This has been quite an eventful week and the weather has been fantastic for Dublin as people have professed to me and with respect to the stereotype of it being grey and raining on a daily basis. It has been a bit chilly compared to what I’m used to in the States this time of year, but it’s comfortable. Unfortunately, it does mean that it will become downright cold before too long. Most of what I’ve done has been gathering necessities such as a pair of sneakers, toothpaste, shampoo, dishes to eat from, cookware to cook with, and the list goes on. However, while doing most of those things bit by bit over the past week, I’ve found myself just wandering about Dublin, getting a bit lost, and enjoying whatever I come across. I’ve seen Oscar Wilde’s house, the parliament building, a governor’s residence (right in downtown Dublin!), and a handful of medieval castles and churches set amongst much of the city’s newer architecture.
On day two our group from the program was taken to the Guinness Warehouse where the famous Guinness beer is brewed and patrons receive a free pint with a ticket to wander the warehouse. Arthur Guinness has a rich history with the city of Dublin both as an entrepreneur and philanthropist as it turns out. The view from the tower on top of the factory is fascinating as the warehouse sits on a slight hill and is one of the tallest structures in the city at 7 stories tall; as it happened, when we were there it was a sunny day and one had a view of the entire city and the surrounding countryside. The absence of looming skyscrapers is something I find quite charming about the city, although the traffic is just as ferocious as one might find in any of the metropolis’ that host such massive buildings in the United States.
As classes have just begun this Monday I’ve only started to meet Irish students who attend UCD. The residences on campus host many of the international students whom I’ve been mingling with, but with the arrival of Irish students at the start of classes things have been much different. Accents vary quite a bit in Ireland, even between students from neighboring counties they can be completely different. On top of that, many of them speak the Irish language to one another. The Irish language is used much more commonly here than I originally expected. All labels, signs, nearly everything that needs to be physically read around the city is written in Irish first with the English phrases written below. Students here generally take it from the time they enter school and throughout.
This past Sunday I got to go on a trip with the Erasmus club here to Howthe where, upon climbing a small “mountain” we had a vantage point from which to view the entire city of Dublin from a twenty minute drive away. Then we walked down through the Gardens of Howthe, which were extraordinarily green and pleasing to the eye. From there we walked around the edge of the island to get a view of the coast before finally coming back to school. However, while having lunch at a pub in the town of Howthe, we had the chance to see most of Ireland’s national championship game for a sport called Hurling. It was fascinating to watch and a gentleman near the bar explained the rules as the game progressed between county teams from Cork and Clare. Apparently, it’s not a professional sport, the players aren’t payed. The players all play for glory and the pride of their county. The game was a tie, so we’ll have the opportunity to see it played out again in three weeks time.
Unfortunately, the memory card for my camera was full up when I got here, so I’ve just been able to clear it since I’ve had to get a converter for the electricity wall plugs as well. But, next time I should have photos to share as well!