I visited Ireland six years ago on a weekend trip with my roommates during my time studying in Florence, Italy. We explored Dublin, danced to Irish music in the pubs along Temple Bar, took a trip to the scenic Cliffs of Moher and toured a farm where our tour guide sat us all upon a cliff overlooking the notorious greenery of Ireland and gave us a mini history lesson of his beautiful country.
When the time came to return back to Florence for Monday lectures I left teary eyed, thinking three days were simply not enough in such an overly welcoming country. A country where bus drivers were willing to stop an entire tour bus to allow my roommates and I to gobble down a Pizza since eating was not allowed on the bus, despite having 30 other individuals on the tour. I caught myself while in mid tear, thinking that I was flying back to Florence so why could I cry? This strong connection I developed to Ireland gave me the sense that one day I would return to properly explore Ireland.
Six years later I am on my yearlong trip leaving London to now fly to Ireland, a country I was so excited to visit once more. I landed, had my passport stamped with green ink and walked with all smiles back to a place I had been before. I took a bus from the airport to where my hostel was, the very center of Dublin. My back had been aching from tugging around 50 lbs. of luggage, one oversized purple backpack on my back and in the front was a black school backpack that carried all my electronics and necessities for on the airplane. I checked in, showered and handed over 6 kilos of laundry to be washed by the young people working at the front desk then darted towards the door to venture off to find some proper Irish soup (what I lived on my first trip to Ireland).
I walked around the city which would remain my home for the next few days, getting a feel for the town and reminincing on past memories. I then returned to the hostel and sat in the common area as I usually do to begin planning the next few days of adventure. Instead of the mixture of languages that usually fill the room, out of the fifteen others in the common area, ten were French, all engaging in conversation in their native language. I was in complete shock, had I flow to Ireland or France? It didn’t take long until I started talking to a group of them, commenting on just how many French there were in Ireland, or atleast in this hostel. They all briefed me on a multitude of reasons why there were so many of them in Ireland. The main reason so many French were in Ireland was to improve their English speaking skills and seeing how Ireland has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe, they can find a decent paying job and learn the language at the same time. The only issue with that was that finding a job isn’t easy in Ireland because there are so many people, both locals and foreigners, and not enough jobs to meet that demand. Their other issue is apartment hunting. I met a local girl later on in my trip who told me how she had inquired 200 places before finding a decent place to stay in order to live closer to her University in Dublin. For a local Irish girl trying find a place and it being that difficult, it was twice as hard for a foreigner looking for work. So instead of the usual backpacker group that populate hostels, hostels in Dublin are filled with workers looking for apartments, some spending 3+ months before finding anything.
That same group talked me into a night out at Club Opium, despite having traveled from London earlier that day and venturing out on my own mini walking tour. I agreed of course, ready to get my feel for what life in Ireland was all about 6 years later. We arrived and immediately I knew just how much fun Ireland was going to be. Every person was dancing in the club, not caring who was watching or whether one move might be embarrassing. Unlike in American clubs, where people usually are reserved and too worried about their image to do anything extreme, the Irish were only concerned whether or not you were dancing. That exact mindset just added another reason to my list of falling in love with this group of people. So that night, I got down and then stumbled home, images of my night out and anticipated adventures keeping my mind running before finally drifting asleep.