Getting started in Dublin has been fast and rewarding. From the start, I felt like a hit the ground running in my program doing exactly the kind of research I came to do. My course is Electronic Signals Engineering at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and it includes electronic engineering modules as well as a research project. For my research project, I am focusing on personalized medical device design. I am hoping to build a basic prototype device in the next year that stimulates muscles in a discreet/therapeutic way. My greater interest is on personalized physical therapy/device design based on the desires of the user. I am interested in all aspects of prosthetics, but specifically would like to learn more about the consultation process and how to build a device while keeping a person’s best (and preferred) interests at heart. In the future I hope to bring together what I know about engineering medical devices and what I have learned from first hand accounts of prosthetic users to be a part of providing medical care to military members and veterans. My program at DIT is allowing me to ask the technical and the social questions needed in order to get a holistic understanding of what users want from their prosthetics.
Now, the greatest lesson I have learned since moving here. The weather here has been terrible, but I believe it has made me a better person. Before now, I was always planning, packing, repacking, and re-planning my whole day out so I was never caught off-guard. Here, I am always caught off-guard and it is changing my brain for the better. There is no “plan” here. In the beginning, I would open the window, assess, get dressed, be perfectly dressed for the weather I saw, then walk outside and be like a panting dog in the heat or immediately get caught in the rain like a bad cartoon with the umbrella inside-out. At first this ripped me up. I had so much anxiety not knowing how to plan and what to expect from my day. Then I realized, the key is not preparing, just adapting. Something I thought I was good at, but actually turns out I am not. And I am getting lots of practice at it, which is great. Now I leave my apartment with an open mind and a willingness to accept things I cannot change. If it rains, I take my umbrella out. If it is windy, I have an extra sweater. If the sun comes out I immediately stop what I am doing and turn my face up to the sky. And to tell you the truth, I am happier! When caught in the rain without a coat or umbrella, I no longer crouch and frown. I shrug my shoulders and walk on. This is a theme evident in the Irish culture here that is hard to see unless you put a certain lens on and look for it. One of my Irish friends said to me when I first arrived, “If you want to know who’s Irish, look at who’s not wearing a coat. Only visitors have all the gear.” At the time I thought, how ridiculous, you’d think since they live here they would actually be the most prepared! But now, I get it. No coat required. Just a different attitude.
Below are some photos from my travels around Ireland!