What to Bring (and Not to Bring) to Dublin

Elizabeth Coffman-Mackey
April 14, 2019
Stock photo of old camera, suitcase

So, to begin, I feel like it’s worth noting that if you’re the type of person to look up “What-To-Bring” lists, this probably wasn’t your first stop in determining what to bring and not to bring to Dublin. Having gotten that out of the way, this list is going to skip the basic stuffyou already know to bring socks and underwear and a nice camera for your study abroad semester. This is the last check for things you should and really shouldn’t bring when you’re planning to spend a semester in the big city in Ireland. Without further ado, here is my advice after most of a semester in Dublin:

Bring: Layers! I cannot stress this enough! While I was at home, picking over my closet and wondering whether or not I would need each piece in my wardrobe, I skipped over many undershirts and sweaters because I had already packed a few of each. Do not make this mistakeyou can bring too much of nearly anything, but you cannot bring too many sweaters to Ireland, I promise.

Do not bring: A hobby that you haven’t picked up yet. Yeah, you’ve been meaning to pick up ukulele forever, and it fits in your suitcase, so why wouldn’t this be the time to learn? I’ll tell you whyyou will not have the downtime to learn something entirely new. There are new amazing cultural activities to take part in every weekend, from travel within Ireland to IES Abroad field trips to travel out in the rest of Europe. Dublin is full of free museums and art galleries, libraries and parks, and if you have a chance to do everything you want to within the city AND all your homework, you’re doing spectacular.

Bring: A deck of playing cards. This is something that would never have occurred to me, but I wish it had! If you’re travelling with companions, a deck of cards can help wile away many hours on a train or late nights after shops and restaurants close. It’s a good way to get to know people and spend quality time with friends.

Do not bring: An excess of things to decorate your room with. In our student accommodation, we do have lots of lovely blank walls to cover with things, and while it can seem a little institutional at first, all the white walls and empty space, but by the end of the semester, all the space will be a blessing. Whether you like to hoard ticket stubs, collect maps, buy postcards at every tourist trap you go to, or simply save the poems and stories passed out in class for some late-night inspiration, it doesn’t take long to fill up a wall with things you love. There’s no need to take up room in your suitcase with posters when you will probably just accumulate more. Last of all, on a similar note…

Bring: Empty space in your suitcase. Here’s the thing: it is so easy to say that you won’t buy anything before you go somewhere. You can go in with a dependable wardrobe and a strict budget and all the best intentions, but things happen. You find the shirt you’ve been dreaming of your whole life. You discover the magic of a store that sells all the things you never knew you needed, from cheap watercolor paint to a grass-themed toothbrush holder. Perhaps you just realize how great Irish breakfast tea is and you don’t want to risk it being less amazing in the United States, so you decide to bring back five large boxes of Barry’s tea. Whatever the situation, it’s always a good idea to leave a little space in that suitcase. Worst case scenario, you buy nothing, and you have a lighter suitcase to wheel back to the car than all your friends, or best case scenario, you have room to take home all your souvenirs, gifts from friends, and books you promised yourself you wouldn’t buy, rather than purchasing another checked bag at the last minute. Whatever the case, there’s no downside to having a little extra wiggle room.

Happy packing as you prepare for an incredible journey that you can never be totally planned for in advance.

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Elizabeth Coffman-Mackey

<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>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Indiana University
Urbana, IL
Creative Writing
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