People often ask me why I chose to study abroad in Dublin. Why not choose more popular European destinations like England or Spain? The combination of factors that lead me here is quite ordinary and I won’t bore you with my decision making process, but I have a better question: Out of a school of 50,000 students, why am I the only Longhorn studying in Dublin?
It might be obvious that, unlike Spain, there is no language barrier in Ireland. Although that’s not entirely true. I was surprised to see many street signs bearing the name in Irish before English. It would take me years to conquer the extensive list of Irish slang, and in rural regions, people’s accents are so strong they might as well be speaking gibberish. So while I might not be learning a new language, I apologize in advance for saying things like “craic” — yes, it’s pronounced crack, and it means “fun” — and “grand” when I get back.
From my short two-week experience thus far, I’d say that Irish folk are in the running for the friendliest people in the world. Brazilians are hanging onto the spot as of now, and there is actually a large population of them here, but that’s another story. Ask an Irish person any question, whether it be about their culture, or simply for directions, and you’re likely to get a story in response. After Ireland lost to Sweden in the FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Dublin on Friday, you would expect there to be a lack of celebration afterwards. But alas, the party goes on anyway.
I was walking down the street with some American friends when we stopped a man with a soccer jersey on to ask if Ireland had won. He replied simply, “We won in spirit.” He went on to explain that the Irish are so welcoming to foreigners, that because tons of Swedes came to the country to attend the game, the Irish had to let them win. And then everyone heads to a pub.
Which brings me to the Irish stereotype of everyone being a drunk. While this is not entirely true, pints of Guinness are flowing somewhere in the city every night of the week. Including at noon at the University College Dublin campus pub.
All right, to be fair, classes have only started today, so my experience may be a bit biased. I have had more time to enjoy the finer things — and rare sunny weather — in Dublin without the stress of studying. Even still, regardless of whatever mundane factors lead me to choose this place, I’m glad I did.
So while the rest of you Longhorns are missing out, I also kind of want to thank y’all for throwing me across the pond on my own. Coming here completely alone for the first time, to be on exchange for four months has been one of the most exhilarating experiences. So sláinte to the next three and a half.