Biking to Trinity College, Dublin

by Emma Quinn, FCLC ‘20

I have lived on campus for my entire time at Fordham, and so I never had to deal with a commute to class longer than a walk across the plaza. When I studied abroad in Dublin, however, I lived in international student housing off-campus, and so getting to class became its own adventure.

 There were a few ways to get to class. I could walk, which was free but slow, about a half-hour trip. If it was raining, I usually took the bus, which was fast but cost €1.70. It also involved putting money on my Leap Card, which for some reason could only be reloaded at convenience stores that only took cash. My favorite way to get to class, though, was on my bike.

I’m lucky that most of my family still lives in Ireland, and so my aunt lent me her bike while I was in Dublin. It was purple and only had one gear, but I loved it. I spent €40 on a lock to make sure that no one would steal it, even though the lock probably cost more than the bike. 

My morning commute would start in the bike shed. I would kick the door open, then frantically try to back my bike out of its stand and make it to the door before it swung closed with a heavy clang, which I usually failed at. After sighing and unlocking the door from the inside, I was on my way. 

Once I made it out of the building, I had to walk my bike up a hill, through the parking lot of a tech startup and up to the main road. At this point, I finally got on my bike, and after dodging a bus or another commuter, I was on my way.

 Dublin is much more bicycle-friendly than New York. Where there weren’t designated lanes for cyclists, they shared with the bus lane. Buses may be big, but their drivers tend to be much more careful than an average car driver. I never worked up the courage to run red lights like the Irish commuters, but I also never got hit by a car, so I considered my biking skills perfectly adequate during my time abroad. 

My commute was more or less a highlight reel of Dublin tourism. I began by passing the Guinness Storehouse, which was directly across the street from my student housing. After a few months, you get used to the smell of hops never entirely leaving the air. I would turn left and head towards Dublin City Center. After passing the Lidl, the grocery store with suspiciously low prices and delicious chocolate chip cookies, I usually got stuck at the red light next to Christ Church Cathedral. It’s amazing how quickly the awe of seeing a nearly one-thousand-year-old building fades when you’re running late for class.

When the light finally turned green, I continued on my way, next passing Dublin Castle, the center of the Irish government since the Vikings ruled hundreds of years ago. It was nowhere near as elaborate as Versailles, but that’s not really the Irish style anyway. 

The final stretch of my commute was straight through Temple Bar, the heart of tourist Dublin. Even in the early hours of the morning on my way to class, I had to keep an eye out for tourists wandering into the street, if not just blatantly jaywalking. It was always crowded, the Times Square of Dublin, although it lacked the blatant capitalist sentiment. Instead of being bombarded with ads, visitors are bombarded with overpriced beer and mediocre folk music. 

After about fifteen minutes, I would arrive at Trinity College Dublin. It’s a little mind-blowing to attend a college that was founded before the Pilgrims arrived in the new world. I would hop off my bike and walk it through the arched entranceway, usually having to dodge a few tourist pictures in the process. I locked my bike to the fences just inside the campus and headed to class.

 Now that I’m back in New York to finish my senior year at Fordham, I can’t help but miss my daily bike ride a little. It was incredible to see so much history in such a short time. But it also made me realize how I had stopped noticing all the incredible New York landmarks on my doorstep: Lincoln Center, Times Square, Central Park, the Natural History Museum. All are as close to where I live on campus as the sights of Dublin were to my housing there. By going abroad, I think I learned to appreciate all of those places from a fresh perspective.