My best friend here, Chloe, is doing an internship through Global Experiences–one of those programs that sets you up with an internship, housing, etc. I’ve been able to meet a lot of fun people through her program, which has been great! On Saturday I jumped on their day trip to Glendalough and Kilkenny. It was a guided tour and was awesome! I hadn’t been outside of the city yet, and the country was absolutely beautiful. We first stopped at Glendalough National Park in the Wicklow mountains and got out to walk through the forest. It used to be a monastery, so we learned about that and saw all the abandoned churches from that time. The weather held up for the most part, just a few spurts of rain and wind throughout. We saw where Braveheart and P.S. I love you was filmed, which was absolutely gorgeous! We got out for a photo op at the highest point of our trip and were almost blown away by the strongest wind you can imagine overlooking the film sites–the views over all of the Wicklow mountains were definitely worth it though.
We then drove on to Kilkenny, where we went on a self-guided tour of the Kilkenny Castle and walked around town for a few hours to see some other landmarks, like the St. Mary’s Cathedral. Kilkenny was a great town–although our tour guide said they insist on calling it a city, despite its relatively small population. It was quaint but still buzzing with people and shops and pubs everywhere. It was overall a fabulous day trip, and we’re hoping to do more Saturday trips like this one to other places out in the Irish country!
We have had several other random adventures that have been quite fun. We went to Christ Church, which is a beautiful cathedral right in the middle of Dublin. The European Space Expo was set up at Trinity the first week I was here, and it was free admission. It was a pretty small exhibition with only a few things to see but a good activity nonetheless. The Dublin Shakespeare Festival also came to Trinity the first week I was here and was free as well, so we caught a few random performances outside on the fields. There were Shakesperian-dressed people roaming around campus for a solid 2 weeks–such a crack up. We also went to the Jameson Distillery to do the tour there. It is right next to where I work, so we figured it would be a fun Saturday activity. Since it’s no longer the working distillery, it is basically a replica of what is used to look like back in the day. However, they still have an original cat from the original distillery that they stuffed and preserved all of these years–creepy! On Monday night we randomly stumbled upon a free comedy show in the basement of one of the popular pubs here–absolutely the funniest thing I’ve ever been to! Of course the Americans were the butt of all the jokes, and we just happened to be sitting in the very front row. Regardless, it was so much fun! Other than that, we have been doing all of the tourist things…eating fish and chips, watching street performers on Grafton Street, enjoying St. Stephen’s Green, and eating at all the restaurants our local coworkers have recommended for us. We add things to do and places to see to the list every day–time needs to slow down so we have time to see everything!
After a few weeks, we are all finally getting the lingo here down…Everything here is “brilliant craic” (…as in “crack”). Like “Oh did you enjoy your dinner last night”….”yeah it was great craic!”. Or “You should come over for a bit of craic”. It can be used in about a million different contexts, which I find hilarious. I’ve also learned that “cheers” is an acceptable response in almost every single situation. Other strange terms: “quid” (slang for currency) and “gargling”. They also don’t pronounce the “th” sound, so it’s “Tursday” for Thursday and “tanks” for thanks. Our favorite phrase, which we hear constantly, is “Cheers tanks a mil!”. A few other weird things I’ve noticed: the hot and cold water comes out of two different faucets and is impossible to make warm water. It is either scalding hot or freezing cold. Even if it comes out of the same faucet, it still doesn’t mix together. It is two streams of polar opposite temperatures. I’ll never really understand this. Also, to get out of a most doors you have a to press a button next to them to release the door first. This is the case both in my office and my dorm at Trinity, but I’ve learned that this isn’t actually a really common thing throughout Ireland, just a strange coincidence. There are also several stores that are identical to the American version with just a slightly different name (ex: TK Maxx instead of TJ Maxx and Eddie Rockets instead of Johnny Rockets). Last thing…people jaywalk here more than I have ever seen because it actually isn’t illegal. I don’t know how people drive in the city–it’s nuts! I’m finally getting used to looking the right way when trying to cross the street–thankfully there are “look left” or “look right” labels on the ground at most crosswalks. This has helped ease the confusion. Huge city buses drive a million miles an hour and cut corners literally 1 inch to the sidewalk–I’ve learned to walk far from the edge to avoid getting trampled by them. Since I’ve never lived in a big city before, Dublin has been the perfect transition. It is still a metropolitan city, but it is not too huge or overwhelming by any means. Besides one dodgy area down the way, it is very safe and the people here have been so nice and welcoming! I’ve decided I never want to leave!