When I first decided that I wanted to study abroad, I already knew what countries were not options: In my 21 years of life, I have barely mastered the English language - let alone any other - so Ireland fit the bill perfectly.
I could not have been more wrong about the language barrier. When we arrived at the Dublin International Airport, my close friend and I were met by a cabdriver whose name was Tommy. I barely caught every third word the man said, and he did love talking.
Additionally, Tommy had either never learned any of the rules of the road, or simply chose to disagree with them. Red lights, stop signs, and sidewalks would not stop this man from getting us to where we needed to be. He also happened to give the finest tour of a city I have ever heard; for example, he literally stopped in the middle of the street outside the Dublin post office to give a further explanation of its importance.
Arriving at Griffith College presumably in half the time it actually takes to get there, we said goodbye to our incredibly talented cabdriver and met Paul Mullally, a man who in terms of a capacity as an advisor, is everything we could have asked for. At 4:30 a.m., we received a full tour of the campus.
As more exchange students appeared (my friend and I were the first to arrive) we received the tour again. And again. And pretty much the rest of the morning. I am now confident I know Griffith College and its history better than Geneseo's.
We re-toured because the accommodations office was not open until 10 a.m. and we learned quickly that punctuality is not very important to the Irish. As Mullally said, "9 means 9:30, 10 means 11, and sometimes people do just forget." When accommodations did open, they were not happy campers and it took hours to finally get the key to my room from their hands to mine.
Upon finally going into the heart of Dublin, I realized how really remarkably different it was from Geneseo. But besides the size and the culture shock of the city, there was one striking similarity to Geneseo: Seemingly Dublin's most popular person is America's own Barack Obama.
Everyone I came into contact with could spot that I was an American immediately (I still don't know why) and also thought I had a personal relationship with the most powerful man in the world. "Barack Obama!" were the most popular two words I heard uttered that day. After getting onto a double-decker bus, the crowd actually starting chanting the president's name. It was an experience, to say the least.
My first few weeks here have been spent learning the ways of Dublin, which at times has ranged from being very enjoyable (pubs and sightseeing) to being painful (class and using the shower). Every day really does bring a new adventure. While this ride has really just started, I already know that this was the right school, the right place and definitely the right choice.