My classmates and I went to Ireland on September 26, 2022. We got on the train and then we crossed the sea with an airplane, which was very exciting. When we finally landed in Dublin, there was a light rain, but that is very common in Ireland. We went by a small bus to Dun Laoghaire, where we got to meet our host families.
What I learned about my host family is that there were two women, one was the mother, and the other was the daughter, and a thirteen- year-old boy. Their names were Sharon, Shauna and Jake and they lived in a small, cosy home that they had recently moved in. Sharon often told us stories, for example that they used to have a dog, that she has a problem with her nose and about their old neighbourhood. Moreover, we got to know that Shauna really likes to cook and that she studied Early Childcare, but was searching for another workplace, which she has found now. One time, during dinner, Sharon told us about her previous neighbour, who had published a YouTube video of him rapping, which was pretty funny, because she told us that he wasn`t very good at it. We also got told that Shauna has a sister, who doesn`t live with them. Her sister also has a seven-month-old, hyper dog, which I got to pet once, because they were “dog-sitting” him.
I also found out that the Irish people don`t really wait for the traffic lights to turn green. I first saw that, when Christina and I walked to our language school and none of the pedestrians bothered to press the button that makes the traffic light switch to green. Generally, Irish traffic was slightly confusing, and we ended up doing the same as the other people. However, we quickly adapted to it and eventually got the hang of crossing streets. It also surprised me that people there need to stretch their arm out to get on the bus, otherwise the driver won`t stop and just pass them. But we quickly adapted to it and now I need to remind myself to not do it here. We also had to get used to the different way of driving, since they use other sides of the road to get forward. It was also new to me that the shops were all open on Sundays because I`m used to them being closed, however, since they were open, I could buy some souvenirs for my family. To add to that, the Irish people have their main meal in the evening and that was also something we had to adapt to.
A few things that were surprising as well, were for example that the Irish people don`t take off their shoes inside their house. I thought, they would have slippers other types of indoor shoes, but they don`t and that gave me my first culture shock. The boy from our host family often called his mother by her first name, which I didn`t really notice until Christina pointed it out to me. But apart from these two things, there weren`t a lot of differences between Irish households and Austrian ones.
What I learned about Irish people over time, is that some of them have a certain distaste for British people, which is understanding, considering the history of those two countries. I also found out that they don`t like to be compared to British people, especially Caroline, our language teacher in Dun Laoghaire. As I mentioned before, they also don`t wait for the traffic lights to turn green and just cross the street. Moreover, their “How are you” is just their version of “Hello” and it would be better to say the same back to them, instead of answering “I`m fine”, because you will earn weird looks.
I can also remember Sharon opening the curtains every morning and telling us that it won`t rain today. She also told us that they had to buy a machine that dries their clothes, because they can`t hang them outside when it rains. The children there have school later than we do and have to wear school uniforms. I really pity the girls from Catholic schools, because they have to wear skirts, even in winter, where it gets really cold, because Ireland generally isn`t a very warm country. While we wore layers of clothes, I saw people with T-Shirts, miniskirts and short trousers running around.
I honestly didn`t find out much about typical Irish food, but what I found out is that they love Guinness, one of their most famous alcoholic beverages. It is brewed with four ingredients, which are water, roasted barley, hops and yeast. The drink has a dark colour, which is different from our beer, and is supposed to be creamy. They are known for their whiskey too, which has potatoes as its main ingredient.
There wasn`t a big difference between our shops and theirs except for the fact that Irish shops are open on Sundays. A slight difference was that fast food restaurants, like McDonald`s, don`t really give you the option to pay in cash, which is sometimes convenient and sometimes annoying, especially if you don`t have a credit card. But apart from that, they are pretty similar to ours, except that they only sell alcoholic drinks to eighteen-year-olds, even beer, whereas “light” beverages would be allowed for sixteen-year-olds.
To be honest, I expected the Irish accent to be difficult to understand, but when I got there, it wasn`t as bad as I thought. I could fully understand my host family or the other people around me. I also got to learn some new Irish words like “gobshite” or “bloke”, which is their word for boys. They also add an “s” to the you, if it`s more than one person, but fortunately I understood that too. Honestly, there were some moments, where I had to think and piece words together to be able to communicate, but I didn`t have any big problems.
I expected Ireland to be as cold as ice, because of all the things I have heard and it made me worry a little bit, however, it wasn`t like I thought. Actually, the weather was very pleasant, and I was able to go outside without my raincoat. I imagined Ireland to be rainy most of the time, but it was often sunny with a little bit of a drizzle now and then. I also expected to not like the food, mostly because my friend told me that I am a picky eater, but I really enjoyed the dishes there.
Ireland is a very beautiful country with different landscapes. If you like cities, you have Dublin, which is their capital city. It was founded by the Vikings, and you can see old houses surrounded by big, modern buildings. You can also see several company headquarters there, for example Google, because they don`t have to pay taxes. If you like to shop, you can visit one of the many stores and shopping centres there. If you prefer the calm nature over busy cities, you can go to the Cliffs of Moher, where you can see the sea and the cliffs, obviously. The Cliffs of Moher are near Galway, so if you are done looking at the beautiful scenery, you can drive down and enjoy a little shopping spree or a warm cup of tea, since it is very cool near the sea.
In conclusion, it is definitely worth visiting Ireland and seeing the different places that the country has to offer.
Chiahui Wong 6M // November 2022
Oberstufe // Non-Fiction // Article