My First Week(ish)

Is it Friday yet?  It feels like a super long week, but it’s only going to get busier!  These past few days have been crammed with all sorts of different events and chores, so I apologize in advance in case this post gets a little long; there is so much to tell!  This week I have been participating in Trinity’s Smart Start program, which is a program for international students (aka Americans) to learn about the history of Ireland/Dublin and learn some of its culture.  There have been some very interesting lectures, such as the history of Trinity college and the Book of Kells.  We even took a field trip to EPIC Ireland, a new museum about Irish emigration and genealogy.  

This program was not only meant to educate us about the new country they will be living in, but also to help us meet new people and get to know a friendly face before classes begin.  Even though this program doesn’t include Irish students, as it is only for international ones, I still have met many people who have different backgrounds and experiences than I do.  My friend group consists of three girls, from Utah, Wisconsin/Germany, and Singapore.  We have different experiences but love to bond over the fact that the Irish culture is different for all of us.  My friend from Singapore is already familiar with the Irish slang words and the fact that they drive on the left side of the road, since it is about the same in her country, but there are other Irish habits that we all have to get used to.  Everything here seems to happen… let’s say a bit slower than we are used to things normally happening.  Communication is not that strong, so trying to fix any problems becomes a much bigger deal than it probably could have been.  

In particular, I have been having problems with my course registration so I can get my student ID card.  I was supposed to be able to register about a month ago, but for some reason was never able to access the option in my online portal like every other student.  I need this student ID so I can open a bank account, get a student bus card, register with the INIS so I don’t get kicked out of the country, change my phone plan to a student one, access the wifi, and so much more.  However, I should be able to do this “in due time.”  Hopefully that is soon.  

Nevertheless, it hasn’t always been this frustrating dealing with the academic side of events here.  Many of the professors have been very helpful in trying to get me closer to registration.  The Irish love and are generally very willing to help.  It just takes a bit more time and effort than usual.  One thing I have noticed about asking for directions is that they won’t simply tell you how to get somewhere but will physically take you until you get to your destination.  One time I couldn’t find a certain building on campus (Áras an Phiarsaigh, aka the IT building), and the guy who gave me directions also made me pronounce the name of the building several times before I left so that I could become more familiar with the Irish names.

My parents left early Tuesday morning, so I’ve been learning to live on my own for the first few days.  I’m not completely alone; my friends and I go out to eat or supplies shopping every now and then, but now living by myself there are several things that I have learned take up a lot more time than one would think.  This pretty much just includes grocery shopping, and here it is hard to do just one trip because there are so many different stores and not every store sells the same things.  It’s also hard to tell which store sells certain products, or which store is better for certain items.  I wrote a computer program over the summer that helps keep track of my spending and budget, so at least I can start to see trends in my spending and hopefully get into a routine that will make grocery shopping easier and faster.  Oh, and FYI, the self checkouts are reversed here; make sure you put your bag on the left, scan to the right, and place the item on the scale to your right so the machine senses it and doesn’t ask you repeatedly to bag your item until a kind-hearted Irish lady shows you how to do it.  Twice.  (And not on the same day).

Groceries aren’t the only thing I have needed to buy.  Since lectures ended early today, I went to go buy school supplies, since I didn’t bring any with me.  And yet again, I was met with more culture differences.  You’d think a notebook or a binder would be universal.  You would be wrong.  Here, there are no three ring binders, only two or four rings (same with their hole punched paper).  Folders are basically just bound page protectors, composition books don’t exist, the paper is about two inches longer, and everything is wide-ruled.  Nevertheless, I did manage to find some college-ruled paper (which here they call narrow-ruled).  I still have yet to find narrow-ruled spiral notebooks, but this is just another difference that I’ll have to keep in mind as the school year starts up.

Having started moving into my dorm last weekend, I’m finally getting adjusted to living in my new space.  My roommates don’t show up until Friday, so it has been pretty quiet here living on my own.  For some reason I ended up with a handicapped room.  I thought it would be annoying at first, since the furniture is a bit lower (built for a wheelchair) and the shower/toilet are adjusted for easy wheelchair access, but now that I’ve settled in I’ve found it to be just fine.  We were allowed to move the furniture around since the handicapped room design blocked some of the storage, and thank goodness I convinced my dad to let me bring a small tool kit (graduation gift) with me, because all of the furniture was bolted to the ground and needed to be unscrewed.  I knew that tool kit would come in handy.  🙂

The kitchen has been nice to use as well.  I think I have pretty much everything I need, but I didn’t have silverware until I went out and bought some yesterday.  A couple nights ago I bought a takeout salad that came with a very small, sad, bendable, plastic fork.  That fork was saved to be used as a fork, knife, and spoon long past its time.  Poor fork, it went in the recycling this morning after I washed my new silverware.  This morning the JCR (equivalent to an RA) left a bag with a couple plastic cups and a bottle opener on the kitchen table along with this weekend’s accommodation orientation schedule.  How more Irish can that be?

Well, there is so much more to say, but this post has gotten pretty long, and frankly I am getting tired of writing.  It’s getting late over here, so I’ll probably go raid my poor empty fridge and chill in my room the rest of the evening.  Got a big field trip to Glendalough  tomorrow (about an hour south of Dublin).  Have a good evening everyone, Slán!

P.S.  If anyone needs to get in contact with me, here is my updated information:

phone: +353 (87) 194 6020     (must use the app WhatsApp to not be charged internationally)

address:   Maddie Comtois, 85.12.1, Trinity Hall, Dartry Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6, Dublin, Ireland   (every comma starts a new line except for “Dublin, Ireland”; yes, it is unfortunately a seven-line long address)



7 thoughts on “My First Week(ish)

  1. Ok, so your mom is the first to comment. What else would you expect? 🙂 So proud of you for stepping up to take care of all we couldn’t while we were there, including buying a fork! You’ve had lots of practice adulting by now, so I know you’ll be fine. Hopefully you’ll get registered soon and start receiving those student discounts, since “topping up” can get expensive. 🙂 Have a great weekend! I can’t wait to hear all about Fresher’s Week next week! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HI Dear Maddie:):)
    I love reading your blog. Living vicariously through you while sitting in a classroom of kids very “unlike” you makes my day:). I’m still working on getting the phone app to work correctly with your number. It’s a bit different with an android.
    Hope you enjoyed your field trip. Can’t wait to read about it.
    Much love,
    Aunt Laura 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Makes my day to read your posts, Maddie! Takes me back to my move to London in the fall of 1970, and beginning classes at the Literary Institute of London and working at the Reader’s Digest magazine. So many adjustments to a new culture! I know you will master these changes and adjust beautifully!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoy my posts! Yes, I’m sure we have had similar experiences getting used to the culture of the British Isles. Even though it can be confusing sometimes, it’s exciting and I love learning new things about the Irish. Thanks for your confidence!


      • Love your attitude! That’s exactly how I felt…. curious, inspired, charmed, excited. I don’t recall ever feeling frustrated with the challenges. It was an adventure. I’m sure you will learn to navigate rapidly (although their pace is comparatively slower!). Exhilarating!! Take care of yourself and get adequate rest. You will need it!


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