Friday, March 24, 2017

Katrina in Dublin

Hello and welcome to the lovely and historical city of Dublin located near the east coast of Ireland! My name is Katrina Sutton and what I thought would be a trip to learn about my ancestry became a liberating experience learning about the true differences between cultures. Arriving in Dublin, I was greeted by the University College Dublin crew to get us on buses to the university and settled into our apartments. Once settled in, my American friends and I explored city centre Dublin (what we refer to as downtown or uptown) and I was greeted by a massive, bustling, and crowded city. I have never been to New York, but Dublin, to me, felt like an Irish version of New York City with all of the business men and women going to work, the college students hurrying to the nearest coffee shop to get in their studies, and the mothers and fathers picking up their daily groceries. My friends and I ate at a traditional Irish pub and my first meal was a toastie and chips (sandwich and fries) and, to get into the spirit of things, I ordered a famous Guinness and it was delightful.

I found a mural on campus. This represents the science department.
The next few months gave me a million different experiences I never would have be exposed to had I not travelled to Dublin. I took a student-led tour of the Dark Hedges, Giant’s Causeway, and the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, all of which are located in the Northern part of Northern Ireland. On the tour, I ran into a student from Singapore who told me a lot about her experiences growing up there and how different the economy was from the United States. The most rewarding part of the conversation was the realization that my culture did have an influence on the world. This opened my eyes to how drastic the United States could affect other countries and how we are not exposed at all to these cultures that we are directly affecting. It made me have insight as a person to become more curious about learning the other student’s home countries a lot more than I already was. On the tour, Tori and I laughed our butts off trying not to fall down the rocks of Giant’s Causeway, saw the beautiful country land, posed as a boy band with some students from India, and were blown away by the intense mythology and history of these places.

 My Singapore friend and I are BLOWN away by Giant’s Causeway.
The Women’s March in Dublin was one of the biggest displays of unity among people that I had ever seen. Men and women of all different ages, sexual orientations, ethnicities, races, nationalities, and disabilities. Everyone was chanting, holding up signs, hugging, laughing, and smiling. It was extremely moving to be in the middle of this crowd and hearing speeches from people of all different walks of life. I left the march with tears in my eyes and a newfound respect for the people of Dublin fighting for equal rights.
The people of Dublin have a more liberal approach to social issues while the rest of Ireland has a more conservative view.
One of the most striking signs of the Women’s March.

In my three Irish classes, I’ve learned so much about Irish history, contemporary issues, the language, and how the culture was shaped into being what it is today. I learned that “the troubles” were more than just Protestants vs. Catholics and that it was this fight for freedom that had been implemented in society for centuries when Ireland was under English rule. I discovered that a small percentage of Ireland still speaks fluent Irish and that there is a current movement to keep that national language alive. There are also movements in the community of women where many are fighting to repeal the 8th amendment. This amendment dictates that it is against the law for a woman to get an abortion in the country, and many individuals are now fighting that law and one of the biggest protests I witnessed for the movement was in the Women’s March.

 This is Dublin Castle which extended to the famous garden and library.
I also explored Saint Patrick’s Cathedral!
What I knew of Ireland wasn’t at all what I came to discover about it. This was a country of nationalism, rebellion against the monarchy, pride, acceptance, unity among all individuals, and most important community. I created a family here that will live on past my short visit and I will never forget the lessons I learned and the people I have met.

Katrina Sutton
University College Dublin
Spring 2017