Carry What I’ve Learned and Dread Not What I’ll Miss

me two

I came to Dublin to escape the mundane. I needed to run far away from the 300 mornings I awoke on North 29th street to the 48 bus barreling past my window. The trash ridden sidewalks that invaded the sanctuary of my stoop; the noise pollution, my never-changing work schedule. I didn’t want to see the same old friends, who drank the same beer at the same bar, talked about the same shit, went to the same school. I needed to fill the pages of my beautiful leather notebook that I’d let sit on my desk collecting dust, unable to spill a word onto the virgin white pages. Necessity for unfamiliar inspiration is nothing new; it took me to New Zealand at 17, the woods of Alaska weeks after graduating high school, living and working on a horse farm in Maryland last summer, and, in between, a copious number of camping trips and music festivals up and down the east coast.


I needed to find the beauty of a new friend, a new place, panoramic landscapes that remind me the world is worth seeing. I knew Dublin was a city of comparable size to my own, but Ireland as a whole is a haven for inspired writing, kind people, and untainted landscapes. Reflecting on the 30 days I’ve spent here, I feel a reawakened itch, enthusiasm; a comfort that rips me out of my bed every morning to excitedly devour the 16 hours days in Dublin.


The city has been somewhat lackluster, but that was an expected reaction not just to Dublin, but any new city. I can’t find beauty in clusters of people, in landscapes plagued by the smell of human waste, entire blocks dedicated to the excessive consumption of food and drink. If I wanted to see humanities perverted need to manipulate, control, use and destroy, I would have stayed in Philly.

Dublin might be highly modern, but it also holds one quarter of the entire Irish population. If stuck, the most remote reaches of the country are accessible by bus within five hours, in any direction. Wake up any given day, any three day weekend, and go see natural wonders and small communities of hospitable folks. All this obtainable beauty allowed me to change direction at a whim and chronicle the journey through written word.

I basically made the sign of the cross through this country in one month; beginning in Dublin on the Eastern Coast, snaking up through the cow pastures of Northern Ireland to Dunegal, cutting west in a rental car full of rambunctious Italian friends to Galway, and finishing my six week adventure with a weekend trip far south to Kerry. A few hour journey that offers a completely different world was unfathomable to me in Philadelphia, but even more impressive were the dramatically different villages and sea towns that were just a few dozen kilometers from Dublin. Howthe, Greystone, Wicklow, Glendalough; these scenic escapes were feasible day trips but always left me feeling completely refreshed and inspired, with a head full of stories and notebook filled with observation.


I have never seen such a diversity of landscape within a country so small. Each journey began by leaving the Westernized city behind where it was immediately forgotten. The surrounding suburbs, in any direction, give way to vast stretches of farm land, docile sheep, cows, horses, donkeys. Farther away becomes even more exotic. Dunegal, or “cowboy country” as a few Dublin teens referred to it, was totally untainted. Large mountains cast shadows on small farm homes tucked neatly in the center of their several acre property. The huge stretches of bogland seemed eerily equatable to a post-apocalyptic world where nothing could grow and no man could live.

The Slieve cliffs, standing 600 meters tall, three times the height of the Cliffs of Moher, brought me face to face with a bighorn sheep. I couldn’t have been more than 8 meters from the edge of the cliff, attempting to climb toward a higher plateau, that apparently had already been claimed as the territory of this beast and his family. A similar standoff happened in Inishmore as I attempted to follow a dirt path which cut across stretches of green fields and maze-like stone walls. A gigantic bull stood 20 meters in front, protecting two heifers behind him. I naively walked toward him, so certain my 150 pound frame would send him running in the opposite direction. Instead he stomped his right leg, brandished his pointed horns, and forced me backward, abandoning the path all together.

On the Cliffs of Moher, my companions and I rebelliously climbed over the wall separating the tourist path from the more treacherous terrain much closer to the cliffs edge. We pretended we could not read, “Caution, Danger, Do not Enter”, in English or Gaelic. As we barreled along the trail we were blasted by more ferocious winds than I’ve ever experienced. We sat nestled on a perch at the absolute edge of the cliffs; threw rocks out into the sea below and picnicked in triumph.

As I dreadfully stare at the calendar, perpetually reminding me the adventure of Ireland is soon over, I have to recall what I learned instead of focusing on what I’ll miss. Summarized by Dublin kids that laughed and said, “Why the fuck would you want to come to Dublin, Ireland, any of it?”, I remember the, “grass ain’t greener, wine ain’t sweeter, on either side of the hill” (Robert Hunter). Everyone figures their hometown is the most boring place on earth, anywhere but here would be nicer, but that self fulfilling prophecy is completely in your own control.

Answering the call to adventure, reawakening the itch to live in the fifth gear of your soul does not inherently mean traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. Philadelphia holds 1.5 million, in over 100 neighborhoods; I might be tired of the two mile stretch between the Art Museum and Temple I call home, but Ireland forced me to remember the world is a gigantic place. A four hour road trip, a 50 minute train to Wissahickon State Park, countless opportunities offer relief from the banal. One new friend, one conversation, one smile can turn a day around and force you to walk with your chin up, anxiously awaiting another moment of unexpected excitement.

