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A weekend trip to Dublin

Time October 28th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Top of the morning to you!

 

Two weekends ago on October 11-13 I took a little weekend trip to Dublin with a couple of friends from Queen Mary.  Myself, Chelsea (who you’ve already met), and Allison (a student from Lafayette College) came and stayed with me at my cousin’s house. The reason for this trip was that I really wanted to visit one of my best friends from Davidson, Caroline, who is studying abroad at Trinity College.

By coincidence Chelsea also has a good friend that goes to F&M with her who is on the same program with Caroline.  We decided this weekend would be perfect as it was her friend’s birthday weekend.  Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and Chelsea’s friend had to fly home due to a family emergency.

 We left for Dublin early on Friday morning.  The flights we’ve been booking recently have been leaving really early, so it’s been quite a hassle getting to the airport with the tube opening later, but we’ve found one of the most convenient modes of transportation… The National Express.  The National Express is a 24/7 bus service that picks up right across the street from our tube station, Mile End, and goes to a variety of places including Stansted Airport.  So, we boarded a 5:17am bus to Stansted airport and off to Dublin we went.

 At the airport we met up with other Davidson students studying abroad in London, who coincidentally picked the same weekend to go to Dublin to visit Caroline.  We didn’t realize that you had to queue in order to get seats on Ryanair.  We thought the number on our ticket was the order you boarded, so we decided to join a bachelor party in line that had the most awesome t-shirts.   Our flight was extremely late, arriving an hour late to Dublin, but I guess that’s typical of Ryanair.

 We got a taxi at the airport and were off to my cousin’s house.  We ate lunch and then headed to the Guinness Storehouse.  There we met up with the other Queen Mary students and had a fun afternoon learning how to make Guinness, sampling, and enjoying the view from the top of the Brewery.

 

Queen Mary students do the Guinness Storehouse

 

“It’s supposed to taste like chocolate and coffee…”

 

 

Allison, me, and Chelsea with our pints

 

The view of Dublin from the top of the brewery

 

Me, Chelsea, Jessica, and Allison with our pints

 

After the storehouse we went back to the house, where we met up with my family for dinner. We went to an Italian restaurant in Dundrum, which is a large shopping center with really funny flat escalator ramps.  The dinner was so good I got a pasta dish and then my favorite dessert, tiramisu.  Dinner took a while so we headed back to the house after and planned what we wanted to do on Saturday.  I will update you on our adventures in my next post!

 

Meeting up with Family in Dublin

 xx,

Francesca

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Waiting For My New Life To Begin

Time September 15th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

In a few short hours I’ll make the long drive to the airport with my parents, say those bittersweet clichéd goodbyes, and then board my first flight of the day that will eventually get me to Dublin, Ireland.  My clothes, my face, and my hands are covered in sweat and dust, fragments from my last night here in Minnesota working at a kiln, firing pottery with family friends.  My bags are all packed, not with my whole life but with just enough necessities for a year that I can carry easily with me across the pond.  I’ve done my goodbye’s to the few friends remaining here at home, the rest having already headed off to their own respective colleges and universities around the country and world as I normally would have done.

I’m going to Dublin for the year to study at Trinity College, under which halls the likes of Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett once walked, and through the same streets that James Joyce and many of his character’s treaded.  I’ll be honest and upfront and say that I know relatively little of Irish culture and history outside of what I gleaned from reading Martin McDonagh plays and watching reruns of Father Ted on BBC.  What attracted me wasn’t a familial connection, I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me, nor was it some desire to be in a particular place, though the reality of tracing the footsteps of Leopold Bloom through Dublin does grab my nerdy bookworm-self as rather exciting.  No, what the draw was for me were a few different factors.  Partly it was for academic reasons, Trinity being a fantastic institution, so I hear.  Looking through their previous year’s course catalogs made me feel giddy with delight at the possibility of taking classes ranging from Shakespeare, Ulysses, to a class that focuses on the modern American novelist and essayist the late David Foster Wallace, all at the same time.

The other big pieces that helped me choose Ireland and Dublin were a mix of personal wonders and desires.  Beyond the tried concept of trying to find myself in a foreign land, à la Eat, Pray¸ Love, I want to look for and find the natural beauty in the rolling green hills of Ireland and understand how that contrasts with the seemingly unending struggles that the country faces, whether in the form of famine, war, economic downfall, or the emotional struggles people of a rainy nation must face.  The country has a rich history of prose, poetry, lyrics, music, and theater that comes from those that face such plights and then use them in a creative outlet.  I find great admiration and awe in those that understand their troubles and can use that suffering to create something beautiful, and if I can learn that skill to unlock my own soul then I will be a better man for it.

I’m saying goodbye to my room like I do every year.  My books and my record collections, to my cats.  My clothes are sealed in vacuum bags looking like beef-jerky now.  Everything’s set and ready to go.  Nothing else to worry or be anxious about, and everything that I could worry about is either in the hands of the airline companies, Butler’s International Office, or the gods.  So I release myself from conscious worry and let my subconscious find ways to make its anxieties known, like nibbling away at my fingernails.

I’m lost somewhere between being excited and being nervous.  I’m used to being far away from home and dealing with culture-shock; I think college should help you prepare and deal with that pretty well so I’ve gotten past that fear.  At the same time I’m also not excited because I’m leaving a home, my home university, that took a year and a half of struggling to make my niche, and in doing so finding a family in my friends at my college here in the US, and while I had an amazing time this past semester and I look forward to two more when I return in a year, I fear the old adage, “You can’t go home again.”  It’s certainly proved true for my home in Minnesota, where most of my connections to the place have burned away and I know I probably won’t return again for quite some time.  I’m excited for all the opportunities that I have ahead of me and the memories waiting to be made, but a doubt has surfaced in my mind about what I might be missing here.

I’ve been trying to deprive myself of sleep so I can slumber for most of the way to Dublin, an attempt to realign my body clock to its new time zone.  My record player is coming to its end which is my signal to finish writing this and then catch a few hours of sleep before I begin this journey.  The deep smell of smoke from the kiln is lingers on my body still and the memory of this night holds fresh in my mind.  Closing my eyes I think of the stars shinning bright as if to wish me a safe voyage across the ocean, the half-moon lighting my way home, and the heat of the kiln slowly fading from my body as I venture away from the bosom of the Mississippi River to the hands of the Dublin on the horizon.

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