I love Dublin. The weather here definitely needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up (such as either sunny or rainy for longer than fifteen minutes at a time), and all the pedestrians walk so slowly, and there doesn't seem to be anywhere to get a really good burrito, but other than that, I'm pretty sure it's perfect. And one of the best things about Dublin--and Ireland in general--is all the people you'll meet when you live here. Of course I can't tell you all about everybody I've met because that would exceed my word limit and also take me an insane amount of time. I also can't simplify all of these friendly, funny, welcoming, wacky people into five simple stereotypes. But, to give you just the smallest sense of what people on the Emerald Isle are like, I can sure try my best. Below are five people you will inevitably meet after spending three and a half months in Dublin. If you don't find at least four of these, then you might be in the wrong Dublin. There are twenty Dublins in the world, according to the Internet! Fun fact!
1) The Bartender Who Asks You Where You're From in the States, And Then Doesn't Know Where Your State Is, But At Least They Tried
There's a pretty big stereotype that everyone in Ireland knows each other. So far, I don't think it's been too far off the mark. On one of our IES Abroad field trips, we learned about the Celtic Origins of Halloween, and we took two separate tours at two separate ancient ruins that happened to be led by a set of sisters. It's a small island. I think sometimes the Irish seem to think that America is just as connected somehow, which, as we Americans know, it absolutely is not. Everyone here--bartenders, servers, random passersby, nice old ladies seated next to me at the theatre--asks me where I'm from in the States, and everyone here looks very confused when I respond with "North Carolina". In their ideal scenario, I say New York or Boston, where lots of Irish immigrants relocated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries--or at least somewhere like California where lots of Europeans travel on holiday. But they have no such luck I have to tell you, I don't see many Europeans on holiday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. What would they even do there? Go see a basketball game? Visit our farmer's market? Not very good holiday craic.
2) The Guy Who Comes to the Bar Every Week Just to Sit and Do a Crossword, Which You are Then Asked to Help Him Complete
Okay, this isn't a stereotype. This is an actual person my friends and I have gotten to know at our go-to post-class pub. But it just seems like such a deeply Irish thing that I felt I had to include it. Most of the people in Dublin are very friendly, but not in the way that Americans are. Americans are friendly in a way most Europeans find shallow. A Dubliner will walk up to you and ask you if you know a six-letter word that starts with B and is a South American capital city. None of us ever questioned it. He's just Crossword Guy now. We help him out from time to time. For a man who does that many crosswords, he seems to need a lot of help, but I think he enjoys the camaraderie of a group of people trying to solve a crossword over a few pints. The best way to get to know the locals here is to be open to them and not to shy away when they suddenly hand you their newspaper and tell you it's your turn.
3) The Deliveroo Biker Who is Casually Saving Your Life One Delivery at a Time
Deliveroo is very funny to me. Their service is crucial, and for that I thank them. How else would I get my McDonald's cravings satisfied while also preserving the sanctity of the Lazy Sunday? But the packs that they use when they bike around Dublin, delivering dinners to those of us too lazy to cook for ourselves, are absolutely ridiculous. They're gigantic blue cubes that they wear strapped to their backs as they pedal around town, and they like if a cooler and a backpack had a baby. It's hilarious. I kind of want one to bring back to Chapel Hill and keep my books in. I could start a trend, I think. Anyway, make sure to download Deliveroo as soon as you get to Dublin. You will burn so much money but save so much energy, which I think balances out.
4) The Artist Who Casually Slips The Fact That They're An Artist Into the Conversation
It honestly feels like everyone in this city is an artist in one way or another. I'm at an acting school, and I keep finding out that my friends can also paint or sing or play violin. Arts in America are always pushed to the side in favor of sports, but in Ireland art is a pretty big deal. And don't get me wrong, Dubliners love their sports too. The city practically shut down when Ireland beat New Zealand in rugby. It was impossible to get into any bars that night, which was sad, because it was my 21st birthday. I'm not bitter about sports ruining my fun. Anyway, the arts. My friend Grace nonchalantly revealed to me the other day that she paints a lot when she has down time. I pick up a paint set and somehow all of the paint ends up on my hands and not enough of it ends up on the canvas. I find it totally amazing. Not to mention that I went to go see a show in Temple Bar and who should arrive to see the exact same show but Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland??? What a surreal experience. I'm telling you, everyone here either is an artist or supports their artist friends. It's truly beautiful.
5) The Old Man Who is Going to Tell You a Thirty Minute-Long Story Whether You Like it or Not
The Irish are great story-tellers. You get them going and they never stop. I personally love it, but that's not everybody's cup of tea. I've run into plenty of people who want to talk to me about the last person they met from the United States, or the state of the traffic that day, or anything under the sun. Lots of them are taxi drivers--taxi drivers here are very friendly, very chatty, and sometimes a bit racially insensitive. Depends on the taxi driver and the day. But overall, they're a good bunch who love to tell you a good story, especially when they know they've got a captive audience for a solid half-hour. Of course, there was also that group of old men that my friends and I met in a pub, who started chatting us up about America and how proud they were of Ireland the minute we sat down next to them. I feel like if you haven't felt awkwardly trapped by someone's passionate yet long-winded storytelling then you haven't really lived in Ireland.
Honorable Mention: The Person You Ask For Directions Who Then Launches Into Their Life Story
Supposedly the famed Irish tradition of confusing direction dates back to British rule, when subtly rebellious Irish citizens would confuse lost British soldiers by giving them rambling lists of directions. Ever since then, Irish directions have been unintelligible. This sounds absolutely like something the Irish would do, and so I believe it without question. I haven't had to ask anyone for directions yet, because I am both good at directions and bad at asking strangers for help, but many of my friends have run into this predicament, so I thought I would give this stereotype an honorable mention. Apparently all their instructions have to do with vague and unidentifiable landmarks, such as pubs that closed thirty years ago or unmarked places of historical significance that no foreigner could identify but every Irishman knows by heart. No street names necessary. Why are the streets even named here if nobody ever uses their names?
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<p>Likes old things, art, and coffee. Dislikes beets and waking up early. Speaks three languages (and hopes to learn more). Secret cat whisperer. Perfecting a British accent.</p>