Elli is one of our international students from the US. She is studying PPES at Trinity. Here she tells us about 10 things that took her by surprise living in Dublin.
- The Weather
When I first came to Ireland from sunny California I knew I would be in for a shock, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there are plenty of sunny days here too. The weather here is actually never uncomfortable. At its hottest it is extremely pleasant and even at its coldest it is rarely freezing and almost never snows enough to stick. The weather is sporadic, but forgiving and certainly hasn’t been a bad surprise.
- The International Community
As the only person in my high school to be going abroad I was unsure how many people like me I’d meet, but what I found when I arrived was that I was not alone at all. Trinity is around 20% international, with students from all over the world. I realised making this big decision to move 5,000 miles from home was not so crazy after all. If all the other international students could do it, so could I. I found there is power in numbers, or at least a great support network of other students going through exactly the same things as you and who are always happy to listen.
- The Travel
One of the biggest attractions of moving to Ireland for me was its proximity to the rest of Europe. Ireland alone has amazing castles and historical sites, beautiful cities, stunning beaches and of course gorgeous green landscapes, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find that traveling to the rest of Europe is incredibly cheap and easy. I’ve already travelled all across France, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Spain, The Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, The UK, Hungary and of course Ireland. Traveling around Europe is so easy and a major plus of living here.
- The Food
Generally the UK and Ireland are not really well known for their food. Things like blood sausage just don’t sound that delicious, however I found Dublin to have a vibrant and diverse restaurant scene with plenty of great options, even for sushi or Mexican food. Not to mention all the amazing local Irish foods like salmon, butter, beef and of course potatoes.
- The Drinks
I was surprised to find that, despite the reputation for loving the odd pub beverage, there’s another drink that the Irish have a much more intense and addictive relationship with: tea. Before coming to Dublin I never drank tea, but since moving here it’s been difficult getting away with having less than three cups a day. Every social interaction revolves around having a cup of tea whether you’re meeting friends between classes or going to someone’s house there will always be tea involved.
- The Language
I came to Ireland with the confidence that everyone would speak English, which is for the most part the case, but I found that many words in Irish English are quite different from American English. Sayings like “what’s the craic?” (which means “what’s up?”), or words like “grand” (which means just ok instead of great) and “press” (aka cabinet) baffled me. Sentences start with ‘sure look’ and end with ‘like’. While these small differences are confusing, most of the time they’re just funny. It feels like a great accomplishment every time I remember to say courgette instead of Zucchini and shop instead of groceries.
- The Names
In California I knew a lot of Amandas, Britneys, Matts, and Joshs. In Ireland I know a lot of Eoins (O-wen) and Aoifes (ee-fa) and Caoimhes (kwee-va or kee-va) and Niamhs (neev or nee-iv). Many people have names that are utterly unpronounceable, unless of course you’re familiar with the Irish language. This was quite difficult at first, but once you hear them enough and learn not to try and sound them out, saying Sadhbh (sive, sigh-v) or Oisín (uh-sheen or o-sheen) becomes second nature!
- The Roads
Back in California, I drove basically everywhere and certainly took advantage of the fact that roads generally had two lanes and visible signs. In Ireland things are very different. Roads are narrow and often one-way and a single road may change its name 4 or 5 times within a kilometre. The good news is you never have to drive here. Walking and public transportation is much safer and easier than in the US, so getting around is simple. Dublin has an extensive bus network and a tram called the Luas, which is currently being extended to connect the whole city. Personally, I cycle to college every day and despite it being slightly terrifying at times I never miss driving.
- The Academia
College in Ireland is very different than in the States. You chose your major when applying to the school and only take classes related to it, so no GenEd (General Education Program) requirements like in the US. They also grade with 1st as the highest then 2.1, 2.2, and 3.
- The Excitement
I remember getting a tour of Trinity and seeing all the beautiful buildings in front square and feeling the amazement of standing there on the 400 year old cobble stones in this sanctuary in the heart of Dublin. I wondered if I came there every day as a student would I ever get used to how stunning and remarkable it is. So far, I have been happily surprised that every day walking around Trinity I still feel that same awe and excitement I did on that tour three years ago. Every day I’m reminded when I walk through the front gate that I’m in the right place.