The sky through my plane window was piled high with cotton-candy clouds the color of ashes. It was the beginning of what was bound to be a long day; I'd been up since eight o'clock in the morning, prepping for my trip, and this flight - the first of two - was set to land at just past five in Charlotte, North Carolina. The forecast had said thunderstorms, and though we hadn't seen any lightning yet, the pilot had warned us to keep our seatbelts on through the turbulence.
"Oh, wow," the boy next to me muttered. He was peering over my shoulder, finger stretched toward the glass.
There was a rainbow stretching through the clouds. As we flew, another one appeared; the longer we looked, the more we saw. I pulled out my phone, wishing I hadn't packed my Nikon away in my bag.
"That's got to be good luck somewhere," I said. My seat partner hummed in agreement, and we watched in silence until our descent began.
Since landing in Ireland, I have learned a handful of things:
- Shops do not open until nine o'clock. If, like my roommates and me, you have found yourself in an apartment with neither dishware nor cutlery, your best bet is to survive off of local tea, coffee, and baked goods until the afternoon. At that point, locate your nearest Dunnes store and buy silverware. You will probably need to travel to a separate Dunnes store that specializes in home goods and decor to find plates, but they won't be too pricey; we got ours for €2.50 a piece, as well as some bowls, cups, and basic silverware for under €20.
- Everyone walks fast, and the rules of the road make no sense. You may think that, being a city dweller, you do not have to wait for the green man to tell you it is time to cross. You would be wrong. These cars come from all directions at all times with no rhyme or reason, and even when the light says it's safe, you still might get run over by a cyclist. They follow no rules at all.
- Pubs are for everyone! No alcohol necessary; feel free to drink water, or even tea and coffee if the caffeine won't keep you up all night. No one will judge you for it. (This isn't like the United States. You don't go to pubs to get drunk, you go to be social. Keep your wits about you and be friendly! People are nice.)
- Jetlag is a horrible, terrible thing. I went a full twenty-four hours without sleeping, and it was only about two in the afternoon when I finally crashed. I slept twelve hours my first night here, and I still felt exhausted for most of the next day. Force yourself to wake up at a reasonable hour so you can go to sleep at a standard time. Dublin is a lot more fun when you're awake to see it!
- There are uneven cobblestones and pathways everywhere. I personally would not recommend wearing heels. I say this from experience. If, however, you are more coordinated than I am, you might be able to risk it; just avoid Grafton Street. It's terrible. There are holes everywhere.
- Do not attempt to put a SIM card in your mobile phone without assistance. You will do it wrong, and the kind Vodaphone employee will look bewildered and confused at you until he decides that maybe this is above his paygrade and he should just direct you to the nearest Mobile Care store. There, they will ask who on Earth did this to your poor phone. It was you. They don't need to know that. Tell them, if you have no shame! It'll be a good laugh later.
- Keep your eyes open for free events and talk to everyone you can. They're all willing to give you directions, give you advice, and tell you the name of The Very Best Pub. All of these pubs are different, but that's not important. You can see them all yourself and make up your mind later.
- Everyone here walks very fast. Keep to one side, travel in smaller groups, and talk quietly. If you dawdle and cause a traffic jam, every single pedestrian around you will feel uncomfortable, probably even you.
- Plan your trips early!! Flights are cheaper, trains are so much cheaper, and hostels fill up quickly. Get a group together on the first or second night, decide where you want to go, and just do it.
- Do. Not. Forget. Your. Umbrella. (Oops!)
The sun was hidden by huge clouds. Iveagh Garden was surrounded by fences, tents, and men in hard hats. We decided to wander around as much as we could, me with my camera and my roommates with their running shoes. There were dogs and couples everywhere, a fountain that probably hasn't worked since the year it was built, and the smell of rain in the air.
I kneeled on the ground to snap a picture of a worn statue, one with no head and no inscription. I was conscious of looking too much like a tourist, mostly because we'd been warned against pickpockets and thiefs of various kinds; it's my first time out of the country, and I want it all to be perfect.
"Hey, look!" one of the construction workers yelled. "We're all on camera!"
He and his friends posed behind the statue, sticking out their tongues. I laughed and snapped a picture.
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<p>Hi! My name is Taylor Haggerty. I'm twenty years old and currently go to school in Bloomington, Indiana, for magazine design and poetry. This summer I'll be studying English and history in Dublin, Ireland!</p>