-Andrew Russin


It Never Made me Want to Leave

Kaleidoscopic water colored, salted depths of forest green,

Like dinosaur daffodils, jetting out in swords of light.

Garden of God tended only by rain, more brilliant then those more tame.

Cookie-cut houses vomited by chance, all I own I left within.

To ponder stark naked in rays of fire. Not an eye stares back.

The birds busy fighting, flies off the beautiful foal.

Don’t worry cause I’m safe in the wind, as the crooked rim slides down my bridge;

Waiting to go to the home that follows, swaying out toward a cool sea breeze,

He lays in a nest, to find spirits and force, we all lost at birth,

all that ever mattered was finding this place.


Life Lies Beneath the Lake

Propulsive vines of life, scattered along pebble-cladded beaches,

Stretching in every direction, in tangled foundations of a dead mossy tree,

Heaven floats down from the baron peak, and trickles love along the slope cutting creek,

it all ends up and around us, to settle below the lake’s glassy surface,

Without saying a word it tries to answer, all questions unknown which I carried so far,

A cloudy day has never been kinder, nor rain more welcome than now,

to wash away worries and cleanse every kid.


Learn to Smile Again

Natural worlds smile bright, painting the sky with broad silky strokes,

To turn the earth into my own canvas, snow white fluffy lines dancing along,

the clear and untainted baby blue, reminding God’s creatures to stop for a while,

to turn it all off and nestle in the grass,

and allow the suns piercing rays, to permeate deep into forgotten souls,

and for five minutes or the rest of my life, pretend everything has always been O.K.,

The sort of life that pulls you out each morn, from comforted dreams of distant fogged memory,

and rips open shades, to explode in light and color,

and imagine the perfect place to lay around and smile back.


Stand on Top of the World

Swingin’ a sunshine kid in the purple dress of cotton flowers,

acrobatic freaks performing for no one,

as bluebird notes crawl off the strings of some painted mandolin,

orchestrating the lovebirds picnic in their own private garden,

while every pup runs farther from their leash, a soft sun bakes naked bathers,

the only forbidden substance a sad lonely grin.

tall and proud the monument’s unmoved, to watch and protect God’s kids from the world,

a world they turned from to remind them of youth,

and times much freer from the concrete chains,

each blade matters, a place for all men, woman, creatures born for something better,

a bright shining haven to find during life,

remind the hopelessly beat down, that once in a while it’s ok to run,

to pull worries from your pocket and laugh and cry,

and love the mother with enough lovin’ for all,

when all’s overwhelmed and you see nowhere left,

leave your shoes in the grass , and cleanse body and mind in Mother Earth’s garden party.

See the Lights Surrounding You


The first mountain I ever saw was at the age of 16 and it was only in my home state. The first ocean I ever splashed around in was at the Jersey Shore. I went to Disney World for the first time when I was 17. I guess I was a late bloomer with that but I still felt as giddy as a child. In my 20’s I also ventured out West. I was blown away by a culture and landscape that felt so foreign from what I’d known on the East Coast. I squealed with joy as my toes submerged into the Pacific Ocean. I’ve even been to Key West where I simultaneously experienced a pristine version of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico.  I’ve traveled a lot in my life but it wasn’t until now, at the age of 22, that I finally made my way out of the United States.

Upon arriving in Ireland my eyes grew wide with anticipation of what would fall into sight. My heart pulsated for new adventures. I wanted to do it all.  I dreamed about lands unknown; people, places, and things.  Would the mountains look different than the ones I saw at 16? Would the Atlantic Ocean reflect a different hue of blue from the other side?

 “I’m finally here,” I thought, as I approached the gates of our apartment community.  Thoughts from my childhood raced through my head.  I felt oddly like Cinderella.  It wasn’t a castle but it signified new opportunities for the girl who needed an escape.  A day or two later, I found myself referencing an issue of National Geographic that I read a few months prior. I mentally compared colorful photographs in the magazine to the dark blue lake and grass covered mountains in my eye’s view. It all was coming true.


Similar to home in Philadelphia, I took many buses, trains, and even boats in Dublin.  There, my daily routine from home, to school, and to work had hindered my awareness of all that surrounded me. Long tours were taken aboard buses in Ireland but I didn’t find myself asleep, engrossed in a book, or tuned into my iPod like I did in America. Instead my head stayed on a swivel, turning from near window to far. Although my camera struggled to capture the beautiful images of the landscapes as we rolled by, I spent a lot of my trip looking through its lens. I was sure that it wouldn’t do justice to what I witnessed with my own eyes but using the camera helped me to mentally focus in on details. My camera served as a useful tool, never allowing me to lose sight of the light.


It was important for me to not only take pictures but immerse myself in the land. I rolled in the grass at Phoenix Park, hiked the Wicklow Mountains, got sand on my feet in Malahide, and cuts on my knees in Dingle. The last time I actually fell down with an open wound was years ago, I cried then, but on this trip I rejoiced in my mishaps. Tears only rolled down my cheek out of moments of joy or inspiration.

