Reflecting on the year

It is hard to believe that my Mitchell year is already coming to a close. In less than a month I will leave Dublin, enjoy a brief respite in my childhood home in Cincinnati, OH—and then fly to Washington, D.C. to work for Senator Portman’s General Counsel this summer in my first legal internship. More or less, I’ll be getting back into the professional swing of things. While I very much look forward to this change of pace, I could not have asked for a better year of preparation. I feel, as I type this, rejuvenated, optimistic, and ready for what’s to come—the result of a refreshing year in a beautiful city.
Without a doubt this has been an incredibly educational year—even more so than I had already expected. The master’s program I was enrolled in (MSc Program in Politics and Public Policy at TCD) was very well run and quite enriching. I am currently beginning work on my dissertation, due in August, that will examine constitutional amendment structures and their impact on constitutional longevity (not as complicated as it sounds). Above all, my program was valuable insofar as it introduced me to incredible people from across the spectrum of political viewpoints and nationalities. Just last night I engaged in a normative discussion concerning how “feminism” and “discrimination” should best be defined, over burritos at Pablo Picante (the best burrito in all of Dublin, if I haven’t already mentioned this in a blog post). This is just one example of numerous conversations that have allowed me to grow intellectually as a person.
In addition, when I look back on my experiences of the last few months, the time I spent traveling will also resonate vividly. In August I had the fortune to travel to Spain to walk El Camino de Santiago before beginning my studies in Dublin. Such an adventure provided me great grounding from which to begin the year. In September I visited Germany with two Mitchell friends to celebrate Oktoberfest—forging friendships that have grown as the year progressed. In London and Oxford I connected with several other American scholars abroad. And over the last few months I have visited six countries I had never before visited—Turkey, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, India, and Morocco (not to mention this also encompasses two continents I’d never before visited—Asia and Africa).
I think, coming away from this year, I can further reify the belief that two of the single most fun ways to become a better person are to 1. Meet and engage with diverse people, and 2. Travel (which oftentimes encompasses the first). This, in a nutshell, was my Mitchell year, and how it encouraged me to grow. It provided me the opportunity to achieve both these goals to an extremely high extent.
The sun is setting on my time in Dublin—at least for now. But I hope to return soon, and without hesitation will jump at any opportunity to do so in the future. In closing, I will end with as simple of a summary statement as I can—this year was fun, educational, and I grew as a person. It is an opportunity for which I am incredibly grateful.
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