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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kelly Knickerbocker – Colgate University, Hamilton,New York
Moving to a different country and attending a new university for the semester has been one of the best experiences in my life, but also one of the most challenging. Coming into this semester, I had very few expectations, but I did know one thing: I didn’t just want to be a tourist, I wanted to make Dublin (and Ireland) my home. Many of my friends who studied abroad previously expressed to me that one of their biggest regrets was that, while they had fun traveling around different European cities, they didn’t spend enough time trying to make their host city their new home. Having never been to Ireland, I wasn’t too sure about how I would make this happen, but I was determined to find out.
The first step towards making Dublin my home, that I can pinpoint, was made during my first weekend in Ireland. I was fortunate enough to go on a guided tour of The Liberties (my beloved neighborhood) with my study abroad program. We were introduced to several local shop-owners, all of whom were so excited to meet us and ask about our experiences in Dublin thus far. Our tour guides emphasized the importance of making these personal connections in our neighborhood, as well as the difference we could make in some of their lives by shopping local for our groceries (even if it was only 10 euro a week).
From then on, my friend Kelsey and I frequented some of these stores and formed invaluable relationships with our neighbors. One of the store owners, whose name is Michael, made a significant impression on me with his friendliness and genuine interest in our lives. Every Tuesday, Kelsey and I would wander down Meath Street to his fruit and vegetable store and shop for our weekly produce. There, Michael would inquire how our weekends had been, what our plans were for the week ahead, and even offer up a piece of fruit for us to try (free of charge)!
It was connections like these that made me feel like Dublin, and, more specifically, The Liberties, was my home. In people like Michael, I found a second family, and this has made my study abroad experience more fulfilling than I could ever imagine it to be.
By Danielle Dailey, Michaelmas Term 2019 Study Abroad Student, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Before I came to Trinity, I was eager to find out what my “new normal” would be like. How would be my walk to uni? Would I enjoy my classes? What sorts of clubs would I join, and what kind of friends would I make? While everyone’s experience at Trinity will differ (as it should!), here’s an inside look at what a regular day looked like for me.
7:30 AM: Time to hit the snooze button a couple of times until I can get myself out of bed to get ready for the day. I’ve found that Trinity students can be pretty fashion forward, so I’ve enjoyed this time abroad to branch out from my typical way of dressing for class. Since I’m usually in a rush in the morning, my go-to breakfast is porridge, which you can find for super cheap in Dublin! (pro-tip: Lidl has a bag of oats big enough to last you for the term for just €1)
8:20: Leave for class. I live in a student accommodation in the Liberties, so I’ll usually just walk to school (save for when the Irish rain hits), and it takes about 20 minutes. If you walk to school, you’ll notice there are a lot more tourists to dodge as weekenders are visiting the city on Fridays and Mondays.
9:00: First class of the day! One thing I’m grateful for here is that they don’t (as far as I know) have any 8 AM classes, so this is the earliest you will have to get to campus. My first class is an Urban Geography Module titled “Cities, Space, and Culture”. One of my favorite things about my classes here are the new perspectives they encourage me to take on.
11:00: First class of the day, completed! Don’t worry if your schedule seems completely full, class will typically end about 10 minutes early to leave students time to get to their next module. Also for two hour classes, your professor will typically give you a small break in the middle (this was something I was worried about!)
11:15: I will usually spend this time meeting up with friends and getting some other schoolwork done while I wait for my next class. The Arts Block has tons of chairs and tables and is the perfect spot to catch up with friends or do some readings for class.
12:00: Time for my next class! This is a history module called Early Christian Ireland, and I would definitely recommend it if you want to learn more about medieval Ireland. It is a large class in a lecture hall, and has a few discussions throughout the end of the term as well.
1:00: Time for lunch! If I’m treating myself, I’ll buy lunch at The Buttery; Trinity’s very own restaurant on campus. They are known for their budget friendly meals and are definitely worth trying. But with a student budget, I will usually just bring a packed lunch. (Pro Tip: there are microwaves in the Student Union kitchen in House 6 that you can use!)
2:00: After lunch I’ll typically try to be productive for a couple hours. Although I’m a bit hesitant to give this away, my favorite study spot on campus has become the Usher Library. If you head up a few flights, there are tons of desks overlooking College Park through large glass windows, making it the perfect spot for a quiet work environment and to get some natural light.
5:00: Time to hit the gym! All Trinity students have access to the gym, which has everything you would need for your workout, as well as a pool and sauna. The gym also has a rock climbing wall and fitness classes that you can take part in for a small additional fee.
6:00: By this time, I usually start to head home for the day unless something is going on on campus that I want to stick around for. For me, this has included Study Abroad Mixers, going for a drink at the student bar during Pav Fridays, taking part in the Food and Drink Society cocktail making class, seeing my friends performance from the DU Players, attending a Phil Debate, and so much more. There are so many clubs and societies at Trinity, you are bound to find one that you enjoy!
6:20: My walk home is usually my favorite part of the day! I usually try to walk a different way home every so often, just to soak up the Dublin atmosphere and see new bits of the city.
7:00: Time to make dinner! My favorite low-cost (and low effort) student meals include stir fry, cheese on toast (with some onion chutney if you’re feeling extra fancy), spaghetti bolognese, and roasted potatoes with veggies.
8:30: Around this time my friends and I will usually head to a bar or pub! Some of our favorites have included Sophies, No Name Bar, Flannery’s, and Wheelan’s.
10:30: Some nights we will go from the pub to a club night, and I am especially fond of the ones that Trinity Ents puts on. It’s a great way to meet other Trinity students, as well as experience more of the “Uni life” here. Some of my favorite club nights this term have been at Dtwo, Copper Face Jacks, and Dicey’s.
The best thing about coming to study abroad at Trinity is that you get to decide what your experience will be like. So don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet, you won’t regret it.