My First Month on the Emerald Isle

It’s been a few days shy of the one month mark since I’ve left the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, and embarked on my journey of self-discovery to the Emerald Isle! Aaaand this is probably why I shouldn’t blog, but foreal, I’ve now been in Dublin, Ireland for a little over a month and it’s still surreal to me. It’s hard to digest the fact, still, that I’m on the other side of the globe, away from friends and family.

However, like with anything in life, you learn to adapt to new experiences and circumstances. Now, weirdly enough, Dublin has started to feel like ‘home’.

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Almost landing in Dublin, Ireland on September 18, 2015.

I remember the first couple of days that I was here, the streets of Dublin were completely new to me (of course). I didn’t know my way around, I was constantly relying on Google Maps and yet I was still constantly getting lost. Now, after a few weeks of practice –– although I have yet to explore many corners of Dublin –– the streets of the city are beginning to feel familiar. It’s odd to think back to when this was a completely new city to me, and how I felt in relation to it: extremely out of place. Today, I revisit that feeling and I look around the city, laughing a little at how quickly you can grow accustomed to a place.

First thing’s first, you might be wondering why I’m in Ireland. I know you’re dying to know. I came to study abroad at Trinity College, Dublin for a semester (3 months total). I’m here as a part of UCEAP study abroad program from my home university UC Santa Cruz. But why Ireland? Why Trinity College? In part because I enjoyed the film P.S. I Love You a little too much (it was filmed here, in the Irish countryside of Wicklow Co.) Another reason as to why I chose to study in Ireland was the friendly culture that I’ve read a lot about, but even more importantly because of Trinity College being a top university to study literature in.

Trinity College is where literary figures such as Samuel Beckett (Irish novelist and playwright), Sheridan Le Fanu (writer of gothic tales and novels), Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), Jonathan Swift (satirist and essayist), and Oscar freakin’ Wilde (Irish playwright, novelist, and poet) attended. IT’S AN ENGLISH MAJOR’S DREAM, or just mine. It feels quite awesome to be surrounded by so much passion, love and dedication to literature here at Trinity College and Dublin. There are many museums, bridges and statues throughout the city named and honored after great Irish writers. It’s a dream, and it always makes me feel giddy when I run into literary-themed anything. Dublin was also the birthplace of James Joyce, author of Dubliners and Ulysses, one of most influential writers of the 20th century. Dublin is also the birthplace of Oscar Wilde, his house is located in Merrion Square along with a statue of Wilde himself! And of course, I took one too many selfies when I visited Mr. Wilde’s statue.

Trinity College is also home to the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript, dating back to c. 800. It’s kind of a big deal. The Old Library houses the Book of Kells, and the main chamber of the library is the Long Room. At nearly 213 ft. in length, the Long Room is filled with 200,000 of Ireland’s oldest books. It is heaven. When I visited the Dublin Writer’s Museum, a sign read, “Ireland: An Island of Writers.” Yes, indeed.

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One of the many (beautiful) buildings on the Trinity College campus.

Aside from reading and learning more about literature while in Ireland, I’ve also learned some other things here and there about the Irish culture:

1. Little if not none of the food I’ve tried here is spicy. This is hurting my soul, I’m Latina and I love me some chile! I need me some chile!

2. If you want to know what’s happening around town or what pubs/clubs are poppin’, are in Ireland they say: “What’s the craic?” Craic meaning “good fun, entertainment” etc.

3. Most, if not all of the streets here have no street name sign! So you can’t really blame me for getting lost.

4. The euro and the conversion rate is hurting my pocket because of reasons.

5. Irish Coffee is something unlike anything I’ve ever tried. But it is quite delicious. Who knew I could simultaneously get a little buzz and a kick of caffeine?

6. Guinness is EVERYWHERE, and I mean EVERYWHERE.

7. McDonald’s are very popular here, and they’re 2-3-4 stories high. Why? I’ve tried not to step foot inside one, but, I failed.

8. Ireland has the 4th largest stadium in Europe –– Croke Park stadium. I live right across the street from Croke Park, in a small flat.

9. There will be sunshine, rain and wind all in one hour.

10. There is never not anything to do here in Dublin. Pubs are on every corner, museums here and there, castles, souvenir shops, beautiful parks, etc!

11. There are a lot of white people here, and I am brown. So, a lot of Irish people confuse me for Brazilian.

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This is in Wicklow Co., where P.S. I Love You was filmed during a scene between Gerard Butler and Hillary Swank.

Anyway, aside from those lil’ fun facts, it’s truly been quite an experience so far. Now that I’m more settled in, I feel I can tap into how I felt when I first arrived here and well, blog about it. The first couple of days here, I also felt quite homesick. I’m not one that likes to feel homesick (I mean, who does?) or one that likes to talk about being homesick because well, who decided to leave California and live in Ireland for 3 months? But, it’s completely normal and since I’m nearly 5,000 miles away from home, there’s really no going back. You just have to put your big girl pants on and deal with it the best way that you can. 3 months sound like a very long time, but it’s also a very short time. See, I’m 1/3 of the way there already. I’m sure I’m going to miss it so much when I return to California, so it’s best to enjoy my time here because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, in some ways.

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