Aine Lawless

Journeys

Currently in her second year studying Multimedia in DCU, Áine has a keen interest in cross border relations. She is a graduate of the Glencree Young Peace Builders Program and acts as a Student Ambassador for her University. For the past year she has been the campus coordinator of the 8×8 Photo & Film Festival, which has informed students on the global refugee crisis and refugee issues in Ireland. One of her biggest passions is the Irish language and its relevance as a modern European language; she’s an active member of the Irish language society, Cumann Gaelach.

Student
Aine Lawless

University
Dublin City University

Degree
BSc Multimedia

Work Placement
Susan Davis International

Host Family
Kate & Bob Hunter

Date Published
July 27, 2017

I don’t think I understood the meaning of humidity until I came to DC. Standing on the platform in the mornings waiting on the metro feels quite literally like standing in a sauna. You’re sticky and tired and the clean, dry clothes you put on that morning are now damp with sweat. The humid heat here is different than the normal dry heat we get on a nice day back home. It’s thick and heavy and feels like you have to push through it with every step. DC was built on swamp land, and unless you are Shrek I don’t think any of person is equipped to deal with a swamp in the middle of summer.

Waiting for the metro at an above ground station in these conditions is fairly grim. It gets better in the underground stations though. Like everything else in DC the metro stations were designed on an extravagant scale. If you’ve ever been on the subway in New York City you’ll know the stations to be low ceilinged, narrow platformed and hot as hell. DC metro stations are the opposite. Above the generous, wide platforms you have double height arching ceilings and best of all a fairly decent ventilation system. The stations and trains provide some minor relief from the crippling heat outside but on the days that reach into the 30s(°C or 90+°F) the effect they have is minimal, especially when travelling at rush hour with 100s of your most intimate friends crammed right in there next to you.

While the negatives of the metro are fairly self evident (lack of seating/ overcrowding, surprise track works that cause unforeseen delays, questionable individuals muttering in the corner and services that finish before your night has even begun…) I have to say that I won’t look back on it with anything but fondness. I would consider my metro journey down town every morning some of the only ‘me’ time I get day to day. It gives me a chance to process the things I have to do that day, check emails, read my book or sometimes have a cheeky nap.. You might hear people say that cheeky naps on the metro are ill-advised, I promise you that in the morning so long as you’ve got a good handle on your possessions and don’t fall into a deep sleep there’s nothing to worry about. Cheeky naps should always be acceptable in my opinion, i think we could learn something from the Japanese idea of ‘Inemuri’ in that respect.

Contrary to what you may believe right now, I don’t just use the metros as an escape from the heat and an extension of my bedroom… Some of the most interesting conversations anf memorable moments I’ve had during my time in the US have happened on the metro and subway. While in New York on one subway journey in particular, myself and one of my other classmates voiced our irritation with the state of the world today and how terrifying and damaging human beings can be. Summarized in the end we decided that the solution to the majority of the world’s problems would come if everyone would just have empathy and not be dick.. Or at the very least not cause deliberate harm to other beings. On another journey we became an acappella rebel band. Our singing was surprisingly well received and I feel like we only got away with that one because of our ‘Irishness’ something that opens a lot of doors for you over here even if ironically 150 years ago it was the complete opposite.

(Interrupting this blog cast to send out a worldwide plea for a standardisation of the word used for these trains, is it a metro or a subway or an underground or a tube etc etc etc… took me at least two weeks to figure out the right term to use here)

A former Wipper told me before I came over here that my closest friends in the group would probably be the ones on the same metro line as me. She was right, there’s something about sitting together for even half an hour at the end of a long day when everyone is wrecked and usually still bubbling over from some debate or controversy that bonds you. It’s at those times when you’re most tired that you learn the most about each other, whether it’s someone divulging their family history, someone ranting passionately about something they care about or someone falling asleep and nearly missing their stop (<- me)… the people I have shared these moments with are some of the people I have gotten to know the best and are some of the people I hope will stay in my life in years to come (if only so I’ll have couches to crash on when they’re off studying abroad or saving the world in some far off land).

The metro of course isn’t without its flaws but my WIP experience would have been entirely different without this staple of life in DC. To follow on from that, Dublin needs to up it’s game in terms of city wide public transport, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fully re-embrace Dublin Bus when we get back. I can only hope now that these vague plans of a metro running from Dublin city centre out to the airport actually come to fruition!