8 things I’ve learned while in Ireland

I’ve learned various things since coming to Ireland (like that I can’t spell Irish names). Enjoy these 8 things I’ve learned since coming here. Irish friends, you can just laugh at how what you call normal, I do not.

1. 9am means 9:10am

We are on “island time” here in Ireland. I’ve always been a timely person and been told: “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is not unacceptable.”  So coming here where lecturers are late to class as well as the students has taken a little getting used to. Last week, I got to class early because it’s me. When the lecturer arrive about 5 minutes after class was supposed to start, there were about 15 of us. By the end of the class, there were almost 30 or 40 of us because everyone kept trickling in throughout the class.

2. The Irish don’t know how to spell names

Eoghan? Caoimhe? Oisín? Aoife? These are just a few of the many names that have tripped me up. I’ll let you stare at those for a while, contemplating how in the world you are to pronounce those names… Okay, saying the Irish don’t know how to spell is a little harsh; maybe it’s us in America that don’t know how to spell. Enjoy this video with Americans butchering how to say Irish names (that was me when I got here; I’m better, but still get tripped up) 🙂

3. The Irish talk about craic all the time

Craic (pronounced crack) has no direct translation to the English we all speak back home in the States. It’s used for news, fun, gossip, etc. So, someone might say, “What’s the craic?” to ask “What’s up?” or “How are you?”

4. Homework? What’s that?

Lecturers do assign homework and projects, but I’ve noticed Irish are not as good about getting small homework assignments done. I had a class last week where we were supposed to do a couple short readings for homework to be prepared for a discussion in class. I get to class to find out I am one of the only students to have done the readings… There was also the time during one of my first days of lecture and I took notes in class. Later that day, I was talking to one of my Irish friends who is also in that class and he told me: “I saw you took notes in class earlier today. We don’t do that here. It would probably be a smart habit though.” All of the PowerPoints/presentations are uploaded to Sulis (the platform UL uses for lecturers to share resources with students), so you can just look at them at your own free will and not take notes.

5. Irish vs. English vs. Irish Slang

Irish is an entirely different language which I do not speak. English is what both many of the Irish and those of us back in the States speak. Irish slang are phrases and words used in the Irish culture when speaking English, but not common to English speakers from the States.

Here are just a few words and phrases, but Google is your friend if you’d like to learn more Irish or Irish slang.

  • Teach Fáilte (chalk fall-ch-uh): Welcome home
  • Sláinte (slan-ch-uh): Health; commonly said when saying good bye or before drinking; cheers
  • Craic (crack): Fun (refer to #5)
  • Car park: Parking lot
  • Lift: Elevator
  • Tap: Faucet
  • Petrol: Gas
  • Savage: Exclamation for brilliant, cool, awesome, etc.
  • Lads: Boys and girls
  • Boot: Trunk of a car

6. Camping = hostel

Tailor and I made the realization the other day that we might not have a need for our sleeping bags this semester. To most, that wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m so used to tent camping (wild camping as they call it here in Europe) that I’ve grown used to sleeping bags and truly enjoy sleeping in them.

All the overnight camping trips we are staying in hostels; it’s just what they do over here. This is not a bad thing, just not anything like what I’m used to. But, I’m going to try to find a reason to use my sleeping bag this semester!

7. No PB&J sandwiches???

I have come to realize when I talk about eating goldfish, that Americans will understand, but that’s it. I’m referring to goldfish crackers; the ones where “smiles” are the first ingredient and “The Snack that Smiles Back.”

Saying someone you are eating peanut butter & jelly gets you weird looks too. In Ireland, jelly is more like what we as Americans think of as jello. So, your childhood lunch of a PB&J with Goldfish crackers is something the Irish would have never had.

Recently I discovered that snickerdoodle cookies and cinnamon rolls are not a thing here either. Yes, they have cinnamon, but they don’t use it for the purpose of making delicious cookies and buns. I’m now really curious what other “normal” foods are ones that the Irish do not have here or eat!

I’ve been slowly having my Irish friends try some of these wonderful foods, showing them that not all American food is gross, fake, and processed. PB&Js have been a hit! Snickerdoodles are soon to come!

8. Ah go on!

I didn’t realize that in order for one to be truly accepted as Irish, you must watch, appreciate, and quote Father Ted. It has been made clear to me now. After about half a semester, one of my Irish friends showed me a couple episodes out of necessity. There were definitely references that needed to be explained to me, but after immersing myself in the Irish culture for about 2 months, I was able to understand some of the references and found it humorous.


3 thoughts on “8 things I’ve learned while in Ireland

  1. As a Californian, I was surprised to find tortillas and Mexican salsa in the Irish grocery stores. But I could only find flour tortillas, not corn. But I was shopping in a small grocery store — I think Spar. Anyway, you’ll have to switch from Cinnamon rolls to Scones for the time being. 🙂


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