The past few days we have had a little bit of class, but for the most part the focus has been on experiencing Irish culture by traveling around. Our main mode of transportation is the DART- Dublin Area Rapid Transit. It's a rail line that runs from where we are staying to Dublin. I haven't made it all the way to the main city yet, but we have jumped off at a few different spots to enjoy the coffee shops and just wander around. It's also been a good time to start connecting with the other people on my trip. Our DART rides can be anywhere from 10-40 minutes long, so we have plenty of time to chat.
The past two days, I've been on these trips with a few different people, but they all seem to share one thing in common. They enjoy moseying along. It's a strange observation, I know, but it's been a challenging, learning experience for me. In new cultures, I love to keep moving in order to see everything, experience everything. I don't really want to stop and wander in little stores or walk slowly from place to place. I prefer to stay on the move. So at first it was really frustrating to have to slow down, but it's been really good. It's forced me to take time and observe the Irish people, and here's what I have learned from observation and from conversations with Irish people and Taylor employees here.
1) We stick out. Even though we don't look different, apparently it is still obvious we are Americans. I've been told it's our shoes... apparently they wear Pumas while we wear Nikes. Luckily I brought my Puma shoes so I fit right in! :) Or maybe it's the cameras we carry around. Whatever it is, they can spot us a mile away. As such we get some random, unexpected comments.
2) Irish are like onions; they have layers. At first, they can come across can of aloof or harsh. A stranger isn't very likely to smile at you, but if you strike up a conversation they become really friendly. So it is important not to judge them at first, you have to peel back the layers and get to know them. Once you do, you'll find they are really wonderful, hospitable people.
3) There is a definite Irish culture. Sometimes things here look very modernized and you are tempted to assume they are just like Americans. It's not true. This probably goes back to the "Irish have layers" point, but it really is important. I'm really excited to learn more about these people and this culture.
4) The entire Irish mindset is different when it comes to work. There's a saying that the Irish work to live, but Americans live to work. It's really true. We are always going, always working, always pushing things along faster. That is not true here. Everything is slower. You only work as much as you have to. Working 40 hours in a week is uncommon and working on the weekends is unheard of. It's interesting to think about. We really put an unhealthy emphasis on working. Our status is often defined by our job. Why is that?
Maybe the longer I'm here and the more I understand, the less I'll agree with what I'm saying now. Then again, maybe I'll only find this to be more true. Only time will tell.