University of Wisconsin–Madison

Dublin

Within minutes of arriving Dublin I was reminded of why I should never travel alone. I had taken the bus by myself and planned to meet my friends when their train arrived about an hour later. I thought I knew exactly where to go, but the bus dropped me off in a different location than the website had listed, so I immediately got lost. I quickly learned just how little I knew about Dublin: I had no idea what landmarks to look for, where famous buildings were located, or even the name of a popular street. Needless to say, I spent a very long time wandering around, trying to act like I knew what I was doing.

Luckily I was saved by a tourist center. When I went in to ask for directions a slightly annoyed gentleman gave me a map and pointed me in the opposite direction. Eventually I found my way to the Globetrotter Hostel and it was exactly what I expected: industrial bunk beds, starched sheets, dingy lighting and a moldy bathroom. It all felt completely right. Soon my roommates and friends joined me, and we headed back out into Dublin to explore.

We embarked on a self-guided tour of Dublin that squeezed as many famous sites as possible into one afternoon. The first few stops were the multiple free museums with a wide variety of subjects. We wandered through exhibits on famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats, on Ireland’s role in the First World War, and on mummified bodies that were found in the Irish bogs. All of the information was extremely overwhelming but also gratifying for a temporary resident of Ireland – it makes the issues feel more relevant and personal when you actually live in the country.

Since it was a beautiful day, which can be somewhat rare in Ireland, we moved back outside to view the statues and historical buildings on the Trinity College campus. I thought this was especially cool to see because my Irish Literature class examines a few different writers and poets who either studied or taught at Trinity College. Some of them even have statues immortalizing their contributions to the English language.

My favorite part of Dublin definitely had to be St. Stephen’s Green, a massive public park in the center of the city. We spent a long time walking down intricate paths and watching swans on the lakes. If I ever live in Dublin I will visit that park every day, rain or shine. We ended our tour at the Dublin Castle. It was a short stop because we could not see much more than the courtyard without paying for a tour, but we managed to snap some photos, admire some architecture and peer into scratchy windows before heading back to the hostel.

This first visit felt like a small taste of Dublin; I can’t wait to return because then I might actually know my way around the city. Getting lost is part of the fun of exploring a new city, but figuring out your way around is part of feeling at home there.

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