Romina Dashghacian is 22. She’s from Germany (her parents are from Iran), and she’s studying for a Master’s in Public Relations at Dublin City University (DCU). Romina’s hometown is Munich, and she reckons that city and Dublin have a lot in common. “Munich has a community feel, so you never feel like you’re in a giant anonymous city. And that’s why I like Dublin as well. When you’re here, you don’t feel like you’re just disappearing in the crowds.”
But how did she come to choose Dublin in the first place? “I was in Dublin two years ago with a friend of mine just for a holiday trip, and we fell in love with the city so quickly. We were here for a week, and we kept talking about how we should come back sometime and how cool it would be to be here.” When she was looking for a place to do her Master’s abroad, she wanted to go to an English speaking country. “I remembered how much I loved Dublin. So I was like, wow, Dublin would be perfect.”
Before she came, she was anxious about making friends. That anxiety didn’t last long. “The people are one of the many reasons why I feel so at home here. They’re just so open, and they just welcome you in. You can have so much fun with people you had just met five minutes ago!”
Although there are several outposts of German culture in Dublin (the Goethe Institute in its beautifully restored new quarters, for instance), Romina doesn’t feel the need to visit them. She’s certainly not homesick. “I don’t really seek out German people – I can do that in Germany! I love Germany very much, and I will probably go back at some point, but when I’m in a new country I want to immerse myself in the culture of that country”.
You don’t feel like you’re just disappearing in the crowds
“What I like to do is go to Irish comedy gigs and into the city centre or to restaurants and try to buy authentic Irish food. And just try to talk to as many people as possible”. She recommends the Stag’s Head pub for Comedy Crunch, its regular stand-up comedy club. She’s also a big fan of Dublin’s Georgian architecture – Merrion Square is a favourite. And don’t miss the view, she says, from the Stephen’s Green centre rooftop carpark.
But what about the study? Romina studied for her undergraduate degree at a university in northern Bavaria. How is she finding her course at DCU, we wondered? “I think it’s great. One of the main reasons I chose DCU is because it’s kind of famous for its communications school – it’s one of the top 200 in the world. And also because they have a PR program. We don’t have these kinds of programs in Germany; they’re more often found abroad. So to find something that’s quite focused was great.”
There’s one Irish guy, a Russian girl, two Indian guys and me
Another aspect of the DCU experience that Romina really enjoys is her accommodation. She was lucky enough to get accommodation on-campus, and this has been a revelation. “I had never seen a campus university before. We don’t have them so much in Germany.
There it’s mostly running from one building to another on the other side of the city. So I really wanted to live on campus. I think that’s just the best way, especially for someone who is from another country and doesn’t know anyone in Ireland.”
What I definitely miss is German bread
Her accommodation has also made making friends a lot easier. “One of the best things about living on campus is that I have roommates. All of us are post-graduate students, and we’re from all over the world: there’s one Irish guy, a Russian girl, two Indian guys and me.” DCU’s clubs and societies also come in for a lot of praise: there are 150 of them! The dance societies and the Book Society are Romina’s particular favourites – judging by its upcoming trip to Amsterdam, the Book Society’s remit goes a good way beyond books.
But the story isn’t all positive. There’s the bread situation, for instance. “What I miss is German bread, because the Germans are very, very big on bread. I like dark rye bread, and I haven’t found that here yet”. Anything else? “I do miss German beer. But I think I’ve found some beers here that are pretty similar. Hop House 13 does remind me of German beer”. And how do you feel about our black beer, Romina? “I love Guinness. I’m a huge fan”, she says, as gracious an advocate of all things Dublin as you could hope to meet.