Dublin survival guide for interns and graduates
Dublin is the capital city of Ireland and is the home to many mythical and legendary creatures, such as Ireland’s infamous Leprechauns; Dearg Due, the Irish vampire; and Banshees, female ghosts who wander towns and homes foretelling the death of its inhabitants.
If you have chosen to an internship in Dublin is your choice of city, then you are not going to be disappointed! Dublin is a magical place and it has had a long and often dark history, but that seems to all be in the past now. The city has bounced back from a long economic recession which caused a lot poverty and loss of opportunity for the Irish, but now we are witnessing a boom in infrastructure and an influx of tourists and international companies alike benefiting from the low tax rates the country has to offer.
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Watch this video to give you insights about Dublin
A brief history
This year Ireland celebrated their 100th anniversary as the Irish Republic. Ireland’s fight to become a Republic and separating themselves from the UK has been a long and bloody battle and it has stained many family histories’ with death, starvation and loss.
The city of Dublin can be traced back more than 1,000 years to the beginning of the ninth and tenth centuries. The city has been known by the names of Duiblinn (in modern Irish this can be translated to “Blackpool”) and Dyflin when the area was controlled by the Vikings in the ninth and tenth centuries.
Dublin has been home to many famous writers, musicians, architects and poets throughout its history and it was a cultural capital akin to Paris for centuries. James Joyce wrote Ulysses in Dublin and it was the home for other literary giants such as Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett. Handel first performed his “Messiah” in Fishamble Street in the 16th century and famous contemporary musicians such as U2’s Bono and actor/musician Bob Geldof are also from Ireland.
For most of the 19th and 20th centuries Ireland experienced bloodshed. Between WWI, WWII and the civil wars involving England and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Ireland suffered a lot especially between 1916-1922. The handover of Ireland from the English was never peaceful nor easy and Ireland saw decades of political violence and instability until 1923 when it finally broke away from England as the Irish Free State.
10 reasons to choose Dublin
This was a hard list to condense down to only ten, there is just so much to do in Dublin! Your internship or work placement will not be boring in this city!
1. The Irish accent and language
They are speaking English... right? This is a common question for the Irish and once you hear their accents you will understand why! Yes, they do speak English but this will also often be combined with Gaelic nouns or phrases – so if you think you haven’t heard clearly or you have misunderstood someone, chances are you probably have! Good thing the Irish are a friendly bunch.
Here are some examples of the strange phrases and Irish idioms you may hear during your stay :
- "Ah I’m a delirah for ya" – I am very happy for you
- "I was scarlet" – I was feeling embarrassed
- "Go ask me bollix" – I will definitely not be answering that question for you
- "Ya bleedin’ spanner" – you are useless
2. Winter is coming
…all year round. If you are one of those strange but admirable creatures who absolutely love winter, rain, snow and ice then Dublin is going to be your home away from home! The weather is a constant source of conversation in Ireland, you will hear your neighbours, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, postmen and local police officers all intensely discussing the weather on a frequent basis – and this is for good reason.
You will often experience four seasons in one day living in Dublin – it might be gloriously sunny over breakfast, windy when you have to go out and buy your lunch, followed by slight showers on your afternoon coffee run and then thunderstorms and heavy rains as you walk home that night.
3. Jobs and opportunities
Ireland hasn’t typically been a corporation capital throughout history, however, you are arriving at just the right time! Ireland is emerging from a very rough recession and in parts of the country its negative effects can still be felt. However, Dublin has seen an increase in international corporations setting up homes in the capital which has brought in much needed money and economic stability. Companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Dropbox and Etsy have all established offices in Dublin – so if you want to intern with a tech giant or multi-national company, then Dublin is your destination hotspot!
4. Dublin is a small and compact city
Making it extremely easy to navigate. Whilst the city does have an excellent public transport system with busses that can literally take you to any part of the city on any given day, you will always be able to walk most places in the city centre without a worry. Just remember to pack your umbrella – see point two above for reasons why!
5. Gaelic Football
You have never seen a sport like it – so if you are a sports fan then Dublin is going to be a great city for you while you complete your internship! Gaelic Football is the national sport and it is strange but interesting to watch drawing crowds of up to 80,000 people. It is played like a mixture of soccer and rugby – and only the Irish know all of the rules.
But if Gaelic Football isn’t your thing then you will still find plenty of soccer, rugby and cricket matches to watch, the Irish are a tad sports mad!
