A new decade has begun and I find myself packing for a new adventure across the pond. In just five days and after one five hour layover in Chicago’s O’hare airport, I will be on a plane descending slowly into the Emerald Isle. I’ll be walking on the cobblestones of a new city, completely reliant on my map and my curiosity. I am spending January through May studying at Trinity College in Dublin.

Trinity College was founded in 1592. It is Ireland’s oldest college and it is situated right in the heart of Dublin. It holds Ireland’s largest library and is home to the Book of Kells, which tourists pay 10 euros to gaze upon. I’ll be taking classes in the Botany and the Sociology departments (I must admit, my heart leapt a bit at the sound of “Botany” as an actual academic specialization…I can’t help but feel like a character attending Hogwarts…) I’m looking forward to the experience of academia at a foreign university, bumping elbows with the Irish.

I’m entering this experience blind. I know relatively little about Irish history or culture. I barely know anyone that will be there. A mutual friend has introduced me to a fellow New York student, Caroline, that will be at Trinity this term, as well. I am excited to get to know her.

As an Environmental Studies and Anthropology student, I have looked into some of the current issues that Dublin is facing. Relatively recently, Dublin has initiated some stricter litter laws. Most businesses have responded very eagerly and the area has really shaped up. However, the city of Tallaght, which is just outside Dublin, has been voted the “dirtiest city in Ireland” and is constantly plagued with litter. It will be interesting to see the public’s reaction to these issues. Another interesting environmental/anthropological juxtaposition exists in Northern Ireland’s resistance to fluoridate its water supply, resulting in a much greater percentage of decaying teeth than in the rest of the Irish Republic.

My heritage is both Irish and Norwegian, so this place signifies a genetic crossroads for me. For my birthday last summer, my very spiritual mother set me up with a tarot card reading. My interpreter Susan told me I would be traveling someplace I had been before. Somewhere I may have lived in, previously, in another life. While I might shrug these “past life” statements off most of the time, I haven’t been able to shake this one. Will I feel some sort of eerie familiarity walking among the same winding streets my literary heroes have certainly strolled before me? Will something resonate in my heart amid the darkness of a melancholy melody floating around a lonely pub? I feel electrified to find out.

It has been awhile since I have spent time abroad. I studied in Granada, Spain for three weeks in June 2006. I took the best Spanish classes I have ever taken from my two professors Africa and Louisa at the Universidad de Granada. I was very young then. Spain was a burst of fresh air into my seventeen-year-old face. I enter Dublin a few years older and with a few ideals unravelled. I enter it as openly as I entered Spain, except a bit more weathered.

After spending a summer heartbroken, I am ready to spend a spring healing and gallivanting around a new city. This blog will serve as both my personal story and as an anthropological glimpse into a new culture (perhaps a culture thought to be less “exotic” than others when compared to America.) This is a tale of Dublin’s kinetic energy. May Ireland take me where it may.

May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.

– A Celtic Blessing

Cheers,

Megan

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