Differences to Embrace
When traveling to any foreign country, one of the most common things for travelers to consciously pick up on are the typical cultural habits of the people of their new country. This can often lead to culture shock, with people becoming frustrated with how things are done, either because of a lack of understanding, having adapted to a particular way of going about things, and being wary of change, or maybe there are legitimate reasons from time to time for such frustrations to occur.
Admittedly, I experienced a type of culture shock and homesickness for the first two days or so upon arriving in Dublin. Being with my interstudy group certainly helped alleviate such feelings in the early days of our stay, when the campus was empty. Additionally, however, this is not entirely new territory to me. I have been to Ireland before, and feel very fortunate to have family right here in Dublin that I can meet up with. Especially when I am adapting to the relative feeling of anonymity of being in such a large school compared to the much smaller school I am used to back home, I have never truly felt like a stranger so far.
This is not to say I do not notice cultural differences that take a little time to get used to. There are aspects of the Irish culture that anyone can enjoy from the beginning. There is, first off, what is sometimes called the ‘Irish nosiness’ during initial orientation. You will notice that strangers will almost always ask about where you from, and other small details with you, which is always wonderful to keep conversations going and preventing those infamously awkward silences.
There are other aspects that can take getting used to, however. For instance, there is a bit of a different overall work ethic in Ireland, compared to America. People will tend to take their time more, and for new travelers, it can be frustrating if you are not expecting this. However, it is important to keep in mind, that whatever it is you need to have someone do, it will get done, it will just take longer than you may suspect, as I experienced in making schedule corrections. Finally, it is also important to note that in Ireland, there is a much greater emphasis on studying and working autonomously in school, than in America. The reading lists that each class provides you with will prove it.
Overall, after I have completely settled in, and this is proving to be a great place. Firstly, it is quite simply a beautiful campus with so much to offer, it is practically its own small city. Very importantly, however, the ‘anonymity’ of UCD mentioned earlier is easily countered when joining different clubs and societies, and meeting new people. In fact, not only have I built relationships with students very easily, I have even met the leader of one of Ireland’s major political parties, Fianna Fail, and have attended the Irish Presidential debate hosted by UCD’s law society. Back home, on the other hand, I have yet to even meet my town supervisor….