Some Pictures and a Few Thoughts

It’s hard to believe this semester has whizzed by so quickly! This week is our last full week of class, next week is revision, and then we’re actually having final exams. I feel like we just got here, but then I remember how far back my first lectures were…

Galway: The view from our bed and breakfast

What’s more, we’ve only got six more sightseeing destinations left – Malahide, Kildare, Powerscourt, maybe London, the Book of Kells, and Phoenix Park – and then we’re on a plane back to the Twin Cities. It seems like we’ve barely done anything, but then I remember that we’ve already seen the Dublin Wax Museum, the National Museum, the National Library, the Guinness Factory, Howth, Galway, the Aran Islands, Cork, Killarney, Blarney Castle, Girona, Barcelona, Ciampino, Rome, Beauvais, and Paris. What an adventure!

Inis Mor: After a bike ride around the largest Aran Island

Since my recent shift in perspective and my new found appreciation for my experiences here (not just at UCD and Dublin, but Ireland and Europe generally), I’ve come to really value these last few weeks abroad. I guess the big question on my mind is: Am I ready to go home?

Cork city

The answer to that is a tough one. On the one hand, I feel like we just got here and there’s so much left to see (especially as I’ve come to really enjoy myself recently). On the other hand, Summer 2010 and the 2010 – 2011 school year is going to be some of the best times of my life!

Killarney

Just in the last few weeks and days – literally! – we’ve finalized plans for some awesome upcoming stuff:

1. Our new home! We’ve seen the place, submitted our application, provided financial documents, forwarded loan applications, and – just yesterday – we delivered the signed lease and security deposit. This adorable little Highland Park studio is going to be ours!

2. Summer collab research! After a lengthy application process and some much-respected competition, I’ve found myself the honored winner of a position with the 2010 summer collaborative research program. My project – “Crosses of Straw and Stone: Saint Brigid and Narratives of Irish Catholic Observancy and Heritage” – is incredible, and I am overyjoyed to get the chance to explore it in a challenging, supportive environment.

3. Summer internship! I am officially going to be a summer intern at the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches! I will be working with the Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition (of the Twin Cities) and with the Saint Paul Interfaith Network. I’ll be working on everything from developing media packages for training youth groups to developing networking and funding/program sustainability. I’m thrilled and couldn’t be more excited!

4. Fall 2o1o! I’ve just completed my FAFSA and registered for courses this week, so I can actually go to Hamline again this year! I’m signed up for two core classes – “The Gospels” at Hamline, and “Elementary Greek I” at Macalester. Plus, I’m going to be getting credit for my departmental senior honors thesis, which will be a year-long endeavor (culminating in a major defense and NCUR appearance in the spring). On top of that, I’ll be initiating my senior year completion of my major with the “Religion Senior Colloquium”, and last but not least, I’ll be wrapping up my study abroad experience with “Crossing Borders II”. All told, it will be fifteen credits and an absolutely perfect schedule, which will make just enough time for…

5. IFYC Fellows Alliance! Just last night, I completed my phone interview with IFYC’s offices in Chicago for a position with the program. I’ll find out in May if I’ve been accepted to join this exciting and really inspiring team. Fellows Alliance is essentially a year-long interfaith leadership training program. Fellows are equipped with grassroots programming skills and financial support, in order to pull off major interfaith community service projects and get the movement going everywhere in the country! I’m very much hoping I can be involved, and I’m really looking forward to the possibility of working with the program.

6. Mahle Scholars! The Mahle program is funded through a donation to Hamline, and incorporates a year-long educational reflection process into long-term community service programming. The application period ended on the 16th, so I should hear back about this one in May as well. I’m feeling tentatively optimistic, but I’m putting my faith in the selection committee. If God’s good graces allow me to be accepted into both the Fellows Alliance and the Mahle program, I could combine the funding into a huge, singular, incredibly well-supported capstone event! Here’s hoping… we’ll just have to see how it goes!

Blarney Castle

After the fall semester, Spring 2010 will entail completing my degree, completing my thesis, and getting married. Then the Winebrenner-Palo family will be moving to a new home. Where will that be? I’m not sure… Chicago? Maybe New York? Mystery and an exciting future lies ahead!

For now, I’m focusing on finishing up my study abroad experiences here in Ireland with flying colors and a better attitude than ever. Next time I write will probably be one of the last times – maybe even my farewell note!

Until then, be well 🙂

The Burren

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One Response to “Some Pictures and a Few Thoughts”

  1. Wow, I stumbled upon your blog and what fun to travel back in time and think of what life was like at your age. May God bless you abundantly, may your work on Saint Brigid fill you with grace, and love for your fellow man…. Thanks for sharing.

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