I’ve always possessed a character trait that I consider both a blessing and a curse: I hate to be alone. My dad has it too, so I get it honest. I derive my energy from interpersonal interaction, and after a day by myself, I am irritable, depressing, and moping around like a wilted flower. Because of this, and given enough time on my own, I will attempt to befriend anyone and everyone, for better or worse. On good days, this leads to making a new acquaintance or even a close friend, and on the worst days, I can be a huge annoyance to someone just trying to have a quiet walk to class, train ride, etc. You know those people you sit next to on planes that just won’t stop trying to make conversation and let you go to sleep? Yep, that’s me.
Fortunately, this trait of mine has been generally well received during my year in Ireland. From the first day I arrived and pulled out a map on the streets of Dublin, and an old Irish gentleman stopped me with all of my bags and asked if I needed help, I knew I was in for a pleasant year. After countless conversations on trains and in taxis, it’s seems that I’ve found a kindred spirit in the culture here. I couldn’t have asked for nicer housemates, and I even asked one of my Irish roommates, Aoife, to be a bridesmaid in my upcoming wedding in August. Our house has enjoyed countless spontaneous movie nights, and we’ve even thrown the occasional “official” party for ourselves to commemorate birthdays, homecomings, holidays (the piÒata of a baby chicken with a leprechaun hat affixed to its head is still displayed on our bookshelf), and TV nights (namely, Desperate Housewife Tuesdays). My six Irish course mates have also become good friends. Now that classes have ended for the year, we’ve been scheduling the odd tea/coffee outings to keep in touch.
Another blessing has been the frequent interactions with the other Mitchell scholars. I love every member of our Mitchell class and I’ve felt incredibly honored and humbled throughout the year to be a part of the group of people selected by the U.S. Ireland Alliance to participate in the program this year. Just last week we had our last official Mitchell event in Limerick and Dingle, and I had an amazing time relaxing with everyone and simply enjoying their company. Although Glenstal Abbey in Limerick was beautiful and the town of Dingle was incredibly fun, the highlight of the week was getting to talk to everyone a little bit more before we go our separate ways. I truly hope I will have the opportunity to spend time with each of them again in the future. I am especially thankful for my fellow Mitchell Dubliners: Erin, Brendan, Bernadette, Scot, and Sean for making the year ridiculously fun and unforgettable.
My year in Ireland has been an incredible success on all fronts, more than I could have hoped for. There have been very few days when I haven’t been smiling from ear to ear: I’ve enjoyed my course in Meteorology immensely, I’ve found the Irish culture incredibly endearing and the landscapes breathtaking, and of course, I’ve met some wonderful people who I am honored to call close friends. I look forward to maintaining my trans-Atlantic ties after I leave Ireland and I want to thank all of the program supporters who made this year a possibility.