Twenty-Second Email- Has it really been 8 months?

Sent 6.5.06


I haven't talked about Europe and studying abroad in a general sense in some time, so I figured I'd touch on it a bit in this email. School stuff, studying, and travelling have been taking up a lot of my time lately, and a few other things have snuck in too. Some things are pretty important, such as picking classes for the fall semester back at Notre Dame and trying to figure out my rooming situation in the fall. The latter was much more crazy than it should have been- the Office of Residence Life and Housing at Notre Dame failed to inform most year-long study abroad students that housing contracts were due, so we all missed the ball on that one. I didn't find this out until our trip to Brussels about a month ago, and they had been due over a week before at that point. It took several emails and phone calls to get straightened out, but it ended up working out pretty good for me as the staff in Dillon Hall didn't hold Reslife's error against me. I was thrown into the lottery with everyone else and ended up getting a pretty good single room for next year (362 Dillon Hall).

One of the more interesting and important things I have been trying to do is track down an internship for this summer. It is nice to get some practical experience in your field before entering your final year of study, and it doesn't hurt to have an internship on the resume. Obviously being across an ocean from every employer you want to talk to presents some additional challenge. I started my 'search' in January; I probably applied to 15 or 20 positions, some more seriously than others. The search can feel like an uphill climb the whole time, with progress hard to gage. I attached a cover letter to my applications stating my study abroad situation; it states that I would really appreciate being given a chance and not just tossed in the reject pile because I living out of the country. The best part of being in Ireland is when I am selected for an interview, since the normal sit down in person interview obviously isn't going to happen. Since the start of my search, I've had four phone interviews. I heard back from one fairly quickly- I wasn't the 'right fit' for their company, but good luck in your future search. Two of them are still outstanding, and they haven't gotten back to me one way or the other, but that isn't an issue anymore. That leaves one phone interview- and that is the one that got me a job this summer. The interview was with Technology Services Group in Chicago, and they offered me a position the next day. I'm quite happy with the offer. First, it is in Chicago, which is a city I've wanted to live and work in. Second, it seems like a position I'm going to be able to learn a lot from- it isn't just a desk job that was advertised to Computer Science undergrads, but actual hands-on work with newer technologies. Last spring when I was doing this same thing, albeit not so seriously, I wondered why you had to apply so early for some positions. Now I see why- they can take forever to give you answers. It is nice to finally have something nailed down for my summer plans. Of course, now I have to work on finding an apartment from abroad...

Eight months- I've been in Europe for that long. I know for a fact I've never been away from home for that long, so that is pretty crazy to think about. I haven't even stepped foot on American soil that entire time. It has definitely been an eye-opening experience, because I'm beginning to view my country more and more from an outside point of view. Now that I'm able to count the weeks left on my hand, I can definitely say time flew by this year. I don't have a whole lot of regrets regarding things I should have done or seen- I've seen so much and done so many cool things that I would have a hard time complaining, although Eastern Europe is a place I'd still like to see at some point. I've heard a smorgasbord of languages, tasted quite a selection of food, and sipped many a local drink in my travels around Europe. At the same time, I've also gained an appreciation for some aspects of American culture that I left behind and haven't seen in a while. Even Grand Rapids, MI, the town I plan on leaving after graduation (or perhaps never returning to since I won't be there this summer), has something that I miss. It has a lot going for it- it's a good-sized city, 40 minutes from beautiful Lake Michigan, and the weather changes seasonally. That last one sounds a bit weird, but the temperature here in Dublin doesn't vary by more than 20 degrees or so, and consistency is quite boring.

Now for some more quick hits and Dublin oriented news. My fellow ND students and I have been doing well in the past month stretching our monthly stipend as far as possible, as travelling gets expensive. I've been getting good at reducing my weekly grocery bill to a little over €20 ($25), while still eating around three meals a day and not going vegetarian. This should come in handy now that I'll be living on my own this summer, because I've figured out many ways to save money. I also just finished my final box of macaroni and cheese- I brought about 10 boxes over at the beginning of the year, and managed to not consume them for my first 10 meals. I actually ate more of them this semester than the first because I realized I still had so many.

Without a Mom around, I decided to do something this spring that I had never really done seriously before- grow out some facial hair. If it wasn't obvious in the pictures, now you know. The moustache/beard combo didn't last long before it was too much, so I cut it down to just the goatee for a while. The experiment lasted 11 weeks, before I got rid of it last week because I needed a change. On a more serious note, I went to the opera last week to see "Faust", a German play adopted for French-language opera. It was at the Gaiety Theatre, the same theatre where I saw the Aladdin pantomime in December. It was nice to see a professional production in one of the better theatres in Dublin. I believe this was the first opera I have seen in person. Finally, one of the items on my "things to do in Ireland" list was go for a swim in the Irish Sea. I should have done this in the fall when I first arrived- the air and the water were both a wee bit warmer. However, I failed to think ahead so I was stuck waiting until May and slightly warmer weather. I finally just decided to go this past week, because the water really isn't going to magically heat up before I leave. The water is not exactly warm here by anybody's definition. I wasn't going to let an older Irish guy who was just getting out of the water as I arrived show me up though, so I followed through with it and went for a swim. I asked him if the water was cold, and he responded "It's not too bad." Wow, I thought it was pretty cold. It took me a few minutes to get all the way in, and I eventually put the goggles on and swam for about 50 yards before deciding that I had officially swam in the Irish Sea. It was enough for me, and I have a lot of respect for all the people that swim regularly.

Emails may be taking a short break, with my final trip and exams coming up. I'll try to post pictures of Spain and Portugal soon after I return, but a description of the trip will have to wait. Until then...

Keep in touch,

Dan McGee
Mobile: +353 87 056 4163