After a grueling 15 hours of flights as well as a four-hour layover, nothing sounds more appealing than settling in for a long night of sleep at your accommodations. While studying abroad, the five star hotel experience is not exactly guaranteed; however, you’ll take next to anything at that point. This is exactly how my classmates and I felt as we slumped off the bus outside of our hostel when we arrived in Dublin.
Dublin is a gorgeous city. This was obvious from the moment we landed. Its architectural collision of modernity and traditionalism ensure that you feel the history of the location with every sight without ever leaving the comfort of the current age. The cars driving on the other side of the road took a minute to adjust to while the sidewalks bustled with metropolitan energy.
And the party never stopped.
For our time in Dublin, we stayed in a hostel that was situated squarely in the heart of the Temple Bar district. This area is renowned for its thriving bar scene. We were less than four shops down from the eponymous Temple Bar itself. For the first few day, this fact was the cherry on top of the sundae that was being in Dublin. Those of my group that wanted to experience Irish pub life need only walk a few feet out of the front door. For the rest of us, the party going on around us was a great source of entertainment.
That being said, however, this appeal quickly gave way to irritation as we found our stay being impacted by the location. The night life that raged just beyond our window was almost impossible to ignore. Our sleep was frequently interrupted by sudden musical street performances, drunken arguments and tourists screaming in jubilation.
A particularly favored character that I encountered was Brian. Brian stayed on our floor at the hostel, and he had a very heated argument with his mother on our very first night in Dublin.
At three in the morning.
Apparently, Brian’s mother had stolen both his girlfriend and his mother. As could be expected, the highly inebriated Brian was not happy about either of these perceived wrongs. Brian shouted for about half an hour before his girlfriend arrived and calmed his fears. While entertaining, the interruption was less than welcomed by me or my equally jet-lagged roommates – though it would set the tone for the rest of our time in Dublin.
Beyond the colorful characters, the picturesque perception of the environment quickly chipped away the longer I stared. Broken bottles and countless cigarette butts litter the streets. Each morning, a devoted cleaning crew scrubbed the city while the rest of the inhabitants slept off their previous night of fun.
On our excursions past the city limits, however, a calmer, more natural Ireland was revealed. At historical sites such as burial mounds and the Hill of Tara, I was able to see the genuine beauty of the land while interacting with citizens that were far removed from the pubs of Temple Bar. The fresh air and fresh perspective gave me the opportunity to step away from the tourist trap in order to more closely observe rural life among the rolling green hills.
This isn’t to say I disliked the city; it was incredible, and I’m privileged to have this experience in the first place. Once I ventured beyond Temple Bar, the rich history of the city was just waiting to be discovered, whether it was at the Guinness Storehouse or Trinity College.
Where you stay when you travel directly impacts the experience you have in that city. Being placed directly in the action of Temple Bar was fun, but not helpful at exposing us to genuine Irish culture. Temple Bar district is notorious for being populated mainly with tourists, not actual Irish men and women. Had our hostel been located in a different area of the city, specifically one that was on the tamer side, I feel that our time in Dublin would have been far more enlightening (though maybe less fun according to some of my group members).
If anything, my experiences in Temple Bar mad me realize that every day is learning experience. In this case, Dublin just happened to be my (very boisterous) classroom.
Annette Rainey is a television, film, and new media junior. This summer she will be traveling through Ireland, the UK, and France on a faculty-led program.