I was blessed with beautiful weather in my first few days abroad, which allowed me to walk around and get to know the campus a little bit as well as spend some time in the city.
I, along with many other international students, arrived at UCD around 6am on January 18th. We got off the bus from the airport with all of our luggage, had no idea where we were going, and it was still dark outside. After all of us stood there for a few minutes without any wifi or cell service trying to figure out where to go, a stranger kindly directed us toward the general direction of the campus (it turned out, we could see the entrance from where we were standing). As we passed the huge UCD sign, we were SO relieved to spot a campus map to tell us where we had to go to get our ID’s so we could go to our rooms…until we got closer and realized the map was in Gaelic (Irish). So we continued to wander around with our suitcases and approximately 30mins and a few Gaelic campus maps later, we discovered that the English translation to the map was actually there…on the other side of the sign. After a symphony of frustrated grunts and swears, we got to where we supposed to go in about 5mins to get our IDs, made our way back to our rooms, and collapsed in sleep until 2pm.
My first impression in the daylight: UCD’s campus is huge. And very green.
Between the darkness and my sleepiness on the morning of my arrival, I didn’t really get a chance to (or care to) see any of the campus considering I was nearly ready to lay down on the grass and take a nap. So when I woke up and looked out my window, I got to really see UCD for the first time…and it was beautiful. And quite large.
Back in Waltham, Bentley is home to just 4,000 undergraduate students. Here in Dublin, however, UCD is educating tens of thousands of people ranging from new high school graduates to men and women in their 50’s. Thankfully, everyone that I have encountered at UCD so far has been very welcoming and kind. I am already thoroughly enjoying being surrounded by people with Irish accents who use a very colorful vocabulary. This includes all of the strangers I met asking for directions my first week in Dublin (except for this bird…he/she didn’t like me much).
My first few times in Dublin City Centre I got to eat some amazing pub food, and see a bunch of landmarks boasting amazing views and architecture. My friend, Evan, and I walked around the city quite a bit in that first week, and during that time is when it really started to hit me that I wasn’t in the U.S. anymore. I was in Ireland…I was actually here…and I had the next 4.5 months to immerse myself in the culture and continue to gaze in awe at the beauty of my surroundings.