Hannah at Trinity College, Dublin

My name is Hannah Stone and I am approximately one month into my study abroad experience at University College: Cork.

I am a junior majoring in History with a minor in Marketing at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. I am also a native of Colorado and have rarely been this far away from home.

In fact this is my second time out of the United States. I chose Ireland simply because I have always felt some deeper connection to the country-my parents love Irish culture and history so I grew up constantly hearing Irish music and learning about Irish myths and legends alongside Irish history.

Another reason I chose to study in Ireland is because I have been Irish-dancing competitively for over ten years and competed at the 2010 World Championships in Glasgow Scotland.

It has always been a dream of mine to have the chance to dance over here and get an “authentic” Irish-dance perspective. I have not been able to dance yet here, but I hope to have something in the works very shortly (and will tell you all about it when it happens).

So far I love Ireland, the people are quite nice and very friendly and I have had some wonderful social interactions. From the ladies at Healy’s Bakery in the English Market who, after finding out that I was American, offered me a sample of delicious cake and asked how I was getting on, where I was attending school, and what I was studying and really took the time to talk to me;.To the bank teller at the Bank of Ireland who asked the same questions while I was filling out my bank account information; and to the Immigration Officer at the Garda Station who wanted to make sure that I was staying safe.

I feel as if everyone has taken a genuine interest in me as a person and wants to make me feel at home here.

And I do feel quite at home already! Especially in the shopping districts!! I love to shop and Ireland will prove to be a trial in my ability to resist buying everything in sight. Irish girls do dress up a bit more here, both during the day and at night.

I was prepared for some of this from my experience with Irish-dance. At all major competitions, it is the norm for girls (and some teachers) who are not dancing on a particular day to dress in a very fashion forward outfit with (frequently) over-the-top accessories and very high heels. Hair and make-up must be done flawlessly at all times, meaning no “messy buns” or just eyeliner with mascara. It was at such a dance competition that I first saw the menswear pant style on girls along with one-piece playsuits (called rompers back home).

Here, it is like that all of the time. Everyone is very well dressed (including the guys, who seem to have a thing for Abercrombie and Fitch button down shirts often paired with jeans). The girls have two levels: dressy and dressier. I have seen maybe two young ladies wear sweatpants to class here and I am pretty sure that they were American (this is fine by me as I physically cannot wear sweatpants, with the exception of yoga pants, outside of the gym or my room)-even if I do see Irish girls in sweatpants, hair and make-up is still done and looks nicer than when I see American girls in a similar get-up.

Daytime wear often consists of skinny-cut pants or shorts with tights, a nice skirt that is not overly short, a nice shirt (styles range from a logo tee with a cardigan and scarf to blouses with unusual accents to them), and flat shoes (these are flats, brogues also known as oxfords in the US, boots, or low profile sneakers like Keds). Hair can be more casual with it loosely gathered up or just down with natural texture.

In the evening, everything changes. The dressy meter goes waaaayyyy up! As do the hemlines and heels it seems. I have often felt like a country bumpkin on some nights as I feel so underdressed. The skirts and dresses get shorter and tighter: embracing the “Body-con” style as it is called in America. Tops with the skirts are tight and tucked in or sheer and flow-y with some sort of camisole underneath while the dresses are often very tight or resemble more casual (plain) homecoming dresses sold at department stores in the US.

The heels are also very high and how these Irish girls manage to walk those cobblestone and uneven streets in them I do not know-I love heels, but I would probably take a massive face plant while walking down Patrick Street. Accessories are also more abundant and unique with lots of bangles and really long dangly earrings. Hair is bigger-usually pin-straight with volume on the crown and eyes are darker and more dramatic with lots of smoky shadow, heavy eyeliner and mascara.

I can’t imagine trying to dress-up that much for a night out as it is not something that I am personally used to, but I do like to shop and will try to add some of the aforementioned pieces into my current wardrobe, I will let you all know how that goes and maybe even post a few pictures of how to blend Irish-style into a student’s aboard wardrobe. I will keep you all updated

Until then, Slainte