Greetings from the Emerald Isle

Finally adjusting to Dublin time and getting used to the city!  It has been a crazy past couple of days since we landed at Dublin airport.  (At least I think it’s been a couple of days, I honestly have no sense of time at the moment.)  And we’ve been super busy getting things ready for school and my dorm.  I’ve been to more grocery stores in the past two days than I have been in the past month!  It’s hard to buy things that you need when all of the stores and brands are different than the ones back home.  (Grocery stores don’t refrigerate their eggs like they do back home… strange to see.)  We’re having to figure out what the equivalents of Target, Walmart, and other stores are so I can find some basic home needs.  Fortunately, IKEA is a very popular choice here, so we spent quite a while there getting dorm room stuff and kitchen equipment (and Swedish meatballs, of course).  There are so many random things that I am going to need that I never really thought of before: a spatula, tupperware, cleaning stuff, mostly cooking things that I wouldn’t need if I didn’t have a kitchen.  It’s hard to start from ground 0, since all I brought was pretty much just clothes, and I need stuff for apartment-style living.  However, I’m excited to get everything set up in the next couple days.

Even though Ireland is an English speaking country, there are so many new culture differences I have observed that are different from the USA.  Dublin is a pretty young, lively city, so the streets are always brimming with people, many of them students.  The city is also very international; almost every third person I pass on the street is speaking either French or German, and there are also many languages I hear that I can’t identify.  I’ve heard a couple people speak Irish, but it definitely isn’t the most popular language here, even though the city is obviously trying to make it so.  Almost every sign is written in Irish first, then English, and the bus always announces the stops in Irish as well as English.  Irish looks like a difficult language to learn, (the pronunciation of words is almost impossible and seems to follow, like, no rules) but I hope to continue what I started learning over the summer and maybe become a little more familiar with the language written all around me.  

Other than the Irish language, there is also Irish-English lingo that I’ve had to get used to.  Shopping carts are called trolleys, strollers are prams, lines are queues, the toilet is the jack, trash bags are bins liners, chips are crisps, fries are chips, and there are so many more.  Instead of saying “Thanks a lot” or “Thank you so much” the popular phrase is “Thanks a million!”  There is also the idea of “topping up,” which is basically when you put more money on a card, pay your monthly phone bill, or even fill up a coffee cup.  (“waiter: Can I top that up for you?” or “I need to top up my phone”)  

Language isn’t the only difference between the Irish and what I’m used to back home.  Here they drive on the left side of the road, which isn’t such a big deal since I won’t be driving, but sometimes I forget to look to the right before crossing the street instead of the left, since cars come from the opposite direction than they do in the U.S.  Fortunately at major intersections and most streets in the popular areas of Dublin it is painted on the pavement in which direction to look before crossing the street.  There have also been many times when I would look at a car and see a young child in the passenger seat and think they were the one driving, forgetting that the wheel is on the other side.  People on the street also tend to walk on the left side of the sidewalk too.  

Even though I’ve been pretty busy, my time here so far in Dublin hasn’t been just shopping trips.  We got to explore the Temple Bar area last night, where they had live music playing in the streets and lots of people out and about.  We had a traditional Irish dinner of Guinness stew and potatoes (much needed after being awake for 36 hours), and I understand why most of the food here is warm and heavy, because it is always cold and rainy!  It has poured on us a couple times, and the breeze is enough to make you shiver.  Warm clothes are definitely a must, but I love this weather and am really looking forward to it.  I have also found that hot chocolate works like magic.

Tomorrow starts my first day of the Trinity Smart Start program, a week-long program for international students that teaches the history of and how to adjust to living in Ireland and attending Trinity.  Can’t wait to finally meet some students and get this semester started!  Until later!

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2 thoughts on “Greetings from the Emerald Isle

  1. Love your blog, Maddie! What is “Irish language?”. I thought Gaelic was only spoken in Wales where the signs on the streets were impossible to read! The Irish language (I thought) was just a very different accented version of the “Queen’s English.” ?? I recently discovered that Dublin was founded by Vikings.


    • Hi Ms. Elaine! In this part of the world there are two kinds of Gaelic spoken: Irish and Scottish. Here in Ireland, Irish Gaelic is spoken, but the language term is usually just shortened to just “Irish.” For example, to say hello in Irish, you would say “Dia dhuit,” and the word(s) for Dublin are “baile átha Cliath.” I think in Wales they speak Welsh, and I’ve seen pictures of those impossible sings! There might be variants of Gaelic spoken in Wales, but I’m not completely sure about that. Hopefully I will learn more about it during my time here! 🙂


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