Blarney Castle and Ending Thoughts on my Semester
My friends and I decided to end our semesters in Ireland with one of the most quintessential activities of Ireland — visiting Blarney Castle and kissing the Blarney Stone. Below you can see some photos of the castle and grounds, including some beautiful waterfalls.
But this post isn’t just about another adventure I had. Looking back, I realize how little time I’d spent wondering about how my semester abroad would be spent. I chose Galway because of its beauty, but it ended up being so much more than that. Galway became my home base during a three month European adventure, and I definitely couldn’t have chosen a better one. No matter where I was jet-setting off to, by the end of the weekend I was excited to board the bus headed west and see the friendly faces of Galway. Additionally, my semester abroad pushed me to be more independent, something that will become essential in my life as I graduate college and go off into the “real world”. Not only was I really living on my own in a new country, but I was also planning trips and travelling internationally by myself. My semester abroad prepared me for what is in store in just a year and a half, when I leave the JHU bubble and have only myself to count on.
For any future IFSA Galwegians (Galway-ers?), here is my final list of unexpected/weird things about Ireland.
*Note: I’m sure there are more things
- It is almost impossible to find normal potato chips. The standard flavor is “Cheese and Onion” (not a personal favorite, but not the worst thing I’ve ever tried)
- Note: another common flavor is “prawn”, or shrimp flavored chips
- Note 2: it is also nearly impossible to find pretzels in Ireland. This was especially upsetting to me, a self-identifying pretzel addict)
- I can’t speak for the rest of Ireland, but at least in Galway, pedestrians do not have the right of way. This is especially important when crossing the major roads nearby when grocery shopping.
- The Irish (and much of the rest of Europe) find American politics hilarious, and often make jokes about it during lectures.
- While the national language is Irish (note: not ‘Gaelic’ as Americans call it), only a minute percentage of the population actually speaks fluent Irish, let alone those who use it as their primary language. This is odd on its own, however it is stranger even that almost all official signs (e.g. street signs, billboards) are in Irish with an English translation.
- While holding up two fingers with the palm facing out is a symbol for peace, flipping your hand so that the palm points in means the same thing as putting up your middle finger. For short: there are no “deuces” in Ireland, so be wary.
- Times of day that are 30 minutes past the hour are referred to as “half”, for example “Breakfast is at half nine” or “We arrived at half three.”
- While we refer to the school subject as “math”, they make it plural, for example “I study maths at university”.
- The last letter of the alphabet is pronounced “zed”. I found this especially funny while listening to Irish friends sing the alphabet song, as it doesn’t complete the rhyme of the song.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my semester abroad. Personally, I’m excited to get back home to my family and friends to have a nice winter break before heading back to school. Happy holidays and have a happy New Year!