Irish Charm

29 Nov

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three months, it’s that Irish people are some of the most friendly in the world. Nowhere else in Europe have I felt so welcome, and this has made Ireland the perfect place to spend a semester of my college career. The fact that we speak the same language, however hindered by regional accents, provides the connection upon which I have come to know so many Irish people.

The best example of this I can provide comes from a girl in my history class. The night before I left for a four day trip to Barcelona, I realized I didn’t have any travel size shampoo’s or conditioner. While this may seem like a trivial issue, I spent the day searching different grocery and convenience stores for such products and couldn’t find anything. Jamie, a girl in my class, overheard me asking a friend if she knew where I could them, and told me where I should go. I had no idea where the store was, so after class she didn’t just point me in the right direction but rather walked me to the store, which was about ten minutes away. It was such a small act of kindness, but to me it really epitomized the friendly nature of so many of the Irish people that I’ve come into contact with. This is even further illuminated by the fact that American’s are not always received well abroad, specifically because of our tendency to speak only one language and our penchant to do so quite loudly.

This general propensity for kindness could have something to do with the fact that so many Irish people have immigrated to the US, and therefore many still living here today have relatives or friends in the US. This sort of connection, however distant the relative or friend might be, still provides a bond upon which relationships are built.  In a study conducted by the US Census Bureau in 2008, 11.9% of American reported being of Irish heritage. An even more astonishing figure it that of the relative populations. The Irish diaspora population in the US is about six times that of the population of modern Ireland! So just as many American’s feel a certain connection with Ireland, many Irish probably have ties to America because of the immigration statistics mentioned above. Whatever the reason, I am so appreciative of the welcoming and friendly Irish acquaintances I’ve met over the past few months. I’ve learned so much about Irish culture, language, history, politics, and religion (among other things) not only through my classes, but also from those who have been so eager to share their stories with me.

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