3rd Post: A Month In Ireland

9 Oct

Dia duit! Alex is ainm dom! That is how I learned to say “Hello! My name is Alex!” in Irish (or Gaelic) during my first ten days in Dublin, Ireland. As with any country, there are many customs that are instantly perceived by foreigners. Personally, the use of euros, cars driving on the “wrong” side of the road, and thick Irish accents were some of the initial sparks of culture shock that I experienced during my first 24 hours after landing at Dublin Airport.

I have been waking up and going to bed in Dublin for nearly a month now and still catch myself asking “how many doll-I mean euros does this cost?” On the contrary, I have picked up on saying “cheers” rather than “peace” when parting with someone after a conversation. The street that I would cross after having said conversation requires a mental checklist to do so safely. 1. Push the crosswalk button. 2. Wait for the obnoxious pac-man-like beeping to start (I learned that this was put in place to assist blind people in making it across the street safely). 3. Check for bikers and cars. 4. Check for bikers and cars in the correct direction this time because I always accidentally look left as if I was still in the States. 5. Cross and thank the Celtic Gods that I am alive afterwards.

My initial impressions of Ireland can be credited to an extremely friendly Irish lady that I met while waiting on the immigration line in the airport after the N.U.in Ireland group landed. As we (100+ obnoxious Americans/foreigners) began to fill up their lines, tired and cranky after our long flight across the Atlantic Ocean, the lady simply asked in an unfamiliar Irish accent, “Are you all alright? Let me know if I can help with anything!” To my surprise, she actually sounded genuine (rather than solely being friendly because it was required by her job description). Subjectively, I am making a goal of leaving Ireland with the Irish friendliness toward strangers that is very rare to find in my home state of New York.

Previous to spending my first month here, I was extremely nervous of becoming homesick during my semester abroad. I expected to constantly be scrolling through my phone desperately trying to stay in touch with everyone that I have known for my entire life. Even more frightening, I had made and gotten to know some of the best friends that I had ever had during the Summer after graduation.  The challenge of “making new friends from scratch” had never been something that I ever had to face as I never had lived anywhere besides my small town in New York before. Academically, I had been very nervous about the Business Calculus course as I had never taken Calculus before and personally struggled with Pre-Calculus. A single month later I am confident that Ireland and the N.U.in program as a whole have definitely not been what I expected. I have yet to feel homesick for more than a few minutes due to the efforts that my family and friends back home have made to keep in touch with me (despite the 5 hour time difference). I have gotten the unique chance to make friends with some of the most interesting people that I have met in my life. Finding out what two people from across the world, across the country, or from a neighboring state have in common is very exciting to say the least. All of us have gotten close fairly quickly and at the end of the day everyone is able to put up with all of the differences that we have found within each other’s upbringings to make our semester abroad, to describe it in a single word, amazing. Despite all of this, the biggest surprise to me of all was the success that I have been having in Business Calculus. 

I have learned more about international people, history, and academics in the past month than I had during my entire Senior year of high school. I cannot wait to see what the next 3 months have in store for us.

Cheers,                                                                                                                                                                                                   Alex Dfouni                                                                         

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