After nearly ten months of anticipation and excitement, I was finally in my room at Trinity College Dublin. I immediately began to unpack, anxious to get settled and begin this new chapter of my life. In just a few minutes, my bag was empty, and my room—despite its barren yellow walls—felt like a home. I couldn’t help but notice how remarkably calm I felt despite the exhaustion of travelling and the uncertain future ahead of me. As I enjoyed this (admittedly uncharacteristic) moment of peace, I began to feel confident and prepared for my year in Ireland. It was at this exact moment that I was interrupted by an unexpected BANG! My empty outlet converter had erupted into an electrical spark that was surprising in both its size and proximity to my hand. It scorched the carpet and shattered my state of blissful peace. After quickly unplugging it and ensuring that the smoking carpet had not materialized into an actual fire, I stood rooted to the floor in my room and completely flustered. Just like that, my moment of Zen had come to a jarring conclusion.
Later, while waiting for someone from the maintenance department to reset the fuse I had blown, I had begun to think rationally again, and I had some important thoughts:
- I have a degree in electrical engineering, I somehow should’ve seen that coming.
- At least I’m not currently explaining to Trinity College and the US-Ireland Alliance how I managed to burn down a building within an hour of arriving on campus.
- I’ll never forget my first night on my own in Ireland.
Additionally, I figured that this was likely the first of many small speed bumps that I would encounter throughout the coming months. Over the ensuing weeks that prediction proved to be true, as I had to adjust to a new academic program and city, complete my registration as a legal resident of Ireland, and decipher the unlabeled buttons of the antique microwave in my kitchen. With the support of my new friends, particularly my fellow Mitchell scholars, I was able to face each of these challenges head-on.
Though there have been stressful times since that first night, they have been greatly overshadowed by the positive experiences. In just two months, I have squeezed through narrow passageways in castles built centuries ago, climbed hundreds of feet down a cliff to stick my toes in the frigid Irish Sea, and become friends with people from all over the world. During my brief time in Ireland thus far, I have been fortunate enough to experience the storied history, gorgeous landscape, and rich culture that it has to offer. I can’t wait to discover even more.