2020 at Trinity – a year to remember

Patrick O’Dwyer (Semester 2 2019-20 and Semester 1 2020-21 exchange student from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

When I arrived into Dublin in early January, I…(like almost everyone else) had no idea of the year that was in store for us. No idea of the scale of the global pandemic that was looming just around the corner. However, in the few short months of face to face classes that I could attend on campus, I was able to make friendships that have lasted throughout my whole year in Ireland (and will continue into the future, I’m sure). These friendships were essential to managing the tougher times of the lockdown.

Trinity pre-pandemic was an amazing experience. I got the chance to collaborate with some classmates in a creative film-making class, perform weekly music pieces in front of peers in my recital course, attend a roaring-20’s themed film ball and even jet off to Germany during a long weekend for the Berlinale Film Festival, all before the first lockdown commenced!

However, after the pandemic had hit, my exchange experience felt honestly just as enjoyable as before. I truly believe that under the circumstances, I got the absolute most out of my year abroad! My logic was pretty much everywhere in the world was in the same boat in March, so my plan was to just try to live it up as much as I could within the recommended guidelines… and I feel like I definitely achieved that!
During Hillary Term one of my assignments was to collaborate with a group and create a short film. However, due to the restrictions enforced at that time, we had to work remotely in creating this film. It made
for a very challenging but rewarding experience.

One person would film the background / ‘B-roll’ shots, another would film the principal photography, a third person worked on editing whilst the fourth member composed the score! We were all really proud of the
finished product, and it proved that we could still have a thoroughly immersive and enjoyable university experience, even with the pandemic. I also found the transition from in-person to online learning really interesting and a welcome change given the blow of the lockdown. I had fun creating my own online workspace, and I must admit there are some perks to rolling straight out of bed and into a 9am lecture! After the term ended, we were well and truly in the middle of the lockdown, so I decided to tick off some bucket list hobbies I’ve been wanting to try for a while
now…the first one being brewing my own beer! It was so interesting to learn about the science of brewing, and given our limited resources we resorted to some pretty interesting methods of brewing…like using a kiddy pool to cool the ‘wort’ (unfermented beer). This hobby has turned into a passion for me, and I’ve since brewed 4 more batches, each better than the last (if I do say so myself)!

Another fun activity I took on during the summer break was working on a short film near Bray, Co Wicklow. At this point the restrictions were starting to ease slightly, so thankfully we were allowed to work together
from the pre-production phase right through to the final shot. I was the 3rd Assistant Director, which meant I was in charge of locking down the set, making sure no film equipment or “nonnarrative” items could be seen in the background of any shots, and making sure we were running to the schedule as smoothly as possible. The filming took place entirely at night, starting at 6pm and finishing at 4am… but the experience I gained was invaluable and I felt so proud that we were all able to come together and make a professional short film, whilst still making sure everyone was keeping safe distances and following all the guidelines. And this diligence paid off, as not a single cast or crew member tested positive throughout the entire 1 month production period.

After shooting wrapped, I had about two months left before I’d be commencing my second semester at Trinity (I did Hillary Term first because it aligned with my university calendar back in Australia). So, now that the travel restrictions were completely lifted, my girlfriend and I decided to take a road trip around Ireland and try to see as much of the natural beauty and landmarks that this beautiful country has to offer. We ended up clocking up 5000km and were on the road for 5 weeks! We traced the entire coast of the island of Ireland, from the tumultuous seas off of West Cork, to the winding roads of the Wild Atlantic Way, to the fantastical Narnia-inspired forest in Co. Down. It was by far the best road trip I have ever been, and honestly…if it hadn’t been for Covid, I think our eyes would’ve been set on Europe, rather than looking at all the amazing experiences that were on offer right at our doorstep!

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An Unconventional Study Abroad

Rebecca Templeton, Semester 1 2020-2021 study abroad student from Northeastern University, Boston, USA

We all knew that this semester was not going to be the study abroad experience we’d initially signed up for. However, I never could’ve known how exceptional my time at Trinity College Dublin would turn out to be.
I arrived in Dublin two weeks before orientation in order to complete quarantine (at the time, there was an idea that orientation may still be in-person). We were allowed one brief walk on campus every day.

The campus was even more beautiful than I’d imagined, which helped ease the fact that we essentially weren’t allowed to exit a walled fortress for weeks. Despite this, after 2 weeks we were more than ready to explore Dublin. Only outdoor dining was open, but we managed to make a substantial contribution to Dublin’s restaurant sector.

And then… Dublin shut back down. Almost immediately. Straight out of quarantine. It was difficult not to be discouraged. But there was hope! Just before everything closed down, I met a couple of other people studying abroad. We reached out to each other to grab lunch using our emails in the study abroad email chain (yes it was a little unorthodox, but we were relatively desperate to meet people at this point). Two of these girls ended up becoming incredibly close friends of mine, and they are the reason that the semester was so extraordinary despite it’s challenges. Together, in lockdown and unable to leave County Dublin, we went on what can only be described as an absurd amount of walks.

