It’s crazy to think that I’ve already been in Dublin for four weeks and that we’re halfway through the program! The experiences I’ve had and memories I’ve made will stay with me forever. I was pretty busy this past week and by the end of it I finally felt the adrenaline wear off and the exhaustion set in. In the beginning of the week two of my friends were visiting Dublin which was so much fun! We visited Croke Park, the famous Gaelic Games stadium in North Dublin, walked around Dublin Castle and St. Stephen’s Green, and had a Guinness of course! Wednesday night I saw Harry Styles perform at Aviva Stadium and it was amazing. After work I rushed home to eat and change before hopping back on the bus with my friend to get to the stadium right on time! Harry and his opening act, Arlo Parks put on a remarkable show, and it was such a cool experience to see them in Dublin. I was supposed to see Harry perform back home in Philadelphia the summer after my senior year of high school but that of course got rescheduled for a time when it was too inconvenient to get back from Pittsburgh. I was so excited when I found out he’d be in Dublin when I was, and I’m so grateful I finally got to see him live!
On Friday, my parents got into Dublin where they’re visiting until this coming Thursday. After work on Friday, I walked from my office to a pub called The Stag’s Head to meet them for dinner. We had great food and even listened to some “trad” music there! The next day was Dublin’s Pride Parade, and while we had plans to do some touristy stuff in Dublin that day, we did stop to watch the parade for a little and it was amazing! The city was buzzing with people and filled with bright colors. This was the weekend I stayed in Dublin and didn’t travel since arriving, so it was so cool to see the city so animated and happy! Next, we walked over to Trinity College and saw The Book of Kells. Learning about the history was really interesting and the library (The Long Room) was absolutely gorgeous. It was filled to the brim and organized in a beautifully symmetric hall. Our last stop on Saturday was at The Church—and not for mass. The Church is a restaurant in what used to actually be a church, with an organ, stained glass windows and everything! Here, I finally had some traditional Irish stew—which was outstanding! Sunday morning, I met my parents at their hotel and went to church—this time for an actual mass—then we made our way over to the Guinness Storehouse. This was such a cool experience; we learned about the process, the best way to taste Guinness, their history and famous advertisements, all before drinking a Guinness on the top floor with an incredible 360 view of Dublin. Along the way we each got a Guinness with our faces on it too! Overall, it was a great weekend in Dublin spent with family and friends!
Something I’m noticing more and more is the number of tourists in the city, myself included. Not only is University College Dublin’s campus filled with exchange programs like ours, but the whole city seems to be (which makes sense since it’s summer vacation). It’s become especially apparent on my daily commute home from work on the bus. For example, the other day I was sitting on the upper level of the bus with very few other people when all of a sudden, a huge group of high schoolers from another country completely overtook the top deck and started conversing very loudly across the bus. While this is something to be expected on public transportation in any country, I’ve come to appreciate those 45 minutes of relaxation—just preferably when it’s less hectic. I think I’m also still adjusting to the fact that I even have a 45-minute commute to and from work, but I do like having a routine.
In terms of the Irish work environment, I think the only part I still struggle with is spending most of my day working independently. While two other people work in the same room, we mostly keep to ourselves, of course we occasionally strike up conversation but mostly we all have our headphones in. I don’t mind working independently but sometimes I do wish the work I was doing was more team based. Luckily, this week one of my coworkers brought in donuts for everyone so I got to talk to some more people I don’t usually see.
I can’t believe I’m halfway through my time in Dublin, but I can’t wait for all the memories to come!