In these times, I felt both young at heart and wise in mind. If I could go on to define “bliss” that is exactly what I’d write. This trip has reminded me to stay awe-inspired, to never stop being amazed, to see instead of simply looking.  My ability to find the wandering child inside while having the adult strength to put plans into action was what brought me to this place.

As I leave Dublin, I will continue to foster my inner child. It is with a full heart, a smile, and great certainty that I promise to never let her retreat. In this last week a Bob Dylan song plays over in my head, with simple words resounding in my renewed mind… “May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung, may you stay forever young.”

– Faith Scheerbaum

Off the Beaten Path- Julisa Basak








The day when I got accepted into the Dublin Study Abroad Program, my father faced me with a quizzical expression and asked, “Why Ireland?” It was the simplest of questions any parent would ask if they were about to fork out a lot of money for their child’s six-week adventure abroad. But knowing my dad, he wasn’t asking a question—he was posing a challenge. There was something different about this trip than any other trips I’ve taken before. Unlike most of my peers, I wasn’t going because I had links to an Irish ancestry. I wasn’t going because I had to fulfill a few college credits in order to graduate. For one thing, I was the only Indian among sixteen other Temple University students traveling with me. So when I heard the voice overhead on the plane welcoming me to Dublin Airport, I found myself going back to my dad’s question for the hundredth time. Why was I here in Ireland?

It’s safe to say that it took some time and thought to really grasp the answer by the end of my Dublin experience. The first week was scary and overwhelming, and being somewhat of an introvert was not helpful. Not only was I forced to tackle my greatest weakness of remembering directions in a new city with a convoluted layout, I was also living with other Temple students who had completely different personalities and values than my own. I followed my group around and relied on them to make the best decisions. A dull feeling overcame my mind as I began to forget who I was as an individual. My discomfort got to the point where I found myself Skyping my parents and my friends back home every night. I looked for a sense of protection and, due to the irksome question itching in the back of my mind, a perfectly good reason to be here. But as always, I bore through this loneliness with a smile because I knew on the other side of the world, my dad was looking for a sense of strength within me. He kept on reminding me why I chose this trip and what I was looking for. His idea of really looking did not make much sense until I got lost on Inishmore in the Aran Islands.

It was, by chance, the greatest experience I had ever faced in Ireland. Some of my peers and I had traveled to the island and rented bikes to ride the entire breadth of the landscape. I was immediately captured by the way the stretches of green grass rushed furiously past me. Even the wet winds that lashed against my face excited my senses and made me feel daring and adventurous. I felt liberated from the chains that kept me bounded by the uncertainty of where my choices were leading me. So when I got separated from my group, I didn’t realize the significance of my solitary presence until I stopped to look. I hopped off my bicycle, took a deep breath, and observed my location. There was only one main road that ran the entire diameter of the island, but what held me back from moving on was a moment of contemplation. I asked myself how far I had come, and where I needed to go.

When I took the bike back on the road again, I noticed the path getting rougher and steeper. Soon I was flying through chunks of gravel and protruding rocks, holding on for dear life as I tried to maneuver myself out of danger. This was not the same road that I was on before, and I knew then that I had stepped off the secure path. The worst fact was that I had not touched a bicycle since elementary school, so the anxiety of crashing flooded my thoughts the entire time. But I held my grip and kept repeating to myself that I was in control. It wasn’t long until I made it to the finish line without a scratch. Then, for the first time, I realized that my whole journey on this island had been a metaphor of my transformation in Ireland. I started out fearful and overwhelmed, taking the easy route by following others and avoiding my personal reasons for being in Ireland. When I was left on my own to overcome the bumpy obstacles in my path, I was slowly becoming stronger in body and spirit. When I looked back at the landscape I crossed, I could only think about the tumultuous emotions I had conquered ever since coming to Dublin.

After that, the answer to why I was in Ireland started to become clear. I was not here to simply be lured by the romantic notions of green hills and grazing sheep, nor was I looking for a specific Irish quirk like the people’s love for literature and beer. I was here to fulfill a quest of growth and self-cultivation. I chose Ireland because I wanted to test myself in a place where I hardly had any connections—to go beyond my comfort zone and realize my potential in a foreign country. Of course, a more tangible reason was to look into the tension between the old rural culture and the contemporary culture in Ireland. That was where my media skills came into play—to document this mix of old and new traditions. But on a deeper level, I was challenging myself to experience a whole new frontier. It was a tough transition, but the ability to rise up against a certain identity crisis was the best thing to happen to me. It allowed me to breath in a whole new air of confidence along with the moist Irish breeze.

I believe that at the end of the day, my dad wanted to see this transformation happen, which was why he posed that puzzling question in the first place. He knew I had a knack of challenging myself with spontaneous decisions, and coming to Dublin has allowed me to not only realize its cultural differences, but also to realize my potential. My metaphoric and literal journey on Inishmore became an ongoing story of success. I have gone above and beyond my limits to cross uncharted roads, and I know now that this experience will eventually carry me to higher places in the future. That, to me, makes all the difference.

