DUBLIN – The first thing I noticed when I got off of the plane in Dublin, Ireland was the smell. It smelled like spring; grass and damp air. The next thing I knew, my hair was frizzing out like it was nobody’s business. Welcome to the Emerald Isle! The forecast calls for rain for the next five days. Do I mind? Not at all.
Here’s the thing, though. I operate under the impression that when I am foreign to a place (whether it is in Europe or at home in the U.S.) everyone knows it and judges me for it. In Europe it is especially bad because I don’t want to be labeled an “obnoxious American.” And when is it easiest to be the dreaded “obnoxious American?” When you are in airports and on buses with two giant roller suitcases, each weighing between 30 and 50 pounds.
That was me when I arrived in Dublin. Jet lagged, hungry and self conscious, with 80 pounds of luggage. The Irish, however, proved to be absolute saints the entire leg of our (mine and Maggie Hutchison’s) journey from Dublin to Maynooth, where I will be living and learning for the next four months.
Because I am weak, I couldn’t lift my luggage into the overhead luggage rack on the bus. Noticing my struggle, a nice middle-aged man who had been sitting quietly with his wife offered to help me and Maggie with our luggage, even though the bus was careening through the streets of Dublin, making the job a little harder than it normally would be.
I don’t know how many of you have experienced trying to handle two roller luggages; but if you haven’t, I pray you never have to. I guess it would be like trying to pull two baby strollers. So imagine trying to pull two baby strollers down the aisle of a bus. It doesn’t really work. Luckily, another kind Irish soul came to my aid and offered to take one for me until we got off of the bus. My savior.
All these bus people stick in my mind because my luggage was my biggest inconvenience, but countless others were willing to give us directions, answer our questions, and in general, put us at ease. But then, I’d probably be nicer too if I lived in a country that was always this green.
Sure, it’s nerve-wracking to go to a place where you know all of one person and you are a foreigner, and I’d be lying if I said that in a moment of jet-lag induced pathetic-ness I didn’t question my reasons for coming here. And I am homesick. That’s the truth. The important thing is to power through and remember that it only gets easier from here.
The key is to always keep yourself busy. We went to the Cliffs of Moher on Sunday. If you think you don’t know what they are, you probably do, as they are featured in “The Princess Bride” as “The Cliffs of Insanity!” If you still don’t have a clue what I am talking about, Google it, it’s lovely. It is also windy. Imagine enduring a gale force wind while standing at the edge of a cliff that drops straight down into the Atlantic Ocean. Those are some powerful vibes.
The Cliffs are on the west side of the country, in County Clare, down the coast from Galway. The West is what people think of when they think of traditional Ireland. Our bus had to stop and wait for about 10 minutes for a farmer who was walking his cow down the road to pasture. Stone walls are built everywhere, even when it doesn’t seem like anything is around that needs to be fenced in, or out.
It’s not hard to see why the Irish favor fairy stories. There’s an other—worldly feel about the place. I plan on playing the adventuring, rambling explorer for the next four months, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Until next time, cheers!