Why It's Easy to Feel At Home While Studying Abroad in Dublin

Mar 17, 2019 10:33:00 AM / by Emma Aulenback

In this week's post, Emma paints the image of what home in Dublin is like. With friends from all over the world, she forges a bond with them as they take on what this charming city offers and settle into weekly routines. She also shares what her go-to spots are and how welcoming Dublin and its lovely people have been so far!

Where do we belong on a Sunday? For many, the answer is home. Dubliners could not agree more. Thus, on this particular night of the week, the locals and I cram ourselves into the very loud, dark, and somewhat sticky basement of the ancient Stag’s Head pub, for a night of comedy! Here, we adorn our “Sunday best” (jeans and a t-shirt), pass around a bucket of ice cream, and become prey to the comedians on the hunt to humiliate their audience!

Now, didn’t I say Sundays were for the home? Yes.
Are you thinking, “Did CAPA house her in the basement of a rowdy pub”? No.

Not literally, anyway. I have a very nice flat just a bus ride away, in the Griffith residence halls. But in Dublin, “home” stretches far beyond the space one hangs their hat. Unlike most cities, this metropolis is not overwhelming in size. Each morning, I eat my breakfast by the common room window which overlooks the Grand Canal and then “run” (with much inconsistency, as I am easily distracted by side streets and swans) alongside the water until it collides with the River Liffey—the main vein of Dublin! Strolling up the nearby Camden Street is a more direct route to the city center, and has just as much (if not more!) to offer when it comes to unique shops, bustling bars, and delicious international cuisine.

SwansTaking a break in my “run” to say hello to the swans.

Canal Swans
Up close with one of the canal's residents.

As the masses and I stand impatiently at the junction, waiting for that little pedestrian stop light to turn green, I am amazed when cars turn the corner and give a friendly beep and wave to the person standing next to me. Although I do not know these people, or how their lives intertwine, I take comfort in seeing them recognize and appreciate the other’s existence amidst a setting that appears to be made up strictly of individuals, each on their own solitary path. For a moment, the city street corner transforms into what feels like this person’s front doorsteps—and as witnesses, the crowd of strangers and I are invited to take a seat.

Street CornerIn what appears to be a blurring and busy city, Dubliners are super friendly and want to get to know you!  

Back on Griffith’s small campus, I experience this sense of home more intensely, which is inextricably linked to the sense of of community I have been able to build. While our entire CAPA program is housed on the same floor, in flats of 4 (sharing 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1 kitchen/common room), we have been able to branch out and meet other students from Griffith.

Common RoomIt is the people inside a home that make it beautiful! Here is a fellow CAPA student’s common room!

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that like Dublin, Griffith is a very international school; some of my best friends here come from Germany, Egypt, France, Vietnam, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, and Norway (do I have some places to visit later on, or what!?)! A great way to meet people is through the events that the Student Union puts on, or just in the Griffith classes. I find that because most students are studying abroad, they are more friendly and sociable in class—actively seeking out new connections. I now find myself spotting familiar faces in a foreign city after just 6 weeks!

Comedy CrewAt the EatYard on Camden Street before heading to the comedy show!

Thus, on Sunday, a whole horde of us flood the basement of this pub to laugh and eat free ice cream. Anyone is welcome—and the group grows bigger every week. While it may not be a residential address, it sure feels like a home. As home is any place you are able to share moments together and feel accepted as yourself.

Dublin is such a magical place, because as I have learned, these places are everywhere—from the street corner to the convenience store! The people here make you feel appreciated. And during any given day of the week, too. Here, everyday is Sunday…and who ever wanted to see a Sunday end?

Little Bird CafeLittle Bird Cafe is a great spot for coffee in between class.
It is a 5-minute walk from class and a 6-minute walk from our beds!

Thanks, Emma!

Emma Aulenback


Emma Aulenback is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2019, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Sociology major at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

Emma's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Dublin Program

Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Local Culture