– Julisa Basak

Two Roads-Tara McNulty









It’s easy to become complacent with everyday life. At least that’s what it felt like for me. My alarm would ring at six-thirty each morning and I would be up. Up for back-to-back shifts at work or for a full day of classes, I had my routine down pat. And that was becoming a problem.  I suddenly realized I had become a little too comfortable in my daily routine. As the youngest of a large Irish family it was incredibly easy to define myself by the roles I have always played. The baby of the family, the sheltered little sister, the one who never followed a path that wasn’t already neatly smoothed over by the footsteps of the parents and six older siblings that went before. So, when the opportunity to journey into uncharted territories was flashing in front of my eyes, I had to walk towards the light. I had no idea what this trip had in store for me; all I knew was that I needed to fall out of place in order to find where I belong.

I have always done what has been expected of me, and rightly so. I have been taught that if you follow the rules, obey the guidelines you will possess the key to success. Although that’s partially true, success can be achieved in more ways than one. For the first time in my life I truly left home. Left family, friends, and every sense of security I know behind, to travel to a foreign country. I was ready (more like anxious) to see what the world had in store for me. I was no longer Tara McNulty, Temple University student and the youngest sibling and daughter of the McNulty family, rather an unknown 22 year old girl standing on a precipice with nothing but endless possibilities ahead.

For the first time in my life I am trudging through on my own path. Although there were times when I doubted whether or not this trip would be a mistake I realized that it was necessary to break the mold I had created for myself. Unfortunate to say, but like most people, I needed to leave to appreciate what I already had. These past six weeks were enlightening, helping me realize how much I had taken the things I have and the people I love for granted. I have been humbled by this experience and whether I had traveled to one of the other amazing international programs Temple had to offer, I have a feeling that this realization would have surfaced all the same. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will always be thankful for, and now as I sit here looking back on the trip, I realize that the people I met, the places we visited and the personal accomplishments I achieved in these six weeks have changed me forever. I can’t express anything but gratitude to those who contributed to making this experience one that I will always carry with me.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”-Robert Frost The Road Not Taken

-Tara McNulty

The Apology of a Tourist



One thousand words and 6 weeks to cover what may be an experience of a lifetime.

It seems almost too short, doesn’t it?

So, let’s make this clear: this is going to be a partially rambling rant about the entirety of my time here. Forget the architecture, forget the ‘art’ beats. This is all me-time.

Socrates, upon realizing that he knew nothing (that is, he was able to admit that he did not know everything, unlike most other people who will spout nonsense in an attempt to not appear ignorant) declared that he was the wisest man in Greece as the Oracle of Delphi had foretold. In reflection, then, while I will not claim to be the wisest man in Ireland (or even in this group), I will admit that even after a month and a half in Ireland, I know nothing. I will not attempt to affect some sort of faux-wisdom that comes from travelling to different places. I won’t try speaking with a  brogue, and I won’t reply to every comment or question with “Well, in Ireland, you see, they do or think or say ‘x’ or ‘y’ or ‘z’”.

I arrived here 6 weeks ago knowing nothing about Ireland – apart from some travel tips from friends and family who had visited previously – and I will leave knowing only a little more than nothing. Because, while I can tell you a little about the histories of Dublin, Donegal, Howth and other places, I still don’t know them. I haven’t grown up here – I haven’t even spent a truly significant amount of time here. Sure, I can give you directions in Dublin if you want to get to Stephen’s Greens, or even if you want to go to a good, non-tourist filled pub, but that’s knowledge on a surface level. Dublin, and by extension, Ireland, isn’t my home. Not really. I’m a tourist, an outsider, someone to be tolerated and, after a while, forgotten in the stream of constant faces of other tourists that come and go. I won’t make a single impression upon anyone here, not really.

So how do I change that?

Because, after 6 weeks, I have an itch. A tiny, little itch, you see, but it’s there, under my skin. While I’m here in Ireland, immersed in green lands and, every so often, a good bit of craic, I can ignore that itch. But even after a week in Dublin, I start to get that itch again, even though Dublin is as every little bit as much a part of Ireland as the rest of it. But I wanted something else. It was something I found in Donegal, in Glendalough, in Dingle as I explored the hills, mountains, forests, cliffs and fields. It was a moment of semi-self revelation, a split second of natural ecstasy. As I stood beholding the scenery that unfurled in front of me, a jolt of electricity would dance up my spine, and my entire body would seize up and stiffen as that lightning danced under skin tightening into goosebumps.

It was a sensation I had never felt before, and now I’m addicted to it. And it’s going to be the reason why I’ll constantly want to return.

And why wouldn’t I want to return? The Irish are a friendly lot who don’t mind strangers in a pub butting into their conversations – most times I was invited by a nudge of an elbow, or a hand on my shoulder. They don’t mind Americans wandering into their towns and watering holes, and are always ready to give a recommendation on where to find a drink or a bite to eat, or to give directions to a weary traveler as to where the nearest hostel is. And as I’ve said before, the landscape, what I mainly came here to see, is something that the eyes can drink in constantly for weeks. Every time that I’d thought I’d become tired of my trip – the sort of fatigue that comes from being separated from your normal methods of mental refreshment and being forced into an entirely new environment – something new and different would spring up and re-energized me.

