Lessons from my year in Galway

About a year ago, I was beginning to plan my time in Ireland (where I would live, when I would arrive, who would I live with, etc..) and imagining what my life here would be like. I kept thinking about my academic program and what I would learn while pursuing my Master’s degree. When daydreaming about the year ahead, I knew that the experience of living abroad would teach me a lot, but thought I would learn the most in the classroom. I certainly have learned a lot over the past year, but not just from the classroom. I would therefore like to take my last blog entry to reflect on what I have learned about life and myself this year.

  1. I don’t need classrooms and books to learn. Although I’ve learned a lot during my time in class and in lab for my Master’s degree, I feel that I’ve learned much much more outside of the classroom. From exploring Ireland, getting to know my fellow scholars, and learning more about myself, I have learned an immense amount this year.
  2. I’m a much happier and healthier person when I cook properly (thank you for teaching me how to cook well Azza <3) and have a regular exercise routine (e.g. gymming at NUIG’s Kingfisher gym, biking and running along the salthill prom, and the occasional swim in galway bay).
  3. Living near the water is immensely therapeutic. Nothing beats biking home from class or lab along the bike paths lining river corrib to end up at our apartment on Galway Harbor.
  4. Penney’s is the best store ever. ‘Nuff said.
  5. Being physically distant from loved ones doesn’t mean being emotionally distant. Modern technology makes being across the atlantic from loved ones so much easier.
  6. Home isn’t one physical place. Although I was certainly homesick at times, my life in Galway and my amazing Mitchell roommate Azza showed me I can make a home anywhere in the world.
  7. The Mitchell community will always be there for each other. Although I felt isolated at times in Galway away from the majority of Mitchell’s in Dublin, I was constantly amazed by the instant re-connection that happened when Azza and I would meet up with our fellow scholars after not seeing them for weeks or months.
  8. The world really isn’t that big. Traveling back to the States 7+ times for medical school interviews made me realize that Ireland/Europe really is a hop, skip, and jump away from the US.
  9. The sun will always come out, eventually. The winter in Ireland was long, dark, and rainy. But now that summer is upon us, I’m realizing that having some rainy days makes you appreciate the sunny days that much more.

Overall, I’ve had an amazing year in Ireland. I’ve not only learned about regenerative medicine from my Master’s, but I’ve also learned an immense amount about myself, my fellow Mitchell Scholars, and life in general. I’m sad that the year is drawing to a close, but am very excited to experience summer in Galway and see what the next chapter of my life has to bring.

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