Over a month ago, I posted an invitation for my Facebook friends to ask me any questions about my time abroad. Finally, I have your answers!
If any of you readers out there have more questions, go ahead and post in the comments and I’ll shoot you a reply asap!
“What have you learned about yourself that you wouldn’t have had you stayed at University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire?”
It may be confusing, but I learned how much I didn’t know about myself. Studying in Eau Claire and coming from a small town, it’s easy to think you know quite a bit about yourself and the world. Good joke.
After a few months of living 4,000 miles from home in a different culture with different responsibilities and new people, I almost didn’t recognize myself. I was more confident, more apt to speak with people I didn’t know and ask questions, less anxious about little things in everyday life.
“We just want to know if you’ve learned things you never thought you’d learn?!”
Irish slang is definitely something that I never thought I’d learn or have to learn! You never think about those things before studying abroad.
There are words that I’ve never heard in my life that Irish people use in everyday conversations.
“What’s the story?” or just “Story?” (What’s going on with you? How are you?)
“What’s the craic?” (Any fun? What’s going on?)
“Well, kid” (like ‘hello, dude’ – a common greeting in Limerick)
“That’s gas!” (That’s awesome!)
“Did you shift her?” (Did you kiss/ make out with her?)
“You’re langers!” (You’re drunk!)
“Cop on” (You should get a grip)
“Call over” (come over)
“Will you leave him/her in?” (Will you let him/her inside the door?)
“Sham” (buddy, lad)
“Yoke” (a thing)
“Feen” (a good looking guy)
“Eejit” (insulting thing to call someone)
“Wellies” (rain boots)
… where do they come up with these words, seriously?!
Of course, you have some Gaelic phrases and words everyone knows like:
“Taoiseach” (prime minister)
“Dail” (government of ministers)
They say a few common things differently:
‘X, Y, Z’ is said “ex, why, zed”
‘5:30’ or any time at :30 is said “half 5”
Besides language, I also learned how to roll a cigarette (for my friend, not myself) and how to plan and execute trips around Europe (I never really thought how much planning goes into travelling… getting tickets for the bus to the train or airport and the bus from the airport or train to the hostel or taking a ferry, etc.) It’s more than just “Oh, I bought a ticket to Paris!”. No, you Google the crap out of all your travels. I’m surprised my computer hasn’t crashed after having 50 tabs open at one time.
I’ve also learned that getting lost isn’t always a bad thing. The story (tears, laughter, and all) will probably be worth it!
“What’s been your biggest takeaway from experiencing a completely new and different place along with what you’ve learned from the adventures you’ve had so far?”
I wish with all my heart that Americans could understand how the Irish look at life. They take responsibility for their future, but they don’t let their plans for the future run their present life and they have a sense of humor about life that would be foreign to most Americans. There’s a saying that Americans live to work and Europeans work to live. It’s true. I think the American dream is great idea, but I think Americans idolize it in a way that ruins their present lives. I wish I could scream at American citizens, “Just take a chill pill! Everything will work out!!”
The adventures I’ve had so far have definitely taught me to not be afraid of taking risks. Playing it safe won’t get you anywhere in life except your couch at home.
“How have you experienced God’s presence in a whole new country with a whole bunch of new people?”
God doesn’t just speak through your pastor or the worship music on Sundays and He isn’t limited to speaking to you through the Word. He speaks when you’re crying with your housemates that live across the ocean from your hometown about how much you don’t understand life, He speaks when you still ended up in the correct place after your phone dies and you can’t GPS your destination in a different country alone, He speaks when you sit next to a stranger on a train in Europe and find out they’re from your home state. God is big, but He makes the world feel much smaller than it seems and it is comforting.
“What’s been your favorite adventure so far?”
Hands down, my favorite adventure was my trip to Switzerland. It was the one trip that was at the top of my list as we had planned to go skiing in the French Alps just an hour or so away from our hostel in the western region of Switzerland. Who can say they’ve skied the Alps?! I’m a sucker for a majestic mountainous landscape, so it was great to have views of the mountains nearly every day from the train. I had a grand time, except near the end I got a double ear infection and ruptured my right ear drum. On our last day of travel back home, I had the worst time of my life trying to survive the bus, tram, plane, and another bus back to Limerick, ending in a taxi ride and walk in the rain to the clinic and pharmacy. I’m healed and can finally hear now, but it was still a crazy memorable trip!
“How are your roommates?!”
This one was sent in by one of my housemates here as a joke probably, but I’d like to write a little blurb for them. I was so nervous about the housing situation here: 7 strangers as housemates, potentially co-ed, from all around the world or Ireland, sharing a kitchen and bathrooms. But somehow I got really lucky and can call 7 other girls my sisters! I have 5 American housemates (from MN, WI, and IL – neighbors!), one from France, and one from Italy. They’re all good craic and we enjoy each other’s company. We enjoy sharing our culture and mimicking others’ accents. I’m blessed!
“Have you kissed the Blarney Stone yet?”
Yes, I have kissed it twice now! Check out my blog about kissing it the first time here: Attaining the Gift of Eloquence & Other Adventures in Cork
“How much better are the potatoes in Ireland than in the US?”
Potatoes honestly don’t taste all that different, but their food here in general is so much better! Nearly every food you’ll eat will not contain high fructose corn syrup. My American housemates and I haven’t found a single nutrition label with anything like corn syrup listed, and it makes me sick how often people eat it in the U.S. without knowing it.
“Are they promoting St. Patrick’s Day like crazy there?”
St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone already, but it wasn’t promoted commercially like I thought it would be. It really is just a holiday where families get together and see the parade in their town or some travel to Dublin to see the big parade. The 20-30 year olds make up the majority of the pub-goers and in Dublin, where I was for St. Paddy’s, there wasn’t as much drinking as I thought there would be. There were a lot of people dressed in crazy outfits (a clan of guys were dressed as leprechauns) and lots of face paint, some guys dyed their beards green! The parade had lots of music and bands and interesting floats, but it wasn’t as fancy as, say, the Thanksgiving day parade. It was surreal to be in the country that the whole shebang started!
“How much beer do you drink? And, how often?”
Great question (haha). It was the strangest thing walking up to the bar and ordering my first ‘legal’ drink when I first came here since I was only 19. I don’t drink as often as most of the Irish students who party through the week nights (since they leave on the weekends), but I will go out on Fridays sometimes if I’m home with my housemates and other friends for a pint or two and we dance to a DJ. And yes, I really do like Guinness!
“How much do you miss me?”
My roomie back at college sent this question in (who actually traveled here with another of our future housemates and it was amazing to see them!!) and I actually would like to answer it for all my friends and family back home. I think about my people back home every day. The people here are great, but they aren’t my Wisconsinites! I miss familiar faces on campus. I’ve just started to get waves of homesickness now that the “honeymoon” phase of my study abroad experience has worn off. I am still in love with the country, but I would love a bear hug from my dad, a home cooked meal from my ma, and a good cuddle with my little sissy.