Pubs and Hipsters: Ireland

By Brittany Tedesco

The first time I ever left America was my Freshman year at Arcadia University.  One of the reasons Arcadia is ranked the number one school for study abroad is due to its Spring Preview experience.  Freshmen and transfer students all have the chance to apply for this week long excursion that takes place during spring break for a very small yet all-inclusive fee, as long as they take a two-credit course during the spring semester based on the country they are traveling to.  I can still distinctly remember sitting in my dorm with my group of new best friends (who I now consider family) and discussing the places we wanted to see.  We were allowed to pick our top 3 choices and write a paragraph on why we wanted to go there, and in a few weeks we would find out where we were going.  We didn’t all pick the same choices, but a few of us picked Ireland as our top choice, and lucky for Alyssa, Matt, and I— we all got it!

I remember being so nervous about the flight because I hadn’t been on a plane since I was four years old, and I had only gone to Florida.  Now I was about to travel to another country for the first time, and when we got our seats, I was nowhere near my two best friends who both got to sit next to each other.  Luckily, I was next to a few of our Professors/Advisors and as soon as we were in the air and it was safe to take our seatbelt off, Alyssa found me to make sure I was doing alright, and I was! I left my nerves on the ground and was entirely full of excitement.

Day 1.

When we arrived in Dublin, the jet lag hit us hard.  The first thing we did was get lunch as a class with our advisors at Gallagher’s Boxty House, and we could barely keep our eyes open (just our mouths) through our meal.  I had some delicious seafood chowder and a veggie enchilada, and cheesecake for dessert.  But even more importantly, I had my first legal drink.  What better way to celebrate being in Ireland than with a Murphy’s Irish Stout.

After lunch, we stopped at the ATM to take out euros and went off to explore the city of Dublin! Alyssa and I got our first tattoos together.  This was becoming a great experience of firsts.  First time out of the country, first legal beer, and first tattoo! Ireland10And it was only the first day.

We spent the rest of the day exploring and shopping, and stopped at Messers McGuire Pub to watch the Ireland vs. Scotland rugby game.  For dinner we ate cheap American food (Papa Johns) for dinner so we could spend our money on more important things like beer, obviously.  Plus it was nice to see familiar places in an unfamiliar place.

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The next morning we had breakfast and our hostel, then Alyssa and I went to a cafe with our hostel roommates.  I ordered a caramel macchiato and it was not at all what I was expecting.  It was so small! All the portion sizes seemed smaller here.  The tables and stuff too. I guess it’s made for leprechauns or something. 

We went to Trinity College later that day with our class to learn and discuss the Irish history and stereotypes more.  We learned some of the lingo like “fags” for cigarettes and “slag” for someone who is a little “loose”. Slag was probably our most used word of the week. 

That night we went to Bachelor’s, a bar next to our hostel, where we got bracelets for half off our food. Ireland3For a total of €5, I got a toasted tomato and cheese sandwich with mashed potatoes for dinner.  This ended up becoming our signature spot.  We did some souvenir shopping that night and then headed back to Bachelor’s to spend our money on the more important things I mentioned earlier.  I got a Heineken, and then discovered my new favorite drink— Bulmer’s Irish Cider.  (Was disappointed to find out they don’t sell Bulmer’s in America, but then found out it’s the same as Magner’s so all is well again.)  The bar played a Bon Jovi song and Matt and I high-fived because we’re both from Jersey just like John Bon Jovi and I guess it was just exciting to hear him in another country and all be from the same place. We were also probably just a little tipsy…

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Later that night I went to a pharmacy to ask for a pack of fags, but the cashier just gave me an irritated look and said “You mean cigarettes? We don’t sell those here.”  I left a little embarrassed and didn’t bother asking for fags anywhere else.  We decided to find some of our friends at Doyle’s Pub, but we got lost even though it ended up being a block away from our hostel.  Alyssa, Matt, Brandon (who became one of our close friends during the trip), and I started singing the Beatles and we magically found Doyle’s.  I drank a Smithwicks and a shot of Malibu.  On our journey back to the hostel we met some Irish kid who played Hurling and we all got delicious ice cream. 