But I digress. My initial ponderance was to whether or not I could eventually call someplace else – Ireland, specifically – my home. If I want to make an impact on the people here, if I want to be remembered by others, how do I accomplish that?

The answer seems so simple.


Time changes everything. Just look at Colin, one of the IES representatives. Even with an American accent, he’s picked up Irish mannerisms so well you’d have to do a double take to confirm his country of origin.

Which, of course, only hardens my resolve to return.

-Brian Hamilton



Ireland -Hannah Conrady


Three beers deep, I’m in the Philadelphia airport anxiously waiting for a delayed flight to come and whisk me away to the land of potatoes and leprechauns. Constantly checking my phone to see the score of the Penguins game, I am a little pissed at the fact that I will be missing the playoffs for the first time since my youth. A wave a panic washes over me and I’m regretting my decision to leave. I start wishing I could just hop back on my fixed gear and ride back to my little oasis at 7th and Fairmount. My flight is called. I’m off to Ireland.

I wake up 6 hours later to find myself groggy and in need of a strong, very strong Americano. The first libation station I find has exactly what I’ve been craving: Guinness and caffeine. Sighing loudly, I think, “OK, I can finally relax – I’ve made it”.

I’m off to Archway Courts, which later becomes where I call home in this foreign land. Hesitantly I allow myself to open up to a few of the other girls on the trip and we head out to grab a pint and orient ourselves with our new habitat. Like anyone in a new city for the first time, we are clueless and are each wearing a huge neon sign that screams “TOURIST”. It takes some time, but this sign gradually dims from neon, to florescent, to 40-watt bulb, to nothing.

Once the initial sadness and homesickness passes after 2 weeks, I am finally able to fully dive headfirst into Ireland. It seems almost impossible to sum up exactly what has happened to me over the past 6 weeks, so the best I can do to describe it is to simply say I am different now. I have picked up a new pair of lenses I never expected to acquire while here. Before this trip, I was completely consumed with America and the American way of life. I now appreciate America more but love my country in a different way. I have realized that despite how intelligent I once thought I was, I am so small and my mind is so feeble and all I can really do is learn as much as I can.

Darren Kelly, my Irish professor here, has been one of the greatest influences in my academic life. He has opened my eyes to different cultures and the way cities work. As someone who has lived in two cities prior to my arrival in Dublin, I was already extremely interested in the anthropology of city life, but was never able to discuss the issues intellectually until I was given the knowledge and resources provided by Darren (Thank you Darren).

He inspired me to think of my trip less as a vacation where I would spend the majority of my time in pubs, trying to get picked up by Irishman and more as a learning experience where the people I meet in these pub could educate me. I became interested in the Irish psyche and figuring out why these people act as they do.

“Why is this a drinking culture? “

“Why is the food such ‘shite’?”

“Why are these 13-year-old girls wearing cropped tops and booty shorts?”

I found that the answers to these questions came down to a number of things that I would have never learned simply by spending my time in the classroom. I made myself go out on the streets and seek answers to questions seemingly simple, but that were actually more complex than I could have ever imagined. The years of British oppression and the subsequent yearning for freedom was one cause that explains the nature of the Irish youth. The constant questioning of national identity explains the food and unfailing desire to drown out sorrows in a pint.

In this sense I found myself connecting to the Irish and their way of thinking. During my many walks around St. Stephen’s Green, I realized that Ireland was helping me figure out who I am both as a person and as an American. No longer was I okay with going through life not knowing political issues and what other places around the world are like. I realized that America is a great nation but is in no way the greatest nation.

In all, Ireland has humbled me and made me appreciate everything I have. Just six weeks ago all I could think about was how quickly I wanted to get back to the States and now that my journey is ending, I could kick myself for even momentarily taking this all for granted. I will forever look back at my time spent here and recognized it as the biggest learning experience I have ever had and how I will never be the same Hannah again.

-Hannah Conrady

A City










Dublin is a city. And a city, is a city, is a city. While there are all different cities all over the world, many, if not most, are so similar that you could take one block and transplant it into a hundred other cities. This is the curse of city living. Because of things like the Internet, movies, music and television many cultures around the world share many, many common aspects. This, combined with how multicultural major cities tend to be can cause a new city to be extremely underwhelming, especially to someone who already lives in a city.


Upon first arriving in the Dublin airport, I had no concrete expectations for the city or Ireland. Sure, I had some pre-conceived notions about what Ireland was—accents, Guinness, shamrocks, green countryside, sheep and pubs. But all of these were just things I had heard about or seen on television, so I had my doubts about what Ireland would actually be like. However, the cab ride from the airport to our accommodations did not disappoint. Our driver had a thick Irish accent, we drove on the left side of the road, and all of the cars and street markings were different.


