The Dublin Diaries: Faces New and Old
By Margaret Mary Hicks
These last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, but I am glad to say I have packed some meaningful experiences in the short time I have been in Dublin. I arrived in Dublin on August 24th, and the first few days were very overwhelming.
While I knew it would be challenging moving to a new country, I expected myself to feel completely at home in the beginning, given my previous visits to Ireland and how well they went. That was not the case. With a combination of no sleep, homesickness, culture shock and stress about navigating this big city on my own, I was left with panic and several calls to my very worried family in the middle of the night.
Going through it all, I prayed and relied on God and my wonderful family, at home and right here in Ireland. Talking to my family and friends about how I was feeling helped me to take a step back and remember why I wanted to do this all in the first place.
Chasing this dream was never going to be easy, but with time and a new perspective, I have started to fall in love with Dublin again. I am reassured that choosing Trinity College was the right decision and I am right where God wants me to be.
While those who study abroad may seem like they have the perfect life with their glamorous Instagram feeds and amazing travel stories, I know now that it is not always perfect. Everyone struggles with experiences of their own and what you see, online in particular, may not always show the big picture of someone’s life. Each day gets a little better though, and I am blessed beyond belief to have family right here in Ireland that I can rely on.
In my short time here, I was able to meet with several family members, both from Cleveland and Ireland. Some of my American cousins were on holiday at the same time as I was arriving in Dublin, so I got to spend a couple days with them exploring the city and it reminded me of home, which I was missing very much.
Then, after my orientation activities were over, I took the train with my aunt to Mayo to visit Irish cousins and their new babies. It was a great trip and it went by way too fast, but it was lovely to see them and meet the new little cousins.
While there I also got to see my great uncle and meet many people who knew my grandfather. It was so great to chat with them and it felt like my papa was right there with me through it all. The last time I visited Mayo was about seven years ago with him, so it was tough visiting back and being reminded of the great time we had together on that trip. I have no doubt that the beautiful weather was sent from him and all of his brothers and sister in heaven.
These visits helped me to feel more at home. In the first week it felt as though my life was still in Cleveland, but my body was in Dublin. Now, I get to enjoy my classes, classmates and family right here before me and be surrounded by a vibrant, diverse community in Dublin.
While staying with my great aunt, I am able to do simple tasks for her and I am so happy to have that opportunity. All of my grandparents have passed so being able to spend time with her is something I have learned to cherish and this opportunity to be with her is something I will never take for granted.
My Aunt Nora is truly a marvelous woman and it is an honor to be living with her, spending time with her and even cooking for her. She has a very traditional Irish palate, with Irish roasts, bacon and cabbage and potatoes being her staples. Bit by bit, though I have managed to broaden her diet and get better at cooking.
In my undergraduate at Ohio University, I cobbled things up in the kitchen very quickly with what was available. Now that I am cooking for others, I get to really take time to prepare and think ahead of what I will make each night for dinner. It is refreshing to have so many healthy options at my fingertips and it is so nice to have so many supermarkets right near where we live. So far, I have cooked lots of pasta and I made burgers the other night, which she enjoyed.
It is exciting to think that I have a purpose other than to study and although Aunt Nora is perfectly capable of handling her own dinners, it is something I will enjoy doing for her whenever I can.
In addition to spending lots (if not most) of my time with family since I have arrived, I also managed to figure out transportation in Dublin and make new friends at Trinity. For now, I am sticking with the buses as it is pretty reliable despite some traffic-heavy periods during the day.
This Saturday, I will be watching the Kerry vs. Dublin match and cheering on Kerry from a Dublin pub. It will be a great game and I am excited to wear my vintage Kerry jersey despite the guff I might get from the Dubs. Up Kerry!
My first column got more attention than I expected, so I hope you all enjoy reading and thank you again for following along. If you have any suggestions for traveling in Ireland and throughout Europe, give me a shout at [email protected]. I’m open to all suggestions and any advice you may have for making my experience better or even making your experience as the reader more beneficial.