Ireland5Day 3.

Woke up and had breakfast at the hostel again. Our class then went on a guided walking tour of Dublin.  We got to learn a lot and see the sights.
We had lunch at Luigi Malones, where I had a BBQ Chicken Pizza and a Toblerone cheesecake. I don’t know why I was always ordering cheesecake to be honest but it was delicious. We continued on our tour, and one of my favorite parts was the Writer’s Museum. 

Ireland30When we finished our class tour and got some free time, Matt, Alyssa, Brandon and I all took the Dart (bus) to Howth, a port village outside of Dublin, where we got some beautiful photographs of the bay. We returned to Bachelor’s for dinner again, a toasted cheese sandwich and mashed potatoes again, and the waiter made fun of our usual, saying that must be an American thing.  I had a couple of Bulmer’s and then we headed to O’Sullivans where I had one too many “Baby G” (Baby Guinness) shots.
Coffee liqueur and Ireland7Bailey’s Irish cream is dangerously good.  The bartended joked that he would cut me off unless I could walk in a straight line, so I got my shit together and nailed it.  Another Baby G shot and a Bulmer’s please. 

Day 4. Ireland16

Another hostel breakfast before my favorite day of the whole trip.  We went on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour so we could get on and off this bus pretty much whenever and wherever we wanted.  We went to St. Stephen’s Green  (so pretty), St. Pat’s Cathedral, and the Guinness Factory.
We got a free pint at the end of it but I ended u giving mine to Matt because I discovered dark beer wasn’t really my thing.  We also went to some prison but I don’t remember the name of it.  I was too hungry at this point so I went to the cafe with one of my other classmates while the rest of our group explored the jail’s museum.  I had a quiche with a surprisingly really good side salad, some coleslaw and this delicious apple and celery thing.

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After our bus tour was over I treated my friend Brandon to the leprechaun museum for his birthday.ireland1  I also wanted someone to come with me and no one besides Brandon had even the slightest interest (their loss).  Brandon and I had done a little shopping beforehand and my camera died from taking pictures of all the Euro hipsters so I bought a disposable camera to take photos at the Leprechaun Museum which ended up being really fun.  We basically got the experience of being leprechauns and learned about the history of these mythological creatures.

That night, our class saw ‘Da’ at the Gate Theatre, and we ended our night at the pubs yet again.

Day 5.Ireland21

Today was a long day spent getting on and off a bus with our class.  First we stopped at Bayne Valley.  Then Battle of the Boyne.  Brandon got me a hot chocolate there because it was so cold.  We stopped for lunch at a little place in Trim before going to see Trim Castle which was absolutely stunning.  Then we visited Hill of Tara which was so fun and pretty, and then we headed back to Dublin for another night at our favorite pubs O’Sullivans and Doyle’s where I continued to quench my obsession of Baby G shots and Bulmer’s.  I also added some Bahama Mama’s to the mix tonight.

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Day 6.

Our last full day in Ireland was spent on a long bus ride to Belfast.  Our class had been based on the split between Northern Ireland from the rest of Ireland, so our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to the capital of Northern Ireland.  It began with a lecture at Queens College, followed by a bus tour of Belfast with some fascinating political murals and graffiti.  When we returned to Dublin, we spent our last night shopping and buying more souvenirs, and ended at our two favorite pubs one last time.  After some Bulmer’s, Baby G shots, Woo Woos, Bahama Mamas and White Russians I had somehow run out of all my money— €400 well spent!

Day 7.

We left bright and early for our flight home.  I’ll never forget that post-travel depression when I arrived back home and thought to myself how the grass was literally greener in Ireland.  It was the experience of a lifetime.  I left with crazy memories, new experiences, lifelong friendships, and the ever-so-contagious travel bug.

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My Australia Playlist

During my year and a half spent in Australia, I compiled a playlist of songs from just before getting on the plane there up until leaving. Some of these songs have a story behind them, some just have the right vibe, or an essence of nostalgia. Some are just plain ol’ cheesy, and some I just felt like putting on the playlist because I can. My experience in Australia has been the most amazing adventure, and these songs are all a part of my journey. I’ve been adding songs all along the way, and here is my finalised playlist.

