Issue 6 | December 2022 | Sharing Perspectives
By Josalyn Bonney, CSH2O Intern
This December will mark my one-year anniversary of working as an intern for ClearShark H2O. Outside of my own family business, this is the longest I’ve held a “resume-worthy” job. While I don’t feel that I’ve personally changed much within this time, things around me have. I held my first corporate internship this past summer at Perdue Farms, LLC. I’m almost certainly going to graduate college next semester. And, perhaps most importantly, I’m currently studying abroad in the country that I’ve always claimed was my favorite–Ireland.
When I was little (and waaay before COVID), my family did a lot of traveling. I was very lucky to have these opportunities at such a young age, because they allowed me to experience the world in a way that most of my peers had yet to be able to do. However, there was one drawback. Most of these trips occurred before I could properly recall them or understand why they were so important. These trips did leave impressions and, foremost among them, was my perception of Ireland. Among all of the countries where we traveled, something about this one stayed with me; and I made it my goal to return one day. As I became older, I found out that studying abroad would be the most convenient way of doing this.
Now, while COVID did throw a wrench in my plans, I was determined to have at least one quintessential college experience. (And, luckily, I’m great at procrastinating; I delayed my college graduation for as long as possible.) While I won’t bore you with the bureaucratic details of the maze of paperwork that I had to submit in order to gain approval for this adventure, it only took a few months to be authorized to study abroad. The important thing to note is that it would be my first time traveling outside of the U.S. since 2018. Also, it would be my first time traveling with a degree in Environmental Science in mind.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting very many differences between the American environmental efforts that I was used to at my home university and the foreign one that I’m currently attending. In fact, the first thing that surprised me wasn’t even environmentally-related at all. All of the signs around campus, including ones for trash and recycling, have both English and Irish words. While I knew that Irish was a national language, I had no recollection of seeing it so prevalently when I last visited the country. For example, all of the bins around campus are labeled “bruscar” rather than “trash.”
The next obvious difference between Irish and American environmental practices is that composting is much more common. At my home university, you had to sign up for a program in order to participate. Here, there is a designated bin for food waste both in the apartment and at the dumpster. Unfortunately, I don’t think the university itself uses it as there isn’t a facility on campus to process it. However, it does seem that, at least in a one-to-one comparison, the Irish are more aware of their waste than Americans.
This is perhaps because the university where I’m studying in Galway is located on the Corrib River, which runs directly through the city and to the Galway Bay. Unusually, it’s not a river that boats can traverse. In order for this to be possible, they would have to pass through a series of locks and dams; but most of these were taken out years ago. Only a few bridges remain, one of which belongs to the local Galway Fishery. This organization, while not affiliated with the university, is based just off the main campus. Often, on my walk into town, I can see employees from the fishery running tests on the river. These efforts are paying off because the water is so clear that I can see right down to the bottom and even the fish that swim in the river.
That’s one more thing that’s different between here and the U.S. Everything is (or, at least, feels like it is) much more accessible. I can walk pretty much anywhere I need to go.The grocery store is only 20 minutes away, the town is about the same, and the campus is even less than that. Even if I have to go farther or I don’t feel like walking, there is an active bus system set up around town so stops are only a few blocks away at most. It’s been almost three months since I’ve been in a car, and I haven’t really missed it except for the convenience of not having to wait for transportation. But, if I just think about the carbon footprint I’m saving (at least what I would be saving if I had a gas car), it’s definitely worth it.
Who knows, maybe my new favorite destination will be Venice!