Dublin

Ireland: the Best of Both Worlds

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Molly Malkinski is a student at Montclair State University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Dublin, Ireland.

I’m officially a resident of Dublin, and it is safe to say this beautiful city has brought the quarter-life crisis out of me.  I find myself with so many pressing questions: Do I actually like whiskey?  Is there a job out there that would let me bring my dog to work?  If I get this tattoo, will I regret it when I’m old?

Meet Jack. King of the streets of Kildare and healer of puppy-withdrawal in all visiting students who had to leave their furry best friends home while studying abroad.

Meet Jack. King of the streets of Kildare and healer of puppy-withdrawal in all visiting students who had to leave their furry best friends home while studying abroad.

There is a more serious question that has been weighing heavily on my mind since I’ve arrived.  Soon, I’ll need to figure out where I fit in in the real world, but what setting suits me best?  Am I a city person or do I belong closer to nature?  Do I have to choose? Can’t I have both?

Meet two of my best pals, Hunter and Carly, ending the day on our apartment's balcony overlooking Smock Alley Theatre and everything north of the Liffey.

Meet two of my best pals, Hunter and Carly, ending the day on our apartment’s balcony overlooking Smock Alley Theatre and everything north of the Liffey.

Luckily, Ireland is the perfect place for us quarter-life crisis victims to find that answer, as it offers the bustle and industry of city life and nature’s best spots for solitude and landscape.

Dame Street is one of the many so-called 'Main Street's of Dublin. You can find just about anything on this street. It's lined with cafes, restaurants, hotels, pubs, Dublin's city hall, clothing stores and art and photography studios. At the east end of Dame, you'll find Ireland's oldest, and most revered university, Trinity College Dublin.

Dame Street is one of the many so-called ‘Main Street’s of Dublin. You can find just about anything on this street. It’s lined with cafes, restaurants, hotels, pubs, Dublin’s city hall, clothing stores and art and photography studios. At the east end of Dame, you’ll find Ireland’s oldest, and most revered university, Trinity College Dublin.

One of the many street musicians I've encountered throughout my travels and his biggest fan. Found playing on the streets of Galway.

One of the many street musicians I’ve encountered throughout my travels and his biggest fan. Found playing on the streets of Galway.

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Dublin, and I’m awakened by church bells.  Very loud church bells.  I decide that today I’m going to go for the cool, collected, city vibe.  I’ll slip on my jeans and my jacket and grab my book and a cappuccino from Queen of Tarts.  I’ll then slip my headphones on and start my purposeful walk through city center towards the beautiful St. Stephen’s Green. Look out, world: I am urbanite of the year.  

Ha.

In reality, Adele has me tearing up behind my Ray-Bans, the thought of public transit has me flustered to no end, and in a matter of 100 steps down Dame Street, my cappuccino has spilled over and scorched my hands.  It seems as though I might lack that element of composure that city people always seem to have.

St. Stephen's Green provides the perfect escape from Dublin's busy streets, whether you're catching up with friends or spending some alone time with a good book.

St. Stephen’s Green provides the perfect escape from Dublin’s busy streets, whether you’re catching up with friends or spending some alone time with a good book.

A walk along the lake in St. Stephen's Green.

A walk along the lake in St. Stephen’s Green.

Anyway, despite my struggles, I am completely infatuated with Dublin’s urban culture, as any city lover would be.  A few of my favorite things: the crowded pubs, the brogues, the cheerful people, and most importantly, the live renditions of the 90’s classics we all can’t help but sing every word to, playing in every pub and on every street corner.  I wander aimlessly around Guinness Storehouse and can’t help but be tempted by that smell of hops that has everyone ending their days in a beer joint asking for a pint and chips.  These surroundings have me so certain that I am meant to live in a city…

… until Ireland shows me its earthy side.

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The next Sunday, I wake up–same old loud, lovely church bells!  But I now slip on my sneakers and fleece and head out to the countryside.  I took one look at the Wicklow mountains and was hooked.  No sight will ever compare to the endless miles of green, and no smell, even of Dublin’s world famous brewery, will ever be equal to the breath of fresh air I took as I looked down over Lough Tay.  My time in the mountains, walking along the coast in Galway, roaming the Aran Islands, and circling the Ring of Kerry has me forgetting all about the city life hubbub.

Derrynane is one of the many scenic stops along the Ring of Kerry.

Derrynane is one of the many scenic stops along the Ring of Kerry.

This was taken on Djouce Mountain overlooking Lough Tay, also known as Guinness Lake, and Luggala Mountain.

This was taken on Djouce Mountain overlooking Lough Tay, also known as Guinness Lake, and Luggala Mountain.

Ultimately, whether you’re a city dweller, a nature buff, or you want to experience it all like me, Ireland will show you that you don’t have to choose either of the two lifestyles.  I’ll forever be grateful to this country for giving me the best of both worlds.

Molls Gap, Ring of Kerry.

Molls Gap, Ring of Kerry.

The world awaits…discover it.

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