The 5 things you thought you did not know about Ireland
When moving to a new place, it’s usually best not to cave into stereotypes. As most out-of-state students discovered, people from Massachusetts aren’t crazy liberal, angry-driving, WASPs running around yelling “chowdah.” Most people, at least.
So when I first landed in Ireland, eager to start my semester at University College Cork, I tried to go in with a pretty open mindset. Sure, I had my preconceptions about the great Republic of Ireland and what the people were like, but I was more than ready to see the stereotypes that are promoted in America blown up and find out how much I really knew.
The answer? Pretty much everything.
For example: The Irish love drinking. No, I don’t think you’re getting me here. The Irish really, really, really love drinking.
Sure, most people have a general idea of Ireland’s reputation for drinking, rain and drinking while it’s raining. But still, it’s a stereotype. Surely alcohol can’t be that engrained into the culture of an entire country. It’s probably an overplayed myth.
Nope. In fact, it’s No. 1 on the list things that you thought you didn’t already know about Ireland.
It didn’t take long. Heck, I hadn’t even been admitted into the country when the immigration officer at the airport saw my paperwork and said: “Spending the semester at UCC, huh? Try not to drink too much.” Most of the other students I’ve met over here got the same treatment at immigration.
This country’s penchant for the sauce was pretty well showcased in the brand new show that’s been hitting the airwaves over here: “Stone Cold Sober,” in which a bunch of Irish guys give up drinking for six months. That’s it. They just do stuff and happen to not drink.
Mind you, these are guys that went out to the pubs four nights a week and recovered the other three while doing this weird thing called “working.”
Which brings me to stereotype No. 2: The Irish are laid back about everything.
When it came time to pick classes at UCC, I didn’t know what to expect. Mostly, I was hoping the system was better than SPIRE, which isn’t saying much.
The system here, it turns out, isn’t really much of a system at all. Just show up to classes, see which ones you like. Sign up eventually. Try to get it done within a month.
The police? It’s not exactly the UMPD over here.
During our international student orientation, a Cork police officer that came to talk to the group about (you guessed it) drinking, laid down the law on drugs, informing us of the strict, “zero-tolerance” attitude at the school: “Be smart about it. Don’t get caught,” he said.
Well, there may be a little leeway.
Stereotype No. 3: It’s always raining.
Well, it isn’t always raining. I have seen that glowing yellow orb in the sky every now and then. But, compared to New England, it’s monsoon season. Remember the deluge we got back in June and July? A drizzle.
Sunlight is optional in Ireland. So much so, advertisements actually market the amount in vitamin D in their product, playing at the fact that the people don’t get enough of the stuff from the sun.
Yet, even when it’s a torrential downpour with gale force winds (the two go together more often than not), the people here still aren’t as miserable as they are on a nice day in Massachusetts.
Which brings me to stereotype No. 4: The Irish people are ludicrously nice.
It’s difficult to describe how nice people in Ireland are, mostly because I don’t think we have any American phrases to describe this level of kindness. So, I’m going to make one up.
People in Ireland are Mr. Rogers-marshmallowily nice. It’s like every guy is Michael Cera’s character from, well, any Michael Cera movie and every girl is the nice, kind of cute best friend character that the main character doesn’t fall in love with until the last 20 minutes of a movie.
When first exposed to Mr. Rogers-marshmallowily kindness, it’s almost as if someone’s messing with you by being overly nice. It’s weird. It’s not until you’re talking to someone for over five minutes you go, “Oh wait, this person isn’t messing with me. They actually are this nice. Weirdo.”
However, there is one exception: Middle school-age kids in Ireland are just as annoying as the American ones. The only difference is that they have stereotype No. 5: the accent.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed three distinct types of Irish accents, all of which most people have heard. First, there’s the Colin Farrell-esque light accent that can make girls melt. Jerks.
The second is found mostly in the older population: the mumble. Prevalent around my current city of Cork, the mumble is a combination of the talking speed of a middle school girl and the annunciation of someone that’s just back from the dentist and got a mouthful of Novocain. Difficult to understand under normal circumstances, the mumble is unintelligible and undistinguishable from Gaelic when the speaker is drunk, which is often.
Finally, there’s the whine. Think Dudley from the Harry Potter movies (not Irish, I know). Regardless of nationality, everyone with an accent under the age of 16 is infuriating to listen to and will increase the chances of you wanting to punch a child 10-fold.
It’s not like doing so would get you in trouble. The kid’s mom would probably brush it off and offer you some tea.
Nick O’Malley is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.