Written September 7, 2015 but intended for January 27, 2015
You’ve finally opened that envelope I gave you with, “OPEN ON PLANE TO DUBLIN,” inscribed on it. My first piece of advice is “SLEEP ON THE PLANE.” The turbulence that you’re feeling will not take this jumbo flight down. Once you arrive in the Dublin airport, prepare for the insanely long line for the GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) in order to grant you permission into the country. Look for twenty-something year olds that look as lost as you and be their airport buddy because they’re probably studying abroad as well. My next airport piece of advice post-GNIB line is “DON’T LEAVE THE TERMINAL." Someone will get you and take you to Shanowen Square safely. Don’t aimlessly walk around because your fifty-pound luggage will begin to take a toll.
Once you’re settled into Shanowen Square, don’t be afraid of your roommates. They’re Americans! They like to indulge on donuts and pizza just as much as you do! They, believe it or not, are also just as nervous as you are. To save some time, here is what you need to know about your roommates: Sarah will be your go-to lady for when you have no idea how to cook dinner for yourself by telling you the spices to add and how to get the smoke out of the kitchen. She also knows all the best spots in Dublin for a fun time and will outwardly express her love for drag shows. Ally is the social one who will end up finding the best burrito bar in Dublin. She’ll also try to get you to go to spin class at DCU’s gym. Spoiler alert, you’ll go once and never set foot in there again. Lastly, there’s Katelynn, more famously known as Dre. She’ll be the one you travel the most with and get into some pretty awkward, but epic, situations with. Whether its going on a midnight Spar run for chips, cookies, or donuts, getting sea-sick on a ferry to the Aran Islands, or looking at the most beautiful stars in the sky in Doolin, she’ll be kiddie-corner to your room if you ever need a good laugh. Get to know your roommates because they’re all pretty great.
School time! Don’t freak out over registration because it will all work out. You just have to change a few things and BOOM–you’re ready to learn! One of the greatest things you’ll discover is that there are no twenty-hour-long problem sets. You just have to do a few readings throughout the semester, keep up with biology lectures, and do some math practice sheets. The six courses at DCU won’t be nearly as stressful as your semesters back at home. Now, when I say, “home,” I meant that place that you live in the USA. Before long, Dublin will be your other home.
Get involved on campus! Join rugby–I know you want to! Don’t miss out on meeting some really amazing Irish women. They will welcome you and be very engaged with you. At the same time, you’ll learn a new sport and your coach will be Sophie Spence, the lock on the Irish Women’s Rugby Team. How cool is that? Don’t you dare even think that you won’t Irish dance this semester. Find out when adult lessons are taking place in the city and GO.
I realize that this plane ride is the longest journey that you’ve ever taken and you cannot imagine anything more substantial than this seven-hour leap across the pond. Take your traveling adventures in steps. First, visit family in Cork or Kerry with a three-hour bus ride. Amplify that to a weekend trip with Dre to the Cliffs of Moher or Galway. Then get on a plane and go to Spain with your roommates and visit a friend from University of Rochester who is studying there. Then keep doing that until you make a spontaneous trip by yourself to a country you never even considered visiting. Make some plans beforehand to keep yourself busy. Make friends with the people in hostels, and make sure to find hostels that give you free breakfast! Food adds up quickly. Lastly, get to know your family in Ireland. They have some great stories to tell you about grandma. You have cousins that you’ll get close to so don’t lose that connection.
As for you, Caeli, don’t go about looking to find yourself. A change will come without looking, and it will be a good one. Enjoy yourself and before you know it you’ll be on a plane in the opposite direction coming home. Sleep now and dream of the next four months, because I would do anything to do it all over again.
Read more about our programs in Dublin, Ireland here!