This week will be my last of 8 in Dublin. Over the past two months, I have learned more than I expected to. Every week I have been here I seemed to acquire a new concept, skill, or experience that helped me better adapt to this new environment in Ireland.
Week 1 I learned that it rains in Ireland, a LOT. It is standard to never leave the house without an umbrella or rain jacket because it is almost certain that it will rain at some point throughout the day. I have been drenched on more than one occasion here because I declined to take an umbrella out with me.
During Week 2 I learned that Irish politics is extremely different than American politics. On my first day at work in the Irish Parliament, I walked in to the building without going through any security. I was so ready to just jump into the world of European politics, but things were so laid back and I was completely blindsided. I always describe Irish Parliament as Parks and Recreation meets Veep.
Week 3 I discovered the best and strangest British/Irish dish: mushy peas. It is exactly what it sounds like; think mashed potatoes but with green peas instead. It’s a bright green side dish that I thought I would hate but I actually adore and I wish it was more common in the U.S. It may sound gross, but I urge everyone to try it before you judge!
Week 4 was the week that I finally mastered the bus system. At first, public transportation in Dublin was daunting. The bus only accepts exact change and the bus drivers have a particular stigma of being impatient and rude, which I can definitely attest to. In Dublin, everyone is very reliant on the buses because there is no metro or subway. Once I learned which buses go where and how to use them, the city seemed much smaller to me and much more manageable.
The Fourth of July was during Week 5. I learned that Irish people think all Americans are super, super patriotic. When I went to work that day, everyone wished me a happy Fourth of July, and if they forgot to they would apologize profusely. Even Irish people here will celebrate by doing “American” things like eating hot dogs and watching American football. It was interesting to see how people regarded our national holiday.
Week 6 I learned about the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. For my internship, I was required to write a short report on it as July 11th was the 22nd anniversary of this tragic event. I had never once learned about this event before and I was almost mad at myself for not knowing about it. This week was particularly solemn at work for me because of the extensive research I did on it.
During Week 7 I learned that Ireland is quickly becoming a major European economic power. With Brexit taking place sometime in the near future, other countries are looking towards Ireland to kind of take the place of the UK. It will be the only officially English-speaking country in the EU and it already has a growing economy in technology, medicine, agriculture, etc. Brexit is the one thing that is concerning for all Irish citizens and one of the main topics of conversation literally everywhere. I have heard people talking about Brexit in pubs and nightclubs at like 3 am.
It wasn’t until Week 8, this week, that I started to realize how “American” I am. By that I mean that I really did not have a sense of the world before I lived abroad in Ireland. For all my own intents and purposes, the U.S.’s borders were pretty much the extent of the whole world. Living in Ireland, I have met people from all over Europe and the world and I am beginning to be aware that the U.S. is only a small percentage of the entire world’s culture and people. This combined with everything else that I have learned about Ireland and also my shock at how I had never heard of the Srebrenica massacre really pushed me to strive to learn more about the world. I hope that I can take the skills and experiences I acquired in Ireland and apply them back home, and start to become a more worldly person as well.