There and Back Again: A Student’s Tale

It’s hard to believe that in ten minutes here it will be Friday! My initial days in Dublin have been tiring, exciting, confusing, and wonderful all at the same time. Each day I spend here, I am more and more glad that this is the country I chose for study abroad.

I left Sunday morning from Indianapolis to start a day of traveling/ waiting around. To start off, I was super worried that my bag was overweight since I tried using our unreliable scale at home and it read anywhere from 46-58 pounds. My parents tried to reassure me that it was fine if I went over and had to pay the extra charge or even check an extra bag if I had to. In my dad’s words, “We aren’t trying to spread the Amish lifestyle to the Irish.”  As it turns out, my bag was 50.0 pounds exactly. Nailed it!

After a tearful goodbye from my parents (+goodbye from James), it was time for me to start my long journey.

Hey! It's James!

Hey! It’s James!

I fortunately had Ali, who also goes to Purdue, to travel with me. We had short flights to Detroit and then New York, where we began our dreadfully long layover at JFK. I enjoy airports, but there is a point where you are just ready to move on with your life. And that point gets bumped up in time when you are stuck in a single terminal with no wifi. We ended up having an 8 hour layover due to a delayed plane, so instead of leaving the U.S. at around 9pm, we took off after midnight. Ali and I found ways to pass the time during that layover, one of the ways included making a blanket for using our suitcases and Bibles for weights.

Humans of New York: JFK Edition

Humans of New York: JFK Edition

Just being cool in our adventure boots

Just being cool in our adventure boots

It took only 5 hours to get from New York to Dublin, so the layover was longer than the actual flight. The downside to having a short flight was that it only gave me 5 hours to sleep before having to hit the ground running midday since there is a 5 hour time difference. Considering I was going off of 8 hours of sleep between the past two night, I was surprisingly awake that day. I am sure it was just the excitement of being in a completely new place.

Flying into Dublin was beautiful. I knew the grass was supposed to be green, but it something you have to see for your own eyes. Nothing like the sad excuse for grass we have back in Indiana. After coming from brown grass, it almost looked fake!

The first thing I noticed coming off the plane was that for nearly every sign, the words were written written in Gaelic with English underneath. From previous out-of-country travel, I was expecting to be held up at customs for a long time. But it was pretty much just a quick passthrough where my passport was stamped and the lady at the window said “Go to immigration Bureau within 3 months.” Next, we exchanged our USD for Euros and bought a bus ticket to get to Campus. The bus ride itself was quite relaxing and quiet. Partially because there were so many tired travelers and partially because it wasn’t a bus full of just Americans. I didn’t get any pictures of Dublin city center, but it was so neat! The building all had different colored doors that were painted anything from black to magenta. I noticed that many of the buildings I saw had these actual wooden doors you had to push open, rather than just automatic glass doors.

I don’t remember whether I said this in the last blog, but I will be studying at UCD, which stands for University College Dublin. Once we checked in, we had to haul our luggage to the dorms and then up to the third floor of the apartment style residence hall. Ali and I would take breaks from hauling our heavy luggage and say that we were “just admiring the architecture.”

The apartment shared between four people is super nice. Each person gets their own room and a bathroom is shared by two. Ali is next door and we share a bathroom, so it was comforting coming in knowing at least one person I would be living with. My other two roommates, Kelly and Jenny, are really nice. If you hadn’t noticed, we all have the long e sound at the end of our names.

dorm 2dorm

I am struggling with the whole white wall thing, so if you make a decorative lightweight craft and want to send it to me, it would be my pleasure to hang it up 🙂

Kelly and Ali and I managed to lock me out of my room the first night. You need your card to access the building, apartment, and room. The room itself you can lock or unlock, so just in case we were trying to see if it was possible to get locked out. After figuring out that you could by sending one of us out to the hallway, we then forgot that my door was locked. So, the next time I left the room to go right across the hall for 5 seconds, I came back to a locked room. Since I had no shoes since they were locked in my room, Kelly and Ali were nice enough to go find help to unlock my door. Fortunately I wasn’t charged, but apparently next time it will cost three euros.

