Hi, all! My name is Oliver McLellan, and I am a third-year Geology concentrator studying abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland this semester (Fall 2014). Not interested in reading about Irish rocks or paleontological studies? Too bad! Not a problem! Through Life Abroad, I plan to share all types of experiences— academic to recreational— with you.
“Beautiful. Amazing. Expensive.” I have found that it is easier to give inquisitive friends and relatives a concise answer to their initial questions (frequently accompanied by three or more question marks) concerning my experience abroad. Doing so often encourages questions on more specific aspects of Irish life, and saves me from having to summarize all of my adventures over the past six weeks into a single comment on Facebook. The aspect most people seem to jump to first is, unsurprisingly, living in Dublin. To once again put things concisely, Dublin rocks.
Yes, the above statement (as well as the title of this article) is a dry, little-to-no-effort geology pun. Much to the dismay of the friends I have made over the last few weeks, I have used this pun countless times since my arrival, but with good reason: Dublin boasts over a millennium of history, countless ivy-covered walls, various forms of public transportation, and delicious food and drinks at (mostly) affordable prices. What more could a visiting student want, really?
During my first two weeks in Ireland, I lived about an hour’s walk from City Centre in a dorm complex called Trinity Halls. My time in the Halls was a true testament to Dublin’s greatness. Even on the suburban fringe of the city, a train network known as the Luas (Irish/Gaelic for “swift”) gives all Dubliners easy access to the universities, shops, and pubs in City Centre. Each morning, crowds of visiting students would rush to a Luas station surrounded by greenery, and be deposited next to a mall a mere twenty minutes later. The Luas line also makes a convenient stop directly in front of two of Dublin’s most frequented clubs, which happen to be within walking distance of myriad restaurants and pubs, as well.
I discovered Dublin’s full potential as a college city when I moved to Trinity’s main campus in City Centre. From the front gate of Trinity, it takes a minute to walk to Tolteca, an outstanding burrito restaurant with great student deals. Similarly, Porterhouse Central— known for its live music shows and local microbrews— is also a minute’s walk away. Numerous bus lines that go to all ends of Ireland within four hours (Ireland is a relatively small country) pick passengers up right outside of Trinity’s walls, as well. A mere ten-minute stroll will land you in front of one of many tourist attractions including Dublin Castle, St. Stephen’s Green (pictured in the header), and Temple Bar. Fifteen minutes will get you the Luas Red Line, which makes stops at the National Museum of Ireland and near Dublin Zoo. In short, the possibilities are endless.
At the risk of sounding even more like a travel brochure, Dublin really does have activities for all occasions. Feel like sightseeing? Take a walk to a medieval church or hop on a tour bus that offers free Viking hats and encourages you to shout at people on the street as you learn about Dublin’s history. Irish rainy season got you down? Head to Trinity’s Old Library to see the Book of Kells and read up on its origins. Is the day exceptionally sunny? Take a train out to a fishing town like Howth, and get your hands on some local fish and chips. On nights that you want to go out dancing, your biggest set-back will be deciding where you want to go. More low-key nights can be spent at a quiet pub, or simply with friends in the dorms.
So far, my experience in Ireland could easily be described with my go-to, “Beautiful. Amazing. Expensive.” However, there is so much to say about my time here, largely due to my happiness in the city of Dublin. I look forward to discussing other aspects of my life as a Dubliner, such as my time as a Trinity student and my travels throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe, in future posts. Cheers!
I would be happy to answer any and all questions! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond ASAP.