November 2008 Reflection

When I arrived in Cork, the first thought that came to mind as I stepped off the airplane onto the tarmac was, “Is this really what Cork looks like? Or is this some big landscaping project that was performed to make the airport look nicer?” Right by the airport were beautiful, green, rolling hills and an expansive sky with clouds dramatically thrown across it. After going through customs and hopping into a taxi, I realized along my way to my new apartment that it wasn’t just some landscaping project; there was beautiful countryside everywhere. I couldn’t believe it. (And I’ve since realized that this countryside isn’t even the most breathtaking in Ireland!)

Before coming to Ireland I had heard that it would be beautiful. The country has far surpassed my expectations. (I still can’t decide if the grass here really is greener than in Georgia, where I’m from, or if I’ve just convinced myself that it is!)

The countryside is not the only beautiful aspect of Cork: University College Cork’s (UCC’s) campus is outstanding! And not just for its aesthetic qualities: I REALLY enjoy my classes. My professors are fantastic (and most of them are Irish, which makes me feel especially like a part of the Irish culture), and the course material is interesting and challenging. As fascinating as my Statistics program at Georgia Tech was, it’s nice to finally be taking classes again in a subject I’m especially passionate about (computer science). Surprisingly, my program (M.Sc. Mobile Networking & Computing) has only 7 people in it, and only 1 guy is Irish! It looks like some international friends and I are going to become a tight-knit group!

I’ve tried to get involved in a few things on campus to meet new people and get the most out of my experience here, but for the past few month or so it seems as though fate has been working against me. I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team, and at the end of the very first training session, I dislocated my shoulder. If you’ve never done this before, I can’t recommend trying it. I had to be rushed to the hospital, and I was placed in a sling for four weeks. This prevented me from doing the activities on campus I was most interested in (ultimate frisbee, mountaineering (a hiking club), and running). But of course, I did not let this prevent me from making the most of my time here! Sling or no sling, I’ve been sure to get in plenty of traveling, including trips to Prague, Paris, Barcelona, London, and all over Ireland. Traveling around Ireland is especially great since I get to visit the other Mitchell scholars and see what their experiences are like. I’m so glad we all get along so well. I feel very fortunate to have been picked for the Mitchell Scholarship when I see what amazing people they are!

I can’t believe I’ve already been here in Ireland for two months. The time has just been flying by, I’ve been having so much fun! Getting to be a part of Irish life, see all of the beauty, history, and activity this country has to offer, getting to meet so many amazing people, and getting to travel so many places has really been a dream come true. And, now that my shoulder has finally healed, I can’t wait to get started on all the other things I’ve been looking forward to so much. I’m having a blast, and it looks like the rest of my year here is going to be even better. I can’t wait!

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