Once we had arrived at our apartments things started to feel the same. There were some differences, but they were not that major. The plugs were different, there were switches on the plugs, and the hot water for the shower had a timer. These were the only differences. We were still in a city, in cheap apartments, there were couches and tables and televisions. Giant signs for Guinness, people in wool sweaters and leprechauns were nowhere to be found.

This is how most of my introduction to the city went. Everywhere I went there were slight differences that you would miss if you weren’t looking close enough. Like any other cities there were commercial areas, malls, parks, low class neighborhoods, high class neighborhoods, fast food places and over priced restaurants. While I’m sure it would have been a shock to someone coming from a rural part of the USA, I have lived in cities all of my life and none of this was new to me. The entire trip, the money I had spent on it, the summer of almost certain unemployment, the people I left at home, and all of the excitement didn’t seem worth it. Maybe I had made a huge mistake. This was until I slowed down, stopped, looked around, sat in a bar with a pint and really began to take in the people and customs of Ireland.

The Irish people are some of the best people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. I am truly lucky I’ve had the opportunity to experience their culture. While yes, they may look like every other European or American to a certain extent, their culture and attitude is completely different. No other culture I have ever experienced has had such a high context culture with such a down to earth approach to life. Even after five weeks of living here I still cannot wrap my head around some of their customs.

Every single time I go out to eat I have no idea what to do. Do I go up and get menus? Do I seat myself? Should I wait for someone to come to my table? Do I need to go up to order my food? What about water? Do I have to ask for it or are they going to bring it for the table? While this part of their implicit culture can be nerve wracking at times for a foreigner I do enjoy it to an extent. You are responsible for yourself in Ireland, as silly or obvious as that sounds. No one is going to hold your hand through the experience. And if you’re going to be reckless or do something stupid, that is your own fault and you can’t blame anyone else.


Fences, guardrails, disclaimers and warning signs are a joke in Ireland. If you want to go right up to the edge of a cliff or river, you can. But if you fall in, you have no one to blame but yourself. You should know your limits and know how to take care of yourself. You can’t rely on other people to keep you in check, let alone blame them for your shortcomings. This is probably the best thing about Ireland and the Irish people. In the USA there are signs telling people what to do, warning signs and guides everywhere, and people sue each other over the smallest things. All of these things have always bothered me back in the states. No one takes responsibility for himself or herself. If you fall while on the sidewalk, it’s because it was cracked, not because you are clumsy. Or if you get a bad grade it’s the teacher’s fault, not yours because you didn’t put in the necessary work. Even if you burn yourself because you couldn’t wait to drink your coffee, it’s the restaurants fault for not warning you. NONE of these things would happen in Ireland. They simply wouldn’t even entertain the idea. It goes directly against their culture and values.

The people and attitude of Ireland is what truly makes Ireland Irish. This is only further amplified when you go out into the country. Out away from the city is where you find all of the stereotypical Irish things like sheep, cliffs, castles, rocks, and more. This is great and I had an amazing time exploring it.  I loved that people embraced this Irish attitude even more the further you got from the city. Everything Irish was amplified by ten in the country. There were ten times as many sheep, ten times as many green things, ten times as many castles, and you were ten times more responsible for yourself.

-Amos Hanna



Stasis -Brittany Kane

brittany photo

“Stasis in darkness./Then the substanceless blue/Pour of tor and distances./God’s lioness,/How one we grow,/Pivot of heels and knees!” – Sylvia Plath

I feel as though this quote, the opening of “Ariel”, captures my emotional state of being both before departing for Ireland, and now, as I’m preparing to depart from Ireland. I felt as though I was in a state of hesitation, lingering on the verge of some rabbit-hole type of abyss, from which my identity would grow.

Walking out of the airport into Ireland was exhilarating, and the first 24 hours I spent in Dublin was a rush of excitement. It was new, it was foreign, and I was ready to discover all that I could find with the group of strangers I was placed here with. However, my excitement died relatively quickly. I realized that Dublin was more similar to Philadelphia, as well as every other city I have been to, then I had ever expected. As I walked the streets of Dublin, I would randomly find a street that would transport me back to Philadelphia, as I perceived it to be similar to some shadow of a street I frequent but never fully examined.

It was in this feeling that my first growth as an individual began. I realized that I hadn’t ever slowed down to observe Philadelphia as much as I thought I had. Not being able to pinpoint why certain areas, signs, or people in Dublin reminded me of home was agitating. It was confounding to think that I could only remember Philly in mental shadows, but not in distinct detail. It was this that encouraged me to slow down in Dublin and to fully immerse myself in each image and experience. I knew that I did not want to return to Philly with just a shadow of Dublin in my mind.

As I was attempting to satisfy my appetite for Dublin sights and sounds, the feeling of disorientation is what propelled the next growth in my identity. I found myself amongst strangers in a strange city. I had left a home that I shared with my friends, where we acted more as a family, and had left a city that I’ve called home my entire life, to come to this place. I missed the familiarity of my home, and I still do now, however the motivation behind it has changed. At first the discomfort of such foreign places and people made me upset, and the fact that I only had six weeks before I was to leave made me debate the value of putting time and effort into fully acclimating. This was a temporary lifestyle, and I didn’t want anything to change between when I arrived and left for home.

