21 November, 2013

Great Friends and Great Craic

Today, I turn 21.

In the States, this is a big birthday, because it means I can drink legally. I told my parents I would let them buy me a cocktail or two when I get home, because I know they wish they could be here to celebrate with me. I’m a giver in that way.

But for once, I wasn’t eagerly anticipating this day that is all about me, and no, it isn’t because I have been drinking legally here for the last three months. What makes it bittersweet is that my semester in Dublin is almost over, and there is something so, so sad about that.

On Thursday we depart for Thanksgiving break—I will be traveling to Italy for four days, visiting the Vatican City and Pompeii, then on to England to see Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, Chatsworth House and of course, most importantly, Harry Potter World.

Jillian & Rebecca
When I land back in Dublin, I only have one week of classes and one week of finals standing between me and a flight across the Atlantic. I am looking forward to seeing my family, of course, but it is shocking to think time has gone by so fast.

My friends and I have already been taking note of the things we’ll miss. For those who are not yet 21, it will be the freedom to go out and have a drink with friends after a full week of classes.

It sounds like something typical of a bunch of underage college students, that they would miss drinking at a pub, but it is a lot more than that. Much of Irish culture is in the pubs, and you don’t have to drink alcohol to be welcome there. We have met a lot of really interesting people over a pint, and we’ve had the opportunity to hang out with one another as we did not have in Burlington. All forty-three of us came here with established groups of friends, but those groups have expanded over the last twelve weeks, and it’s been cool to be part of it.

You know: “We’ll always have Dublin.” Or something like that.

I’ll also miss how easy it is to get outside the city, because Ireland is so much more than what goes on
Malahide Castle
in Dublin. Recently Rebecca and I walked to Tara Street Station and took the DART to Malahide. We visited the castle and ate pancakes at this cute little café, and it was so great to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, even for a few hours.

It is those moments that I already think of fondly, the quiet afternoons walking around a new place with so much history, or the evenings at a pub yelling over the band to have a conversation that neither party understands because the music is just so loud.

Back in August, before classes had even started, we had to attend a three-day orientation. I remember Stephen discussing how essential it was to break away from “the Champlain bubble,” to do things on our own and experience Dublin in ways we may not be able to in a big group. I agree that such independence is important, and I think we all did a pretty good job of finding our niches in the short time we were here. But “the Champlain bubble” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either.

Teagan, Jillian, Beth, Hayley
I will be leaving here with friendships I did not have before, or friendships that matured from classroom acquaintances. I’ll always remember playing with sheep dog puppies in the Connemara Mountains, and standing on the beach where Game of Thrones is filmed, and it will be cool to talk about these things with these people at some reunion ten years from now. Collective memory is a great thing.

On the first day of orientation, Lilly said, “You only have sixteen weeks, and it’s going to go by so fast.” In August, with the sun shining and birds chirping and feet aching from a citywide scavenger hunt, December seemed a lifetime away. But suddenly it’s here, and though there are a lot of places I haven’t been, there are also a lot of places I have been. And I’m sort of excited to leave some things unseen, because it will give me a reason to come back.

So while I do not have any more birthdays where cool stuff happens—until I hit 55 and can get a senior citizen’s discount at Dunkin’ Donuts—I’ll still enjoy this one because, I mean, c’mon. I’m in Dublin with great craic and great friends, and for those reasons alone, 21 is looking pretty good.


 - Jillian Casey
Champlain Dublin Blogger Fall '13
Professional Writing/Secondary Education
Class of 2015

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