The US is a wondrous place for those who have not grown up here but there are many things that amuse, confuse, baffle and astound us Irish people about life in America.
Here are just some of the aspects of US culture that amaze us:
1. Using last names as first names (and attempting to pass them off as Irish)
This use of a family name (or surname as we like to call it) as a person’s Christian name is something that Irish people find incredibly American and a practice we’re not sure we can always get on board with.
From Nolan to Kennedy, the use of these popular last names as “Irish” first names just doesn’t sit right with us.
2. Massive debt after college
Although third-level education can still be an expensive business in Ireland, any debt suffered while starting out in the workforce after college is generally minor in comparison to the big bills still to be paid by our peers in the US.
3. Fascination with guns
With every mass shooting in the US comes increased confusion as regards the second amendment and the right to bear arms that Americans so strongly support.
For many Irish, the need to have a gun in our home is not high on our list of priorities for a safe society, if it features on this list at all.
This is a very hard habit to get into, especially when you’re being served with somebody wearing earphones, barely listening to you, yet still expecting you to pay them for their service which has happened to me on more than one occasion.
That said, it is greatly appreciated by those Irish working the other side of the bar.
5. Lack of vacation days
We like to think we work just as hard in Ireland as our American allies (and definitely do in most cases), but when it comes to going on vacation, we expect a lot more in terms of the time we’re allocated to engage in some rest and relaxation. Not so much “work hard, play hard” as “we don’t get much sun in Ireland, let us go get some vitamin D elsewhere.”
6. People are voting for Trump
As much as we love poking fun at him every now and again, you’ll find that Irish people believe the thought of a President Trump as the point where a joke crosses a very dangerous line. We understand that you’re angry at government and fearful for the future. So are we; we couldn' even really form a government this year. However, is a man who has never lived in the real world, the world with the hardships and problems that your average, every-day American citizen faces – and Irish immigrant to the US, too – truly the answer?
7. Why you can’t understand what we say
From childhood Irish people are exposed to all the various American accents through American television programs, celebrities and politicians. So, initially, it can seem bizarre that Americans haven’t had the same kind of exposure to the Irish accents or to the Irish lingo as we’ve had to the US vernacular.
The nonplussed stare from an American often following an Irish person’s fast-paced tirade of words doesn’t happen half as often in reverse and it takes some time to remember that, for example, if they say to “put something in trash” you will completely understand, but if you use “put something with the rubbish,” it may cause confusion.
8. Green beer and corned beef and cabbage
In the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day, I came across an article entitled “How to get through St. Patrick’s Day without drinking green beer.” I may be alone, but I have survived every Paddy’s Day up until this point without a drop of green beer passing my lips. The concept of specially-dyed green foods and drinks is a strange one to the Irish, as is corned beef and cabbage and the idea that it must be eaten on March 17.
9. Hershey’s chocolate
To put it simply, lads, it tastes rotten. Our tastebuds have very possibly been spoilt with Cadbury’s goodness, but I will never fail to disappoint myself by buying a bar of chocolate in the US to go with a cup of tea and have that greasy slime destroy what could have been a perfect moment of contentment.
As a sidenote: not being able to walk up to the counter, simply ask for tea, and be handed a cup of strong, boiling, black tea will never not be annoying. We only get specific if we want to veer from the default Irish cuppa.
10. The intense need of a stranger to speak to you in public when they hear your accent
As we ourselves may sometimes engage in a slight hovering in the hope of engaging with an overhead Irish accent while overseas, certain people in the US feel it is their obligation to speak to you and tell you all about their thoughts on Ireland and their family tree, once they discover your nationality. Not wishing to act like a bad ambassador for your country can result in many unwanted life stories if you’re not careful.
What amazed you about America? Or was there anything about Ireland that amazed you as an American? Let us know in the comments section, below.