My biggest fear upon my arrival to Ireland was the prospect of making new friends. I am the only person in my degree program (MRes in biochemistry), and I will largely perform independent research with elderly individuals all year—not exactly a recipe for a thriving social life. Luckily, as I opened the door to my apartment at UCC, I was greeted by a lilting Irish accent exclaiming “You must be the fourth roommate!”. In the coming hours I would learn the sing-song voice that greeted me belonged to my housemate Jill who’s from Kilkenny, and I met my other housemates, Sarah and Gabby, who are from Kerry and New Jersey respectively. Individually we study law, politics, film, and biochemistry, but collectively we share a love of potatoes (in all forms), Ramen, burritos, and movies. I came to Ireland prepared to live with strangers that already had established friend groups and low motivation to befriend a housemate, yet I was welcomed with open arms and incorporated into grocery runs, brunch dates, and movie nights. I forced everyone to watch P.S. I love you, which quickly turned into a lesson elucidating everything wrong with Gerard Butler’s Irish accent.
Although it’d be easy to spend all day at home and watch movies, I felt the need to branch out and try to immerse myself in the greater Cork community. Sports have always been a large part of my life and are normally a great way to meet new people, so I decided to join the Flag Football Team and the Women’s Basketball Team. I’m one of only three girls on the flag football team, but the entire club was surprisingly welcoming. On the bus to games, the lads have educated me on Irish viral videos and Cork slang. There are still instances when I have no idea what people are saying, but I like to think I’m getting better!
Even though it has rained during most of our games, it is nice to be a part of a team—especially one where there’s free Red Bull and ample playing time for everyone. Basketball started a bit later and we’re still all getting to know each other, but we have our first game next week and I’m excited for what lies ahead. There are quite a few other international students on the basketball team, and it’s fun to compare our experiences with the sport.
Finally, the other Mitchells at Cork, James and Anji, have been indispensable in my adjustment to life in Ireland. Whether it’s going to traditional Irish music concerts on Wednesdays or one of our weekly home-cooked meals, it’s nice to debrief our weeks and remind each other when the blogs are due. Anji even let me run her as a test subject through my study which included putting gel and 128 electrodes on her head!
Overall, I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made and am excited for those I’ll make in the future.