I just finished my fifth week of school, nearly marking 2 months for me in Ireland. We just came off a loss against UCC Demons, and quite frankly we should have won the game. We lost by 15 points and, to be honest, they are definitely not 15 points better than us. We came out really strong as a team, but it felt like we couldn’t get everyone on the same page at the same time and that was our downfall. it could’ve been not talking on screens or communicating on defense, or it could’ve been failing to run our offenses through completely, but whatever the case we need to come together better as a team. It seems like we aren’t yet comfortable with each other as a team; you could even argue maybe we don’t fully trust each other on the court and believe that they will be there with you on plays or on defense.
But that’s okay, it’s only the second game and those things all improve with time. We will have our shot at Demons again, and we will come out with a victory, that’s for sure. College season started this past week as well, and it is definitely something I am excited about. Regardless of the level of competition, I finally get to be on the court at the same time as Marcus, Sam and Juan. We play together so well, that is a tough combination for anyone to stop. We won by over 40 to IT Tallaght, but unfortunately it was a pretty ugly victory. But like the pro team, that chemistry will improve with time.
School hit one of its hardest points this past week; assignments were due. The way the Master’s program is set up at Griffith is there is basically only two grades in your classes. You receive 50% for one assignment and 50% for the final exam. This obviously has its ups and downs as if you do well on both, you do great in the class, but if you don’t do so well on either the assignment or exam, your grades will show this. The other tricky balance is the incorporation of group projects; majority of my assignments are done with a group, and this group is the same for every assignment. This is where you understand how different education is and how various the cultural perspectives are in other countries. We definitely have had our misunderstandings as a group and it has hindered our performance on a couple of assignments, but in the end I think we managed to get through them and work things out. Obviously I haven’t seen the grades yet, so I’ll get back to you on how successful my team actually was!
I have really gotten to know a bunch of people in my school, more particularly these partner program students from both France and Germany. They always try to include me in their plans to go out or get a bite to eat and I couldn’t be happier that they openly include me. I have even tried to return the favor by including them with my team’s outings. I’ve also gotten very close to a few of the players as well. Obviously the two I live with, Juan and Sam, are very close with me but that’s inevitable when you spend most of your day with them, but those guys are great. Marcus, the other American, is always with us and that is another great guy to be around. Michael Goj aka “Goo” is definitely my best friend (he requested a shout-out, so this seemed fitting), but we really do get along well. Similar tastes in music and movies help close the 11-year age gap, but you don’t even realize it’s that much majority of the time. Derek, aka “Big Mac”, is another guy who will do just about anything for anyone, especially us new guys. Connor, aka “Gally”, is a kid inside the body of a massive 30 year old, but he cracks me up and is another great guy. Paul has been my life-saver since I’ve been here it would seem; he has shown me the ins and outs of Swords, helped me with the phone, laptop, lifts to places, everything, and you would think he was from Cali if you didn’t hear him speak! He is just an all-around great person, blessed to know the guy. Donal, hands down one of the smartest guys I’ve met is another genuine dude that really has made my time here quite simple. And for a guy working on his doctorate and playing basketball, I would say he is doing it with ease! Kev is next; Kev may be incredibly strange to those who don’t know him (and those who do), but he definitely means well. He knows so much about rehabilitation and physical wellness because he is a personal trainer outside of basketball. At a bar he is a riot to be around (like everyone else on my team). Darragh V. has been great to us as well, definitely has been through a lot, but it obviously has made him into the awesome person he is today. Isaac, our point guard, is the only Irish guy I have ever met that can switch his Irish accent off to a full-blown American one when his temper rises, it is spot on! He’s a very talented ball player, but a good guy as well. The whole team is full of guys that I am extremely fortunate to know. Coach, aka Dave, is a character. Definitely knows the game and how to run a training session, but he also knows how to have a good time. He is one of the funniest people I have ever met, and just a really approachable coach to play for. He has made my time here worthwhile, and I am very happy that everything worked out with me coming to play for him. Last, but definitely not least is Ger. Ger is like my second mom; she will do anything for us, stop by and help if needed, pick us up and take us places, or even just talk to her if you need someone to talk to (obviously all of these things include a cup of tea first), but she really knows how to make you feel welcome in a foreign place. I am extremely lucky to have the group of guys I have with me and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.
Well that about sums up both my last week and the promised shout-outs. Until next time…