Yesterday, I went to Mass celebrated by a Polish priest, ate an amazing Indian curry with some Irish classmates for lunch, and jigged to traditional music at my favorite pub with a French friend. Today, the Hungarian trainer at my gym nearly brought me to tears via hundreds of squats, but a warm cappuccino served by the Australian barista at Dublin’s best coffee shop, 3fe, subsequently soothed my aching body. And these have been normal days in Dublin!
When I was accepted into the Mitchell Scholarship program over a year ago, I could never have predicted the truly international perspective I would gain from living in Ireland. I expected to be enriched by Irish culture, constantly surrounded by Yeats quotes and historical narratives of the famine and the struggle for independence. But I must admit that I did not expect to be so enriched by a myriad of other cultures as well.
I am still proud to say that after nine months of living here I understand the Irish psyche a little bit better. Turns out, for instance, that Irish culture cannot be summarized by a reverence for Saint Patrick’s Day and an obsession with the white potato (as my Irish-American family led me to believe growing up). But beyond being able to provide directions to tourists like a true Dub and take part in the ‘mighty craic’ (good fun) of local social life, I am undoubtedly more aware of and fascinated with cultures from around the world from my year here.
Though my courses on International Development has certainly broadened my formal knowledge of the world, I have learned so much outside of the classroom regarding the diversity of perspectives and experiences which make up the international community. I am not, and would never claim to be, an expert in any one culture as I have discovered how impossible of a task that is. By listening to the stories of individual people from Ireland and elsewhere, it is so clear to me now that the depth of each country and culture could never be easily summarized. And although I would love to describe Irish culture in a pithy albeit all-encompassing way, I have finally given up that goal in hopes of taking every opportunity to continue to develop my global awareness and cultural sensitivity.
I never thought living in Ireland would teach me so much about the world, or even how to approach the world – but it has. When I graduated from college exactly a year ago, I thought the Mitchell sounded like a great way to have fun while earning a Master’s. I am so happy to say that my year has proven to be so much more that, but trying to describe it adequately – just like trying to describe the Irish or the French – would be impossible. My understanding of and compassion for people has certainly increased, though, and I will always be grateful for that.
Now, pictures of me enjoying myself and learning from people!