I’ve apparently gotten worse at blogging since the last and only time I checked in. Yes, I am still alive and having a great time! I left off about 3 weeks ago so I’ll do my best to fill you in as much as I can without publishing a novel.
I’ll start with work. I absolutely love my job here. I am really enjoying the work I am doing, but most of all, loving the people I work with. I feel like by working, I am getting an incredibly authentic Irish cultural experience in a way I may not have gotten if I were just taking classes. At work, I am surrounded by my Irish coworkers all day and am really immersed into their day to day work and home lives. I am able to ask questions about Irish culture and have so much fun coming home and telling my roommates (who are amazing!) everything I learned at work that day.
The actual job itself is also wonderful. The past month (can you believe I’ve already been here a month?!) has been crazy busy with orientation prep for 1500+ international students. The services provided to not only Irish students, but especially international students at UCC (University College Cork) are outstanding. According to my coworkers and other Irish students who have studied abroad in Europe, the services UCC provides are some of the best in Europe. Another intern at work, Christiana, who is from Germany, told me that at her university, the International Education Office is open 2 hours a week total and is completely unhelpful to students. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common story and experience I’ve heard from Irish students returning to UCC from their year abroad. Being surrounded all day by students with vast knowledge about other non U.S. universities is definitely giving me a broad knowledge base about how other universities operate.
The structure of UCC reminds me a lot of OSU and U.S. universities in general in terms of the student involvement on campus. There are TONS of clubs and societies at UCC that anyone can be a part of, and the Student Union (for those of you at OSU, the Student Union here is basically ASOSU and MUPC combined) is absolutely amazing. They put on so many programs throughout the year and run events such as study workshops, awareness months highlighting topics such as sexual violence, sexual health, mental health, etc., throw class parties every single weekend (last weekend was the “Disorientation” party where they converted the Student Union Building into a night club and sprayed the party goers with gallons and gallons of rainbow paint), run the radio station on campus, coordinate the child care support for student parents, advocate for equality on campus, and I could go on and on and on, but basically they oversee and run nearly everything directly involving and influencing students on campus. Unlike OSU and many U.S. institutions, the Student Union positions at UCC are full time positions that are not filled by students, but are also not filled by what they consider faculty. There are 5 positions (President, Deputy President, Communications and Commercial Officer, Education Officer and Welfare Officer) that are filled by alum who have graduated from UCC the spring before their term with the Union begins. They sit on nearly every committee on campus and bring the voice of the student body to life. It is really unbelievable and wonderful how student run the Student Affairs department is here. If you are interested in finding out more about the Union check out their website. http://www.collegeroad.ie/
Moving onto Irish culture and language… I love it.
Living in Ireland is kind of like being transported back into a slower, kinder, and gentler time where people place enormous value on the individual and will go out of their way to welcome you into their lives. There is no crazy “I must be connected to everyone at every minute of the day” mentality here and most people don’t have laptops or smart phones (or Wi-Fi in their houses!) that would even allow for that level of constant communication. As my coworkers would say, they are “allergic to their computers when they go home” and have no reason to talk to someone via a device because they would actually be in their company at a pub or over at their house for dinner interacting with the person. Gosh, what a concept?! Families are incredibly important to the Irish and it is not uncommon that you would see your immediate and extended family multiple times a week even as an adult. The idea of moving out of the town or city you grew up in, let alone moving to another county (read that correctly, county, not country) would be shocking to the Irish whereas in the U.S. people move all the way across the country and no one thinks anything of it. While the Irish are dedicated to a less stressful lifestyle that allows time for friends and family, they are also incredibly hard working, but don’t rush them. They will get their work done on time, and done well, and still have time for a tea break in the process. Maybe American workers should take notes….
