The average day of classes in Dublin begins when my alarm goes off at 7:30 in the morning, (2:30 Eastern Standard Time) conveniently accompanied by the rising sun. Where I am housed, in Binary Hub, I’m lucky enough to have an East-facing window, which means that mornings involve a lot of squinting and rushing to shut the curtains before I change, but I am also afforded a lot of natural light.
The walk from student housing to the IES Abroad Center in Dublin can taking anywhere from thirty-five to forty-five minutes, depending on variables such as how fast you walk, which route you take, and whether or not the crosswalk signs are running in your favor that particular morning. I usually end up taking closer to thirty-five minutes to walk through the teeming streets of Dublin, but warily. The mid-morning traffic in Dublin stops for no one, and it’s easy to nearly get barrelled over by a double decker bus if you aren’t paying attention to the road. Morning walks are usually a bit more hurried, and I like to walk alone while listening to music to center myself for the day to come, though again, I still need to be paying attention to the cars and the crosswalks all around me.
If (and that’s a big “if”) I’ve woken up early enough, I cook myself breakfast in student housing while I’m packing my lunch. If I have not, the cafe called Grove Road is right next to the center, and I may stop there for one of their absolutely to-die-for chocolate croissants and a cup of peppermint tea. This is a decadent dessert disguising itself as breakfast, and it’s absolutely worth dropping a few extra euros for before class.
Inside the center, I’ll be heading to one of two classrooms. On the ground level, there is Crafting the Irish Short Story, where yet more tea is waiting, or on another day there is playwriting upstairs, in the grander classroom that can quite easily be used as a performance space. The morning class runs a full two and a half hours, then it’s downstairs to the common area. The basement has chairs, sofas, workspaces, and a small library running the length of the walls, though it’s possibly most famous for an incredibly comfy bean bag chair that is deeply coveted for afternoon naps.
There’s time between classes to relax and read in the basement, to talk with friends or work on some last-minute studying. Most students bring lunch or a snack with them to save money for more and more travels, but there is also the option to go out and buy something to eat. The IES Abroad Center in Dublin is near a lot of restaurants, bakeries, and cafes that offer amazing takeaway or dine-in options, my personal favorite of all of them being Do Falafel, which is both inexpensive and full of yummy vegetarian options.
After lunch, I have an afternoon class each day, most of which take place in the makeshift lecture hall upstairs. Earlier in the spring semester, the sky would get dark outside the windows throughout the later class, but now that Daylight Savings has passed and Ireland has sprung forward (a few weeks after all my friends and family in America) light streams through the skylights through the whole period.
At the end of all the classes, generally I will group up with some classmates for the walk back to student housing, occasionally stopping at some shop or another to pick things up. The Last Bookshop is just down the road from the center, where most books are only five euro, and on that same stretch of road is Wall & Keogh, an artisanal loose tea shop that is pricey, but also taught me to love tea for the first time in my life. The sun will shine right in your eyes as it sets when you’re walking back, and on the walk there, as it rises, but the closer we get to summer here, the less of a problem it is.
In the evenings, there’s dinner, socialization, maybe going out and exploring the city, and, of course, homework. That said, the professors at IES Abroad like to keep the homework load on the light side, saying that the point of study abroad is in travelling and experiencing the place.
There is academic work to focus on, but even in the most mundane of days, there is so much of Ireland to experience. From the food bought for lunch to the accents on the streets to the sight of Dubliners glancing from side to side before stepping out into heavy, mid-morning traffic, Irish culture is pervasive. Everything we do as we settle into routines is still part of the experience of being abroad, and still so much more than just an average day.
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<p>I am a fourth year college student living with my wife and our cat. I spend most of my free time writing stories or attempting to "vegetarianize" meat dishes. I love all kinds of fantasy, but especially the likes of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and I hope to learn enough about English in college that I can spend the rest of my life getting paid to do the writing I will be doing anyway.</p>