Ariane has come to Trinity from Aberdeen for an exchange semester, she is originally from Germany.
Dublin is windy. I learned this when I was bouncing at 20,000-15,000 feet for a little over an hour (yes, in a plane). As soon as we landed, everybody took out their mobile phones and immediately called their loved ones. I called my dad. “I have landed.” I told him, “I proudly announce that I have just started my exchange semester in Dublin!”
Trinity’s architecture conjured up figures like Queen Elizabeth the first and Harry Potter in my mind. It sounded like a new adventure. While I couldn’t realise my childhood dream of feeling like Hermione when studying in the library (I thought the Long Room was a study area!), I could do a lot more things than I would ever have dreamed about.
My second encounter with the wind happened on the day I had to hand my essay in to the politics department, which is in the lucky position of being situated between Starbucks and Costa. I proudly printed off my essay (with the credit I had just successfully added online, thanks to the Datapac help desk in the library) and started my trip to my lecturer’s office, when it suddenly started to rain. In a nutshell: I had to print off my essay again (it got wet, it fell in a puddle and eventually, I had to let it go with the wind). From that day on, an umbrella got a special place in my handbag, just next to my extra jumper and leap card.
Getting a leap card is like getting Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, except the stunningly beautiful Irish landscape beats every chocolate river and candy flower. Where I’m from, it takes me ten hours to reach the sea. Here, I could reach the seaside within a few minutes.
One thing that took me a few minutes to understand was the Irish accent. Oh, you didn’t ask me if I could take the garbage outside, but you said it is gorgeous that the sun does shine? Grant! Oh, you didn’t want a carrot cake but a carrier bag? These misunderstandings are the stories you will tell your grandchildren one day. One thing you learn when you live abroad is to laugh about yourself.
Here is the thing about going on an exchange semester – we may be a little selfish in our motivations. “Exchange Semester at Trinity College” definitely makes every employer have his eyes on sticks. Your friends’ plan to visit you before you even set foot on Irish ground suddenly makes you the coolest person alive. You’re the number one conversation topic at your grandmother’s tea time table. “Oh she is going to Iceland, isn’t she?” (not really, but close). Still, that doesn’t stop your pride from putting a huge smile on your face.
The truth is – going abroad is the least selfish thing you can do and could be the most honourable decision you have ever taken. Let me warn you – you will not be the same when you come back. You will sit at the dinner table telling your younger brother that it is okay to eat close to midnight and ignore the 6-sharp-German-dinner time, because after all, that is what people in Spain do. You will tell your sister that you know someone in Hong Kong who could help her with her Chinese homework. You will urge your mother to take her own bags to go shopping and please not buy the cheapest peanut butter because it contains palm oil which is the main reason for the extinction of the rain forest. You’ll tell your dad that it is fine, you can change the light bulb on your own and yes, you can fix your bike as well!
My semester abroad will not stop once this term ends. All the memories, the friendships and the experiences I made will last for a lifetime. Yes, it has had its up and downs, but I was warned at the very beginning – Dublin is windy. And if it hadn’t been for the wind, I would never have been so appreciative to land safely on Irish ground!