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Trinity College - An Unusually Bright Day

I have now been in Dublin for four days and I finally have my internet up and running (unfortunately, the electrical outlets in my room have decided not to work as of this morning, so I will figure that out tomorrow…) and I can finally give you an inkling into what it is like here in Ireland.

Cold. It has been freezing since I have arrived. In fact, on Saturday morning, the day I was flying in, Dublin was experiencing the worst weather it has had since the 1960s (according to the rosy cheeked flight attendant with a booming Irish accent serving me tea on my Aer Lingus flight). This “worst weather” equates to about two inches of snow…which resulted in the closing of the Dublin Airport “mid-my flight” over the Atlantic. My plane was redirected to the tiny little town of Prestwick, Scotland – where we sat for an hour onboard…unable to deplane as Aer Lingus is an Irish airline and there would have been issues with customs.

Those of you reading that are familiar with Minnesotan or Coloradoan winters might be scoffing at this extreme over-reaction. I was a bit, but in good humor. Honestly, I was childishly excited that I can cross Prestwick, Scotland off my list. Hey, I’ve seen it! I still want to make it off the plane in Scotland but just the thrill of landing once again in Europe kept me calm. Soon after, Dublin’s airport re-opened and I was gathering my bags and in a cab, straining my ear to understand my taxi driver’s thick Irish accent.

Arriving at Trinity with two large bags and a thick layer of ice holding steady to the earth is enough to make me reduce my luggage to just one suitcase for the rest of my life. Of course, the Front Gate (conveniently located to where I have been directed to collect my keys) is closed. I enter through the Nassau Gate. I really don’t see the point of having so many gates as there is one close to the north of campus that is open 24/7 and to what I have observed so far, not heavily monitored. (I probably just tipped off a slew of Irish criminals but, ah well.)

I proceed to drag my bags, arms aching, to an open door close by the Front Gate. A bit worried I may never locate my keys and that I might be forced to haul my bags to some hostel I must find sans internet, I bump into a friendly 30-something Irishman named Kenneth who takes pity on me and insists on carrying one of my bags. After a minute of me pretending to be just fine, Kenneth scoops up my 50 pound duffel and escorts me to the security desk (which I might have never found) and helps me claim my keys. Little did Kenneth know what “helping me bring my bags to my building” would entail. My residence here, Goldsmith Hall, is located at literally, the farthest point away from the Front Gate; directly at the opposite end. It takes 10 minutes to walk the campus and about 20 minutes to drag a heavy bag and skid on the ice across campus. Kenneth was my first Irish blessing. He conversed with me about his running team, his family he was meeting in twenty minutes, and his passion for the French language before wishing me well and parting once we reached Goldsmith, as quickly as he had arrived.

Goldsmith Hall is a bit like a minimum security prison. I am living in a suite where I have my own bedroom (for the first time since high school) but share a bathroom and a kitchen with three other girls. Luckily, my suitemates are friendly and warm this concrete block up when I see them. I have had trouble setting up my Internet, but I am finally connected. This morning, however, the outlets in my side of the suite were not working. Neither was the hot water in my shower. These issues I will save for tomorrow.

I have met up with Caroline and am thoroughly enjoying her company. We have been out exploring pub life every night since I have arrived in Dublin; so tonight we are taking a little break from the beers and Jameson. Our Trinity College “Semester Start-up Programme” (SSP) started on Sunday night. It’s been nice getting to know some new people but mostly I am excited to continue exploring Dublin and to start my classes here on Monday. Our first “meet and greet” was Sunday night. Our SSP group was apparently the first group to polish off the wine and not even touch the soft drinks provided by our program leaders. What a gang! We were thoroughly applauded by the SSP leaders.

The concept of alcohol, obviously something deeply embedded with Irish culture, is unfolding quite interestingly. For one, I feel that the availability of alcohol to people my age diminishes the divide that usually sharply exists between professors and students. I do feel freer in communication and more open and it is almost as if these professors seem less authoritarian; not in a way that de-legitimizes them, but in a way that humanizes them and connects them more closely to the students. Also, pub culture bonds both the young and the old, seemingly carefree. Most of the Irish people I have met, particularly the older generations, are deeply interested in what I am studying, what I think and know about Ireland, and of course, how I feel about Barack Obama. I have encountered several people deeply passionate about music and artistic expression. People seem strongly moved by poetry, by nationalism, by love. There is something deeply emotional about this place.

The Irish have bright eyes and a quick wit that slides off the tongue with ease. Despite their violent and grueling history, I’ve noticed the laughlines of the Irish seem lovingly placed. The lines seem to cradle their eyes. The people here are incredibly friendly, always offering to help in any way they can. Maybe I am romanticizing, but the truth is, I feel that despite the icy weather, Ireland is slowly beginning to capture my heart.

My first night in Dublin, I wandered around alone in the Temple Bar area looking for my first meal in 24 hours since landing in the Emerald Isle. I stumbled upon a family owned restaurant called The Tree. I spent the next couple of hours sipping red wine and eating baked salmon and tiny potatoes and talking to the mother and daughter who pulled their chairs up next to me. Eventually, the father came out from the kitchen and the family scurried over excitedly to the window to gaze out at Dublin’s first big snowfall in many years. I watched them, noses pressed up the the glass, and smiled. I know my stay here will be a warm one.

Nil aon tintean mar do thintean fein.”

(There is no hearth like your own hearth.)

Cheers,

Megan

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Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin

October 2017
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