One Month Down

I’ve been living in Ireland for one month now. I meant to update my blog a bit more, but the first few weeks were a whirlwind of sightseeing and apartment hunting that left little down-time for reflection, let alone writing blog posts. Today I’m just going to write an update of what I’ve generally been up to, and the next few blog posts I have planned go into more detail about certain aspects like finding housing and employment.

As I mentioned in my last post, moving to another county involves a lot of packing. My last week in Gainesville was spent packing up my childhood home, apartment, and my friends’ Aly and Trace’s house. I also went up to Atlanta for a couple of days to visit my friend Matt. We went to Six Flags. I dropped his sandwich. It was an exciting trip. So my last week at home was sort of just a rush of packing and traveling, and I wish I’d had a bit more free time to soak in my last few days of Gainesville. On my last morning at home my parents and I went on campus at UF to have one last look around and take some family photos in front of The Swamp. After my last lunch at Chick-fil-a we headed off to the Orlando airport. Saying goodbye to my parents was emotional and more difficult than I anticipated.

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Kennedy family photo before we all left Gainesville

My first few days in Dublin were not easy. Upon arrival at my Airbnb I immediately felt this huge wave of homesickness. I grew up and went to college in Gainesville, and last year when I was in Ireland for the fall I never once felt homesick so this was an entirely new feeling for me. I think the shock of realizing my parents had moved away from my hometown, and I had moved away from Gainesville hit me suddenly and I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with it. I was overwhelmed at the thought of finding a place to live, getting a job and meeting new people. I’m usually okay with being alone in a foreign city, but I found those first few days here in Dublin lonely and stressful which I was not anticipating. After being here for a month I can tell you that these feelings have subsided and I feel so much more comfortable here now.

Prior to moving here to Dublin I hadn’t spent much time here. Dublin was just sort of a place I’d fly in and out of, or come to for a bit of shopping or a concert. I spent the first couple of days doing various walking tours to get my bearings and create a mental map of the city. Sandeman’s is a company that markets free walking tours in many cities across Europe, so if you’re traveling I’d look them up to see if they offer a free tour of whatever city you’re visiting. I’ve done every Dublin tour they offer, as well as every Amsterdam tour, and the free tour of London. I’m always really impressed with the guides and I’ve also met some pretty cool people on the tours which is handy when I’m generally traveling alone.

When I wasn’t on a walking tour during that first week I was apartment hunting. The rental market in Dublin turns over very quickly, and is quite different to finding an apartment in the States. Since I wasn’t that familiar with Dublin I found myself looking at apartments all over the city, not really sure where was best to live. I finally found a place in Santry and was able to move into my new room a week after I arrived in Dublin. I share the flat with 3 other people who are all in their 20s, and I’m really enjoying my new place.

To celebrate finding an apartment I took a walking tour of the village of Howth. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and I got pretty sunburnt. Our guide took a group of about a dozen of us on an over 10 mile journey up hills and over cliffs. We saw a castle, some old ruins and some pretty amazing views. On the tour I met a few other Americans around my age and we all went out to dinner and the pub after the tour and it was nice to hang out and socialize after several days of exploring the city on my own. Howth is such a nice little village, and I would definitely recommend doing the cliff walk on a nice day.

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Howth Cliffs

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This is me pre-sunburn

The next week was spent job searching and doing more exploring in Dublin. I tried to get up early and apply to jobs, and then go out exploring in the afternoons. I also spent an entire day in the immigration office. The next weekend I took the DART up to Malahide to see the castle and gardens there. I ate in the Avoca cafe (which was good but expensive), toured the castle, and spent hours wandering around the gardens there. I enjoy getting out of the city during the weekends to do some sightseeing and see a bit of nature, so Malahide was a really nice place to visit that’s still super accessible from the city.

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Malahide Castle

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Over the next few days I did more job hunting, and on a particularly sunny day I set out for Phoenix Park with the intentions of renting a bike and cycling around the grounds. Unfortunately, I entered the park at the wrong entrance and ended up walking several miles (and getting more sunburnt) before finding the bike rental place at the opposite end of the park. At that point I didn’t feel like cycling anymore so I just got an ice cream and went to the pub. While at the pub I decided to get in touch with Tara about coming for a visit. I had held off on visiting Durrow for a few weeks because I wanted to get settled, but I was really craving something familiar so made plans to head down. After making these plans I finally got a couple of interviews for some jobs I applied to.

I frantically went shopping for some interview-appropriate clothes, had my back-to-back interviews and then headed down to Durrow. It was so nice to be back in a place that felt so familiar and homey. I enjoyed catching up with Tara, Jason and all the dogs, and it felt like I had only been gone for a few days, not 8 months. I’m really grateful that I have a home away from home that I can return to when I need it. I was supposed to just be in Durrow for the weekend, but instead ended up staying just one day shy of a week. On the day I returned to Dublin I got an offer for a temporary job! I started the job last Friday and I’ll be working this job for a few more weeks, then I have a few days off before I’ll be going back down to Durrow to help with Sheppard’s next auction.

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Newtown House, Durrow, Co. Laois

 

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The mill at Newtown

Last weekend I continued my tradition of getting out of the city by heading to Dun Laoghaire (which is still technically Dublin but whatever) where I walked along the pier and found possibly the cheapest beer in Dublin.

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Dun Laoghaire Pier

On Sunday I got on a bus with 50 Chinese people who were all guests of the Chinese ambassador to Ireland to go to the village of Graiguenamanagh where we went on a tour of the village. This tour was organized by Sheppard’s and I thought I was just hitching a ride on their bus so that I could go the book festival that was being held, but I ended up walking around on the tour and it was quite interesting. I got to chat to the ambassador about Florida, and I got a few free pints when we had a tour stop at the pub. I didn’t continue on the tour past the pub… I also got to see Phil who was fresh off the plane from Florida, and Tara showed up for a bit as well. It was a fun day, but incredibly long and exhausting.

The last few days I’ve just been working and trying to get into some sort of adult professional routine. This was a long post, but a lot happens in a month. I’m finally settled into my room, and a job (even if it’s temporary), and I’m beginning to feel like I actually live here now. I miss my parents, and my friends, and Gainesville but I’m feeling less homesick and more sure of myself in my new surroundings.

This weekend I’m hoping to go to an American football game. Boston College are playing Georgia Tech at the Aviva here in Dublin, and I cannot wait for some college football although I don’t think this game will compare to seeing my Gators play in the Swamp but whatever, I’ll take what I can get.

 

 

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