Over the past two months, spring and summer have come, and the once-elusive sun has returned. Endless fields of wildflowers have begun to bloom on the Mourne and Wicklow Mountains. Droves of summer tourists have begun to filter into Dublin by the bus load and the bustling area of city centre where I live seems to be bursting at its seams. During the past two months, I have spent many days eating cheese chips on the lawn in front of the Pav (Trinity’s campus pub) in the sunshine. With the beautiful weather, it has been more and more difficult to stay indoors, but as the end of the year approaches, my time has become busier and busier. At the end of April, all of the Mitchell Scholars met up for the second time this year. We heard Irish political leaders talk about the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Ireland has come a long way in the past ten years, but we also learned about the work that still needs to be done. As part of the commemoration of the Belfast Agreement, we heard Duke Special. I will always remember the evening as one of the highlights of my year. Last weekend we met up on the Dingle Peninsula for our last Mitchell meeting of the year. We hiked Mount Brandon, the second-highest peak in Ireland, and I learned how to make nettle soup and soda bread. Although it was the last time I will likely see all of the Mitchell Scholars together in Ireland, I am positive I will see all of them again soon, wherever or whenever our paths cross again.
I am sad that much of my year in Ireland is over, but I look forward to the month ahead. In a little over two weeks, I will be on a plane to Istanbul with one of my best friends in Dublin. Afterward, I am off to Killarney National Park for a weekend to hike and enjoy the beauty of the mountains. My dad comes to visit a few days later: we will meet in London, travel across the UK by train, and drive through the Scottish Highlands. After all of this, I will have to pack my suitcases, and even then, I do not think I will feel ready to leave.
I will always remember my year in Ireland. I have formed some of my best memories here: the Sunday farmer’s market and sea cliffs in Howth, the views across the Irish sea from the peaks of the Mourne Mountains, the elaborate dinners that I (attempted) to cook for friends in my apartment, and the sizable percentage of my living stipend that has gone to subsidize Guinness at Hogan’s pub.
During the past year, I have had more time to explore the things that I love. I started Trinity’s only student environmental group, spent many weekends hiking in the Wicklow and Mourne mountains, and honed in on my whitewater kayaking skills.
When I left Harvard exactly a year ago, I felt happy to have all of the work behind me. I also felt sad to leave all of my best friends that had been with me for four years, and I felt unsure about what life would be like after college. While in Ireland, I have had the freedom to travel, hike, have a pint of Guinness (or two!), and meet a lot of wonderful friends whom I will never forget. At the end of the year, I still don’t know what I will be doing ten years from now or even two years from now, but this uncertainty does not seem to worry me as much any more: I have come away with a sense of confidence and a strong sense of what’s most important to me in the years ahead – I have a renewed passion for the environmental advocacy and research that has been so important to me this year. And no matter where I live or how busy my life becomes, I will always make time to hike in the mountains or to go for a pint with friends.
As I look forward to next year in Berlin, I continue to cram my brain with German nouns and verbs. I still doubt whether I will ever learn to like the Wienerschnitzel. I never thought I would stay in Europe – I loved my time in Europe so much that it is unclear yet when I will leave. I will be in Ireland for another month and a half yet, but then I am off to Germany to work in Berlin on a Robert Bosch fellowship. I dread the day that I have to pack my suitcases, but I know that I will always have amazing memories from my year in Dublin, and I know I will be back many times in the future.