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2 posts from February 2013


First Impressions

by Maureen Quinlan Grafton

Two days in and I feel like I’ve been here for years. Not that I feel comfortable yet, but just that I’ve done and seen so much it feels like no human being could do that much stuff in 48 hours. Here are some of my first impressions from my first two days in Dublin, Ireland.

Landing in Ireland was mostly how I imagined. I saw sweeping very green landscapes. But not until I was quite close to the ground because of the overcast skies and foggy clouds. It was overcast, cold and misty walking out of the airport. The day continued like that. But that brings me to my first impression: the weather.

ChristchurchThey can tell you about the weather, but you don’t know Irish climate until you experience it. It is completely erratic, which you would think I’m used to being from Colorado where it can go from shorts and flip-flops weather in the morning to blizzard conditions in the afternoon. But this was something entirely different. It was cold, pleasant, cloudy, sunny in spots and rainy all day. It never really decided what it wanted to be. The one thing that has been consistent is the wind. I have given up on my hair because the wind just whips it around. Today in the city centre, I think we saw some of the worst weather we will see. It was a decent rain storm as we were doing a walking tour.

But with all that rain comes my second impression: the green. It is true that the grass is greener in Sheep Ireland. It is electric the way the grass glows with such a bright green. Coming from a very dry and brown Colorado in January, it was odd to see such healthy vegetation in the middle of winter.

The other thing I love about all the fresh grass is the way it makes the air smell. Maybe it’s the mixture of rain, the nearby ocean and the grass that combine, but the aroma of Ireland is so wonderful. Who knew you could love the smell of a place?

My room is a single room in a suite with four other people. We share the kitchen and lounge area and all have our own rooms and bathrooms. The one suite mate I met was a boy who either had a very thick Irish accent or didn’t speak English because we barely understood each other. But he seemed nice.

Everyone seems nice even though it is blatantly obvious that my group and I are Americans. We don’t know how to pay in a restaurant, we bombarded a phone shop to buy pay as you go phones and we take silly tourist photos. As my program director said, “No amount of red hair or names like Maureen will disguise you as Irish.” There is something in the way we walk or dress or our attitudes that instantly label us as American.

But that is what we are. We are Americans who hope to become like locals in Dublin. It is a fun and fine city where I suspect I will have a grand time. I look forward to all the memories I will make. I’ve already made some great ones.

Like I said before, anything could happen.

Erin go Bragh!


The pre-departure jitters

By Maureen Quinlan

DSCN1761I leave for my four-month affair in Dublin, Ireland, this Sunday. I can’t believe it is so close. Let me start at the beginning of how this all started.

From the time I knew that having a name like Maureen Quinlan with red hair, green eyes and pale skin, I have wanted to visit Ireland. The green hills called my name. The land of my ancestors is waiting for me. Whenever I was asked the question, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” My answer has always been Ireland. Maybe it’s the feeling I will fit in well with my genetic code that matches a native Irishman’s. Maybe it is the feeling that my body has been genetically engineered for Irish weather. Maybe it is the feeling that I just want to be in a place with a reputation of being fiery and friendly. I’m not sure what it is about the country that calls my soul with such intensity. But I’m finally fulfilling that calling.

I couldn’t just do two weeks in this country. No, I am selfish and decided that I needed four months. I will be in Dublin for four months. From Jan. 28 until May 26, I will have the opportunity to become a local of the country that has long been in my fantasy vacations. I will also have the chance to visit some of Europe’s great capital cities. At the top of my list is Paris and Rome. I am thrilled to have such an opportunity.

As I look ahead to what the next four months has in store, I really have no idea what will come next. Anything can happen. And that is the attitude I hope to maintain as I board a plane on Sunday. It is all for the best.

Of course on the other hand, I have so much good I am leaving behind. I leave my parents and a new dog in Colorado. I leave my best friends from high school at their respective colleges. I leave my Chelseas in New York City and Boston working at awe-inspiring jobs. I left Boston in December the happiest I have ever been. I leave Colorado with the optimism of the fresh-eyed, young woman that I am.

I look forward to the people I will meet, the friends I will make, the things I will learn and all that I will see. I hope to come back a global citizen with a broader understanding of the world and the people that make it such a special place to be. I hope to learn more about myself along the way.

I hope you will follow my journey on this blog. I promise to try and post at least once a week in between my classes and world travels. And send me all the Irish luck you can. I will use it wisely.

Erin Go Bragh!