Then I realized that I was a blank slate here. That I could be me, without a history or any ties to who I was or who I was perceived to be. I had no past. It was liberating, and I was able to relax and let myself act and say however I felt in each moment. It was this that has allowed me to unfurl the tight bud that my psyche and perception of myself had become. So now, when I miss home, it is not for the familiarity of who I was and my environment to which I had become accustomed, but simply the want for companionship and new experiences shared with those whom I haven’t seen in six weeks.

It was this that led to my final realization, not only about myself or Dublin, but about travel as a whole, as an idea. Travel is fascinating and exciting, no doubt about that; however it is simply the moving of oneself to see new places on the surface. Travel is not only about being somewhere new or finding and experiencing new people and things. It is about how one reacts to these new people and things. Travel is about the self. In travelling, I have discovered and grown more than I would have at home. Travel plops you into a new and foreign atmosphere, and it allows you to figure out how you fit into the puzzle of somewhere besides home. It is this that allows us to grow as individuals. It allows us to realize how exactly we do fit into our home environment. And it has allowed me to figure out who I am. As Professor Darren Kelly told us, travelling and seeing different places is exciting and nice, but it is what these places teach us about ourselves that makes them truly priceless.

So now, as I prepare to leave Dublin and return home to Philadelphia, I am not sad, but excited. I once again feel as though I am on the edge of an abyss- an abyss that will allow me to continue my growth past Dublin. I will be returning home with a different identity, one in which I will once again discover nuances to how I fit into the puzzle of home, just as I found how I fit into Dublin and this group of 17 students. I will be able to discover more about myself, and continue the constant evolution of my identity.

-Brittany Kane

My Souvenir Experience – Brigid Cosgrove


When you put the words “learning” and “college” into the same sentence, naturally, the first words to come to mind would be “books” or “exams”…or something along those lines.  This is because most of what students learn in college is taken from textbooks.  But what cannot be read in a textbook, taught in a lecture hall, or given an exam on, is experience.  Experiences are something that must be learned on one’s own, and they often happen throughout a student’s college career.  After all, they do say that “experience is the best teacher.”  Experiences can teach us about a specific skill, about the world around us, but most importantly, about ourselves.  For a student, some believe that the greatest way to learn about your self during your college career is through the experience of studying abroad.

So, here I am, in the last week of my own study abroad experience in Dublin, Ireland.  I am learning more and more about myself as each day passes through the experiences I am having here.  Before arriving in Dublin, I wasn’t quite sure if I believed that six weeks here could really make a difference in who I am as a person, but now I am fully convinced.  Some may think that I came to Dublin to meet lots of friendly people, drink my weight in tea, learn the Irish jig, listen to live music, or be taught how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness—but my experience has been so much deeper than that.

Putting into words how a mere six weeks of a life-changing study abroad can do to a student could be indescribable. However, there are specific aspects that significantly shape this experience.  No professor or textbook could teach me what I have learned about myself and about life through this experience.  After studying abroad and returning to the sweet land of liberty, students often say that the experience changed them, or that they had the best time of their lives; however, this did so much more than that.  I don’t think that this experience necessarily changed me, I think that it helped me see deeper into who I am and who I have the potential to be.

Going to school at Temple University, at times, has made me feel isolated from the rest of the city and the world.  Temple has a small urban campus, but when I am on college grounds, I feel disconnected to what is on the outside of this imaginary border.  There is so much to do on campus and there are so many people to interact with, that it never gets boring.  Although I do go off campus and into Center City a lot, I still identify myself as part of Temple’s community, rather than Philadelphia’s.  Being on this trip in Dublin has made me really open my eyes to the fact that there is so much more out in the world, and not only that, but in my city, that I have yet to experience.  I began to realize that I have met more strangers and explored more places in Dublin than I have in my own city of Philadelphia.  I have all of the opportunity to do the same back home, and I know now through my experience that I will.

Adventure is something that most people strive for in life.  I am one of those people.  Taking risks will teach you a lot about adventure.  A few days ago, my classmates and I travelled to Northern Ireland where we planned to cross the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.  This bridge could be pretty scary to anyone with a fear of heights (like myself) looking down into the dangerous cliffs and crashing waves many feet below it.  I was so hesitant to cross this shabby piece of rope they call a bridge, and in the back of my mind I thought there was no way I was making it to the other side without “chickening out.”  But, with some convincing from some of my friends and mostly from myself, I did it!  Yes, the getting there was scary, but once I stepped onto the earth on the other side, I got this rush inside of me.  I was so excited and felt so proud of myself for doing it.

This experience was more than just a rope bridge to me, and even more than conquering my fear of heights.  This really taught me that I have the potential to do things I wouldn’t normally do— to step out of my comfort zone and take those risks that come my way throughout life’s adventurous journey.

