Week Four: A Shore Thing

Ireland definitely has aspects of its culture that are similar to the United States. For instance, most everyone speaks English which has been helpful. Yet, there are other parts of Ireland that have been a little bit harder to adapt to. Everyone drives on the opposite side of the road, and cars drive extremely fast. Therefore, when crossing the street, it can be flustering because you’ll see locals just run across when the sign isn’t on, but if you try to do the same, you might be hit. It’s also hard to know which way to look when at a particular cross walk. In addition, the sidewalks are very narrow and Irish people walk really fast. So in order to get around sometimes you have to step into the street to make way for others walking along the sidewalk.

Something that I have discovered, which I did not expect is that the sleeping schedule is hard to navigate because it seems that sleep is not as valued here. The Irish love to stay out late and get up early. That being said, my roommates and I try to get a normal amount of sleep every night. However, with some of the activities we have planned or by simply being in Ireland, we find ourselves exhausted.

A huge part of the culture in Ireland is excessive swearing. I have found it difficult to adjust to the use of colorful language when it is used in the workplace. I always anticipated an internship being a professional experience in every sense of the word. However, employees are more relaxed professionally while also using curse words when they are frustrated or when they are simply talking with a coworker. Although I am not bothered by it, I would never use those phrases in the workplace, so it’s been a different environment than what I anticipated. Similar to this, some people I have encountered who aren’t from Dublin, but another part of Ireland can be difficult to understand at times. They all speak quickly and some don’t annunciate enough for me to quite catch what they are saying. However, they are always polite about repeating themselves when asked.

Ireland is known for its extremely unpredictable weather and it can rain at any moment so you always have to be prepared. Due to the rain, I have found that I have had a cold for the duration of the time that I’ve been here. My roommates have discovered a similar fate as well. It’s hard to dress properly when you never know what’s going to happen with the weather, therefore if you ever don’t have an umbrella or your jacket isn’t warm enough, you will get sick.

Due to the frequency with which I have to use the bus system, something that’s taken some getting used to is that cyclists often ride in the bus lane. So it has been frightening to witness a bus getting extremely close to a biker and having the person not even notice. I always think they are going to get hit, but the cyclists seem to know what they are doing. The sidewalks are simply too small to allow a bike lane; however, the city is too big to walk everywhere. Which is why many decide to bike to work or other destinations.

Additionally, coworkers often go to pubs after work or ask about my drinking experiences at the office. This is still taking some getting used to, because I am unsure of how to respond when asked.  

Friday after work, I walked to phoenix park and viewed the papal cross, and the vast greenery and monuments it has to offer. I was able to sit down and read by a pond where the sun was shining. A lot of people were running along the paths, hanging with friends or simply reading like I was. They great part about phoenix park is that you are most likely never bothered because it is such a large area that you can find a spot all to yourself.

Saturday I took a trip independently to Dún Laoghaire where I walked around and read on a bench in the harbor. It was peaceful to watch the waves crash onto the shore, and to watch locals jump in the water. Since the weather was beautiful and sunny, I was able to wear shorts for the first time. Most everyone was out and about and it was fun to explore a new area by myself with no rush to get back to city center. There were many boats coming in and out and tourists were even able to kayak on the sea.

On Sunday, my one roommate and I traveled to Galway where we walked a path along the ocean and then took a boat tour on the river Corrib. The boat showed us how to make a traditional Irish coffee and even how to Irish dance. When we walked through the town we noticed many flags, lights, and lots of shops housing everything from Claddagh rings, clothes, to food and coffee. We also were able to examine the Galway Irish City museum which taught us much about the culture and history of Galway and just how it has changed over the years. The weather was horrible, so we weren’t able to enjoy any hikes during our time there, however we were able to warm up in a few cafés and grab a cup of coffee. It was a busy weekend, but a fulfilling one because I now feel a little bit closer to the Irish culture and the beauty it withholds in its cities and towns.