I have finally arrived back home in the states with a whole year in Ireland now behind me. While I will return back to Ireland fairly soon for my thesis defense, being back in the states for just a short time has given me a bit of perspective about my time there. In general I feel that my appreciation of both countries has improved as a result of my year in Ireland.
Since my previous reflection I have been busy writing my thesis. One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself and my work this year is what I precisely want out of my work and my career. I am no longer so sure that pure theoretical physics research is for me. However, I’ve been exposed to many other options of other career options I can pursue through the Mitchell Scholarship. This program has placed me in contact with people of all different backgrounds with many varied career paths. It has been like entering a completely different world from where I came from.
My feelings toward my work and my goals have also changed from some of my work and volunteering experiences. I worked at the Science Gallery during its Hyperbolic Crochet Coral exhibition. I spent my time talking about math and science to visitors to the gallery and led hands-on workshops where people can make their own hyperbolic spaces out of paper. I even made a piece of hyperbolic coral myself. I found that I really enjoy talking about science and the big philosophical ideas of science with the general public. I also volunteered at Fighting Words, where we helped guide young children in writing their own stories. I tremendously enjoyed working with young creative kids and felt inspired to do some creative work myself.
The Mitchell Scholarship has been the best thing that I’ve ever received. Not only have I made connections to people doing interesting work, I’ve also traveled and broadened my cultural interests tremendously as a result of my time in Ireland. Most of all I’m appreciative of the friends I’ve made and all I’ve learned from them. Near the end of the scholarship some of us wondered what it will be like to return to life after the scholarship. What I’ve realized now is that the scholarship prepares you to continue living the sort of life it engenders long after it has ended. Just because the year has passed doesn’t mean anything is over.