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.