instructors are very helpful and readily available to give additional assistance upon request. The resources available at UCD via the library and the Mathematics Help Center are more than adequate, and I am looking forward to developing my summer research these next few months.
There are seven other students in my course, all Irish, and we frequently collaborate on assignments and projects, not to mention have lunch together practically every day and of course the occasional night on the town. We also took a field trip together to a weather station at Valentia Island in County Kerry, which is an astonishingly beautiful part of the country. Apart from the frequent laughs at my expense as I attempt to pronounce the Irish names of the various weather stations, I am very thankful to have such fun and helpful course mates to make my experience in Ireland all the more pleasant.
Just as in my course, I could not have asked for better house mates. I share a comfortable UCD apartment with five others: fellow Mitchell scholar Erin Stevens, three Irish graduate students, and a very funny Slovakian. The six of us frequently cook together, have spontaneous movie nights, pizza parties, etc. Despite the fact that we all speak English, we spend much of our time rolling with laughter over the mistranslations that occur almost daily, such as the time I was asked to lend a “rubber” (eraser), go to the “press” (cabinet), or my hopelessly confused responses to the popular Irish phrase “What’s craic?” (How are you?).
As a lover of running, I’ve taken every opportunity to enjoy the vibrant running culture in Ireland. In addition to participating in several road races (including a 10-miler in Galway with an incredible view along Galway Bay) I joined the UCD Athletics team straight away, and am just gearing for the annual inter-varsity road relays between Trinity, UCD, NUI Maynooth, and DCU to take place this weekend. Our women’s team won a similar race against Trinity two weeks ago, so I am hoping that we can repeat the performance, especially since it has been several years since the team has beaten the DCU squad.
I am also involved with the campus Christian society, and I’ve made many new Irish and international friends through the weekly meetings held at a nearby residence as well as the Sunday morning carpools to church.
Spending time with my fellow Mitchells has made my time thus far even more enjoyable. The six of us in Dublin meet for dinner about once a week, and we’ve had a few mini-reunions between the twelve of us in Dublin, Galway, Belfast, and Cork. As I get to know each of them better, it becomes more and more an honor that I was even selected to receive the Mitchell Scholarship among such an accomplished and incredibly fun group.
Also, I’ve been very fortunate to have my mom and my boyfriend, Mike, come to visit me this month on separate occasions. I’m getting to be a bit of an expert of Dublin and surroundings having served as a tour guide twice in the past month! There is certainly no lack of beautiful scenery to show off in the area. Some of my personal favorites are Glendalough in Wicklow, Powerscourt Estate (great shopping too), the Great Sugarloaf Mtn., Christ Church Cathedral, and Chester Beatty Library.
Almost one year ago, when Mary Lou called me to tell me I had won a Mitchell Scholarship, I knew that my time in Ireland would be special, but I never could have imagined exactly how incredible it would turn out to be. If the rest of my time here is even half as good as the past two months have been, I will have had a great year!