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I'm an Explorer, Engineer, Writer, Public Speaker, and Entrepreneur. I write about exploration, travel, and science. 

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Thursday
May312012

For the Love of Guinness

At the end of my first work tour, instead of heading back up to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, I decided to go east. To the land of my long, long looooong ago relatives: Ireland.

That’s where I fell in love with travel. And Irish people. And Guinness.

(It’s also where I met my current travel companion. But more on that gal later.)

If NASA screwed up my college plans, Ireland blew them out of the water. Before Ireland, my only international experiences had come from a 2-hour 8th grade bus ride to Tijuana (with my parents) and two fishing trips to Canada when I was 9 and 18. Crossing the pond was a whole new thing.

This is a point in the blog where I feel compelled to say to any would-be study abroad students out there: IF YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO STUDY ABROAD AND YOU DON’T GO BECAUSE YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT GETTING BEHIND IN CLASSES OR YOU THINK YOU’LL MISS OUT ON DRUNK NIGHTS AT THE BARS WITH YOUR COLLEGE FRIENDS, YOU’RE A COMPLETE MORON.

Classes are often more flexible than schools will tell you and your friends will be doing the same dumb stuff when you get back. Trust me.

NASA was an amazing experience, but Ireland changed me. Besides acquiring a taste for the black stuff and discovering a passion for international travel, I found a surprising interest in foreign languages that would’ve made my 7th grade English teacher fall over laughing—I intentionally failed my Spanish entrance exam that year because I thought learning Spanish was stupid—so they put me in the small group English remedial reading class… Ironically my friend Greg was a co-conspirator in this act of rebellion and we both went on to study languages professionally. I ended up taking two years of college Russian and spent another semester in 2007 living with a Russian family in Moscow on a language immersion program and he enlisted in the Air Force in the Department of Defense’s language learning school in Monterey, CA, learned Korean, spent a year stationed in South Korea and now works for a company tracking fishy Korean financial deals.

Funny how that works out.

Anyway, Ireland was amazing. I traveled around the country, spent three weeks wandering around Europe with friends, and came back a changed man. But this blog isn’t really about Ireland so I’ll leave it at that for now.

To conclude my personal history schpiel, after Ireland I did four more co-op tours at NASA, alternating between work semesters and summers in Houston and semesters a bit farther north in Wisconsin. I went to Russia and traveled 14,000 miles overland from Moscow to Singapore (which you can read about under the “Exploring” tab elsewhere on this site). I accepted a full-time job at NASA in the same Crew Escape Team I started with in 2003 and worked there for the remainder of the Space Shuttle Program, which concluded with the final flight of Atlantis on STS-135 in July 2011. I left the agency for a year of unpaid leave in August of that year, started a Master of Science program at MIT to study Science Writing, and then wound up getting MIT to pay me to write about the Indian space program for three months while basing me at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Somehow, I’ve found a balance between my love of space, travel, engineering, science, writing, cultures, public service and changing the world, all while enjoying the journey along the way.

As for Guinness, it became one of my travel traditions to seek out a Guinness in every country I travel to. So far, that’s brought about a whole host of stories in itself. And that’s just one of many enduring things I’ve pulled away from my time on the Emerald Isle.

I'll let you know how Indian Guinness tastes when I find a pint. For now, Slainte! 

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  • Response
    Response: richard goozh
    Garret Fitzpatrick - Blog - For the Love of Guinness

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