To parks such as St. Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square, and the Iveagh Gardens (my personal favorite)… As well as Phoenix Park. Here we wandered for 3 hours until we found deer – which was a big deal to us, and rolled down a hill.

And of course taking in all of the amazing architecture. Tell me the Christ Church Cathedral doesn’t look like a castle!

Before Dublin went back into Level 5, my Animal Behavior class bought me a ticket to the Dublin Zoo. Highly recommend both the zoo and the class (which is called a “module” at Trinity).

In Level 5, our options were a little more limited, but we still made the most of it. We had a three-person thanksgiving feast (fortunately Ireland’s Christmas food is very similar to our Thanksgiving food), and got tons of to-go hot chocolate.

Butler’s is famous for their hot chocolate, and it comes with a small specialty chocolate of your choice. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Three Twenty – which toasts homemade marshmallow fluff onto your hot chocolate in front of you! It’s absolutely incredible. I found it from Lovin’ Dublin, a website which we used to find nearly every restaurant, activity, and all other Dublin-related enjoyment. Seriously, that website is one of my most visited (tied with Blackboard).

Seeing as Dublin doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, they start decorating for Christmas the instant we entered November. And we were all for it (seeing as we’d walked just about everywhere, this added some excitement).

Finally, December 1st, after 6 weeks of lockdown, Dublin reopened. Naturally, our entire bucket list had to be rolled out in the remining 3 weeks we were in the country.
For the first time, we able to experience indoor dining and afternoon tea.

And we did all of our holiday and souvenir shopping –

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre is the most insanely gorgeous “mall” I’ve ever been to, and Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is also lovely while being actually affordable.

We toured both the Guinness Storehouse and the Jameson Distillery. An extra special shoutout goes to The Gravity Bar at the end of the Guinness Tour, where we saw 360-degree views of Dublin from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Lastly, a couple of pointers if you choose to do a semester in Ireland:


1: Watch The Late Late Toy Show!!! This was recommended to me by my Parasitology group chat. It was so fun and so adorable, we actually watched it twice. Apparently, it’s tradition to watch the Toy Show every December starting when you’re a child. However, the jokes are for the parents, and both the host and children on the show are hilarious as well as inspiring.


2: In Ireland, food actually expires. This probably sounds like a weird statement, but when your bread has mold 2 days after you bought it, you’ll see what I mean. Share your groceries with your roommates so they’re finished on time, or you’ll end up inhaling what’s probably toxic fumes from the fridge (I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience).


3: Join societies! Our semester they weren’t allowed to meet or really host any events, but they still had tons of perks. I won restaurant gift cards by doing a virtual cooking competition with the DU Food and Drink society (who normally host wine and cheese nights). Also, the Global Room does giveaways and events for international students (such as a free on-campus ice cream truck), so following them is definitely worth it.

Of course, it was disappointing that we couldn’t leave County Dublin the whole semester. We’d planned on seeing the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and The Dark Hedges. But this is just a highly compelling reason to return to Ireland together. Additionally, I was taking six classes, and which frankly allowed for limited free time.


Studying abroad during a pandemic takes a certain mindset. You have to understand it’s going to be different than any typical study abroad experience. But if you’re creative and positive, then it can still be amazing. Our last week in Dublin, every toast was to a study abroad we described as “unique”, “unconventional”, and “extraordinary”. We may not have been able to go to a single wet pub, but did make memories that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.


We made a lot of jokes about traveling across the Atlantic for college, just to wind up only close friends with other Americans. But at the end of the semester, these girls had become my family, and we are so grateful that Boston, NYC, and DC are close enough that we can see each other again very soon.

Abroad in the Time of Corona

Kelly Knickerbocker

In more ways than one, this semester was not anything like I had expected. Going into my semester abroad in Dublin, my biggest concerns consisted of figuring out public transportation, finding my way around a city I had never been to before, and navigating an entirely new school system. The potential of there being a global pandemic was certainly the last thing on my mind. 

The middle of March is a blur to me. I was sitting in a pub on Camden Street on March 11th when the news hit that President Trump was banning travel of foreign nationals to the United States. Two days later, my study abroad program announced that they were shutting down all of their European study groups. Not two days after that, on March 15th, I was sitting in the Dublin airport with all of my belongings and a plane ticket that cost most of my savings (prices of tickets sky-rocketed after the travel ban was announced). The whole experience was completely surreal, as it only took four days for my time abroad to become completely unravelled. 

Since then, I have been social distancing in my home in New York, attempting to make sense of my remaining month or so of online classes (just as all of my fellow Trinity students have been doing). I have never taken an online class, and have only been taught in a classroom setting, so as you might imagine this has been a time of major change and growth for me. 

One resource that has been a saving grace to me, however, is my history tutor. Despite there being an ocean between us, she has been an incredible help to me and has been unwavering in her support. As she is a PhD candidate herself and has other students to tutor, her timely responses to my questions and genuine interest in how I’m holding up have not gone unnoticed, especially in a time when she has a lot on her plate, as well. 

