Since arriving to Dublin 3 weeks ago—phew, times flies—I think so much has already happened, it feels like I’ve been here for an eternity. I’ve learned enough to get around comfortably, learned how to manage my time—more or less, I won’t tell—and found a sense of home. Two weeks of classes have ended at this point and there was a trip to Northern Ireland, so I imagined this would be a good time to write about things that have been disappointing, unexpected, and surprising.
The disappointing part.
Applying to the IES Abroad program, I was extremely excited. Going to the Writer’s Program—something related to my studies but abroad—sounded amazing. Upon arrival, I realized quickly that I had made an assumption: that the program was not tied to any of the colleges in Ireland. That in itself is not a problem. But the fact that every other student in the program is also American was disappointing, speaking honestly. A bit anti-climactic.
I can meet other American people back home, including American writers of my age. So, in coming here, I hoped to get to meet Irish writers. Or at the very least, writers and students from all over the world.
Don’t get me wrong, the program is still something I’m excited to do and extremely happy and grateful I’m able to do.
So, alright, I’ll bite. The program is good, the professors are amazing and the country is beautiful.
Now, the other difficult aspect for me in fitting in. The privilege. It was rough not realizing that several people around me might come from a more privileged background. Many go out each night to drink, or each out every day. And a good handful have already spent their weekends out of the country—yes, out of Ireland. I cannot afford this lifestyle, therefore I cannot afford to hang out with these groups much, making me feel in turn, like a sort of outsider.
That said, it’s completely alright to enjoy your time in simpler adventures around the city or in towns nearby accessible by bus or by DART—which, with the student leap card, can make for a very cheap day out.
The fact that each class is only once a week, and they are each two and a half hours long each. I include this because I have a hard time sitting down for such extended periods of time and keeping my focus. While you do get a short break in between, it does make me incredibly fidgety. Maybe it’s normal, maybe my home school is just strange. But if that’s not the case, maybe you can bring a coloring book or something that helps you personally.
In the end, the experience seems to be all about what you do with your time. And there is always something to occupy your mind with, something that fits your budget, and ways to meet people—I joined a local club and met a few people through social media. It’s just going to take more effort.
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The first time I met one of my best friends, she thought I hated her. I was just busy thinking of things we could have in common to continue the conversation. Since then, I have gotten better at the talking part. I'm not sure I've gotten better at the friendlier appearance part. Just know that I'm always excited to meet someone new!