As with most things in my life, the trip to get to Ireland was less than normal. My biggest piece of luggage ended up stuck in my car trunk at my uncle’s house, while the only key was with me in Orlando. Luckily, a coat hanger, a screwdriver, and my brothers were able to save the day.
While I had hoped that was the end of misfortune, I got to experience more of Gatwick (London) airport than I had planned as I accidentally left security and had to go back through. It was in that hour that I had my only experience with the English. In comparison to home, I found their airport much less friendly and more mechanical. It was only by luck that I came across an employee to even sort of direct me in the right path. My bags ended up needing to be searched through security, so I had around 20 minutes to make it to my gate before it was effectively closed (10/10 would not recommend ever flying through London). I was very relieved the second I got on that plane to Dublin and got to read the paper with a nice older woman.
I must confess that I had Google Earth’d and researched as much about Dublin as I could before I got here. This meant a lot of the buildings didn’t really surprise me by their appearance, but it felt more like being in a movie or a history textbook because all I had seen were pictures. I feel so lucky to have been pulled towards Ireland to study. The people here have been just as friendly, helpful, and warm as I had imagined. We’ve spent the last four days getting to know each other and all of the other American CAPA students. I am so pleasantly surprised by how eager we all are to experience life here. Our CAPA staff have created an environment that feels honest. Darren is our academic director, and our leader for our weekly discussions on our internships. The conversations with him have been the most eye opening. He is very honest about the Irish, Americans, and the way the Irish view Americans. We got to sit at his table at lunch and pick his brain a bit. My favorite thing was his opinion on language. Currently in Ireland, there is a movement towards speaking Gaelic. We can see it all over the city, airport, etc. as signs are given in English and Irish. He proposed as a reason that it is the Irish wanting to cling to their culture in the face of globalization. Very bluntly, he put it as sucking out their soul. Yet, he acknowledged that the Irish love Americans. Our politics affect them, and many Irish families have family members that live in America. Our canteen (cafeteria) plays MTV music videos all day. The clothes are not different. The accent isn’t even hard to get used to. The difference, as we are told, lies in the things that we cannot see. Therefore, it is my mission for our first week of class and work is to spot them as often as I can. Fighting for who gets the last “bye” on a phone call, dancing to see if you will actually get a cup of tea or coffee, and asking instead of telling are all told to be trademarks of Irish culture (also the ability to not take a compliment, but I mostly feel shy Americans are the same way).
Personally, my first observances are of the differences in the city. There are not half-naked women pictured all over the stores. The garda (police) are not everywhere (I’ve only seen one in the four days that we’ve been here). There is one security guard for many shops and pubs in the city center, but they are not armed with a gun. They all say “grand” a lot. Our school has a beer pong team and hosts social events at clubs and have “pre-drinks” inside the Student Union before. The video advertising the Student Union that was shown in front of the college’s president and other various administration featured someone giving the middle finger with both hands, someone humping a blow up doll, and obvious intoxication. All of the things are probably the most shocking for me as I have come from a school that heavily focuses on marketing and the university’s image. Perhaps the reason is that the drinking age is lower here. Perhaps it is because they are more relaxed. Perhaps it is because England uses marketing videos more like my school’s and the Irish have it in their DNA to not follow England’s rules (as it is with their constant jaywalking).
On a less serious note, I am lucky to have wonderful roommates. Two of them are UF students, the other girl is from Cologne, Germany. We are lucky to be able to have so much fun together, so many laughs, and similar goals for travelling this trip. My favorite quote from this week was a time when it was dreadfully rainy, windy, and cold, but Carolin just looked at me, listening to me whine, and said, “Sure, it rains all the days, but that means there is also a rainbow everyday.” Since then, I have found it hard to wholeheartedly complain about the rain. All four of us shop together, eat together, explore together, and have already shared so much of our lives with each other. I am so eager for our friendships this semester and indescribably grateful for whoever put us all together.
As a CAPA group, we have taken a walking tour and got to see Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle, and various other sites. Pictured below is all of us at the cathedral. The city is beautiful, especially when it rains. We have eaten pizza, marzipan, some fruit-roll up type of candy, hake, risotto, broccoli, and other kinds of food that have been
mostly delicious. All in all, Ireland is great. The people are grand. I am thankful that this experience has already given me so much to think about, and I’m looking forward to our bus tour, our tour of Croke Park, class, and working with Wells for Zoe.