It is these relationships that, when I reflect back upon my time abroad, I will be forever grateful for. Even though my time in Dublin was cut in half, I will never forget the people that had a positive impact on my experience at Trinity, whether it was on the physical campus or from thousands of miles away.

An adventure cut short

Isabel Griffith-Gorgati, Princeton University, USA

This Hilary Term saw nearly all visiting students have their time in Dublin abruptly cut short by the novel coronavirus in March. I booked a flight home on March 14th and was back home in Boston on March 15th, safe and healthy and still trying to process this unexpected goodbye.

Self-isolation has prompted me to reflect a lot on my two months in Dublin, especially the level of freedom that I felt on study abroad. Like many others, I went from the period of the most freedom I’ve had in my life to the period of the least freedom I’ve ever felt. I thought I’d reflect on some of my favorite memories from my brief time in Ireland this spring, for which I am so grateful.

The first, of course, is attending classes on Trinity’s campus! The architecture is beautiful, and as soon as you walk through the front entryway there is a sense of calm as the noise of the city center fades away. My home university, Princeton, is often referred to affectionately as the “orange bubble,” but it is a way away from the nearest city. I loved that Trinity combines a homey campus feel with a vibrant city culture just outside its gates. I enjoyed walking just across the street with my art history class to see works of art in person at the National Gallery of Ireland. Two of my favorite spots to eat near campus were Mama’s Revenge (for a cheap burrito) and Bewley’s Café. Bewley’s is a bit pricier, but worth it for one of the best coffees you’ll find in Dublin, a beautiful interior, and some cool literary history for all my fellow English majors.

Here’s Trinity on a beautiful sunset in January.

Before arriving in Dublin in January, Galway was already close to my heart as I spent the summer of 2019 interning for the Baboró International Arts Festival for Children in the tiny city on the west coast. It was special to be able to reunite with friends in Galway, as well as to show some Princeton friends around one of my favorite places when they visited in late January!

Here I am with my friend Emma on a visit to Galway City.

Museums are always at the top of my list of places to explore in any new city. Dublin is full of them, including many that are free of charge, and they’re a perfect activity for a rainy day (of which there are plenty in Ireland). One of my favorite free museums in Dublin is the Hugh Lane Gallery. I especially loved their collection of gorgeous Irish stained glass.

Irish stained glass by Harry Clarke at the Hugh Lane Gallery

Howth is a nearby coastal town that’s a must-visit for anyone living in Dublin – it is just a quick train ride away, but it feels like you’ve left the city far behind. Visiting Howth with a friend was one of my last moments of pure calm before being sent home from Dublin. We walked along the coast and bought tea at the adorable Waggy Tail Tearooms, which serves the best scone I’ve ever had in my life.

Here I am in Howth on March 6th, 2020

I have much more to explore in Dublin and the rest of Ireland. I know I’ll be back as soon as I can make it.

The view from my airplane as I flew out of Dublin on March 15th

Dublin’s Fascinating Churches

Ethan Richie – Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia

I knew Trinity College Dublin was the place for me to study abroad because of the school’s rich history dating back to the 1590s. What I was not prepared for was the wonderfully rich history of Dublin dating back to the 800s. Studying in the School of Religion, Trinity’s locale in Dublin has offered me an extremely unique, once in a lifetime experience. Not only to learn about religion in international relations from seasoned professors from around the globe, but also explore Dublin’s rich religious history. 

For my living accommodations, while studying abroad at Trinity, I found myself in the classic Irish neighborhood known as the Liberties. A working-class neighborhood and home to the famous Guinness Storehouse, the location offers traditional pubs, shops, brick houses, and of course many stone churches. Anyone familiar with Thomas Street would instantly recognize the spire of St. Augustine & St. John Church, commonly known as John’s Lane Church. Built-in 1874, the Church was built in the French Gothic Revival style and adds a sharp tone to the road, and makes for a great getaway for students living around the area. 

St. Augustine & St. John Church’s Spire from Thomas Street and Interior

Another popular destination for students is Dublin’s famous Grafton Street. A pedestrian-friendly street, Grafton is filled with lively local shops, big-name stores, and fun eateries. Hidden in a corridor is the beautiful St. Teresa’s Church run by the Discalced Carmelites. A great location close to Trinity College Dublin for silent reflection, the interior makes one forget the fact they are in a bustling city. 

St. Teresa’s Church off Grafton Street and Interior

Dublin is home to some other fascinating churches filled with abundant history including the Protestant St. Patrick Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral, both of which are filled with history and have reduced student rates for admittance. Whether you are curious to explore your own belief system, interested in learning about the relationship between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, or fascinated by history and architecture spanning back 1,000 years, Dublin offers a great location to expand your studies. I can think of no better place to be an undergraduate student interested in resolving religious conflict and peace studies than at Trinity College Dublin.