During the middle of the semester, we had an entire week off for fall break.  After spending hours researching flights, trains, and places to stay, I had finally decided on spending my first weekend in Dublin.  Despite my Irish heritage, I had never been to Ireland before.  I had seen pictures of the endless green landscapes and pubs, but the best image that I could conjure was from the scenes in the movie P.S. I Love You. After a week of class that seemed to last forever, I finally left Aix-en-Provence on a Thursday night to explore the homeland.

My first flight was from Marseille to London, where I then had a six hour layover in the middle of the night.  I struggled to find a comfortable way to sleep on my suitcase in the airport, but it was hopeless.  Around 6am, I sluggishly boarded the airplane from London to Dublin and promptly fell asleep before takeoff.  About an hour later, I awoke to the sound of people rummaging through the overhead bins to get their suitcases. Somehow I’d managed to sleep through landing, too.  Finally, though, I was in Ireland.

As soon as I stepped off the airplane, I saw that it was pouring outside.  Typically I’d complain and wish for sunshine, but as I walked through the terminal, an enormous grin crept onto my face.  It was just so stereotypically Irish – I couldn’t help but laugh.  I managed to find my way to a bus that would take me to my hostel where I dropped off my bags, grabbed a map and an umbrella, and began my day.  Although two of my friends from BC were meeting me in Dublin, they wouldn’t arrive for another 10 hours or so.  For the first time in my life, perhaps, I was thrilled to be walking around the city alone. 

My first task was to find coffee and WiFi so I could text my family and assure them that I had arrived safely. In Aix, you can probably stumble across a café in less than 5 minutes regardless of where in the city you are. In Dublin, it was considerably harder.  I walked for fifteen minutes or so before I found a little café.  As I looked at the menu, I began to formulate my order in French. I was prepared to say bonjour and ask for a café et croissant, but I had to stop myself.  I never imagined that it would feel unnatural to speak English in public. Of course, they also didn’t have croissants or pain au chocolat in the café.  I settled on a breakfast sandwich that consisted of ham, bacon, sausage, and a fried egg on wheat toast.  I hadn’t eaten this much meat in one meal for months.  Clearly, I wasn’t in France anymore.

After breakfast, I began to wander through town feeling rejuvenated.  At one point, a woman approached me as I looked at my city map and asked if I needed help.  This sort of kindness caught me off-guard – I love the French people and many of them are wonderful and generous, but it isn’t exactly part of their culture to stop on the street and talk to strangers.  This Irish woman pointed me in the direction of Oscar Wilde’s house. Later, I walked through St. Stephen’s green – possibly the most beautiful park I’ve ever walked through – and found a statue of James Joyce.  As an English major, I was in my glory.  I suddenly wished I had a copy of Joyce’s Dubliners that I could read to really complete the experience. 

In the afternoon, I walked through the National Gallery to see various paintings and then saw the Natural History Museum where there were skeletons, fossils, and stuffed animals everywhere. This was cool at first as I saw butterflies and little stuffed birds, but then I went upstairs to a room full of wolves, cougars, and tigers.  I found myself feeling genuinely terrified as I felt the glass eyes of these huge animals staring me down.  In less than two minutes, I ran back out and went to find lunch.  While walking down one street, I noticed a building covered in red leaves and ivy. It was old and stunning, so I moved closer to take a picture. As I approached, I noticed two flags hanging outside – an American one and a Boston College one.  Without even knowing it, I had stumbled upon the building for the BC program in Dublin. I was overjoyed – here I was, in this amazing city, but also, sort of, at the college that I loved.

That night, my friends finally arrived.  We bundled up and got dinner in a typical Irish pub. The waiter was friendly and funny in an overwhelmingly sarcastic way – must be an Irish thing. Towards the end of dinner, a man came in and started playing his guitar and singing Irish folk music. Though I couldn’t always understand what he was singing with his thick accent, I could not have been happier. Everything about my experience had been so beautifully rich and authentic.

For the rest of the weekend, my friends and I did the typical touristy things. We saw Dublin Castle, walked through a grassy labyrinth, toured the old Jameson Whiskey distillery, did a bit of shopping, walked through Trinity College, and took countless pictures throughout the city. Maybe it’s simply because I’m Irish, but I felt a connection to Dublin that made me want to stay there forever.  If I hadn’t wanted to learn French, I think I would’ve likely spent my fall semester in Ireland instead.  Of course, I’m happy with my decision and I’m in love with France, but my weekend in Dublin and the incredible impact it had on me made me wonder if I could study there at some point, too. Regardless, I know that I’ll be back to the homeland someday soon.

12/6/2012 04:27:32 am

Your breakfast sandwich sounds like heaven


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