Tips for immersing yourself – Authentic Dublin
by Jeff Zeleny
When I came to Dublin on my study abroad program, I looked forward to the Guinness tour. I was excited for the Cliffs of Moher, the political taxi tour, and even the Giant’s Causeway. Although Grafton Street shopping can have us window shopping for hours, the authentic Dublin experience lies deeper than these tourist attractions. As we have all heard before, progress comes by stepping out of your comfort zone. These few tips can help you turn your semester or journey abroad into an Authentic Dublin trip that you will not want to leave.
Go to the pub – By Yourself
Many times we can be stuck to our friend groups that are close to us. During our semester abroad we will go out with these guys and experience the pub culture. Not saying that going out with your friends is bad, but it will be tough to have a genuine conversation with a local. My first Day in Dublin, although I was jet lagged, I went out to get my first pint of Guinness. Not having any sense of where I am, 4 hours after I get off the plane, I found myself in Peadar Kearney’s on Dame Street. It was about noon time and I sat down at the bar and ordered a Guinness. Some older gentlemen turned to me and asked if I had class today. We started talking and he told me just about everything I need to do in Dublin. He told me about the obvious hop-on hop-off bus tours, as well as the areas not to go at night. He showed me what slagging was as he made fun of the ridiculous election happening in the states. Within my first day I already was talking with locals and finding out more about the city. It took a little bit of the adventure gene in me, but I was able to get the authentic Dublin experience. Although my mom told me to always have a buddy, it’s nice to get out and meet some locals.
Go to a match – Experience the Culture
When I heard of Gaelic games, I did not have any clue what they were about. I had to watch YouTube videos to understand how it is played. In September, there are the all-Ireland finals that take place at Croke Park in Dublin. Although getting tickets is near impossible, the area around the pitch is booming with fans. If you are not in Dublin during the months of September, check out some of the local clubs playing at Parnell Park. Meet some of the members of the club, and who knows, maybe you’ll be interested in playing for a team. These are the native sports of Ireland, and this is one of the best ways to immerse yourself culturally. Understanding the history and timeline that the Gaelic Athletic Association underwent, is just another part of being a member. If you have the opportunity, take advantage. Join the community behind these authentic Dublin clubs and go see a match or two.
Join a Club – Any Club
We all have our certain interests in life. Whether it be ping pong or astronomy club, you can find one that fits you in Dublin. UCD, NCAD, and NCID all offer various clubs that promote students to just get out and have a good bit of craic. One night there was a collaboration between Champlain College and NCAD. It was a pizza party that introduced us to the NCAD campus which was just a short walk from our apartments. Not many kids showed out for the party, much less stayed after the pizza was gone. A buddy and I were roaming around the college talking to students when one of them suggested making some paper at the end of the hall. We strolled through the hall and came up on the paper making society. Having no clue that we didn’t go to the school, we participated and learned how to make paper using cotton pulp. Just about every week since then, we have gone to the society and have made some great friends from it. Although it was a bit awkward when they found out we do not attend class there, they still accepted us. Meeting other students and getting immersed in a club gave me the authentic Dublin vibes.
As much as I love to be a tourist, I like to become a local as well. Knowing my way around the city, as well as knowing the people in it. Authentic Dublin has been wonderful because I have not been afraid to immerse myself. Some students who go to class and back to the apartment are not getting the full authentic Dublin experience. Talking to the cashier at Lidl does not count as immersing yourself. Break out of your comfort zone, and go make the most of your time abroad. Many students don’t get this opportunity, so it’s up to you to make the most of it.