6. St. Patricks Day
St. Patricks Day (or St. Paddy’s Day as it is colloquially known) is Ireland’s largest annual celebration held on March 17th. Also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick it is a celebration marking the death of Saint Patrick in 461AD and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. There are many parades, parties and events on during the St. Patricks Day celebrations so it is a wonderful time to be in Dublin.
It is tradition to dress like a Leprechaun, wear all green clothing and have the Shamrock symbol appearing somewhere on your costume (which is the national flora symbol of Ireland). The Irish know how to throw a great party, so definitely get involved in the St. Paddy’s Day celebrations!
7. The Irish Police, An Garda Siochána
No, this is not a joke. The Irish police make it onto the list of reasons to choose Dublin! This is the only city in the world where you want to say you’ve had a “run in” with the police! This is because the Irish police force, known as An Garda Siochána, are known for their joker antics and super friendly attitudes. If you’re in Dublin for an extended period of time, no doubt you will come home with many stories of the An Garda Siochána!
8. Food all day long
When you think of Irish food, all that may come to mind is potato and sausage and whilst these are Irish staples, there is so much more food on offer. Ireland has a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables which you can buy very cheaply. Furthermore, their portion sizes are gigantic so you will often be able to split a restaurant meal between two people or take half home for lunch the next day.
9. The Camden Mile
Ok, now we’re talking business – pub business. Where can you find a great variety of pubs, bars and restaurants open 7 days a week and all within walking distance of each other, I might hear you ask? Well, The Camden Mile is the spot for you! Located on Camden Street in the city centre of Dublin, The Camden Mile is arguably the liveliest spot in Dublin. There are 27 pubs in total ranging from sports bars, live music venues, cozy romantic corners and open, airy beer garden set ups – basically every kind of pub imaginable exists on The Camden Mile!
Have I mentioned that Ireland is magical? Have I mentioned that Ireland is green? If you’re a nature buff who loves to explore, hike and get lost in your natural surroundings then Dublin is going to be a great choice for you! Dublin is home to many natural wonders and scenic gardens where you will be able to get lost for days on end.
During your Dublin stay you should definitely visit the Iveagh Gardens, St. Stephen’s Green which is in the heart of the city, and last but not least, Phoenix Park, which is one of the largest enclosed parks in the world home. Phoenix Park dates back to the 17th century and is famously home to a family of wild fallow deer. Within the park there are many icons and attractions to visit, including the Wellington Monument (the largest obelisk in Europe), Ashdown Castle and the Dublin Zoo. But if these aren’t of interest then you can choose to meander through the sprawling Victorian-era gardens all around the park.
Things to see
There are so many attractions and things on offer in Dublin that it was hard to confine the list to a top 10! This is a list of extra of things to see and do in Dublin, in addition to the top 10 list mentioned above.
- The tallest monument in Dublin is called the Pillar, which is a 120m metal pole located near the Dublin Spire. Built in 2003, you can see the monument from most parts of the city as it sharply juts out from the city skyline.
- Francis Bacon’s studio is located in the Hugh Lane Gallery and was moved to Ireland in 2001 from London after the artist had passed away. If history and art are interests of yours then I recommend visiting the famous artist’s studio where you are able to get a glimpse into the inner workings and life of this famous painter.
- As they are in Britain, Ireland’s major museums and galleries are usually free to enter, with the National Gallery of Ireland being a highlight for many visitors.
- The Cathedral of Holy Trinity, which is also known as Christ Church Cathedral, dates back to the times of the Vikings and is one of Ireland’s most spectacular religious icons. For a real treat, ensure you visit when one of the regular choral performances are taking place.
- The library inside Trinity College, also known as the The Long Room Library, is definitely worth a visit if you find inspiration in literature and grand architecture. Imagine rows and rows of enormous bookshelves sitting from floor to ceiling, engulfed in dark wooden panels with beautiful golden light streaming in through stained glass windows. Ahh… please take me there right now!
- Kilmainham Gaol is a must see if you are a history buff or interested in Ireland’s darker part of history. Many rebel leaders and important political figures have been jailed in Kilmainham Gaol, including all of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916 who were jailed and then executed by the British.
No longer in operation as a gaol, the Kilmainham Gaol is now home to a museum which documents its long history and also an art gallery which exhibits art made by prisoners from all around the country. The gaol is also famous for appearing in films such as the Italian Job (1969), The Escapist (2008) and U2’s music video for A Celebration (1982), plus many others!
How to navigate Dublin
As was mentioned earlier, Dublin is a small and compact city which means walking will be your most common form of transport within the city centre – so pack good walking shoes! But if you need to travel that little bit farther then there is a great and reliable public transport system with busses that can take you anywhere in the outer city. Taxis and services such as Uber are also available, as well as a city-wide free bike scheme, so you will never be stuck for transport in Dublin!
