By Pippa Herden
Welcome one, welcome all!! We will be trekking around Dublin and other parts of Ireland through a short and hopefully sweet series of blogs about living, studying and travelling around this magical country.
Let’s begin in the gorgeous capital, Dublin. For some she may appear to be an unorganised and industrial city, yet step onto the cobblestone streets with open ears, open eyes and an open mind and you’ll see that she holds a character like no other. Her grunge and rough facades have come from the hardship and sacrifice of her history and people, yet try not to label it as chaos, for there is a beauty in the cracked concrete and stain-glassed windows. With this, beyond the tourist mirages and Carroll’s gift shops, living in Dublin reveals another set of quirks to the city.
Dublin is a captivating city. Regardless of the 2 hours of sunlight that happen some days and the frequent dribbles of rain, you get your warmth from the numerous cups of tea that people offer you and the melting central heating everywhere. Even better is that you can walk pretty much everywhere. I am living near the historic area called The Liberties, which is about a 20 minute walk to Trinity College and Grafton Street. It is a great place to live yet with most major cities caution and vigilance is needed. Nevertheless, it is a patchwork quilt of people, monuments and a strong fervour for history.
As much as I’d love to just wander around for 6 months as a tourist, actually ‘setting up shop’ or settling in to Dublin can be a little bit difficult if you don’t know where to look. Moving from a catered college in Sydney, Australia, to a self-catered and alot more independent environment has been a big adjustment. My first night here was an experience to say the least. I had arrived late on a Monday afternoon and had thought that I would have enough time for the first night to run around to stores along Thomas Street and grab essentials like a doona (duvet), pillow, sheets and a towel. After almost 26 hours in flight and transiting, a shower and a good sleep is really all I was after. Due to my shock these homewares and knickknack shops were closed by around 5:30pm. Long story short, all I could find was an hand towel and a pillow. Drying myself and my hair with an hand towel wasn’t a pleasant experience but thank goodness for thermal clothing. I was so tired it didn’t bother me that I was wearing a thermal shirt, sweater, hoodie and coat, plus a pair of tights and tracksuit pants matched with thermal socks on both my hands and feet. My blanket was an oversized scarf. I think I was so cold partly from not being able to figure out the heater and also coming from 40-45 degree celsius days in Australia. I can appreciate the sun alot more whilst being here. Anyways, there is no use complaining about the weather when we can’t change it, let’s keep going!!
Now coming up next I’d like to make a few observations about my initial response to some of the small things about living in Dublin.
There is a major difference in the supermarkets compared to Australia, here is what I have noticed so far;
- They are A LOT smaller than home, yet this doesn’t seem to make a major impact on cooking as Lidl and Tesco have become my life. I think I have been almost every second day since I’ve been here. Although there is not much of a range, they always to seem just what you need.
- You have to bring or buy your own bags which at first seems annoying is a lot better than having a bunch of plastic bags left over. Yet you have to bag everything yourself, no matter how busy the place is.
This next section is more about miscellaneous things that I’ve noticed;
- Almost all stores, except for H & M and Zara are not the same as Australia which makes it sometimes difficult but mostly exciting to try and navigate around and figure out what’s best for what. Fun tip, Penney’s will become your go to shop for clothes, shoes, homewares and weird gifts.
- For school books, Hodges and Figgis is great, partly because it sounds like a bookstore that should be in Harry Potter. Yet for leisurely reading, quirky interests or my fellow bookstore browsers who find comfort in books, CHAPTERS is your humble abode!! It is a massive bookshop on Parnell Street on the North Side of the River where you can spend hours tickling the pages and smelling the second hand pages.
- Dublin is very much a student city, so get that student card as quickly as possible and there will be many coins saved from student food, venue and events discounts on offer both at the University and throughout the city.
Now, I know I could have presented a blog that seems meticulously planned and rational but I suppose my sporadic observations match the incredibly haphazard beginnings to Dublin and Ireland that we all experience. These experiences will never be tightly organised into a plan or calendar but happen through an open mind, wandering with maybe a sprinkle of risk-taking and accepting challenges that present themselves.
And on that note, I shall leave you with this;
If you ever get lost, just follow the River Liffey, it is like a natural compass.
Visit www.tcd.ie/study for more information on studying at Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin