When I left the United States on my way to Ireland in mid-September 2014, I had no idea what to expect. As an engineer I researched notable sources online and started to piece together just what it would be like to live in Ireland for a year. I tried to prepare myself so that I would not look too much like a tourist for the next 12 months, and so that I would not accidently offend anyone with my somewhat baritone voice that has a tendency to leap across the room in excitement. I researched current events and older, but definitely not forgotten, struggles of the past.
As I started researching current events, the main news story all over the island, was that the Garth Brooks concerts that were scheduled to take place in Dublin… had been CANCELLED! This was a big deal! While I researched the past struggles I found a society steeped in history and holding tightly to their customs and beliefs that had been under fire for so many years.
Before I left for Ireland I was quite nervous. I had never lived in a city of more than 200,000, and I was moving to city centre of Dublin, Ireland. This would be my very first trip to Europe, and I would be living there for 12 months. I did not know what to expect. I honestly did not know… how much I did not know. I was excited to have a great group of 12 men and women accompanying me that had a lot more experience in travels, but at this time I knew them all only briefly. I was worried, but ecstatic!
When I landed I maintained some degree of worry but mostly let the surrealness of it all wash over me. The year has gone by so fast I have had little time to reflect and think about the people I have met, and the conversations that we had. That does not mean I have forgotten them, I have simply stored them in my mind for reference later in life when this crazy year of adventure and exploration will truly be coveted by my elder self. I look back now, with 3 months remaining, in stark disbelief at what I have been blessed to do in the last year. I attempt to grasp just how fortunate I have been, but in that instant the pendulum of time continues to swing and I must move forward as I have assignments due, people to meet and new opportunities to pursue.
What can I say in this short blog? I have been fortunate to live in a “castle”, on a picturesque campus, in the middle of an amazingly beautiful city, that is filled with lovely people. I also have the privilege of meeting 11 extremely intelligent, caring individuals, with whom I was able to share nights out, but also ideas and beliefs. When I arrived in Ireland, I was not sure what to expect, but what I can be sure of, I will walk away with more than a degree, I will leave Ireland with new perspective, life experiences and life lessons.