I began my stay in Dublin in a hotel along Rathmines, with only one of my roommates present after hours on my own. Our apartment, we were told, was currently being cleaned; we would move in when it was ready, most likely after a night or two. As it turned out, though, we only had to wait a few hours. The entire IES Summer Studies group met at The Portobello Pub to get to know each other, and my roommate Rebekah Smith and I discovered that our other two flatmates had already moved in. We met Rebekah Gordon and Rose Campbell at the pub, and just hours later were all checked out of the hotel and settled in our new apartment.
We were lucky enough to land an apartment with not one, but two balconies, one of which offered a magnificent view of Rathmines, the street we were living on.
The apartment was already furnished with couches, a kitchen table, some chairs, and beds for all of us. There may not have been plates or cutlery, but we at least had places to spend the night, and that was enough for us!
Of course, we didn't plan on spending the entire day in our rooms. We had orientation first thing on Thursday and on Friday, and the entire afternoon of each day to explore. On Friday, we had the opportunity to explore a couple parks in the area - Iveagh Garden and St. Stephen's Green. Iveagh is a smaller park just a little ways away from Grafton and St. Stephen's, but it's full of amazing flower bushes and old statues. We had some fun running around inside of it and looking for exciting hideaways to read or study in later on.
Obviously, there were opportunities for photographs. Although Rose had separated from us early on to go running, we'd picked up a friend, Dana, and she, the Rebekahs, and I continued to explore the nooks and crannies of the park.
There weren't many people in Iveagh Garden, but the same can't be said for St. Stephen's Green. Despite the large size, it's one of the more popular locations in Dublin, filled with locals and tourists alike. My friends and I stumbled across a group of boys who had decided to meet in the park to practice juggling and other similar sports my friends and I didn't even recognize. They were friendly and polite, and answered every question we had.
And, although at first we'd approached the park with the caution and uncertainty expected of us in an unfamiliar place, we got a lot more comfortable as time went on. The signs, we learned, were more suggestions than actual rules, and children were frolicking even on the lawns that strictly forbid it. Couples had spread out picnic blankets near flower patches, and areas labeled off limits were home to families. Rebekah decided to join in on the fun, breaking a rule or two herself.
The fun didn't stop there, either. Walking home gave us a feel for the friendly and open nature of Dublin and its people. The street was lined by crates full of fruit and vegetables, their vendors smiling at us behind them; stalls full of jewelry and flowers sat along Grafton Street and even Rathmines, adding color and excitement even during the overcast afternoon.
During our explorations, my friends and I discovered MythFest, an annual festival put on by Trinity College. In it, a performance is put on by members of the club; the event itself was sold out when we found out about it, but the free events that followed were open to everyone. One such event was the traditional Irish Ceili, where we learned to dance traditional dances seen at weddings and celebratory events.
Saturday started off with an open-top bus tour of the city and its many tourist attractions, including the birthplaces of famous authors such as Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. The tickets we were given allowed us to get on and off any of the Dublin Tour buses whenever we wanted for the rest of the day, and my friends and I took the opportunity to visit some of the highlights, including the National Museum of History.
Sunday has been uneventful; I took the opportunity to go out and explore the city on my own, walking along the canal near Rathmines and making my way back toward St. Stephen's. My plan was to read a good book and find a good quiet coffee shop to study in. I ended up getting a little distracted by the people and the scenery, including some interesting graffiti along the canal.
I've been told, too, that one thing tourists should do is count the swans at St. Stephen's. I hadn't seen any on Friday or Saturday, but lucky for me, there were plenty of people out with bread to feed the birds today. The swans came along before I'd even made it twenty pages into my book; I had the opportunity to snap some photos of the family before they swam off.
Out of the adventures I've had so far, I think the best one was getting lost downtown with my new friends. It wasn't without its difficulties or irritations, but we managed to find ourselves at the famous Ha'Penny Bridge at sunset, and it isn't every day that you get to see a view quite like that.
It's been less than one week and I've had plenty of opportunities to take photos and enjoy myself; I'm looking forward to the rest of my time here!
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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>