A Goal and a Chord

Halfway. What a thought.

Today was the beginning of our second week in Dublin and thus now it is important to take a moment to reflect on the first week. From our numerous business trips to our historical tour to the exploration of local cuisine, it has certainly been an enlightening and exhilarating experience. Our visit to Google Dublin was about as different from Google Pittsburgh as possible for one company. While we got a full look at the engineering-centric office in Pittsburgh, we were confined to a short talk with one employee in the more business-centric EMEA headquarters, which was rather disappointing. I was looking forward to getting a full look at the type of office that was more applicable to me, but I am still grateful we were able to go at all. It was great to have Professor Kelley there to teach as we walked around the Docklands, allowing us to learn even more about Irish history and culture.

Learning about the culture of Ireland was my primary goal in this study abroad, and I have been very pleased with how it is going.

My favorite part of last week was the tour of Croke Park. I was familiar with hurling and Gaelic football, but I had no idea just how important it was to the country. Hearing about the county loyalties and the fact that all of the players play for pride rather than money shows some of the major differences between Ireland and America in the sports world. The field and stadium were absolutely massive, third largest in Europe, which was awe inspiring, especially as it is for sports that qualify as amateur. In addition, many of the guys are sports buffs, so it was a great time hearing about the important sports of the country we visited. All of us wished that we were able to go to a game, but were happy enough with the tour.

Then our schedule was changed and we got to go to the Dublin v Roscommon quarterfinal today.

There is something extremely special about being at a sporting event. The crowd of people who are living vicariously on the pitch pull you out, even when you have no connections to either team. I have always wanted to go to an English soccer match because of the famed atmosphere, but I would be amazed it if could hold a candle to today. Despite being a rather lopsided affair in Dublin’s favor, the crowd surged with every movement, right up until the final whistle. This was the most immersed we have been with Irish culture and it was unforgettable.

After getting back to the center of the city, I went with half of the group to a pub called the Hairy Lemon, famed for its traditional Irish food, a fitting finale to the day. After a magnificent meal of bangers and mash, we went around the city listening to various street artists. It is common knowledge that I love music, so the opportunity to see Dubliners playing on the streets for other people like them was a very moving experience. The last duo we saw was so brilliant that I decided that I needed to get their CD for my father.

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This has been the most amazing way that anyone could possibly start university, and I am so thankful for being given the chance to live it. I am also extremely grateful for the friends I get to experience it with and the Pitt faculty who make it all possible. While I am not ready for this trip to end, I look forward to the full college experience with these phenomenal people.