by UL International Student Ambassador Valerie Grignon
I was born and have always lived in Montreal, Canada, which I guess is different from the rest of the country itself. Now that I have been in Ireland for about 3 months, I am starting to see and understand how this beautiful country and its inhabitants are different from back home. While you might think that those differences might not be obvious since we are not really what we could call culturally opposed, here are a few things that do make this experience what it is.
- Driving the wrong side. Yes, I get it, driving ‘the wrong side’ is a matter of how you’ve learned it. I didn’t even get the chance to drive in Ireland and if I would get it, honestly, I probably would back out of it. None of this makes sense to me, I still have to take a few seconds to remember which way the cars are coming from when a cross a road. Also, clearly identified street names are almost miraculous, I can’t even count the number of times that I have gotten lost.
- Wearing appropriate clothes according to the weather. Irish people seem to live in an endless summer weather, which I am very jealous of. It’s raining? Why not wear a skirt and nice little boots, forget the umbrella. It’s 10 degrees Celsius? Let’s go hang out with a silky blouse and sandals! I tried to do it the Irish way and enjoy the last bit of warm fall weather. I’m from Montreal, I should be very used to cold and humid weather. I am not and I have caught at least 3 colds already.
- Being friendly with strangers. Maybe the fact that I have been raised in a large city has a positive impact on this one, but Irish people are overall really friendly. Not that we are antisocial monsters back in Canada, but I am not used to people smiling and nodding to almost everyone they come across. That’s when they don’t start talking to you; once they realize you’ve got an accent, you have made a new best friend!
- The pubs. Don’t get me wrong, we have very, very nice bars for everyone’s taste, back home. We even have quite a few Irish pubs where everything is done to resemble the ones in Ireland. I thought they did a good job until I spent a few nights in different pubs around the country. Now I realise how much of a sad attempt Irish pubs are in Montreal, in comparison to a real Irish pub. In reality they don’t even come close to the actual thing. It’s the vibe, the people, the craic that you will never find anywhere else outside of this little country.