Upon arriving in Dublin, Ireland, I was jet-lagged, tense, and just hoping I could find my baggage. The excitement of coming to another country to study for a semester had been worn a little thin somewhere in between all of the waiting around in lines and the crabby airport security workers. I just wanted to get to my new apartment, shower, and sleep for 24 hours straight. Instead, my resident director, Eimear (rhymes with lemur) forced us to go shopping to get supplies and stay awake as long as possible so we could adjust our bodies to the time change.
Adjusting to the new time zone was the least of my worries though. There are many adjustments that have to take place when one studies abroad. I basically had to start from square one. For the first few weeks on the new campus, I felt like a total freshman again. And let’s be honest, no one wants that. But after settling into somewhat of a routine, I realized that life here has quite a few similarities to back home coinciding with the many cultural differences.
I see a lot of similarities of home life in my two Irish roommates. They are both freshman, or “first year” as they call it, and it reminds me of my days of newly found freedom of college. Joe and Brian are discovering which microwavable food is better than the other and the realization that they can drink any night of the week. But a big difference between Irish life and American college life is the weekend habits of the students.
Instead of going out on the weekends, the majority of Irish students go home every single weekend. So although they are getting freedom during the week, they get the joy of having their laundry done for them and meals cooked on the weekends. Because they go home on the weekends, the week nights are wilder than most back in the states. Mondays are the biggest nights to go out!
Changing my social outings from Fridays to Mondays does not sound like a big adjustment but it is just strange. My weekends are now filled with quiet evenings catching up on Netflix (oh, re-watch the Arrested Development series for the fifth time? Check.) and exploring Dublin with a few trips to other countries mixed in.
Something that I really enjoy here in Ireland is the language. You would be mistaken in thinking that just because they speak English, you will have no problems understanding them. Just like how America has the Southern drawl, Boston and New York accents, and the Midwest (which I have been called out for many times. Sometimes people even think I am from Canada!), Ireland also has variations of accents. But not only do the accents throw you off when conversing with the Irish, the words and phrases are different too.
One huge phrase here is “What’s the craic?” (Pronounced like “crack”). This refers to anything that’s fun, really. It can mean “What’s going on?” or “Is there anything cool happening?” You can also use it in terms of describing a past event as in “That was deadly craic!” You can imagine the confusion in hearing this phrase before you know what it means.
In general, life here is phenomenal. I have had such a great semester so far in learning about the Irish culture, meeting new people, and leading a more relaxed lifestyle. It will be great to come back and see my family and friends once again, but I am not looking forward to leaving this great island with its great people.
BY AMY BERG firstname.lastname@example.org