1. The Weather is Hot-and-Cold, Literally
Being from Florida, I’ve always known only three types of weather. Hot, hotter and just-stay-indoors kind of heat. Ireland definitely has a strange summer, which actually feels more like winter to me. However, just as there are rare days here where I have to break out my thermal coats, there’s also just as many days where I feel like I might as well be in Florida.
In a span of one day, I could go from polar socks and a thick scarf to a thin t-shirt and a very stuffed bag. Layers are really important here, so you better bring a bag that you can fit your jacket, overcoat, scarf and potentially even pack a pair of shorts too. There’s nothing worse than waiting in line to see a castle at the top of a very windy hill on an unexpectedly cold day wearing only a light sweater (been there), or find yourself wearing thick jeans and a bulky shirt on a true summer afternoon in the middle of the city(done that).
2. It’s Closing Time!
Everything closes earlier here, which is hard when you also get back late from class or excursions out of town. A Saturday late afternoon is not the time to do your souvenir shopping, and neither is early on a Friday morning. I’ve grown up around the American consumerism mindset, so I was surprised to see that businesses frequently have limited hours. You just may find yourself walking a mile down the road to the Tesco searching for a gallon of milk when you missed the 6 p.m. closing of the nearby Dunnes.
3. New Country, New Tastes
One of the biggest things I miss about America? Milk. Don’t get me wrong, the cows here are plentiful, but the pasteurization process for the milk is very different than what I’m used to and thus I have some odd-tasting milk. On the bright side, I’ve finally started drinking my coffee black. Speaking of which, coffee is most popularly served in instant form, which still provides a great flavor, but again, it was a shock of a first taste. From the Kit-Kat chocolate bars to the Ritz crackers, everything tastes a little different than what I’m used to back home, understandably. But who knows? Maybe I’ll start craving some Cheese and Onion potato chips when I get home.
4. What’s the Craic on Gaelic?
I’ve always been fascinated by the Gaelic language and coming to Ireland, I figured I’d be learning some words here. Even though, ironically, every road sign and public map has a Gaelic translation, it’s not as common as I thought to know the language. Most Irish people can speak a few words, but English is their primary way of communication. One of my friends here wanted a tattoo of the Irish translation of ‘home’, and it was harder than I thought to find someone who knew the word. The exception, however? Ireland has a cheery group of people, so ‘sláinte’ is a very common phrase.
The world awaits…discover it.