I spent my Thanksgiving break in Dublin. I went by myself. Understanding why needs a bit of context.
When I was in fourth grade, I got a virtual pen pal. She was five years older than me, but we became really close through the years, and to this day, we still talk daily. She’s from Missouri, and now goes to grad school at Trinity College Dublin, which means I’ve never actually met her in person.
One of my close friends from high school is a year younger than I am and always prone to doing whatever crazy thing she can think of. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t surprised when she suddenly announced she was going to attend college at Trinity instead of an American school.
Having two friends go to the same school overseas finally gave me enough of a reason to go. Tickets to Dublin are ridiculously cheap (in comparison to other international flights), only about $450, so, well, why not?
My mom wasn’t happy when I asked if I could miss Thanksgiving, but my parents decided I could go if I paid for it. I think they said this expecting me to not actually do it, but then I picked up extra shifts at work, got my passport and bought the tickets. And I went.
I’ve never been out of the country, have flown twice in my life (but never alone) and was going to stay with a girl who I had never actually met in person. Not to mention my phone wouldn’t work overseas. It was overwhelming to say the least, but definitely in a good way. And I was more than happy to escape the country for a while.
My pen pal met me at the airport, and I got the hug I’ve been waiting ten years to receive. It didn’t feel like I was meeting her for the first time, and it didn’t feel awkward to finally meet in person. It felt like seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We went back to her apartment, where I was greeted by her dog, the cutest Yorkie I have ever met.
We met up with my other friend later in the day and then walked around Dublin. It was one of the few days of the trip it didn’t rain, so we made the most of the weather and toured Trinity and went to Grafton Street for some hot chocolate.
On Monday, I went clubbing for the first time in my life. I’m 20, so I got to buy my first legal drink. My favorite conversation of the night was when a drunk Irish boy pointed at my bare wrist and asked, with burning intensity, why Americans don’t wear watches. He seemed stunned at the effort of me taking my phone out of my pocket to check the time.
On Wednesday, I got lost in Dublin after dark. My phone didn’t work without wifi, and I had no idea where I was. I eventually found my way back, but this was after blindly walking around in the rain for an hour and asking random strangers for directions.
On Saturday, I finally did what everyone told me I had to: I tried a Guinness. Hate me if you will, but I was thoroughly unimpressed, and it definitely wasn’t worth the whopping six euro. I had some authentic fish and chips and went to see “The Crimes of Grindelwald” afterwards, which was mildly ironic, as I saw one of the few Harry Potter movies based in America while I wasn’t actually in America.
Sunday was the last full day of my trip. I went to see The Book of Kells, a Gospel book dating back to the ninth century. The museum connected to Trinity’s old library, which was filled with old books and had the most beautiful book scent you can imagine. We spent the rest of the day going to more coffee shops and a three-story bookstore.
My pen pal and I are both writers, and November is National Novel Writing Month, so while my trip was largely to meet her, it was also a writing retreat. Throughout my time there, we went on various cafe crawls and toured a lot of coffee shops in the area. I’ve never been in a two-story coffee shop before, and I ended up at three. I got four chapters of my novel done, just over 10,000 words.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. I didn’t do a lot of traditionally “touristy” things, but sometimes it’s nice to take a trip to explore and hang out with friends. I’d highly recommend traveling abroad. It can be cheap if you research properly—I spent $450 on tickets and another $150 or so on food and day-to-day things—and the experience is undeniably worth it.
Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.