It is worth noting that traffic is generally pretty awful in the city, especially at peak times – so it is always wise to allow a little more time to get somewhere if you are journeying via taxi or bus. It is not a good idea to hire a car in Dublin unless you plan on venturing outside of the city (which is also worth doing at some point during your internship!).
Budget and Finances
Dublin certainly isn’t the most expensive European city you will visit (see Paris, Zurich and Geneva, for example!), but since it is the capital of Ireland it will be more expensive to live here than anywhere else in the country.
Your accommodation is likely to be the costliest element of your budget. Dublin has some great living options for young professionals and students – you can rent a room in an apartment or townhouse with other students and professionals for a very reasonable price.
Other than your accommodation costs, you will likely only need USD$20-$40 per day to survive in Dublin – this is including all food and transport costs. If you prepare your own meals most of the time and eat a lot of the fresh fruit and vegetables on offer, then you will save even more on your budget.
Dublin has a lot of free activities to do but with increasing popularity and more and more companies and people deciding to move to the city, prices will only increase. Depending how long your internship is you might need a bit of money saved to sustain yourself.
Dubliners are a proud bunch. They have had to endure many hardships over the course of the last century; they are all very hardworking – and they know it! Ask anything about their culture or heritage and they will proudly tell you about the time their great-Uncle Dougall fought off ten enemy combatants singlehandedly, or ploughed a field during the worst winter the country has ever seen. Ireland has suffered a lot in the past, but it was the strength of the people who lifted their country back up again.
Something else you will notice immediately upon entering Dublin and Ireland is that there will be images of the shamrock and the Celtic harp literally everywhere! Many Irish still have a close relationship with their indigenous culture and you will notice that many of the traditions are still practiced.
The Irish have a saying, "a stranger is a friend who you are to meet" – and this really encapsulates their attitudes and outlook on life. They don’t have the reputation for being the world’s friendliest people for no reason! You will find that no matter where you are or what situation you are in, there will always be a local there offering to help you.
In what may seem a complete contradiction to the paragraph above, the Irish have a tendency to mock or tease their friends and people they like – often referred to as “slagging”. So do not be offended if someone mentions how your hairstyle makes you look like a Sesame Street character, or that your clothes make you look like a grandma – if anything, these are compliments and it means they have accepted you!
But you’d better think twice if you want to pay a Dubliner a compliment – want to see an Irishman squirm? Tell them how great their outfit looks today. This ties into the point above, the Irish “slag on” their friends because none of them can take a compliment, they find it very uncomfortable to be noticed for their hard work or achievements. So if you want to be nice to your new Dublin friends, then it might be best to tell them that they smell awful instead.
Last, but not least – and I am warning you now! – schedules of any form are never adhered to. Forget bus timetables, meeting time frames and store opening hours, none of these are important. Busses will arrive when they want to, they sometimes might even miss your stop completely! Stores will often open 5-10 minutes late and business meetings almost never run on time.
The best borough to live in
The city centre is without doubt the best place to live in Dublin, especially as you are new to the city and will be likely interning with a company whose headquarters are located in the centre. Everything is close and available, you will rarely have to rely on transport since you will be able to walk anywhere you need to go.
If you cannot (or do not want to) live directly in the city centre, then the suburbs on the fringe of the city are your next best choice. Portobello is the closest suburb to the city so you still get all the benefits of city living without having to actually deal with city living.
Ranelagh is another suburb close to Dublin’s city centre and it has a great selection of cafes, restaurants and bars, if that is more your scene. Otherwise, the suburb of Temple Bar is considered the tourist hub of Dublin so you will find many attractions and places to live in this district. However, because it is the tourist district, you will likely have to pay a little extra for things like food and coffee.
- Waterproof jacket/coat + waterproof boots – for all those rainy days and nights!
- Travel guide and map of Dublin – remember you will be walking a lot so note down any short cuts you may find on your map.
- Small backpack – one that is large enough to fit all your daily necessities but also comfortable enough to carry around with you walking all day.
- Walking shoes – obviously.
- Layered clothing – the best way to combat ever-changing weather. Remove or replace layers as often as needed so you can remain fresh but warm.
- Alarm clock
- Power adaptor
- Travel pillow, face mask and ear buds
- Book or magazine for reading
So now you’re all set for your internship in Dublin! It is going to be a very exciting time for you and the Dubliners will only endeavour to make your internship as wonderful and fun as possible !
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