Inside An Irish House

Two days ago, Professor Hinds invited our class over to his house for dinner. When we arrived at the residence, I walked through Professor Hinds’ front door and was somewhat surprised by what I saw. The interior of the professor’s house was very similar to that of an American house. In fact, if I did not have any context regarding my situation, I would had some trouble determining whether I had ever left to go abroad. Apart from the interior walls being made from stones, I was really not sure what I expected to see in an Irish house that was different from an American house. If I were to pinpoint why I thought the two types of architecture styles would be so different, it was because I pictured foreign countries as completely different worlds in my head. Movies and books present romanticized and stereotyped images of these countries inside my head. They have made be subconsciously believe that as soon as I stepped into another country, I have entered a completely different way of life and structure.
However, that is not entirely the case. Of course, houses in other countries would have some interior designs that are unique to their respective nations, but at the end of the day, there are only so many ways in which one can build a house. Spending time inside of Professor Hinds’ house not only brought me great company and good food, but wisdom as well. The experience taught me that although there are many differences between nations, there are also many similarities as well.

Phoenix Park

So far my favorite part of the trip has been Phoenix Park. The rich green field with the mountains in the background was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen (on this trip and in general). Although cricket was not the most riveting thing to watch, it was really nice to just sit in a quiet place and enjoy nature and the many sounds coming from the Dublin zoo. It was the first time since Thursday that it felt like I was in another country. It is easy to spend time in the city of Dublin and pick up on all the similarities between there and Boston.

A Familiar Place

After we returned to our rooms on Thursday, I posted this picture that I had taken while we were in the city on Instagram.


I really liked the picture but as I was about to post it I realized that it’s hard to immediately tell that it’s in Dublin. So as a caption I wrote “Ireland is pretty cool.” A little while later, one of my friends wrote a comment on the image that said, “Totally thought this was Boston at first.” I agreed with her that my picture wasn’t really uniquely Dublin. So when we went to class Friday and today, I tried to notice differences between my home and this place that is my temporary home for the next three weeks.

It is surprising to me that a city that is so far away can feel so familiar. However, I think that I finally got enough sleep to be able to absorb the differences. For instance, yesterday we went to Professor Hinds’ house for dinner. On the way there I got a feel for what a rural Irish neighborhood was like. Their neighborhoods were set up a bit differently from ours. We also saw James Joyce’s house on our way there.


Today we went and watched a cricket game at Phoenix Park. Cricket was weird and hard to follow but there were quite a few spectators there who seemed to be enjoying the sport despite the cold weather. Although the sport was strange, that kind of atmosphere was familiar. I think that there are definitely going to be much more unique experiences as we continue to explore Dublin. It felt nice though to arrive in a foreign place and feel almost at home.

Unexpected Sights

I was walking down the foreign and intriguing streets of Dublin yesterday when something unexpected caught my eye. Four small palm trees were firmly planted in large pots in the center of the sidewalk that I was strolling along. I asked Dr. Hinds about the nature of palm trees in Ireland, and he said that there were plenty of them in the country, especially in the southern parts of Ireland.
I was fairly surprised about this development in my understanding of the country. Of course, practically speaking, the odds of there not being at least a few palm trees in Ireland were very high, but I was not thinking about that at the time. I pictured Ireland as a land with rolling green hills mixed with large patches of forestry. Whenever I think of palm trees, my mind travels to a completely different environment. I generally picture any environment with palm trees to be hot and tropical.
This sighting has reinforced the lesson that the perceptions that one has regarding a country are not always completely accurate. I was under the impression that Ireland would not have been a warm enough place to be able to harvest palm trees, but I was certainly proven wrong on that account. Making these types of discoveries is why I am beyond glad to have chosen to study abroad in Ireland this semester.

Signs And Culture

The moment we stepped off the plane we could all notice the difference between home and our temporary home, Dublin. Starting in the airport even the signs were different. Signs for things like “meeting point” also read “Ionad Coinni.” Most signals, street signs, traffic signs, license plates, were all translated into Gaelic. This seems like it would be a normal occurrence, signs being advertised in the native language, but it seemed that the predominant language was English. It seemed odd to me that people come to Dublin for a traditional Irish experience and although their signs are traditional the atmosphere is very much similar to our very own Boston, MA. This observation is specific to the Library we ate lunch in today, which Professor Silverman pointed out is an American-ish idea, to have a cafeteria in a Library. All and all I am excited for our future experience in Dublin and to explore all parts of the city.