Places to Live, People to See

A few days ago, I received a wonderful Christmas present in the form of an email. My aunt, uncle, and two cousins wrote that they had booked tickets to spend their spring break in Dublin. In addition to the news, they asked for advice on activities and an AirBnB they were considering. I wrote back immediately to say that I cannot wait to see them and fired off a list of recommendations.

This present came a few days after another gift in the form of a text – two high school friends telling me they were coming to Dublin in March. “I’m so excited to see you!” I texted back. “There’s some brunch places here I know you’ll love.”

A few weeks before that, I sat with my boyfriend in one of my favorite Dublin pubs, listening to a trad session. I had just gotten word that one of my friends from undergrad had booked tickets for a long weekend in Dublin in February. I shot a quick video of the musicians and sent it her way with the caption, “when you come, let’s go here!”

Fatou and I had the chance to show her husband, Kofi, and my boyfriend, Michael, one of our favorite things about Dublin – the cliffwalk at Howth, which I believe made an appearance in my first blog post too!

I returned to Dublin yesterday after four weeks of bouncing around Europe. A few days each in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Athens, Nafplio, and Sicily. The chance to travel so easily to so many diverse places is a gift that I cannot express enough gratitude for. But when I compare my travel over break to the joy I feel about the upcoming trips of people I love, I can define the difference between visiting somewhere and living somewhere.

When we visit places we make lists, usually seeking the advice of various online 5-star rating platforms. We run through activities and streets and restaurants to sample as much as possible. This sampling offers valuable experiences with different peoples and cultures, but rarely do we experience the same thing twice.

Living somewhere is different. Living in Dublin means I have time for deep exploration. It means making repeat visits and developing favorites based on personal experiences with the city’s offerings.

At the beginning of winter break, my boyfriend Michael and I went to tour the Christ Church Cathedral. It was a new experience for me in Dublin, one that I hope to share with others soon!

Living in Dublin means that when a friend extends an invitation to a certain pub, I can get there without Google Maps in my face.

Living in Dublin means that when I sat on a plane, wearing my last pair of clean socks and unsure which country had claimed my hairbrush, I felt a rush of confidence and security when the pilot announced our landing in Ireland.

And living in Dublin means that when people I love say they are coming to visit, I feel thrilled and honored to share my life in this city with them.

The longer I stay here, the more grateful I am to be involved in a program that goes beyond visiting. We should, of course, explore the world broadly. But only time and effort – only living – grant real depth of understanding. I plan to spend the time I have here pursuing that depth and sharing it with intention at every opportunity.

About Celia Hallan | University College Dublin

Pursuing an MA in Geography at University College Dublin
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