Gaelic Girl Tessaby Gaelic Girl Tessa
- A Merry Christmas in Cork and saying goodbye to my new home in Ireland
- A fairytale Irish ball - a dream come true for our American student in Cork
- Ireland's love of music discovered - from buskers on the street to Guinness Jazz Festival
- Reactions to an American in Ireland – the good, the bad, and the ugly
- Taking advantage of the ‘Savage’ party scene – having the ‘craic’ in Galway city
Happy Holidays, everyone. May your days be merry and bright, and may the New Year take you wherever you want to go. This last year has certainly been a good one.
The event went well past midnight. I came home after three and crashed into bed still smiling, wholly gratified that I had lived a private fantasy. My only concern was that I hadn't anticipated the blisters that come with five hours of dancing in heels. However, considering that the rest of the night was utterly perfect, I decided that it was a small price to pay.
Hailing from the music capital of the States, I really didn't expect to find the same sort of scene in Ireland. After all, at home, there's a concert every night of the week, whether it's at a big downtown hall that seats thousands, or a basement venue where there's standing room if you're lucky – and even then, only for a few dozen people, with a limited sense of personal space.
But Ireland's music scene is as robust as anything I've ever seen. It was one of the most surprising things about the country, for me, and also one of the most enchanting. I can't walk anywhere in Cork's downtown without coming across someone on a keyboard, or a guitar, or a set of pipes. They're singing for tips, I know – but also for the craic of open-air performance, and for the love which the Irish bear their music.
Don't believe me? Walk around the city some afternoon. You can't get away from the music, and I mean that in the best way. (Was anyone else around for the Cork Guinness Jazz Festival, by the way? The city was practically a New Orleans model of competing musicians, one stationed on every corner. It was gorgeous.)
Upon reflection, I'm glad I had all of these conversations. I love my country as anyone loves their home nation: in spite of her flaws, and because of her virtues. But this whole entire semester has been a learning experience, and rightly so. Whatever your nationality, the point of study abroad is to take a step back and look at your culture with a fresh perspective, isn't it? And in order to do that, you need the wisdom that comes from a full range of opinions – which Ireland has certainly provided.
I recently went to Door 51 – a magnificent pub, by the way; their drinks menu is awesome – with a group of new Irish acquaintances. We were getting to know each other in the typical way, swapping stories and laughing, and I was describing one of my more nightmarish first dates when one of the girls caught me completely off guard.
“God, that’s hilarious,” she said, giggling. “You know. I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘first date.’”
I'm still a little shell-shocked from the experience, actually. Perhaps it was an anomaly, but I think I'll think I'll pass on Irish theater from now on, and just go back to pubs for my evening entertainment.
However, true confessions – my favorite Irish hair is natural. Ireland has long been stereotyped as an isle of redheads, and the rumors are all true; I count between six and ten gingers a day, wondering to myself if they have any idea that they've won the genetic lottery. It doesn't get any better than being born an Irish redhead, after all.
I could not recommend the experience more highly – although I should note that, tragically, those favorite footie socks of mine are irrevocably destroyed. They've faded to a blotchy charcoal and smell like mildewed turf, no matter what I spray them with. They will bear the scars of combat forever.
Thank goodness it's all just superstition. Knock on wood.