“Where are you from?” the random person asks. “South Dakota!” I respond proudly. Although I usually hesitate to further the conversation until I can see the light return to my confused colleagues eyes. It usually takes a second, as they search the depths of their brain to find that flitting piece of information that they were taught about South Dakota in primary school. If they can remember it, (anything about South Dakota at all) they use it in a polite way to further the conversation. This does not happen very often, and they usually rather sheepishly admit, “You are the first person I have ever met from South Dakota.” Either of these answers suit me just fine and I like to smile and explain this is a common exchange that I get even when I am home in the United States. Surprisingly enough I have had more Irish classmates bestow upon me factoids about my home state, than I normally get in the United States. Usually they can recall the state capital, or maybe a state park or if all else fails they can recall with uncertainty, “That’s where Mount Rushmore is, isn’t it? Or is that North Dakota?”
This exchange being so common, and myself always being open to exchanging a good story or two, (as the current Mitchells will be able to attest to, possibly with some distress) bode well together and I am usually able to string together some stories of where I grew up and how I came to be in Ireland. Reading my audience as I go and explaining either the engineering background of John Deere, Caterpillar, NASA and a degree in Mechanical Engineering that carried me into working in Bioengineering at Trinity. I sometimes take a more majestic route including the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. Explaining how I have been blessed to find myself time traveling from a picturesque ranch in South Dakota where our closest neighbor lives seven miles away, to living in the magnificent Graduate Memorial Building on Trinity’s campus in the city centre of Dublin.
Although the time schedule for the MSc Bioengineering program has been rather hectic at times. I still try to find time, (if only the minutes between classes) to gaze up at the blue (sometimes gray) sky and breath deep as I reflect upon just where I am. I’ve taken countless pictures of the same buildings as the campus moves slowly through the seasons. I do not want to miss the fleeting fall leaves, as I will not be here next year to witness this again. As the campus slips peacefully into winter and the students complain of possible snow, I secretly hope for a white winter in Dublin. I imagine myself stepping out my “castle” door on an early crisp morning to take pictures of the pristine campus before snow boots and bike tires disrupt its sparkling new blanket.
Many people that listen to my stories wonder how I am adapting to life in Dublin. The populations of places I have previously lived span from about 300 – 180,000 people. So moving to the greater Dublin Area with a population of roughly 1.8 million, and then living directly in the city centre, has been an interesting change. Then tack on the fact that I am studying Bioengineering, and for the first time since 7th grade I am relearning anatomy and physiology, there have been a lot of new experiences in the last few months. But I see them as exactly that, experiences, and so far they have been absolutely great. Maybe difficult and trying at times, but absolutely amazing in the full-spectrum of things. I cannot wait to see what the next nine months brings!