So I feel like it has been a small lifetime since we last spoke. The second half of our year in Ireland started with a mid year retreat in Belfast. Earlier in the year, Stephen, Kyle, and I had met up with Ryan for a weekend in the city. Although we did a bunch of touring we somehow did not spend any time checking out the murals that memorialize much of the troubles faced by the city. I must admit that I have never been a person that is fully moved by art, but seeing the murals of the city you cannot help feel the passion, anger, grief, heartbreak, and spirit that almost tore the city apart while somehow forming the palpable identity of a city in flux. They are incredibly moving and a truly must see for anyone visiting Northern Ireland. On that note, I feel I have been so fortunate this year to see a lot of Europe, but my favorite natural beauty can be found in Northern Ireland (the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway are a close second). The first time I visited the Giant’s Causeway with Kyle, Stephen, and Ryan, I was in awe at the beauty of the cliffs surrounding the water’s face. They are magically green and the way the light glistens off the rock face makes you feel like you are at the end of world. I was so in love with the place that I was a little scared when Jennie told us that we were taking a tour of the Antrim Coast, because I did not want to chance the possibility of losing some of my passion for the place. However, I left the tour more in love and lust with the Coast than before. This trip ended with a double rainbow running over the cliffs just before the heavens were about to open up. It was breathtaking. A huge thank you must go out to Jennie and Trina for planning such a wonderful mid year retreat, and another thank you to Jennie for accompanying us for the weekend. On a sad note, Jennie is leaving the Mitchell Scholars Program soon, and I must say her guidance, support, and love will surely be missed. Thank you so much Jennie for all of your years of service to the Mitchells Scholars Program.
My academic year in Galway has come to a close. I really had a great semester this term, as I got to take two of the most interesting law classes I have ever taken: a class on the Criminal Jury and one of the Theories of Judicial Activism. For all future NUIG students, if you somehow have the opportunity to take a class with the director of the Center for Disability Law and Policy, professor Gerard Quinn, it is a must do. The man is brilliant and so thought provoking. This term we spent the entire semester in “chambers” discussing the Supreme Court opinion we would write on the constitutionality of gay marriage in Ireland, and our final exam for the class asked us to each draft our opinion.
As my academic year has come to a close, so has my Irish sports career. Unfortunately, it did not end in the blaze of glory I hoped. My basketball team lost in the All Ireland finals to DCU, and my boxing career ended way before that. For all future Irish students out there, playing a sport (or 4) was the best thing I did in Ireland. I made so many amazing friendships, was welcomed into wonderful homes, was able to travel the entire country, and got an insight into the Irish culture and people that transformed my year. I am really going to miss all of my teammates, and I thank them for memories I will never forget.
On a brighter note, I am really looking forward to Mitchell graduation. I have not had the opportunity to spend time with my entire class of Mitchells since the mid year retreat, and I really miss them. Trina and Jennie will also be there, so it should be a blast. I will tell you all about it during my next reflection.