One observation I’ve made is that the Irish swear – A LOT. The word fuck here is used as a catch all adjective. Or, if you’re 8 years old, feck would be the adjective you insert in between every other word. It definitely took some getting used to, but I don’t look up all shocked every time someone drops an F bomb in the middle of a professional meeting anymore. But I’ll tell you what, that definitely took some getting used to. It’s also common to refer to students as “fuckers” which I have yet to accept (and don’t think I will) as appropriate terminology. In addition to saying fuck all the time, “for fuck’s sake” is also an extremely common phrase that I’ve noticed I’ve started to adopt. Another of my favorite Irish phrases, or words I guess, is the word ‘’like’’. They use the word ‘’like’’ ALL the time, but not in the same way we do in the U.S. In the U.S., we tend to use the word “like” as a pause or in place of the word ‘’said’’. For example, we would say ‘’She was like, oh my god’’ or ‘’I just like, don’t know what to do’’. In Ireland, they insert the word ‘’like’’ onto the end of EVERY sentence. I creepily wrote down a phone conversation one of my coworkers was having last week so I could accurately show you all how the word is used. This was her side of the phone conversation with a student:
‘’Take 20 credits in something else, like’’
‘’They allow them once they’ve been approved, like’’
‘’Yeah, exactly, like’’
‘’You can attach the transcript, like’’
‘’So he can have a look at it, like’’
I still don’t quite know or understand the reason for attaching the word ‘’like’’ onto the end of every sentence, but it’s rubbing off on me. The other day I was taking to my roommates and said ‘’this part of the bread is all small, like’’. The term crack also has a VERY different meaning in Ireland than in the U.S. In Ireland, crack refers to chit chat or gossip. So if someone says ”what’s the crack” they are not asking you for drugs, but rather meaning ”what’s up?”. We have to thoroughly explain this to our international students as apparently they have had some unfortunate situations arise in the past from misinterpreting the word crack…
I can also, FINALLY, understand what people are saying! Some people are very easy to understand, but others…Oh. My. God. It literally sounds like they are speaking a foreign language. There was one day in the office where this older gentleman came in and needed something from behind my desk, but before I knew what he wanted, he just started talking to me and I swear I literally didn’t catch a word of what he was saying. And to make it even funnier, Claire, the lady I share an office with, just sat there cracking up, watching me just politely smile and nod and he talked and talked and talked for about 5 minutes straight. Check out this YouTube video about the Cork accent….incredibly accurate (especially for older men)! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRm9Q2KfzBA
I’m also getting better at knowing who is from Cork based on their accent. I couldn’t necessarily tell you where they were from if they’re not from Cork, but I can now tell whether they have the Cork accent or not. For those of you who have seen P.S. I Love You, the accents in that movie are Northern Ireland accents and sound nothing like the people in Cork.
Another interesting observation I’ve made is that saying bye on the phone here is an ordeal. You can’t just say ‘’I’ll talk to you later, bye’’, you must repeat the word ‘’bye’’ about 8 times. So when people go to say bye on the phone, they say ‘’bye, bu,bye, bu,bye, bye, bye, bubye, bye, bye…..’’ continuously, but don’t ever stop to let the other person say bye so I’m not sure if they are both saying bye that many times at once and talking over each other or if the other person has already said their fair share of ‘’byes’’ and then it’s the other person’s turn. I’ll have to call the office one day just to see what happens when we hang up.
Shaking hands is also very different here. In the U.S. we are taught to shake hands firmly and only move up and down once or twice. In Ireland, they are wild hand shakers. They literally shake your hand all excitedly and move it up and down about 10 times before finally releasing your hand. I was in the office one day a few weeks ago when some professional staff from partner universities came in to see the office. I shook their hands and could immediately tell who was American before anyone even spoke or introduced themselves, simply because we shook hands the same way.
I’ve been keeping a list of my favorite Irish phrases and new words as I learn them. I’ll update this list with each blog post. Here’s what I have so far:
- For fuck’s sake
- Feck (the more mild form of Fuck)
- Thanks a million (pronounced ‘’tanks a million’’)
- Grand (EVERYTHING can be described as grand)
- Wellies = rain boots
- Desperate = how horrible
- Trollies = shopping carts
- Wheelie bins = garbage cans (the kind that go on the street, not the ones in the house)
So, all in all, life here is pretty grand If you have any specific questions or want to know more about anything let me know and I’d be happy to go into more detail! Pictures to come…
As the Irish would say, bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye
PS: For all of you at OSU, I hope you all had a FABULOUS first day of school! Go Beavs!