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One Week in Dublin: adjusting to a new city

Well hello, hello, hello! Here I am just finishing up the first full week being in Dublin. Even though it really only has been about a week, I feel like I’ve been here forever. I’m adjusting to the city and to the country very well. There are a few cultural differences that were—and still are—awkward to get used too. For example, many people here almost speak at a whisper. Or really, Americans are just very loud. I am constantly asking people to repeat themselves.

Crossing the street as proven to be more difficult that it should be. Cars here drive opposite to cars in the US, so looking left can be problematic because the cars are going to be coming from the right. This is increasingly difficult for me even though there are signs that tell which direction to look.

Although these things—speaking loud or looking the opposite way to cross the street—are hard habits to break, I think I am slowly starting to adjust. I am falling in love with the city. One of my favorite things about Dublin is the lack of sky scrapers. I’m used to a big city like Chicago with these massive buildings. No sky scrapers gives Dublin almost a small town feeling. The city seems very walkable and cozy because there isn’t this obvious marker of downtown buildings. The amount of parks and green spaces also adds to this cozy vibe. From my apartment I would say at least 5 parks are less than a 20 minute walk away. And the grass is so green. Like I’m talking about the most pure green I have ever seen, it is absolutely beautiful.

Unfortunately it is difficult to enjoy these parks because of the weather, my least favorite thing about Dublin. The weather here is bad. It is impossible to plan for. Going to wear layers? Have fun sweating. Want to wear cute shoes? The rain is going to ruin them. Planning on a tee shirt and jeans? Suddenly it’s freezing outside. One of my professors said to my class that we came at a good time because they were finally having nice weather. I was like “wait THIS is GOOD weather?”

The style of class has so far been identical to those at my home institution. The fun part about these classes is that we will be taking field trips around the city to places that correspond with what we are learning. I am taking a Celtic myths and legends class and next week we are going to the National Museum to see the Bog Bodies. In my history class we are going to take a field trip to Glasnevin Cemetery where National icons like Michael Collins are buried. Needless to say, I’m excited.

Something that is much different from anything I have experienced in United States is that people here are perfectly willing to start a conversation with me. In the grocery store I’ve been talked to about my classes. Crossing the street I had a very in-depth conversation about the weather. At a pub a man offered to share his table with a group of us just so could talk. The one thing that everyone has talked to me about though is my ethnicity. I have been asked countless times in the past week if I am Brazilian. I don’t know why, it’s kind of funny because someone will ask and get really excited but when I say no they’re confused. In a taxi, the driver asked me where I was from so I said the US but I’m Mexican. The driver asked “how can you be both?” and this is a response I have gotten over and over. “How can you be both?” I’m not sure what is confusing, but I do not feel like having a whole conversation about immigration and assimilation in line at a coffee shop.

Aside from people talking to me randomly—which is super nice because I’m having a hard time understanding the variety of Irish accents—is that I feel “othered” here. It is a combination of being American and having that accent and my skin tone (because honestly I’m a good 4 or 5 shades darker than a lot of people). At times it is a good feeling especially when people are curious so they talk to me. Other times I feel uncomfortable because I don’t look like or sound like I’m from here so I stick out. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is experiencing this but it is weird to adjust to. But even though I feel like the lone Mexican is this city that is not true at all. Down the street from my apartment there is a Mexican grocery store. On my third day here I rushed in and found my favorite candy and hot sauce. Suddenly I felt right at home.