Ireland is not even vaguely what I expected it to be, though admittedly, my I did not have many expectations; I intentionally avoided learning about Irish culture for the most part before coming here in hopes that I could simply experience it in a very profound, shocking way. While I certainly did not expect Ireland to be a perfect caricature of its stereotypes, I do tend to think that stereotypes are what they are for a reason; Ireland’s popular stereotypes are clearly outdated.
First of all, to dispel popular stereotypes, I have eaten maybe one potato dish while in the country and have seen only one person who was too drunk to walk. More important to me though is how nuanced Irish culture is. There is a sense to me that individualism and collectivism are pushing and pulling against one another in many aspects of Irish life. For instance, the Irish seem extremely prideful of their communities, yet they seem quite motivated to achieve in life for themselves. The Irish seem to carry themselves as a rebellious group with regards to British rule, yet simultaneously seem to willingly submit to being Irish. As an American who sees myself first as an individual and second as part of a community, this entire concept is quite strange to me, though it is very possible I am misunderstanding where the Irish actually stand since I have learned all of this information in a few, short days.
As far as the beauty of the nation, as well as the nature of its people, I have not been terribly surprised. The island is gorgeous and the people are generally kind. They communicate at a much higher context than Americans, which can be difficult, but they are an absolute joy to be around; perhaps the most fun I have had all week was talking to a seventy-one year old man on the bus about his life in Dublin. Overall, Ireland has been a great experience for me; I am glad I came.