When I moved to Ireland I had been told of how welcoming and friendly the Irish were. Despite this glowing reputation, I had concerns as anyone might have about being able to develop close friendships with such a dramatic move away from nearly all the close relationships I had ever known. As my time here has passed, I’ve come to see how completely misplaced any such concerns were.

Over the year I’ve grown close with my fellow scholars, whose diverse talents and interests have never ceased to amaze me. However, it’s not been their talents or gifts that have been the most memorable, but rather it has been the opportunity to share such a life-changing experience with a grounded group of exceptional people. I’m a better person for being challenged on my political beliefs by Tyler, for having experienced Lacey’s good spirit and wit while attending multiple doctor’s visits for her somehow two broken feet, and for enjoying what seems to be an endless stream of one-liners suited for any situation from Kat.

Fortunately, my friendships have also gone beyond my fellow scholars and into the wonderful community at UCD. Through my program I’ve been lucky enough to make several dozen new friends throughout the year. Every Friday we’ve gone to the pub on campus and discussed and debated everything from politics to my lack of understanding of Gaelic sports. Before the Olympics kicked off in February, several of us got together to watch the opening ceremonies with American and Irish pride flowing through the room, despite the notable lack of athletes from one country. At the end of the semester, several of my classmates and I organized a ball for the program, an opportunity for everyone in the UCD MPP program to get together and have a night out before many moved on to summer internships, moved back to their home countries, dove into theses, or returned to full time jobs. Getting to spend time with these friends outside of the classroom has been enriching and it’s been wonderful to get to know so many students from such disparate backgrounds with whom I’ve been able to have such enlightening conversations and experiences over the last year.

While my time in Ireland is coming to a close, I still am looking forward to a summer of enjoying time spent with friends. I’ve been told I have to attend a GAA match at Croke Park, go hiking in the Wicklow Mountains, and take time to visit more of rural Ireland. I look forward to doing some of that with family and friends from the US who are planning to make visits over the summer. Yet it is the opportunity to get a pint at the pub, go to a match, or simply relax with the friends I’ve grown close with here that I will remember most fondly about my time in Ireland. Relationships are what make adventures in life worth pursuing, and I will forever be fortunate for the relationships I have been blessed with this year.

Most of the 2018 UCD Master of Public Policy Class

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