The past two weeks have been so incredible, busy, and enlightening. The city of Dublin and the area around it. The week of Feb. 15th-19th was bit of a whirlwind. On the 15th, I was lucky enough to go to the home of John and Mary Coyne, the people who own Wells for Zoe (which is actually pronounced “Wells for Zoey”). Their home is beautiful and was built by John. It was exactly like any home you’d see in the states. John and Mary had their kids and grandkids over, so we all ate together before we worked. I must have gained 10 lbs in one night between the amazing lasagna and five different desserts we ate. It was so comforting to be around a family again, a dog, and kids who are similar in age to my niece as opposed to being in a residence hall with a bunch of college students. I didn’t get to take any pictures, but it was probably my favorite night in Dublin so far.
The rest of the week consisted of my dance class with Jacquie, exploring more of the nightlife here, and class. The module (what we would call a class) that I’m taking here is Irish Culture and History. Basically, we do some reading before class, have an hour of lecture, then spend two hours visiting a museum in Dublin. This week we went to the Book of Kells and Trinity College’s Long Room, a place that I had gawked at on Instagram for years. I had not read much about the Book of Kells, so the photos and exhibits explaining it taught me a lot. Historians are not sure if the Book of Kells came from Kells or Iona, and it was illustrated by three artists and four scribes. We can tell based off of the different styles inside the book. It is a book that contains the four Gospels of the New Testament, but I got the sense that most admire it as a work of art as opposed to its religious meaning. The exhibition gave out the many different possible meanings of the symbols used in the book, such as a snake representing Christ’s rebrith, peacocks shocking the incorruptibility of Christ, and eagles representing Chris himself. The actual book was turned to a page that day that wasn’t very ornate, so we were all a little disappointed. Trinity’s Long Room made up for it. We could literally smell the old books just coming up the stairs. It was so, so beautiful. The room houses about 200,000 of the oldest books Trinity has, and are placed mostly according to the size of the book because the shelves aren’t all the same size. If it wasn’t 8 euro to get in, I think I would go back every week. After the class, a group of us wanted to go eat and shop for a bit. On our walk, we stumbled upon a massive protest. They were all walking with these signs ( the one on the left was my favorite) and chanting about a water tax that they want repealed. We thought it was just a march, but as we got closer to another street, there was stage, singers, etc. where the protesters were rallying together with someone on the stage shouting to get everyone riled up. The event organizers estimated that 80,000 people turned up for it, which sounds like a gross exaggeration to me, but there was certainly a lot of people.
Over the weekend, I spent time with Jacquie & Vincent, and two of Jacquie’s friends. We all joked about how diverse we were as there was an Irish woman, an African man, a Slovakian woman, a Spanish man, and an American woman. We went back to Dun Laoghaire for an hour, and thank God we did because we got to see the brightest rainbow that I ever have from end to end on the pier. It felt like such a miracle that all of us from so many different places could laugh and talk so easily. I’m uncertain as to how its possible, but I think it might be the only positive from globalization. After we dropped Jacquie’s friends in the city center, the three of us drove over to Howth to see the cliffs. During the car ride, we got to talking about the election, the protest I saw, and taxes. Its so fascinating to met that there’s about a 20% tax on most things here, but nobody really complains about that. The income tax system is based off of how much money you make and can go up to 50%. It is just a part of life here, but, in the states, that would be a catastrophe. We also talked about the election. Here, proportional representation is what is used. You vote in order of preference, so none of your vote is wasted. Its a little hard to explain, but the process is very interesting. It can take days to know who won. I was also very interested to learn that the presidents of Malawi are educated in America. These presidents usually steal from the country, so I’m uncertain on how to feel about what they learn from living with us in the states. Vincent also told me about how hard it is for people from Malawi to get to America. They need sometimes $30,000 in their bank account to be allowed a visa, which they also have to pay for. After all of our serious talk was over, we climbed out of the car to climb up a cliff. We oo’d and aww’d for about two hours on the place, and proclaimed that we would have to come back once we had better shoes. Vincent lives in North Dublin (largely considered the not as nice area). But, you couldn’t really tell from outside the buildings. Jacquie and I stayed inside the car for a bit to people watch, and we saw some runners. I commented on how they must feel safe, and she commented that “they’re training to rob a bank.” We both hollered with laughter, but that statement really says what it was like to be on that side of town. We came back to the college, and that night I was able to go out to the mountains with my friend, Chris, to see the city from above at night. I couldn’t get a picture, but it looked so small. Dublin is an international city with a small city feel, as we have all been saying since we got here. It was eye-opening to see how really small it is. I love this city and feel so lucky to have chosen a place with warm people, even if the weather is cold.