This year journalism student Julie Basque left her home in Oregon to spend a summer as an intern in Dublin, with some dashes of travelling around the rest of Ireland as well. Here’s her story of a memorable and not-at-all-as-wet-as-she-expected summer:
“Hello, what are you doing here in Ireland?” the poised and reserved man in the glass customs booth asked in a monotone voice.
“Doing a volunteer internship,” I said nervously, my response perfectly crafted by my internship placement company.
“How long do you plan on being here?” he continued.
“Under 90 days.” I blurted.
Pause. Stamp. “Tanks,” he said without looking up. I was barely out of the little chute before he beckoned the next person in line.
“Tanks”? This small word had thrown me into a divvying spiral of confusion because I thought we were now talking about heavy military artillery.
As I take the bus from the airport, I hear more flurries of ‘tanks’ and ‘tanksamilyin’. By the time I get off, I have realised “tanks” is a common derivative of “thanks”, with the famous Irish hard ‘t’ and silent ‘h’ becoming optional extras (all depends on the depth of the speaker’s accent, it seems). It also appeared that the Irish are in fact a very thankful bunch.
They say ‘thank you’ to their bus driver for just driving them to their destination, and say “Thanks a million!” because they like to thank you not just once, but a million times over.
Making myself at home
I discovered little gems pretty quickly wandering around Dublin: the 10 vintage shops I hit in one day in Temple Bar/George’s Arcade for example, that created one very economical but cool outfit that night. I found Café Eire has the best soya mocha in Dublin and is a perfect perch for people watching while mocha sippin’. Then, of course, there was the pub that literally had no name.
The guy just kept saying: “The No Name Pub, you know?” I eventually found a doorway with a bouncer outside and a sign in the shape of a snail hanging above him. I could faintly hear music and there was a cluster of hip young Dubliners heading towards the place. So my gal pals followed suit and entered this hopping pub. For those of you still a little lost…it’s on Fade Street, D2!
Another delightful discovery: there are student discounts EVERYWHERE! I loved presenting my student ID card at clothing stores like Top Shop, restaurants like Juice, and at bus/train ticket depots for discounts. It’s nice to have that small 10% (or more!) back in your pocket, because eventually that adds up to a nice fresh pint of Guinness. Not to mention, most museums here are FREE for everyone! I definitely took advantage of the late night openings on Thursdays and got a little arts and culture in between my socialising.
Ireland’s glorious countryside
Now I wouldn’t want you to think that I stayed in the city all the time, because the lovely Irish countryside called my name. I travelled west to Connemara, with its ludicrously tiny “country roads” complete with ever present sheep, making this a stunningly beautiful (if somewhat eventful) drive with my family who’d come to visit.
Glendalough has to be one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever been. The day was perfect, with just enough cloud coverage that our seven mile hike wasn’t too hot. No other sight can compare to the many hills, some dotted with patchwork-quilt fields, and the loughs below that were viewable from atop the ridge of Glendalough.
Back to the US of A
What am I going to miss? A pint of Bulmer’s on a sunny afternoon outside a pub, laughing until my sides ached. Finding a “deadly” book shop in one of Dublin’s winding alleys and discovering a UK version of the Harry Potter series (yes, they are different than American versions and, yes, I am a nerd). The smell of proper chips (much thicker, real potato tasting fare – not the thin over-fried American type I am usually exposed to) doused liberally in salt and vinegar.
But, oh, to hear those friendly, lovely people of Ireland speak. Eavesdropping is so much more exciting when you hear things about “yer man…” I felt so flustered, yet cool to be asked “what’s the craic?” or “how’s it going?” Then there are the things that I will probably say just for the fun of it, like “it’s grand”, and “thanks a million!”
Like the hit 80s tune from Bagatelle, my summer in Dublin was so memorable. Dublin, and all of Ireland, will always be that friendly, green place I hold dear to my heart (puddles of tears brim as this writer sobs at her desk).
I just have one thing to say after such an amazing summer: “tanks a million”