The first two weeks in Dublin can be characterized by lots of walking, mental mapping and excitement over not getting lost after the fourth or fifth time that you’ve ventured on your own down one of the various streets in the city.
The feeling of triumph is amazing, and being able to navigate in the city makes it feel more like home. You feel a sense of belonging and little more like a Dubliner.
And once your mental map is pretty extensive, and you are confident that you will not end up on the outskirts of Dublin trying to locate Trinity College Dublin (it can happen), the next big adventure is scouting out all of the great restaurants, bookshops and cafes.
(Please stop by: Arthur’s Pub on Thomas Street and order the stew, Hodges Figgis bookstore on Dawson Street, and KC Peaches on Dame Street).
But let’s wait to get into specifics about Dublin food, books and coffee in later posts and answer a very important question first.
What did the IES Abroad students and I think about Dublin before we even arrived? Did we expect it to be so urban and expansive (which it is)? Or did we create ideas about Ireland’s geography and culture before we landed?
Let’s find out.
Kate Rogan, a third-year from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and a student in the Dublin writer’s program, did not expect Ireland to be the way she has now discovered it to be these last couple of weeks.
Rogan imagined Dublin, along with the rest of Ireland, to be characterized by “lots of green and rolling hills.”
“I live in a city,” Rogan said. “But I wasn’t expecting it (Dublin) to be so city-like.”
Jasmine Wright, a 4th-year from Illinois Wesleyan University, and also in the writer’s program, expected to see “a lot of green pastures, trees and grass,” as well, and she “thought everyone would be extremely friendly.”
And once Wright arrived, she found it to be slightly different than her initial preconceived notions of Dublin.
“I saw a lot of green, but it’s more of a metropolitan vibe. There is obviously trees and grass, but it’s not everywhere. And people are still friendly, but they are a lot more laid back.”
“People here are not as in your face as Americans can be,” Wright said.
And while Wright noticed politeness, Rogan tapped into diversity.
“It’s very multicultural,” Rogan said. “ Walking down the street you hear people speaking in different languages all the time.”
I agree with Rogan and Wright. I had expected lots of hues of green and loads of friendly faces. And though there may be more grays and browns in Dublin specifically, the faces I have met have been quite friendly and remarkably diverse.
And now, coming into the third week, Rogan says her perception of Ireland has changed since she first arrived. However, she's still pleased by one of her first "expected" glimpses of the city:
“There were cows grazing at the airport,” Rogan said. “That’s one of the most Irish things I have heard of in my life. It’s funny, but I wasn’t surprised.”
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<p>Hello, I’m Christena, a 4th-year journalism student at the University of Florida, who has decided to spend a semester experiencing the wonders of Dublin, Ireland. I am passionate about traveling, food, reading, writing and experiencing new and beautiful cultures. I’m a 21-year-old with a thirst for knowledge and adventure, and I’m excited to share all that I find abroad! Happy readings and a jolly good day to you!</p>