On Sunday January 17th, I flew out of Philadelphia International Airport at 9pm. That was only my 5th time flying ever. I've always been fascinated by planes and love the concept of flying- from successfully getting through security as a Caucasian American male (so difficult, I know) to walking down the tunnel and into the plane, it's always something I look forward to. I boarded American Airlines flight 722 (ironically my lucky number so I knew it was going to be a good flight) with my friend Kelly Risch who is also a Penn Stater at a branch campus. We had briefly texted before this to arrange flight details and such but this was the first meeting in person. We were just two of the many University College Dublin international students boarding this flight who were about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Although I had the window seat, given that it was a redeye flight, I wasn't able to see much except the dark abyss of the night sky 30,000 feet in the air.
We landed in Dublin around 8:30 am and the sun was just coming up. While waiting in line to go through Immigration, I heard some people talking about UCD behind us. I started talking to this guy named Casey who goes to Norwich University in Vermont along with two girls. Upon realizing his hometown was Harrisburg, PA, I was blown away. I had just traveled across an entire ocean to a whole new country and the odds of me meeting my first UCD friend who lives 40 min away from my hometown was just unbelievable. Unbelievable in a good way. Since then, we've become great friends and share many similar interests such as skiing, hiking, and sports. We took a coach bus from the airport to what we thought was UCD's campus....although the bus driver decided to drop us off at a random stop and UCD was no where in sight...about 20 other international students were with me. Picture the sight of 20 college students, each with 2 suitcases full of luggage in a new country with no cell service at a bus stop all looking as clueless as ever hoping someone will step up and lead us in the right direction...2 minutes passed and still nothing...we had no clue what to do haha. We finally found a local resident of the area and they pointed us in the right direction; luckily the campus was about 5 min away. We finally made it to our apartments and got settled for the day. On Tuesday morning, we took a bus into Dublin and explored center city near the Spire Monument.
Later that night, we went the infamous Temple Bar. Little did I realize, "Temple Bar" is actually a region of Dublin that includes many different bars and a lot of good nightlife. If there's one thing in the trip that I had already learned up to this point, it was not to be afraid to talk to people because you can always learn something new! It's a major key my dad taught me to do through all of his success stories of talking to everyone from pilots in a cockpit while on a commercial plane to locals in a foreign city. Within 10 minutes of being in Temple Bar, I had talked to two men from Spain and one from England. Between meeting a few new faces and the live music, it was a great night.
On Wednesday, UCD hosted an International Student Orientation where they introduced some of the study abroad advisors to us and gave us scarves with the UCD colors on them. We explored campus a bit after this; it is one of the nicest college campuses I've ever seen with 2 lakes, an enormous science complex, and most buildings are relatively new with incredible architectural features. And yes, the grass is actually as green as everyone says it is. It doesn't seem possible for it to be as green as it is in January.