You can spot them from a mile away. They move slowly, unless they are crossing the street, then they sprint. They wear the uniform of their kind consisting of necklace passport holders, wool Irish caps, and bright colored fanny-packs. They panic at rotating doors and constantly overuse “thank you” and “sorry.” They are the American tourist. They are best spotted on any average day, in the city center of Dublin, wondering around lost. You can see in their faces the hopes and dreams of leprechauns, wool sweaters, bagpipes, and rickety old pubs slowly being torn apart by the modernity and harshness that is Dublin.
Although they come out in large numbers, the American tourists are not the only, lost and oblivious, tourist country wondering around the streets of Dublin. The Chinese tourists seem to live their whole trip behind the viewfinder of their camera. The Germans just walk around awkwardly, because that is their natural state. The Brazilian’s can be seen hopping from club to club looking for the next best party. The whole world is running around in Dublin on any day of the week.
Me on the other hand, I sit here and watch them come and go. I came as lost and confused as anyone else, but I have to adapt. For the next year I’ll be studying my Masters at Dublin City University and I’ll have no choice, but to learn to blend in.
For those looking to move to the Emerald Isle, you will have to forget about your preconceived notions and come being prepared for anything. First off, most people move to Dublin when they first move to Ireland. It is the country’s biggest city and is a modern city. If you’re looking for the green hills and countryside beauty you’re going to be disappointed when you realize you’re going to be stuck in a concrete jungle. Luckily, about any place you want to go in the country, is only a few hour train, drive, or bus ride away.
Next, you have to understand the outline of Dublin. The city is separated by the River Liffey. The South side of the River where Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and Trinity University are is seen as the nicer/posh side of the River. The North side is seen as the rough side, where the workers and lower class lives.
Honestly, I live on the North side. There is an obvious difference between the two, but I supposedly live in the worst part of Ireland called Ballymun. Although, in the recent years, the city has improved the area and knocked down parts of the so called “Ballymun Flats.” Nearby DCU is quite nice, but I found out ,from going on a nice jog, that you don’t have to run too far to end up in the “worst place in Ireland.”
My roommates scold me every time I run through the area, but honestly I have yet to have trouble there. People may stare at you awkwardly, as you may be the only person going for a jog in the area, but no one ever bothered me. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend going for a jog there at nighttime.
As far as crime goes, Dublin is decently safe compared to its American counterparts like New York or Chicago. The most you have to worry about is being mugged by “travelers” or “gypsies” and always watch out for the younger boys, because their all little hellions. I once saw two Junior High-aged boys steal a bike from the University, with wire cutters, in broad daylight. Overall, like any big city avoid certain areas and don’t travel alone at night and you will avoid most problems.
Another thing that you must get used to is the slang and accents. The Irish are known for having “the gift of gab” and this stereotype is certainly true. You can spark up a conversation with almost any Irish person (of course assholes always exist somewhere) or get directions if you are lost. But, having a conversation and understanding a conversation are two different things. Here are a few words that Americans don’t tend to use, but you need to understand.
“Cheers”– If you hear this don’t start raising your beer in the face of everyone that says it. It is just another way to say Thanks. If you hold a door for someone or a cashier says it just respond with a head nod, thanks, or give it right back to them with another cheers.
“That’s grand”- a.k.a. “That’s Great.” I don’t think I’ve heard one Irish person say “that’s great,” yet. So, if you want to fit in get used to saying “Grand.”
“What’s the craic?”– Pronounced “What’s the crack.” This is the one that seems to freak-out tourists the most. No they are not asking for drugs (you will know if someone is actually asking you for drugs), they are basically asking “what’s going on?,” or “Where’s the party.” I basically, just end up responding with “nothing much” or if I am partying, I’ll shove a bottle in their chest and tell them to “Drink Up!”
Those are a few key terms that will help to avoid the initial culture shock, but there is a whole list and array of other words and phrases that you won’t understand unless you grew up here. Oh yea, and bacon is “rashers” and it’s a whole lot better.
I don’t want to burn out all of what I learned and my stories on my first writing. So, over the next year, be prepared for more stories from Ireland and hopefully from around Europe, if this city doesn’t make me go broke. Beers tend to run around $7.00 in the city center…
An té is mó a osclaíonn a bhéal is é is lú a osclaíonn a sparán.
I haven’t taken many photos or videos yet. But, here’s a few random ones.