Friday, October 10, 2008

Moving to Dublin, the Wimp-o Way

Settlin' your wee (or large, whatever) bottom in, and adjusting for a year abroad - in my case it was Dublin, Ireland - can be done in a bunch of different ways, I chose wimp-o, I urge you to, you know, not do that. Let me paint a few strokes in the masterpiece (finger painting) that was Molly at age 20: a lass who hadn't experienced anything on her own, total lack of self confidence, and scared of her own shadow. Try to keep this mental image as I spin the following tale...

It's incredibly easy to get "super psyched" about the concept of moving abroad for a year, but the reality of living in a foreign city can be a bit more daunting. In the summer months leading up to my move to Dublin all I spent time doing was talking and thinking about how much fun I was going to have, with no real thought about who I was going to be having fun with. Plop me on a plane in early September (all by my lonesome) about to touch-down at Dublin International Airport. I'm still kind of groggy, but have a vague recollection of the sun piercing through thick, thick gray clouds (that I would grow to love) over Dublin. what. Right. First things first: luggage. Collected. Next, too scared to take public transportation, taxi it is. I do kind of regret this move, even though I could financially swing it, public transportation is really a great way to immerse yourself in a city. However, the double decker-ness of the Dublin city buses can be a bit daunting, and you really do need 10 to 15 minutes of face time with the map to decipher any clear routes. Of all the wimpy things I would do in the next couple of days, I would call taking a taxi borderline wimpy.

The cab driver was unbelievably friendly. At the time the Irish were in L-O-V-E with Americans. However, it was 2001, so they really hadn't had too much face time with 'W'. I will say that while I had mostly good luck with cab drivers, I had my share of shade balls, so whenever possible, try to have a good idea of where you are going when you are cabbing it in Dublin. My destination was Trinity College, which is an easy one, because it is in an area that I would consider the "heart" of Dublin. Physically, if not emotionally. I was going to be attending the college for the next year, and I was lucky enough to score a dorm room while I conducted my housing search.

I get myself checked in, and bumble over the cobblestones and through the courtyards to my home for the next two weeks. It really is a gorgeous campus, and should not be missed if you are a virgin to Dubs. Beautiful architecture, home of the medieval "Book of Kells" (okay mini-yawn), frequent rugby matches on the greens, and some great drafts at the Pav campus bar (great craic).

Thus leads me to wimp-o moment SUPREME. In my defense, I was jet-lagged. Being a rookie traveler, I told my self I would just take a quick nap, and then start my grand exploration of Dublin. Ha - with jet-lag naps turn into slumpers, BEWARE. In my particular case, it turned into an excuse to hide in my room and cower in fear.

Wimp-o moment numero dos: after waking from my "nap" (8 hours can be considered a nap, right), I couldn't even find the courage to go out to a corner store to get food -you know, the stuff that is essential for living. In desperation, I snuck (truly no explanation) down to the lobby of the dorm to get a chocolate bar and soda from the vending machine, using the last few actual Irish Pounds that I had left.

Wimp-o momento finale: I spent the rest of my first day and night in MY prison sized dorm room in various states of sleep.

"A new hope..." Fortunately for my health and mental state (I looked it up, it is called agoraphobia), my Dad arrived two days later, and yanked me out out of my room. I bought a cell-phone ("pay as you go" cells are MAD cheap and easy to purchase in any European country), and started getting in touch with friends of friends who were more than happy to take me out for a couple of beers. Ahhh, and we get to the point - once I got out of that freakin' room, I was able to start embracing one of the best cities, like, ever. Just a few preventative measures you can take:

1. It's hard (I obvi know), but make sure you get out of your room, new apartment, or wherever as much as possible.
2. You need contacts if you have any chance of enjoying yourself. Put the nets out early and see if you have friends or friends of friends that are living in the city, or maybe just visiting for a couple of days.
3. If contacts aren't to be had, have some sort of plan to meet up with a local group or organization - derrr it's called the internet.
4. Go outside of yourself. If you wanted to do everything you did at home, then what exactly was the point of traveling in the first place? Stay home - I hear it's cheaper.


Meriel said...

Although Molly would have everyone believe she was a "wimp" in moving abroad, it didn't take her long to learn the lay of the land.

When I came to visit her (only a month after she arrived) she was well adjusted, established and an amazing tour guide. She hosted 3 of my friends and I in her adorable suburb-ish house and showed us an amazing time. She also spent an entire night standing in line with refugees waiting for a visa (those details may be a bit off but I was drunk so it was fuzzy).

One highlight our visit was my friend getting us kicked out of Turks Head for being an "American B*tch" to a bartender.

Molly said...

Oh Memories of my apartment in Booterstown (or Big Bootyville as my friend Ali liked to call it). The lock was slightly different on the door to that apartment, so I totally forgive you for waking me out of my slumber. The great part of Dublin is that everything is relatively close = cheap cab rides.