I’ve just returned to Dublin after three weeks at home. The end of 2014 came and went in a whirlwind of final tests, projects and papers. It was wonderful to be able to spend the holidays with my family for the first time in two years!
As I said in my last blog, last semester was very busy for me. My program is pretty intensive in terms of time – I had class all day Monday through Wednesday and sometimes on Thursday. I also focused a lot on activities related to my particular field of interest outside the classroom, with my internship and going to events and conferences with organizations that do work I’m interested in. I settled into a comfortable routine with gym, class, cooking, homework, internship, and social time. I did some traveling to places around Ireland and just recently a quick gallivant in Glasgow, Scotland. It was a fantastic semester and I felt very content when I looked back on it. I’m learning a lot and developing skills and connections that I think will help me do better work for a cause I’m extremely passionate about. I’ve made some very good friends and I’m having a very good time.
Then New Years came around and I did a lot of thinking and reflecting on what I want out of this next term and next phase of my Mitchell year experience. This term will be different for me in terms of structure. Whereas last term we had all our compulsory classes, this term we have electives that are taught as 1-week intensive modules because many of the professors actually come to TCD to teach them either from other universities in Ireland/UK or from NGOs. Since we only take 4 out of the 8 modules, this means I will have more time in my schedule in which I’m not sitting in a classroom. Some of this time will undoubtedly be spent doing more work at my internship at Special Olympics and some will be spent starting my thesis research work. But with that much more time, what else should I do?
My New Years resolution is to branch out and do things that I enjoy, but are not exactly professionally oriented and wouldn’t go on my CV. Some are things I started last term. I am a total bookworm and started reading some Irish literature in the fall, so I will be doing more of that. I also went to go see a performance art show one of my co-workers from Special Olympics was in, which got me thinking that I should really take more advantage of all the theater going on in Dublin. I did a lot of writing last year when I was in Tanzania, so I brought back that journal and my old field diary from China as well and want to see if I can work on developing my writing more. I’m also open to trying things that I don’t even think I’m good at. Two of my Irish friends go to a painting class that is meant for people with no art background, so maybe I will tag along and try my hand at that even though I have no natural talent and have done nothing art-related since my last mandatory art class in like 10th grade of high school.
There is also the chance that some flyer or e-mail announcement for something going on at TCD or in Dublin will catch my eye and lead me in a different direction. It is such a blessing and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and study in Ireland, and I would really like to look back on this year and see it as a time of personal and not just professional growth. I’ve loved my time here so far and can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring!