Adapting to the Cultural Craic

I am now about four weeks into my study abroad in Dublin, Ireland, and at this point I definitely feel assimilated and comfortable. Prior to this trip, I had only been outside of the United States a couple of times, so I very nervous when choosing a place to spend my summer. When I was meeting with the study abroad office and researching what place might be the best for me, I was told that Dublin was very livable and was actually a lot like Pittsburgh. Along with Ireland being a place I’ve always wanted to visit and having family ties here, this was definitely a major thing that drew me to apply for the IIP Dublin program. As it turns out, Dublin isn’t that different from Pittsburgh and the culture here is not all that different from the culture in the United States, especially where I am from.

Cultural Adaptation

I think something that makes the IIP Dublin different from other summer programs available at Pitt is that English is the main language. In fact, it is actually difficult to find a Dublin native who can speak Irish. Even with that, every city sign in Dublin is written in English and Irish. Because English is universally spoken everywhere I’ve visited here, it has been quite easy for me to adapt to life here. On top of the language being a relief, it is very easy to get around her as well. For almost everything, I use the city bus system to get around. Really the only places I travel during the week are work and visiting different restaurants, parks, entertainment spots in city center, and back to my apartment – all of which are very accessible by multiple buses. Something different about the buses here that I was not expecting is the drivers are overly helpful to get you where you need to go. Especially my first and second week here when I wasn’t as familiar with the city or getting around, I could go into any bus and ask the bus driver if he was heading where I was trying to go. They have always been willing to look at the map on my phone to better understand and will even recommend buses that will be able to take me where I need to go instead. This is a lot different from my experiences with the Port Authority buses in Pittsburgh.

Even though I feel so comfortable and adapted, it is the little things in daily life that still throw me off. A big thing for me is the roads. They drive on the opposite sides of the road here, which forces me to extra careful when crossing the street. Since I won’t be driving here at all, there is no real danger that I could get myself into, but even just walking to the park I have to cross intersections that feel so different from crossing the street back home. When in doubt, I’ll follow along behind somewhere else who seems familiar with the area, but I can usually figure it all out on my own. Another thing that is still different to me is some of the language they use here. The phrasing is still really weird to me, like when someone says something is “grand” or “brilliant”. Instead of “what’s up” they’ll say “what’s the story” or “what’s the craic”. When signing off the phone or an email it’s always “thanks a mill” or “cheers”. These phrases are fun and different, but I don’t think I’ll ever fall into using them!

It even took me some time getting used to Irish accents. I remember my first week of work I had a lot of trouble understanding what my supervisor and the other employees were saying. Even still when someone talks really fast and slurs their speech it can sound like gibberish.

The Fun Stuff

This week I’ve done a lot more exploring. Last Sunday I went back to Howth and got some fresh fish and chips; delicious 10/10. I tried out some new restaurants with my friend and got to meet up with a friend from Pitt who’s in Ireland just for the week. I gave her some recommendations of things to do while I’m at work and she loves Dublin as much as I do! This weekend I’m going to Galway with one of my roommates and we’re planning to go to the Cliffs of Moher too! I’m excited to take a day to get out of the city and see more of this beautiful country. My friends and I also booked a trip to London for next month and I’m planning a trip to Lisbon as well. I’m really looking forward to seeing some other countries, especially now when I’m young and have no real responsibilities!

These past four weeks have gone by so fast, and I really need time to slow down. Now that I’m at the halfway point, I’m so happy with my decision to study abroad in Dublin. I don’t think I could be happier. I’ve already grown so much as a person and I know I’ll be coming back to Pitt in the fall a better version of myself!