Hallo again from Northpole 2.0. At least this is what you could label Dublin considering all the Christmas decoration that is being put up anywhere you go. Irish people are big fans of Christmas jumpers, goofy hats and glasses and you hear Christmas songs jingling on almost every corner. Even churches and shopping centers offer carols!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and jump back a few weeks to our – not so fun – assignment week. Here in Dublin all the assignments are due end of November/beginning of December and all the exams take place in January. Sounds easy-going? We thought so too at first but we have come to learn that it actually means that you need to constantly be at it when it comes to studying which can be somewhat challenging if the exam period is stretched over six weeks. We took some pictures of Griffith College to show to you because during those six weeks that was pretty much all we saw.
A huge benefit of Griffith College is that they schedule an assignment week in early November so that you don’t have to attend any modules and are able to catch up on writing your assignments. Unfortunately, due to the amount the assignments some students have to submit, two or three weeks „spare“ time would have seemed to be even better…
With the help of Starbucks which is located in the college’s cafeteria and some few nightshifts we managed to turn all of our assignments in on time and are now finally in the mood to focus on Christmas!
Sadly, the last Christmas market in Dublin was organized in 2014. Now, the nearest Christmas markets are in either Belfast or Galway. Neither of them can keep up to German Christmas markets, however they both have their own charm. In Galway they have a giant ferris wheel which offers you an amazing view over the entire Christmas market. Side note: Both of the Christmas markets also offer Glühwein!
When you haven’t been to Belfast or Galway yet you should definitely arrange to spend at least an entire day there, even better spend a night too, for example at one of the many B&B’s that will offer you traditional Irish breakfast (or cereal if you are not that much into experiments).
Galway has a lot of little cute stores and cafes that makes the stay worth a while. Even though the cliffs of Moher are really close to Galway we didn’t get the chance to visit them yet. However we’ve seen the beautiful view of the sea itself that Galway offers. You can truly spend hours there, just walking along the beach.
During my stay (Fjona), I had to make the experience that there are only a few good restaurants that are able to serve delicious pizza. Fortunately Galway has one of those restaurants. The Dough Bros should absolutely be on your to-do list if you crave Italian food.
When you are in Northern Irelands capital over the weekend don’t miss out on the St. George’s market – home to diverse food and art. Because the Titanic was built in Belfast, the largest and most well known titanic museum of the world is located nearby. From the dome of Victoria Square you can overlook Belfast for free and if you like Pubs ‘The Crown liquor salon’ is definitely worth a visit. It is a very traditional pub that also offers sandwiches and other snacks to eat.
An event that you shouldn’t miss if you ever happen to stay in Dublin during the winter months is the beautiful Grafton street Christmas lights switch on that takes place in late November. This, so states Dublin, is the official start of Christmas time and absolutely brings on those holiday vibes. Once its dark enough, all the Christmas lights on Grafton street are turned on and people are celebrating with a great parade.
Because the last class takes place on the 15th of December and as mentioned above exams won’t be until January most students fly home for Christmas. I (Fjona) am one of the few that will stay in Dublin over the break and will celebrate Christmas with Irish friends, which I’m very excited about because this way I get the chance to learn about new traditions. Also the pub I sometimes go to invited me to go to a horse racing event on the 27th of December where I have to dress up because supposedly it is exactly like one of those events in England that you know from TV.
Stay tuned for our next and final blog entry in March where I will keep you updated about my full on Irish Christmas season experience and we will share our final thoughts about our semester abroad on the emerald isle!