Leaving On A Jet Plane – Slightly Stoopid
The summer before I came to Australia, I was crashing at my best friend Alyssa’s apartment in order to work and save money before traveling. Alyssa had told me to listen to the original Leaving On a Jet Plane by John Denver because she said it reminded her of me because I was leaving and she was going to miss me. The song is about going away for a while as the lyrics say, “I am leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.” I think any traveler feels this way when saying goodbye. The first lines of the song perfectly describe that anxious, lonely feeling when you’re just about to head out, and this is exactly how I felt when I had to leave Alyssa’s. “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standin’ here outside your door, I hate to wake you up to say goodbye, but the dawn is breakin’, it’s early morn, the taxi’s waitin’, he’s blowin’ his horn, already I’m so lonesome, I could die.”
When I heard the Slightly Stoopid version, I was even more hooked due to the relaxed and tropical feel of Slightly Stoopid’s interpretation, as opposed to the depth and sadness of the original. It was obviously sad that I was leaving, but exciting to be heading to a beautiful new place. I listened to this song nonstop on my way to Australia– before leaving, in the airport, on the plane, during my layover in LA, and of course, when I arrived in Australia as well. Alyssa was always there for me throughout my entire experience abroad, and she even traveled all the way to Brisbane to visit me during her spring break, so this song is really important to me because of her.

Australia – The Shins
The title is literally Australia, so I couldn’t not put this in my playlist. But there’s actually a lot more to the song than just that. The lyrics are a bit contrasting to the upbeat melody, as it seems to be about going through the motions and not enjoying life to the fullest, for example in the lines, “Faced with the dodo’s conundrum, I felt like I could just fly, but nothing happened every time I’d try.” However, the opposing happy, fast-paced melody seems to work as an inspiration to keep going and to free yourself from the boring day to day motions. As he ends the song with the line, “Watching the lantern dim, starved of oxygen/So give me your hand and let’s jump out the window,” it shows the narrator finally breaking away from the life he hasn’t been enjoying. Coming to Australia has been this change for me to break away and have fun in a place I’ve never been able to experience before. Sometimes it was hard being in a new place with new people but after I was able to break out of my shell, I realized how much better everything can be, and how sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side, but you’ll never know until you put yourself out there.

Mango Tree – Angus and Julia Stone
First off, it’s written by Australian artists, Angus and Julia Stone. I listened to it a few times with an Australian boy I had a crush on for a while. I also listened to it a lot during my first trip to North Stradbroke Island. It’s got a really nice, comforting vibe to it. Whenever I hear it, it brings back really fond memories and a longing for Australia.

Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
My first semester, I tried to go surfing for the first time during Arcadia’s free excursion to North Stradbroke Island. The whole weekend was incredible, but I’ll always remember the last day of the trip when we went surfing. I was pretty bad at it but I still gave it a few attempts. I eventually was able to get up on my knees at least, but I wasn’t able to stand on the board. Regardless, it was such a fun time. While everyone else was showing off, I was mostly just paddling around on my board and singing this song to myself, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.”
While this song will always remind me of that first attempt at surfing, it also sums up my entire experience abroad. Even if things go don’t go your way or work out as planned, just keep going and keep trying. This song always reminds me to keep my chin up and that nothing can never keep me down.

Hackensack – Fountains of Wayne
My hometown is a city known as Hackensack, New Jersey. Whenever I was feeling homesick, I would listen to this song. The line “If you ever get back to Hackensack, I’ll be here for you,” always reminded me that I had people waiting for me back home, who would still be there for me once I returned. You should always remember where you come from, but for now, I was in Australia and I didn’t want to worry about missing out on anything back home. This song would comfort me that I would return eventually. Now that I’m back, I’ve been able to reconnect with all my friends and family. It’s almost like I never left, except now I get laughed at for saying Aussie slang like “How ya goin?” and “No worries, mate.”

The City – The 1975
I’ve never lived in a big city before, and I always drove everywhere I went. I used to listen to this song a lot on the bus, and almost always while walking home from QUT over the Goodwill Bridge. On my walks home, I would always admire the view and acknowledge just how beautiful the city is. The lyrics, “If you wanna find love then you know where the city is” will always remind me of Brisbane and reflecting on those lovely walks home.

Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
This has been one of my favourite songs in the world since I was younger. I hadn’t heard it in ages, but when I came to Australia I started hearing it all the time again, even at clubs. I looked it up and apparently the single was massively popular in Aussie. I became really good friends with another girl from Arcadia, Michelle, who also studied here my first semester. We listened to it all the time together and used to joke that we are musical soulmates because we have such similar taste in music. It might also be that we like to go for those grungy, skater type guys and bonded over that as well. Regardless, this song reminds me of the good times we had, especially at Ric’s in the Valley. We’re all just a bunch of kids figuring ourselves out in another country. “I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby like you.”

Down Under – Men At Work
Isn’t this Australia’s national anthem? I had to put it on the playlist…Nothing describes Australia better than the line, “I said ‘Do you speak-a my language?’ He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.”

American Girl – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
When I first came to Australia, I hated standing out for being American. I felt like people would just see me at the bus stop and KNOW I wasn’t Australian, which seems ridiculous now. But even if they did realize I was American, it was nothing to be ashamed of. I learned to embrace who I am and this song with it’s upbeat, rock n roll sound always gave me confidence by reminding me that it’s more than okay to be an American Girl.

Tourist – RAC, Tokyo Police Club
I listened to this song on repeat for the last year and a half. It’s all about being a tourist, finding the right cafes to go to, making small talk with people, “Are we strangers forever or are we strangers for now?” It’s about figuring out a new place. If I could pick one song to listen to my entire trip abroad, it would be this one.

Australia Street – Sticky Fingers
The lyrics describe it all. It’s written by an Australian band who played at Splendour in the Grass (which I had to miss because I was in America, and I can’t even tell you how many times I cried about having to miss this festival.) This song will always remind me of the friendships I had in Australia and the good times we all had.

The Good Good – Snoop Lion
My Australian best friend Grace is one of the most significant people in my journey. I met Grace at the end of my first semester, and by my third semester we became inseparable. She is even coming to visit me in America for Christmas! Grace showed me this song and we listened to it all the time. She is also a musician, and recorded a cover of this song dedicated to me. It has really chill, good vibes and a nice, beachy feel to it which is just perfect for Australia with all it’s breathtaking beaches. The line, “This is the good good, this is what people look all their lives to find” describes my friendship with Grace, as well as the amazing times I had in Australia and the beautiful places I was able to see.

Woodland – Paper Kites
The Paper Kites are a really cool Australian band that I got to see live at The Hi-Fi in West End with my other Arcadia friends Bri and Nat. Bri introduced the band to us, and when we went to their show with her we all got to meet them and get hugs and autographs and posters. This song has relaxing, fun, nature-y vibes making it perfect for hiking and bushwalks, or just a nice, sunny day.

A tout a l’heure – Bibio
I just love this song. I showed it off to all my friends when I first heard it. I listened to it while roaming through the QUT Botanic Gardens one night with my friend Alyssa when she came to visit and a few other friends I made in Australia. (And that night was one to remember.) I would listen to it while traveling, on flights, buses, trains or just walking. It would always cheer me up and calm me down. I like to think of it as my “spirit song.”

Bumpy Ride – The Hoosiers
With it’s upbeat and positive lyrics and melody, this song always keeps me going strong. “It’s gunna be a bumpy ride but it sure beats standing still.” Through the ups and downs of traveling, it’s still the most incredible experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything. From the beginning of my journey, there were obstacles– I was delayed in Newark and missed my connecting flight at LAX, so I was stranded in LA alone for a night. But then the next morning I got to lay by my hotel’s pool and wait until my flight to Brisbane. Later, I dropped my laptop at the airport and cracked the screen, I was freaking out but once I got to Brisbane, my computer was still working. There were many difficulties being abroad– jetlag, missing home, making and losing friends, tons of schoolwork, financial troubles– but through everything, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. The good times made up for the hard times.

It was all part of the experience.

Originally written for my Co-Curricular Learning Certificate