At Dublin International Hostel we were very lucky to have Femke on our team of interns. She came to us from The Netherlands and quickly became a part of our family at the hostel in Dublin. We had a lovely chat with her about her thoughts on hostelling in Ireland.
What were you doing before you came hostelling in Ireland? Before I came to Ireland I was living the typical student life: trying to find the right balance between good grades, financial stability and a social life. I’m an International Tourism Management and Consultancy (ITMC) student from the Netherlands and had to do an internship abroad. I wanted to go somewhere where I could picture myself living for a semester; somewhere I would feel comfortable communicating as well as culture-wise. That’s why I decided to go hostelling in Ireland.
What were your expectations of Ireland? I basically only knew the Irish stereotypes before coming to Ireland. I expected to see beautiful landscapes/nature, lots of sheep, many pints of Guinness, traditional music in pubs, shitty weather and just a friendly nation in general. Funny enough, they are all true!
What surprised you about Ireland? After hostelling in Ireland for almost six months, I kind of got the impression that Irish people do not worry about many things. For an island that is so big, they haven’t seem to have lost that typical island mentality. Buses for example are never on time, but that doesn’t seem to matter much. In the Netherlands everyone would get so annoyed, but here everything is grand.
What is your favourite spot in Ireland? My favourite spot must be on the Howth cliff path, just outside of Dublin City, on a sunny day. It’s an amazing place for hiking and there’s a few nice and quiet spots there where you can sit down, overlooking the sea. It’s beautiful!
I also really love the Wicklow Mountains. It’s such a peaceful area where you can walk for hours without seeing anyone else. All you hear is birds singing. It’s so nice if you want to get away from the busy city life for a while.
What tips do you have for visitors to Ireland? I’d say don’t waste too much time wandering around the famous tourists attractions, you will be surprised of what you may find!
What is your favourite hostel and why? I’ve only visited three An Óige hostels: Dublin International Hostel, Sleepzone Galway and Knockree Youth Hostel. If I had to choose one for hostelling in Ireland, I’d say Knockree would be my favourite hostel. It is literally located in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the Wicklow Mountains, and an amazing place to just get away from everything and get some peace and quiet.
What is the best thing about hostelling in Ireland? The best thing about hostelling is that it’s a good place to get to know people from all over the world. You learn about different cultures and at the same time get to know your own culture better. You might have never realised that the small/normal things that you do every day are actually part of your culture and are not normal to people from other parts of the world. In some way, it makes you understand yourself and other people a little bit better – as long as you’re open to it, that is.
What is the most challenging thing about hostelling? The most challenging thing about hostelling is having to share your room with so many different people and the lack of privacy. I guess it’s alright if you’re staying for a few nights and are only in the room to sleep, but once you’re actually staying in one for a longer time, it can be very difficult sometimes. It’s nice to have people around, but sometimes you just need your own space.
What did you learn from hostelling? I guess hostelling has made me appreciate the luxuries I have at home a lot more. Very normal things like having your own room, a comfortable bed, a nice shower, bath tub or even a TV are things you easily seem to take for granted. To be without them for six months, definitely makes you appreciate them a lot more!
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