My time in Ireland is drawing to a close, which has caused me to reflect a lot on my time here. Looking back on the semester, it feels as though my experience has been dominated by the different approaches to traveling that I’ve encountered there. This will be the first of probably several posts related to traveling in Ireland.
The most drastic difference for me compared to back home has honestly been the difference in the public transportation, as well as my direct need for it. I initially struggled to find housing in Galway for the semester, so I ended up in a suburb a little bit out of the city. It’s far enough away that my only option to get to and from campus (or into the city at all) is the bus.
Not only is using public buses an entirely new experience for me (since the infrastructure is not very developed where I live in Vermont), but also the fact that I need to travel so far to get to my classes is very different as well. Back home at Middlebury, all the students are housed on campus by default, and all the campus buildings are within walking distance. I remember struggling with a 15-minute walk for a 9:30 am class at Middlebury, but here I have to get the bus at 7:55 am to make sure I make it to campus for my 9:00 am classes.
It’s definitely given me a new perspective, but it still feels separate from anything I’ll experience back home. Thinking ahead to the next semester, waking up in time for that 15-minute walk (one of the longest on campus) will still feel just as inconvenient, even though I had to wake up in time to catch the bus a full hour before my class here.
The biggest inconvenience here for a while was actually the cost of taking the bus to and from campus every day. It was a few weeks before I was able to take advantage of the student discount they offer, so I had to spend €4 on bus fares, and sometimes I wouldn’t have the right coins, which meant I would need to buy food on campus just so I could pay the bus fare correctly. After a few weeks, I was able to get a student card, which gave me a discount and let me ditch the coins. Taking the bus was much more sustainable after that, but it still felt weird to me to have to budget for bus fares just so I could attend classes.
I know that Ireland doesn’t have public transport as good as some other European countries, and I’ve experienced first-hand how annoying delays and cancellations can be, but I do think there’s still a lot to learn from them. The buses may run a few minutes late on average, but they would still show up, and they opened a lot of opportunities for people.
Though while I think the public transportation system is nice as an option (good, even, for environmental sustainability), especially because I’m not sure what I would’ve been able to do as a student otherwise, it also makes me appreciate living on campus at my home university.
The included image is a picture I took of a rainbow from the bus.