The other day, a professor I have here, Darren Kelly, mentioned that yes, I will learn a lot about myself during my stay in Ireland; but, those lessons will be proved when I go back home and apply what I’ve learned to my daily life.  It is when I have been home for a while that everything will fall into place and this specific experience will be completed.

Living in the city of Philadelphia can sometimes make me believe that I am experienced and live in a diverse enough place to know a lot about the world.  Upon coming here, I have learned that is not true at all; now I believe that no matter how many experiences I have, there is always going to be opportunity for more.

– Brigid Cosgrove

A Portrait of the Storyteller as a Young Man -Logan Clare

logan Breakfast

Why did I come to Dublin? There was a full year of build up for me leading up to studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. A full year of living, eating, and breathing the word, “Dublin.” I worked four jobs during that timeline, and each paycheck I acquired had Dublin written all over it. I watched every Irish film I could get my hands on, read up on James Joyceʼs work (or at least as much as I could understand), and purchased what I thought would be the appropriate attire to fit in with local Irish. To top it all off, I proudly brandished my Irish last name, “Clare,” on a pin on my backpack to signify a return to my ancestry. Needless to say, I was excited. Ireland was the country of my dreams for the longest time, especially since becoming interested in writing. I would finally feel like an Irish writer, walking the same streets as the brilliant literary juggernauts that came before me, and pump out poem after poem, and short story after short story. I would finally feel like an Irish director, gazing with cinematic wonder at the canals and buildings around me. I would finally feel like a true adventurer, claiming my familyʼs name and making discoveries on their behalf. I felt full of potential, wearing all of these identities with pride. Logan Clare, the writer, the filmmaker, the adventurer.

However, the amount to which these “identities” would be fulfilled was unknown to me. Perhaps I had anticipated too much for myself. Yes, I loved Dublin upon arrival, and I had empty check lists full of activities at the ready for each of my identities, but perhaps I was actually over prepared. Something happened about halfway through my trip that made me stop everything I was doing. I lost all my motivation when it came to these identities I set up for myself, specifically the writing identity. I didnʼt feel like that.

“Dublin writer” that I wanted to be so badly. The unfortunate truth is that Dublin, in actuality, has way less of a writing culture than I initially projected. I fooled myself into believing that everyone walked around in James Joyce attire reciting lines and dialogue from Ulysses. The final event that kicked me into this slump was on June 16th, Bloomsday, a celebration of everything James Joyce. The day turned out to be an excuse for old, rich people to eat expensive meals in silly hats. This was the ultimate, final disappointment for me, and it made me feel extraordinarily lost. I thought I came to Dublin to be a writer, and here I was, completely uninspired to write, and three weeks into my program. I was forced to ask myself, “Why did I come to Dublin?”

Three weeks into my study abroad program, that question was actually easy to answer. Why does anyone travel? To experience the people and the culture. Iʼm not sure how I missed this concept. Itʼs not like every conversation I had with the local Irish was conducted through writing on napkins and passing them back and forth. I loved spending my time chatting with locals at pubs and on the streets of Dublin. Dublin is the one place on Earth where, when walking down the street, if you pass someone and ask, “How are you doing,” that person will recite a generous monologue describing how they are feeling. As a victim of verbal diarrhea myself, I found this very comforting. However, I thought that I was cheating myself. I thought that I should have been spending more time writing poetry and prose work rather than listening to the stories that the locals had to offer. I constantly had this voice of regret telling me to get back in gear and succeed in becoming that Dublin writer I told myself I would be.

Luckily, this mindset would soon be abandoned. About a week after my mid-trip crisis, a guest visitor came to one of my classes. He was the founder of a Dublin collective called “Milk and Cookie Stories,” a bi-weekly event where storytellers of all kinds gather, eat sweet pastries, and just tell stories. He visited the class to give us a “storytelling workshop,” which was immediately intriguing to me. As an introduction to the collective, the guest speaker told us an adventurous and incredibly touching coming of age tale that spoke directly to my heart. This man, getting up and encouraging us to just get out there and tell stories, and telling us how he originally made the decision to do so himself, had reawakened the passion inside me that originally made me want to be a writer. It shocked me right back to my family dinner table at seven years old, making up nonsense tales in front of my parents and brothers just so I could have an audience.

Moreover, this storytelling workshop reassured my decision in studying abroad in Dublin. I finally found the real identity that I was meant to fulfill while in Ireland. It wasnʼt that of a writer, filmmaker, or adventurer. It was a combination of all three, really. Anytime I was writing for leisure in Dublin, it was in a tucked away corner of a pub in the early morning, jotting down the details of my explorations here in Ireland over a fabulously large Irish breakfast. I wanted to remember everything for later. I wanted to return home and perform grandiose stories to my friends and relations, combining the literary aspects of writing, the performance of film, and the wonder of adventure. I didnʼt want to come home and recite my travels in a chronological manner. I wanted to tell the tale of a confused 20 year old who landed in a foreign country with hopes and dreams that ended up being burnt and then gracefully reborn like a phoenix. In the end, I have the Irish culture to thank for giving me that identity. Logan Clare, the storyteller.

-Logan Clare