What’s the craic?
It’s hard to believe that I have been in Ireland for four months now. It’s even harder to believe that I’m leaving in five days. Over the past few months my friends and I have compiled a list of the 10 main differences between Ireland (and Irish people) and the U.S. So as one of my last blog posts, I thought it might be interesting to share! Here goes (in no particular order):
1. Craic (pronounced “crack”)- It’s not cocaine, don’t worry. I’ve heard the saying “what’s the craic?”, “that was some good craic last night”, and “let’s have some good craic” more than I can even count. It basically means “what’s happening” or “that was good fun”. It is pretty much a universal term that people use to designate fun times (which in Ireland, is a lot). There is no direct translation between “craic” and a term we would use in the states, but if anyone from Merriam Webster is reading this, maybe they can think about including it in the dictionary?
2. They drive on the left. This one is pretty self-explanatory, and surprisingly not that hard to get used to (if you’re not the one driving). The first time my friends and I left Ireland was when we went to Italy, and I unintentionally sat in the taxi driver’s seat at first because I thought it was the passenger seat! Hopefully I’ll be able to readjust and drive on the right side of the road when I get home!
3. You don’t tip! Dublin is a very expensive city to live in, so saving every little bit helps. Apparently, it is socially acceptable not to tip here, so I have saved quite a bit of money by just paying the bill and nothing more. It was weird at first not to leave a tip, but the waiters and waitresses are paid a normal salary, so they do not need the tips like they do in the states!
4. Hailing buses. The first time my friends and I were trying to get on a bus, we waited about 15 minutes in the cold rain just to watch our bus drive right by us without stopping. We quickly learned that you have to hail a bus, as you would a taxi, in order for it to stop. Let’s just say that we only made that mistake once.
5. The drinking age is 18! Enough said.
6. Hollister is the main fashion trend-everyone wears it! It’s like being back in middle school. Irish kids wear Hollister clothes to class, to the gym, and even out to pubs!
7. The people are nicer and friendlier. Bottom line. I mean sure, there are nice, friendly people in the States too. But here it’s a way of life. It is not surprising to strike up a 15 minute conversation with the bank teller, or to have a taxi driver tell you the top 20 things you have to do in Ireland, or to have a waiter try to convince you to stay in Ireland longer. The people are genuinely nice, they are friendly, and they make you smile-that’s more than I can say about most people from the States. I’m going to miss getting into a taxi and spending the entire 20 minute ride learning about the driver’s family and what he got his kids for Christmas-that stuff doesn’t happen in the States.
8. There are usually two faucets on every sink, one for cold water and one for hot water. This may not seem like a big deal, but it took a while to get used to. There was no way to get warm water, you would put one hand under the hot faucet (and it would be burning) and you would put one hand under the cold faucet (and it would be freezing). Even in my kitchen sink, which has only one faucet, half of it is cold water and half of it is hot water!
9. It’s gray here (or as they spell it, grey). Sure, it’s sunny sometimes. But most days it’s just gray. It’s gray all day and then it’s dark. It would be pretty depressing, except for the fact that the people are so cheerful! And this may come as a surprise to many people, but it actually doesn’t rain that much! I’ve only worn my rain boots three times during the entire four months I’ve been here, and I didn’t even actually need to wear them! Before I came here, all I heard was about how much it would rain or “spit” (drizzling rain and wind), and I could probably count on two hands how many times it has rained! So don’t let the rumors fool you-yes it’s gray, but no it doesn’t rain!
10. That’s grand! Thanks a million! As I have (hopefully) made pretty clear, the people are friendly here, and with their friendliness comes certain terms that can’t help but put a smile on your face. If you do something as simple as holding a door for someone, they will almost undoubtedly respond: “That’s grand! Thanks a million!”. Every time I’ve heard those phrases, I couldn’t help but smile. The Irish people have a way of making you happy, whether it’s with their kind gestures, extremely gregarious behavior, or simple phrases such as these.
So as I spend the next few days studying, saying goodbye to friends, and drinking my last few pints, I can’t help but think that I am so accustomed to these 10 differences that it’s actually going to be very strange going back to the states. I’m sure I will try hailing a bus or two; I’ll be shocked when we have one faucet with warm water; I’ll be annoyed when I have to tip again; I’ll miss hearing “thanks a million”; and most importantly, I’ll miss the people.
But as I’ve learned since being here, don’t worry about anything- it’ll all be grand.