Since we pretty much had nothing coming in, including all kitchenware we need to make food, we went on the trip to IKEA that was offered by the international office. I had never been into IKEA back at the states, so the amount of stuff they can pack into a giant blue building was incredible to me. However, considering I have shopping anxiety, it was also slightly stressful. IKEA had a super cool escalator that the cart can go down! It is angled just right to engage a break. Somewhere there is a picture of Ali, Kelly, and I standing on the escalator ramp while our cart is off somewhere else. I also learned that in Ireland, it is important to sign the back of your cards, or else they won’t accept them. Fortunately I had enough cash on me to pay!

Later that day, I signed up for my classes. I am most excited about taking “Archeology of Things.” When I signed up for the class, the advisor goes, “That is such an Irish title, too lazy to even say what it’s about!” I tried signing up for a couple of different dairy classes, like one called “Herd Health and Milk Quality,” but they aren’t open to international students. That night I was able to try their milk for the first time, and it was the best pasteurized milk I have ever had. We decided that the reason why they didn’t let me into their cow classes is because they are trying to keep the secret of why their milk is so good away from me. After some brainstorming, we were still able to figure out that it is their grass here that makes the cows produce better milk.

I have had to start getting used to a few things here. One being using coins, since the one and two Euro is in coin form. I am generally just bad about using coins, so I put them in a jar and then put them in a bank. But here, I actually need to use them. I had a cashier say “Oh, you are grand!” to me instead of “It’s fine,” when I apologized for fumbling around with coins one time. I love their unique words and phrases here (more to come on that below). The other thing I have had to get used to is walking on the left side. The Global Office put arrows at the stairway pointing to the left, so that we get used to it.

I was able to spend time today exploring campus. UCD has a very modern look. Despite the rain, I was still able to get pictures. Rain persisted throughout the day, but it wasn’t constant. It would rain, and then the sky would turn really blue, and then it would rain again. It was also very windy today. Even still, the weather isn’t as miserable here. Today was actually the first day since I got here that it has rained. They have a covered section on nearly every sidewalk, so there is a nice path you can take without ending up in the rain.

I know these pictures are all on Facebook, but I don’t want Becky to complain. I tried picking out the best, and there is a little bit of a description on a few 🙂

Gated Entrance for Security

Gated Entrance for Security for my Residence

student bar

What… A Student Bar!?

student center

Student Center

union

A look inside the Union!

sign

Well, that’s not English.

bike

Note the spelling of the word “tire”

science building lake walldorms

***Side note for college students looking to study in Ireland: finish up your Netflix shows before going overseas. There will be no Gilmore Girls or Friends study breaks for me this semester, because their Netflix shows are different.***

After four days, I was finally able to figure out what my address is. Or at least the lady at the post office told me it would work. In case you want to send me Peanut Butter, take me up on the whole plea for decorations, or just write me a letter, you can address it to


  • Mallory Stuckwisch
  • B18-5-2
  • Belgrove Student Residences
  • UCD
  • Belfield
  • Dublin 4
  • Ireland

Ignore the bullet points, they are just there for formatting reasons. (I am not sure what the G stands for, whether that is the right letter, or whether it is even necessary; but I am going to go with it because I was told that it was fine and I am placing my trust in the postal service.) ***Update*** B is the Correct letter! If you already sent something with G18-5-2, it should be fine, they will figure it out because we have still been getting mail 🙂


Ireland Bucket list: See sheep on a grassy hillside. (Only horses have been spotted so far)

Super cool words and phrases:

  • Queue instead of Line
  • Lifts instead of Elevators
  • craic (pronounced crack)- Fun
  • slainte- Cheers
  • slan- Goodbye

That was a lot to write in one post… It is now 1:30 A.M. here, so I should be thinking about going to bed. I have been fine without a cellphone on campus, but I need to get up tomorrow morning and get one before my parents have a conniption.

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3 thoughts on “There and Back Again: A Student’s Tale

  1. Jill says:

    I know you will have an anxiety attack if you have to pay 3 euros to get your door open! I take it your other roommates are US students, too.

  2. Becky Grelle says:

    Mallory! Thank you!!! I am so excited about your adventures & so happy that at least one member of the Bandits besides myself understands that we do not all live & die by Facebook. If it’s only a 5 hour flight from NYC it might be a pretty cheap ticket…hmmm…

  3. Mallory. I am so excited to keep up on your adventures and hear about all the wonderful and exciting things you find over there! You are always in my prayers, dear 🙂

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