I’m writing my fourth and final Mitchell blog on the CityLink bus. My stories regarding Ireland are pretty slim due to the fact that I have been in Ireland very little since our last blog. I spent most of the last two months in New Mexico and Oklahoma conducting thesis research and doing my darndest to eat my weight in green chile. Given the combination of my extreme carsickness (if I never see another roundabout, I will be perfectly happy with the way my life turned out) and fatigue from finishing up my final essays, this post may be a bit shorter than previous entries.
For the past nine months, Galway has been my home. And I’ve looked at it just that way. I never really took a lot of time to explore Ireland as a tourist. Thus, I’m spending my last two weeks in Ireland experiencing the things I’ve missed through tourist goggles. My parents visited last week and my girlfriend is on a flight to Dublin at this very moment, so I’ve tried packing in as many sights as possible into my last few days. In Dublin, this meant finally waiting in line to stand on my tip-toes to look over shoulders to see the Book of Kells, meditating in St. Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals, listening to trad music sessions at The Brazen Head, and feeding the ducks in St. Stephen’s Green. Next, we made our way to Kilkenny, quite possibly one of the finest medieval cities I’ve visited (naturally, I’ve visited so many medieval cities during my time in Oklahoma and Texas). My preferred method of touring, getting lost and walking towards things that look interesting, was perfectly suited for Kilkenny. I explored Kilkenny Castle, the Black Abbey, St. Canice’s Cathedral, and watched the Cats win their third straight Allianz Hurling League championship. Back in the west of Ireland, I toured Connemara and Kylemore Abbey and hiked the limestone mountains of the Burren before crisscrossing the country to play with lemurs and meerkats at Fota Wildlife Park.
I feel like the final blog is supposed to be about how the program completely altered my life or gave me a new outlook that will allow me to make my mark on the world. At the end of the day, it would be disingenuous to say I learned any life-changing lessons over the past year or to try to force a connection between my academic experiences at NUIG and my future career in America. However, I am forever grateful to have been given this opportunity. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined living in Galway, one of the most incredible cities in the world, or exploring European cities that I’ve read about in history books and novels, or bonding with my wonderful and welcoming classmates over American football at 4 in the morning, or meeting and traveling with an incredible group of scholars who will not only add positive value to the world, but are also just a darn good group of folks. Those little experiences, the memories I’ve made with the people who welcomed me to their city and into their lives, those are my favorite takeaways from the past year. Well, that and eating donuts from the Donut Man in the Galway weekend market. Seriously, your time on earth is not complete without experiencing the greatness of these donuts. If you’re looking for a life-changer, the Galway Donut Man has you covered.