Settling In

Molly Ballenger
January 24, 2022

I’ve officially been in Dublin for two weeks, and it’s been a blur of exploring, meeting new friends, and trying lots of good food!! We spent the mornings of our first week in orientation on Zoom, then we’d go out in the afternoon to walk around our area and get things in order for our four months here. I got an Irish SIM card, bought a Leap card (to pay for public transportation), and figured out how to use the tram. Pubs and restaurants close at 8, so we’ve gone out for drinks pretty early every night; I’ve discovered that I don’t like Guinness, but I do really enjoy an Irish coffee. Once we have to leave, we usually end up hanging out on the roof of our apartment building—everyone usually ends up there at some point in the evening, and it’s been a great way to meet people and socialize! 

Speaking of our apartment building, it’s amazing! It really has everything we could have asked for. Having my own room and bathroom is really great, and our kitchen and living room are spacious and nice. It’s provided a peaceful place to land every night—a respite from the busy streets of Dublin below us. One of my favorite parts is that there’s a coffee shop right next door…it’ll definitely be a regular haunt of mine. 

We explored the Temple Bar area and visited the legendary Temple Bar pub! It was expensive, so it probably won’t be a regular place for us, but it was a fun first-week experience. We took the tram to the IES Abroad center in Rathmines, where we’ll take our classes, and discovered that the walk takes us along a beautiful canal with huge (intimidating) swans. Rathmines might be my favorite area of Dublin so far; it feels a little quieter, a little more like classic Ireland.

On our first Saturday, I took a day trip slightly north to Howth, a small seaside town with beautiful views. The train ride was less than ten euros, and we were able to walk everywhere. We visited a fun market and then did the famous cliff walk - it was stunning and it felt so good to get back into nature after a week in the big city. 

The first day of classes, Monday, I actually had a day off! The four day weekend every week is going to be awesome. While everyone else was busy in classes, I took the tram over to Trinity College and explored that whole area. I walked around Saint Stephen’s Green, Iveagh Gardens, and Grafton Street, and it was so fun! Iveagh Gardens was so peaceful and quiet. I’ll definitely be returning! 

All of my classes are really interesting, but my favorite so far is Irish Communal Identity. Our professor is passionate about getting us out of the classroom, so most of our meetings are going to be at different locations in Dublin. He wants to get us off the beaten path and show us the parts of the city that so many tourists miss. We’re going to learn so much!

Our second weekend here, some friends and I took our first overnight trip to City Cork on the southern coast of Ireland. It was so fun! We did all of the touristy things: visited Cork City Gaol and Blarney Castle and Gardens (where we kissed the famous Blarney Stone!), climbed to the top of Saint Anne’s Church for beautiful city views, and we even got to be in a pub when the Irish government announced an end to the 8 pm curfew! It was an awesome first trip! 

It’s been fascinating to explore Dublin and feel more and more of the heartbeat of the city. It’s such a unique place; there are just endless layers of different cultures and stories and history to discover. It’s a city that’s adapted to the many cultures it welcomes, stitching together everyone who passes through. There are Chinese restaurants next to American burger joints next to Irish pubs next to French creperies; no one could lack a small piece of wherever they call home in this bustling capital city. 

As soon as I feel like I have a handle on our little area of Dublin, I take the tram somewhere new and am reminded just how much there is left to discover! It just makes me really excited to feel these four months stretching out in front of me—I know they’ll be gone before I know it, but right now they feel blissfully neverending. There’s so much to do! And so much time to do it!

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Molly Ballenger

<p>I'm an English and Religion major at Furman University from Lookout Mountain, Georgia. At school, I'm on the leadership team for several campus ministries, I work at my school's farm, and I play club ultimate frisbee! In my free time, I enjoy being outside, climbing, and playing guitar, as well as spending time with friends.</p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
Furman University
Lookout Mountain, GA
Religious Studies
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