This post comes to you live from a homey bed & breakfast in Donegal County, owned by a sweet Irish family with a young granddaughter and two loud but friendly puppies. My fingers are still thawing from my hike in Glenveagh National Park earlier, where I discovered more shades of orange in the uplands than I had ever seen before and took maybe close to fifty thousand photos of foggy lakes, peatland, and a European Robin (I sent a video of the bird to my college advisor, an ornithologist, who immediately shot back a response, identifying it for me). It’s 3:30 pm on Halloween, trick-or-treaters have started knocking on the B&B door, and the sun is already low behind gauzy clouds. I’m peering over my teacup and out the window at a tiny white cottage with a red door. The red pops against the verdant pastures, grassy boxes divided by dark green hedges, sprinkled with white lambs and the occasional cow… and it’s giving cottage core.
This past weekend was spent with other Mitchell Scholars in Derry for its famous Halloween festival. We did it all: haunted houses, walking tours of Bogside murals, the Free Derry Museum, and loads of pictures under the Derry Girls mural. I also discovered my new favorite brunch spot, Synge & Byrne. I feel so much appreciation to be here with the other scholars, who I’ve discovered are even funnier, kinder, and smarter than I knew when we arrived.
My days lately have been filled with my internship for the Committee on the Administration of Justice. I am editing a report for them, on the UK Legacy Bill and its contradictions with Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The report has come with me on trains, to plenty of coffeeshops, and to my favorite study spots across campus.
Some of my days in Belfast start with a pre-class coffee with Mhairi Claire, Órlaith, and Sivahn at Blue Train just off Botanic Avenue. We giggle (read: howl and guffaw too loudly for the space) over our chais and lattes and then walk over to our lectures, stepping over pools of rainwater and piles of soaked leaves. My favorite module is Religion & Peacebuilding; I never expected to learn so much in so few weeks.
Many of my nights end with a trip to a local pub, where everyone gathers for a laugh and maybe to watch a game of rugby, if not for a beer in classic Irish tradition.
All of my days involve something new: something new I’ve learned in class, or something I’ve tried for the first time (caving), maybe something I will never do again (caving), a new coffee shop, a new favorite song, a new place to see, a new friend… they all add up to this new life and home I’m creating for myself here in Ireland. The days, weeks, and months are already passing me by, but when the hours slow down and I’m able to sit and reflect, I feel so grateful for this new chapter of life.