It’s Sunday, the 29th, and I’ve been in Dublin for one week now and it’s the first day I really just got to relax and take it easy. The first week has been very hectic with exploring the city and having orientation every single day of the week. No doubt it’s been a lot of fun meeting new people and discovering all the different parts of Dublin.
On Monday, when I arrived, I got to meet everyone else from the UF program at the airport while we were waiting for our taxi to Griffith College. One of the first things I noticed when I stepped outside the airport was exactly what I had expected Dublin to be like, cold and cloudy. I was shivering even in three layers of clothing while kids from the more northern states were wearing one jacket saying that it was warmer than they’re used to. Once we got in the taxi and it started taking us through the city, I realized many things I had forgotten: the Irish had their own language, Gaelic, they drive on the left-hand side of the road, and that the Irish accent is very strong, at least with my driver. It was less of a culture shock and more of an “oh that’s right, they do things differently here.” Once we got to the college we all had to go through accommodations and get our room keys and all that. My room ended up being pretty nice, but everything else was pretty small, like the bathroom and kitchen area. Of course, I had a nice little nap before grabbing dinner at a nice coffee shop right across the street with the UF group. After that it was lights out at 9pm.
On Tuesday I woke up at 5am thanks to the wonderful jet lag which lasted until Friday. Tuesday we had a walking tour where we had an Irish guide take us around the city. He took us to St. Stephen’s Green, and Trinity college. As we were walking around I noticed how the city’s architecture was not uniformed. For example, one of the buildings might be made out of bricks and look just like a building you would see in Boston but right next to it would be a building made of very nice smooth limestone, and then a very Gothic looking church. Oh, and there are so many churches everywhere and they all look fantastic. St. Stephen’s Green is a very nicely groomed park that’s just amazing to be in.Trinity College was just the same just because it felt like going to school in a castle.
Wednesday was, of course, more orientation in the morning. After that, however, we were taken to Croke Park, the largest sports stadium not only in Ireland, but all of Europe. It holds about 80,000 people and the field is a bit bigger than two football fields side by side. It was actually very amazing being in a stadium as big as that. You could also see a lot of the city once you were at the top of it. One of the strange thing about it was that it’s literally in the middle of a residential area. Later that night we went to a night club called Diceys which is apparently is already infamous within the CAPA group. So the UF group just had to go. They were right, it was insane there. There were kids of all different nationalities there on top of the place have 2 euro pints, which did indeed killed me. It was a very fun night that I could get used to.
Thursday and Friday were, that’s right you guessed it, more orientation. Friday night my apartment hosted a pregame to go out into the night. We ended up at a bar up in Temple Bar, which is an area known to be very touristy, after getting lost a couple of times. It was a lot fun actually, despite the 5 euro pints. I had a very good time being able to interact with more of the kids outside of the UF group, just because they all came from so many different places. I was amazed at how easy it was to get to know them and become friends with them. I think it has to do with how we’re all in it together, from working hard to playing hard.
Saturday we got to explore a couple of more places such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which used to be a mental hospital but basically a castle, and the Guinness storehouse, which was a tour of their factory. Both very amazing places to visit for both the sightseer and the alcoholic.
All in all this first week has been nonstop exploration and full of adventures. It’s been filled with making new friends and seeing new sights. It’s been getting used to walking an average of 20,000 steps, the freezing cold, and navigating the city. I’m loving every moment of it and I couldn’t have asked for a better week into something I was once nervous about. I’m really glad I made the decision to go. I know I’m only going to fall more in love with the city and country as the time passes. I know this will be a chapter in my life I’ll remember forever.