As a creature of habit and an officer in the Navy, I love having schedules and packing them to the seams. My first two months in Ireland challenged all of my instincts. For four years, my life was segmented into 15-minute intervals beginning at 6:00AM and ending at midnight or 1:00AM. Now I am on Irish time, free to roam about my day in a higgledy-piggledy way. Instead of being yelled at for having 5 o’clock shadow, I can sport a beard. Instead of waking up at 5:30 AM, I sleep as late as I want (though I still can’t make it past 7:00AM). Instead of living in the same building as 4,500 other people, I live alone. While I am finding these minor adjustments difficult, there are many aspects of Irish time that I absolutely love.
The first thing I love is that I have an exorbitant amount of free time. Last week I met with three professors. We discussed, respectively, education in the third world, water security, and climate change policy. As I rambled on about the books and articles I have been reading, one of the professors stopped me and said, jokingly, “You are like a kid in a candy store with a hundred euros in your pocket. Life could not be any better.” I have never had this much time to read or the academic freedom to chose a course of study and dissertation topic that really means something to me. Like the jolly kid in the candy store, I have no intention of slowing down and have met some great people who will guide my education.
The second thing that I love is that I can pick up and go somewhere on my extended weekends. However, on the day that I arrived in Ireland, I turned over my passport to get a residency stamp(as a US government employee I needed to apply for diplomatic status). The nice people at the embassy told me it would take four weeks for the stamp to come through, and then I could be on my merry way. As the four-week point approached, I had already toured the entire southern corridor of the Island and enjoyed it thoroughly. At four weeks sans passport, they apologized and said it would take just two more weeks. At six weeks sans passport, I had seen the entire west coast up into Mayo. At seven weeks sans passport I missed the group trip to Barcelona. At eight weeks sans passport, the Mitchell Director, Serena, made a phone call. It was ready the next day. I have been crisscrossing Ireland since August, but I think I am ready to experience some of the other European cultures.
I still find myself getting a haircut every other week, waking up early, and showing up obnoxiously early to class, but all in all the adjustment has not been that difficult. Perhaps my transition back into rigidity will go smoothly, but something tells me that I will be missing Irish time ten months from now.