Surviving Your First Week in Dublin

Maegan Lovell is a student at Washington State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Dublin, Ireland.

 Side streets we discovered while getting lost in Dublin.
Side streets we discovered while getting lost in Dublin.

I am not, by any means, a travel guru. Traveling is a life-giving experience for me and I am happiest when adventuring; but there aren’t enough guide books in the world that would have prepared me for moving 5,000 miles away from home.

I landed in Dublin, Ireland almost a month ago. It has been a whirlwind of adventure, making new friends, learning how to navigate an entirely new city and beginning to understand its culture. This short guide may not be entirely Dublin specific and I don’t pretend to be a Dublin expert (yet), but I’ve developed a guide that may help you to take advantage of a city in which I’ve quickly found my home.

Make friends with everyone.

Studying or living abroad can prove to be very stressful at first. The first two weeks may feel lonely if you don’t find some people to help you along the way. At first, I felt a bit silly shaking the hands of perfect strangers and adding them on Facebook, but sometimes you can’t afford to not be extroverted! Especially on campus, students are just as keen for new friendships as you. Locals are also great to get to know; they’ll know the ins and outs of Dublin – Bonus: Many Irish students are very proud of their mother’s cooking and may even invite you over for Sunday roast if you’re lucky.

Put your phone down.

Seriously, this is crucial to your enjoyment of the first couple of weeks abroad. Experiencing new things in real time and with your own two eyeballs is what makes living abroad so electrifying. Dublin is a city rich with culture and history, so if you’re staring at a screen you will miss it.

Get a Leap Card and ride the bus.

Dublin has excellent transportation within the city. I bought a student leap card, as I’m studying at University College Dublin and it makes each bus ride less expensive than standard fares. Download the Dublin Bus app and behold all of the routes and adventures at your fingertips!

Don’t be afraid to be a tourist.

For whatever reason, I thought I could slip under the radar as a local. This dream is squashed every time someone asks me a question and I answer in an American accent. I’ve learned not to be ashamed that I’m a little lost and a lot enthralled with my surroundings – playing tourist in my new home has been one of the best parts.

Get lost in the City.

The best way to orient yourself in a new place is to get lost. Try to navigate without a phone, get lost looking for a killer coffee shop, and find your new favorite place to study or merely get your bearings for Dublin by wandering the cobblestone streets. Once you figure out the difference between the north and south side of the River Liffey, you’ll feel like a true Dubliner.

The world awaits…discover it.

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