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.
I am writing this second blog while treating myself to a hot chocolate at a café across the river from Ireland’s immigration office. Today is the day I will (hopefully) officially be able to call Dublin my home away from home! Despite not having the official paperwork, yet, Dublin has certainty begun to feel like home as I have gotten into a rhythm of classes, sport practices, chilling at Binary Hub, and wandering around town with friends.
Words and Photos by Michaela Vitagliano, Visiting Student Blogger
Like many of you, I’m not someone that delights in change and its accompanying uncertainty. But naturally, deciding to study abroad for a year is a decision that is greeted with unknowns and uncertainties. After almost a full year here, I can definitely say most of my worries – Will I like Ireland, will I make friends, will I find things to do here that I enjoy – were for naught.
The Campanile of Trinity College is one of the most iconic landmarks on campus.
As a freshmen engineering student, I was told that it would be very difficult for me to spend a semester abroad, especially after I decided to pursue a double major in computer engineering and computer science. I’ll admit, after I saw all the courses I would be required to take to graduate, I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to go abroad and still graduate on time. Luckily, during the fall of my sophomore year, I had an amazing professor who told me all about his time doing internships and getting his degrees in Paris and Beijing, and it gave me the jolt I needed to start planning a semester abroad for myself. Here’s what I learned while I was preparing for my semester at Trinity:
One of the best ways to both integrate and make friends at Trinity is through societies. At the beginning of the year, Front Square was teeming with colourful stands, goodie bags, and joyous voices as each society tried to reel in a dazed looking student. Naturally I joined way more than I should have; emptying out my change purse in a flat twenty minutes. Each society handed me a card, all with different student discounts ranging from burritos at student prices to free entries at clubs.