Made to Feel Most Welcome

I was very nervous about leaving the United States. I had never been outside of the country before. I had never been more than a few hours away from a member of my family. I had never gone so long without seeing my siblings. Family interaction is crucial for me and—as one of fourteen children—I never had to look far for someone to talk to. The days leading up to my flight, I was swimming in anxiety. The pandemic made things worse. The image I had of myself was one alone in my dorm room, working through my class material, eating alone, day in and day out, rinse, and repeat. I was excited at the opportunity to see a new country, of course, but I was sure that I would be going through the experience alone.

In retrospect, those fears were entirely unfounded. The day that I arrived, I took the shuttle to campus and was struggling to pull my suitcases along the cobblestone of Trinity’s courtyard. I had asked a guard where to check-in, and they said they weren’t sure. As such, I was wandering around campus aimlessly. I was in a place I had never been before without any sense of direction. And after no time at all, a woman approached me, and even behind the mask, I could see her smile. She could tell immediately that I was American (either by the accent or the black Chuck Taylor’s) and she offered to show me to Trinity’s main gate, where I could collect my room key. Along the way, we chatted about the Irish weather (I had been on the island for a few hours and it had already rained twice), the impending American election, and the state of Trinity that year. It was perfectly cordial—not so much like the forced amicability of Ohio, and certainly nothing like the strict “keep to yourself” mentality of New York City. It was a sincere and genuine conversation, even if it only lasted a few minutes. That same day, I had a similarly pleasant conversation with the woman distributing the quarantine meals. She and I have kept up a bit of a friendship, and she has recommended a number of spots for me to explore (my advice has always been to make friends with the lunch lady).

Things have only improved since those first few days. Not only the interactions with staff at Trinity, nor simply with classmates and professors at school, but everyone here seems to be amiable and ready to converse. What’s more, they seem ready to make friends. Ireland is a place for all types of people, which I am coming to learn more and more. Dublin is a world capital and a cosmopolitan city, and the demographics are changing daily. As a host of new folks come in, they are greeted warmly by the Irish, accepted, and made to feel most welcome. I’m happy to say I’ve already made friends who seem lifelong. To think I was so foolish just a few months ago…

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