Dublin Kitchen Crash Course: Making a Home

Isabel Fernandez
September 23, 2021

I came to Dublin prepared to be confused by the Irish ways of life. I was not prepared to be blindsided by my own stove top. Here is my Dublin kitchen crash course along with some advice for making your new home feel lived in and personal. 


The “Hob”

Our stove tops are called hubs and they may be the bane of my existence. First, you have to turn them on with a switch on the wall. In our apartment, the switch for the left stove is on the right and our switch for the right stove is on the left because why not add a little spice to someone as simple as frying an egg. Next, you have to activate the stove by pressing the reset button and ensuring the small light on the switch is on. Finally, you can actually use the stove, which is glass so it gets Hot and stays that way. The ovens need the same switches and activation but you also need to press the central metal button on the oven before setting the temperature. The clock on the oven will automatically count upwards to show how long it’s been turned on, because that's definitely information we all want from our ovens. Go figure. 


For anyone not accustomed to living in urban centers, and maybe even then, grocery shopping has needed some trial and error. I can’t exactly drive to the Kroger and buy two weeks of groceries in one go. 

Personally, I like the Lidl and Tesco a few blocks away from Beckett House for general groceries. Then there are street vendors and small shops for other produce and Asian grocers for more produce, spices, tea, and other less common items. I mean this in the kindest way possible but Dublin grocers aren’t big on spices, hot sauce, ground coffee, or good crackers (we are a few weeks in and I would commit murder for a Wheat Thin). I will say, I am fully committed to eating biscuits all day every day and my returning suitcases will be stuffed to the brim with dark chocolate Digestives. 

(Packing Tip: bring a tote bag or two! You’ll use them wandering around day to day but it's also much easier to use reusable bags for groceries. They hold up on the walk home better and stores prefer them.) 

Household Items to Budget For

Living at Beckett House, our apartments come furnished with brooms, pans, dishes, (some) utensils, cutlery, and most importantly: an electric kettle. What I would recommend adding to your kitchen is one more frying pan, to account for larger meals and six people in one kitchen, and some tupperware for leftovers. I’m currently on the lookout for an affordable travel mug (or “flask” if you’re feeling goofy and want to commit to your new Irish vocabulary). This way I can make my own tea or coffee for any occasion and resist the temptation to stop in a cafe everytime I’m out. 

Making Your Space Feel Like Home

As one of my professors wisely said, don’t waste time trying to make your location abroad a home. Your time here will fly by and every moment should be spent taking it in and trying new things. In a practical sense, if you go all out and fully stock your kitchen or redo your bedroom, in a few months you’ll be left with quite a lot of things that need a new home because you won’t be flying it back with you. 

On the other hand, I would take this information with a small grain of salt. For your mental health’s sake, everything you can do to make yourself more comfortable in an overwhelming environment is important. Your time here may be temporary but your living space aboard should be a safe haven for you to enjoy yourself in and come back to after a long day. For me, this meant making it feel lived in. If our apartment looked like a hotel for four months, it would drive me crazy. 

I brought a dozen postcard art pieces with me slipped between the pages of my favorite book to reread. Immediately after arrival, I put my art up on my walls and made the space my own. I also went out and bought a cheap throw blanket for my bed so my room has just enough color to feel less like a half finished movie set. Our kitchen is currently full of sun flowers my roommate bought on the street shoved into recycled glass bottles. My roommates and I also sat down together and drew on a large piece of scrap paper to hang up in the living room to add some decoration to the walls that felt personal. It’s these little things that add up and make our shared space a home.

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Isabel Fernandez

<p>Hello! My name is Izzy (they/them) and I’m a senior studying anthropology at Indiana University. Within anthropology, I’m particularly interested in storytelling, intersectionality, and modern concepts of gender. I am studying overseas as a part of the IES Dublin- Irish Studies program in the Fall of 2021. I’m excited to share my adventures and discoveries during my time in Dublin. In my free time, I enjoy listening to alternative music, reading the same 4 books over and over again, and attempting to learn random languages before getting distracted after a few weeks.</p>

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