Dublin is a dramatic change of pace from Seoul. So far we’ve stayed away from the stag-party side of the city, and during the day it moves at a speed more comparable to Salisbury than a downtown Asian capital. I’ve found myself with an unprecedented amount of time on my hands, and – knowing next to nobody in the city – running a little short on ideas and motivation on what I should do with it all. No doubt a couple more weeks recovering from the hectic Seoul lifestyle will give me the energy to start pursuing something a little more constructive than poor quality TV.
I was extremely lucky – present economic conditions considered – to land a job almost as soon as I landed here, with the same company I was working for back in Korea. Berlitz Dublin is quite a dramatically different experience. Although the job is part time, hours so far seem to be just about enough to live off the salary, and also allow the time to pursue my writing with a little more energy. I only hope I get that energy together soon.
The Dublin office tends to deal with intensive students, who visit for a week or two from other parts of Europe, and study English for hours every day. Most of these students are German, and I will often be teaching the same person or two people for an entire week. I also have a regular Turkish student, who is extremely demanding, but good fun at the same time. The Seoul offices didn’t always treat their staff as adults, and tended to check up on everything, question your decisions and generally make you feel like they weren’t too sure you knew what you were doing. Especially at the start. Dublin, on the other hand, have told me where the textbooks are, shown me around the classrooms and told me to get on with it. It’s all very refreshing. The staff are a little older and dramatically more experienced than I’m used to (a couple of them have Berlitz histories that stretch in to decades, rather than months). I’m sure it’ll be a learning experience, but at the same time it’s familiar enough that I don’t feel at all uncomfortable.
Walking to work every morning takes me along the River Liffey (which is fronted by some stunning buildings), to the bottom of Grafton Street and then along the pathway beside Trinity College, just beyond which I stumble into the office having had a little bit of faith in simple pleasures restored. I don’t miss my 5.30am bus at all! When it’s not raining Dublin is a really beautiful city, and walking through a nice chunk of the centre of it for an hour each day will already count for more exercise than I had time for in my last few months in Seoul.
This weekend I had the chance to drop into one part of the National Museum of Ireland (which is divided into four parts, all in different parts of the city). It’s very reminiscent of the British museum, in that it tends to cover the world on the whole, with samples from each region, as opposed to Irish history. There was a section on the Irish independence ‘rebels’ (can they still be called rebels when they’re so obviously in the right? I’m not sure… ) from 1916, and also on Irish peacekeeping/ humanitarian work around the world since then. I didn’t realize before arriving that Ireland is a little like Switzerland in terms of World Politics: they invariably remain neutral. Fortunately Dublin’s prices – though steep – don’t quite stretch to Swiss levels.
I still haven’t sampled my first Irish Guinness, which is possibly a little morally wrong. I have, however, been introduced to ‘Buckfast’ – a kind of tonic wine that’s produced by monks somewhere in Devon and seems to be incredibly popular here. The main reason seems to be the weird kind of drunkenness it induces, though I’ve only had about half a bottle so far. I’ll get back to you on that…
Time to start meeting some people around here I think. I’m going to make an effort to go to a club or two (maybe photography and some kind of sport?) over the next couple of weeks, and hopefully become more socially involved (which is always the hardest thing about moving somewhere new). Overall, though, it’s all good.