I arrived back in the US at the beginning of December to a white-out blizzard: I knew I was back at home. I spent a wonderful few weeks with family and friends, went hiking and cross country skiing, and even had the opportunity to travel to the United Arab Emirates on a cultural exchange. At the end of the month, I sat in the Fargo airport and said goodbye to my dad before I went through security. I felt sad about leaving my family and friends for a place so far away. Twenty-three hours later, as the airplane descended through the clouds, I saw the Howth Peninsula, the Wicklow Mountains, and green expanses of Ireland below me. I stepped off the airport bus in city centre beneath the Dublin Spire, and I walked down O’Connell Street and across the Liffey; I smiled. I felt at home.
One of my best friends from home came to visit this week. I eagerly awaited her arrival at the airport outside of customs. I felt incredibly excited to see my best friend, but I also felt as excited to show her a city that has become my own: the history that I see on every street corner as I walk to class, the multitude of pubs that make the city famous, and the people I have met that have made this experience as amazing as it has been.
As my year in Ireland continues on, my academic program allows me much free time to explore. I am working with another friend to create an environmental student group on campus: I hope to become more involved in the same type of on-campus advocacy that made my time at Harvard so fulfilling. The school vacations during the year have been wonderful, and I have begun making plans with a few other scholars to travel in Eastern Europe during my three week spring break.
A place that once felt so foreign and far away has become a second home for me. I can only look forward with anticipation and optimism for the eight months in Ireland still ahead.