I’ve only been in Dublin for four weeks, but in those four weeks I’ve already learned a lot about how to get around and enjoy my time here in this wonderful city. Through trial and error, I’ve learned some tips and tricks that I think are worthy of passing along to others looking to live in Dublin. In honor of my four weeks in Ireland, here are four tips you might find useful for your time in Dublin.
Know Before You’ve Gotta Go
There is nothing worse than desperately having to go to the bathroom and not having access to a toilet. In America, you can go into just about any convenience store, grocery store, fast food restaurant, or clothing store and find a bathroom. In America, there are bathrooms everywhere! Here in Dublin (and really all throughout Ireland), public bathrooms are MUCH more difficult to find. Without going into too much detail, I’ve found through multiple close calls that here in Dublin, you only have a couple options when it comes to finding a toilet.
Option 1: Find a McDonalds – McDonalds has toilets that are open for public use. Before you are in desperate need of a toilet, do some research to find out where McDonalds is in relation to where you will be.
Option 2: Pubs – When you are in desperate need of a toilet and you don’t know where a McDonalds is, you can usually go into any open pub and find a bathroom there. Keep in mind that unless it’s the late afternoon or evening, most pubs won’t be open. If that’s the case, see options 3 and 4.
Option 3: Coffee shops/ cafés– Let’s say it’s the morning and you really have to go. You don’t see a McDonalds anywhere and all of the pubs are closed. If this is the case, you can go into a Starbucks or another coffee shop/ café and they will likely have a bathroom. Be prepared to purchase something from the shop before you are able to use the bathroom.
Get a Student Leap Card
The Dublin Bus is definitely the cheapest and most convenient way to get around the Dublin area. With that being said, bus fare adds up quickly, but if you are a student, you can get a student Leap Card and save a lot of money on transportation.
Use your Leap Card to save money on bus fare and pay for your bus without having to count out change. You can also use the student Leap Card to save money at various restaurants and companies throughout Ireland.
The process to get my student Leap Card was fast and simple (with the exception of trying to find Trinity College). There are several Leap Card offices around Dublin, but most of them will only issue you a student card if you show proof that you attend university within Ireland or already have an international student ID card. However, if you’re like me and don’t attend school in Ireland or have an international student card, you can go to the Leap Card office in the Student Union Building at Trinity College and get your student Leap Card there (assuming you have your student ID card from your home university). Once there, you fill out a quick information sheet with your name, address, and school information. Then you show them your ID card from your home university, pay 10 euros cash, and “voila”! They take your picture and issue you your card. You can run over to the convenience store directly next to the Leap Card office and load money on your card. With this Leap Card, you scan it on the bus to pay for bus fare, and the monitor on the bus will let you know how much money you have left on your card. This is a much more convenient and cost effective way to pay for bus fare, and I recommend it to any student traveling to Ireland.
Bring your Adaptor and Phone Charger EVERYWHERE
During your first couple of weeks in Ireland, you will likely be relying on your phone for directions, transportation information, and for taking pictures. You will use your phone A LOT, and as a result, your phone will die very quickly.
My second day here, I went out to the city and used up the battery on my phone while trying to find directions on how to get back to my host family’s house. Before I could actually find out how to get back to my house, the battery died. I couldn’t call anyone, I couldn’t use the taxi app to hail a taxi, and I wasn’t 100% sure which bus I needed to take back to my house. I was also running late for dinner and couldn’t get in contact with my host family. Long story short, after much asking around, I finally found my bus and made it back. However, it was a pretty frightening experience. Since then, I have been taking my adapter and phone charger almost everywhere, and unless you have a portable phone charger, I recommend doing the same. It totally sucks when you need your phone and it won’t turn on!
Some Dublin Buses have USB outlets, but you can also find outlets in most cafés. You will need an adapter to use them though!
One of the best parts (in my opinion) of being in Dublin is that there are so many interesting people from all over the world who come to work and live here. Being in Dublin provides such an incredible opportunity to make friends and form connections with interesting people from all over the place! Just being in Dublin is an exciting experience, but friends can make that experience even better!
As someone who can be quite introverted at times, it is often really intimidating for me to get out and meet new people. However, I’ve found that there are many ways to make friends without having to go out of my way to initiate conversations everywhere I go.
If there are other interns in your office, talk to them. I’ve become close friends with several of the other interns in my office. All of them are from France, except for one who is from the UK, and I love asking them questions about where they’re from.
Book a tour– During my second weekend here, I booked a cheap tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. On the bus, I met a few other people my age who are also interning in Dublin.
Meetup– Meetup is an app that connects you to free events and activities you express an interest in. There are meetup groups for running, Zumba, chess, book clubs, and just about any other activity you can think of. One of my fellow intern friends used meetup to find a speed friending (similar to speed dating) event where he ended up meeting some great people. This is a great app if you are looking to meet locals and are looking to get involved in a particular activity.
If you make a friend, go out with them and any other people they are friends with– One of my new friends in Dublin is very social. She knows a bunch of people here, and through her, I’ve formed friendships with some of the people she knows. By hanging out with her, my circle of friends has quickly grown.
The more time I spend here, the more I learn about and adapt to living in Ireland. These 4 tips I have learned through trial and error, and I am sure that by the time my internship is concluded, I will have so many more tips to add to this list. Living abroad is such an exciting experience, and I can’t recommend it enough. There have been ups and there have been downs, but the whole experience thus far has been an incredible learning experience for me. I am eager to see what other tips I learn here before my internship is concluded!