Emma Collins, a third year student from Boston, is one of the many Trinity students who will be remaining in Dublin during the Christmas holidays. She tells me she loves Dublin: “It reminds me of Boston and there’s lots to do. I like that the national museums are free too, and Trinity is lovely.”
She also praises the DUISS (Dublin University International Students’ Society) and talks fondly of trips she went on around Ireland to places such as the Giant’s Causeway and Glendalough. But she criticises Dublin’s public transport system, as the fact that services such as the LUAS, Dart and Dublin Bus don’t operate on Christmas Day means that getting to Sandycove might prove to be problematic. She plans to spend her first Christmas away from her family doing the Christmas swim at the Forty Foot.
Mila Todorova, a third year exchange student from Germany, will also be spending her first Christmas in Dublin away from her family. She says she likes that there were “lots of young people in the city and lots to do” as well as praising the rest of the country, particularly the West, saying “the Cliffs of Moher are amazing”. As for her plans for Christmas day, she says she has been invited to spend it with a host family she had stayed with for two months, as well as other friends.
Luiza, a first year student from Brazil, has no plans for her first Christmas in Dublin as of yet, but has applied for jobs. Su, a postgraduate student from India, plans to volunteer at the St. Stephen’s Green Christmas Market.
These four students came together with other international students at a reception in the Hamilton’s Global Room at the end of this semester. They were supplied with brochures recommending Christmas activities in Dublin and the rest of the country, such as the Christmas market in St. Stephen’s Green. On an advice board regularly updated by fellow international students, suggestions ranged from practical advice such as “shopping in Lidl and Aldi” to “getting out of Dublin and experiencing the entire country”. Similarly, a board where students could post their best experience in Dublin showcased the diversity of experiences, with “meeting new people” being the dominant theme.
Many of the students who stay for the break don’t celebrate Christmas, so the [Trinity] Global Room reflects that by offering suggestions of winter-related, rather than necessarily Christmas-related activities.
Global officer support worker Aoife talks to me about the importance of such an event. “For students not going home for the holidays it’s a great way to meet others in the same boat,” she says. “It can be lonely on your own when most of your social circle go home for the break and this event, and the follow-up Facebook group, will give students a platform to link up with each other, whether to go ice-skating, to the markets, to the Butler’s Experience or even just the cinema.”
The majority of the students staying over the Christmas are from countries such as China, India and the USA, she says, and so it would be simply too expensive to go home for the break. “Many of the students who stay for the break don’t celebrate Christmas so the Global Room reflects that by offering suggestions of winter-related, rather than necessarily Christmas-related activities,” she tells me. Having spent an Erasmus year abroad, Aoife recognises the importance of having such a support space.
The Global Room, which is open all year around, provides an invaluable support to students abroad, operating a 9:30am to 9:00pm drop-in service where students can get advice on practical matters from visa applications to the locations of lecture halls, as well as cultural questions that may arise. Their yearly Christmas reception is run in conjunction with “New to Dublin” and the international branch of S2S, both of which provide support for students living in Dublin for the first time, whether they have moved from New Ross or New Delhi.
Photo by Kevin O’Rourke. From left to right: Sunayama Baruah, Luiza Madalozo and Herbert Innocent.