I knocked lightly on the door to the kitchen in my cousin’s house– almost the exact same layout as the Dursley’s house in Harry Potter (yes, there’s a cupboard under the stairs). I could hear breakfast sizzling in the frying pan and the water boiling in the electric kettle.
My grandmother’s cousin set down two empty tea cups. “Conas ata tu?”
It took me half a second- it was a little early for Irish Gaelic. I laughed, “Go iontach, go raibh maith agat. Agus tu fein?”
“Ta me go maith. How did you sleep, deary?”
I was in a different country and for a moment, I had forgotten. I had arrived in Ireland a few hours before and fallen asleep at my cousin’s house. I would be living, studying, and interning in Dublin, along with four other students, for five months.
Life in Ireland is certainly different from the States. There’s a dampness in the air, and yes it rains a lot, but perhaps not as often as one might think. The Euros are colourful and the system is more coin-based than the States. One has to remember to look right first before crossing the street instead of left. Signs are in English, but the language above each English part is in Irish Gaelic. There is far less snow here; even a threatened dusting of snow triggers national advisories. Did I mention it’s warmer here? Sorry Duhawks, but this ‘terrible Irish winter’ is a lot like the weather we get in March.
Dublin is alive with the sounds of a busy city: the rumble of the DART and commuter trains over tracks and bridges, car horns, calls for bus tours, and the clang of the Luas bell (the Luas is the intercity tram). In general, Irish people walk quickly along the streets and around the throngs of tourists milling about. Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, is the country’s largest city, but it’s incredibly manageable. Along the main routes in Dublin one will find familiar businesses: Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King, the Disney Store, H&M, and more. These sights are familiar, but the best of Dublin is found in the local shops and restaurants. Architecture that is hundreds of years old doesn’t seem out of place next to modern buildings, and they both play a part in the vibrant nightlife. Pop music is prevalent, but Dublin has its own brilliant playlist of rock, folk, and indie. The city sounds die away in our neighbourhood, a ten-minute walk from the coastline.
We five students have class twice a week in Dun Laoghaire, a beautiful coastal town south of Dublin. We intern twice a week in Dublin City Centre. That leaves our weekends free to explore and have our own adventures around Dublin and Ireland as a whole, with Irish friends we’ve made here, and other Americans we’ve met along the way. The beauty of this country truly strikes you when you least expect it. It takes your breath away. Studying abroad may seem daunting at first, or perhaps unattainable, but for me so far it’s absolutely amazing. Duhawks, take the opportunity to study abroad.