I’m twenty. I grew up in a tiny town in northern Connecticut and have been going to college in Maine for the last two years. That’s why city-living is a foreign concept to me.
Living in a city in a foreign country is even more out of my repertoire. I’ve been a part of very small, tight-knit communities for my whole life so it made sense that I had an urge to study in the second most populated city in Ireland. I wanted something bigger, more exciting, and quite simply, different.
Studying in Ireland was a given because of my strong Irish ancestry. I often tell those who ask that I am completely Irish, but to be fair (this is for my grandma’s), I am one-sixteenth German and I’m pretty sure I’m made up of some Scottish as well.
Prior to my arrival in Cork, I naturally had many expectations. Though I enjoy being able to walk around my college campus and recognize every face I see, I could not wait to be surrounded by new people. I expected that Cork, and University College Cork, would definitely allow this to happen.
In the short time I’ve been a city dweller, I’ve already realized that nightlife in the city is exponentially different than that at my college. The endless number of pubs and nightclubs make the various house parties spread across a small snowy campus seem silly.
Back home, if you walk into a party, depending on where it is, you know who will be there. There’s the athletic dorm where jocks have keg-parties in the basement, there’s the artsy houses where people drink and paint on the walls---the list goes on. Everyone knows that pubs and clubs have their own types of crowds, but I’ve realized there is so much room for variation here.
There are mixed groups, young and old, trendy and casual, at many of the places I’ve been. Because of this, there’s a greater opportunity to meet all different kinds of people who are interesting in different ways.
This new nightlife leads me to something that has been a topic of discussion between American women out in Cork:
Whether women like to admit it or not, we all love to be bought a free drink from a nice, attractive, man. It’s flattering. It means you’ve been noticed. And it’s free booze.
Now, after reading those last few sentences I wouldn’t blame someone for labeling me a cheap alcoholic. But I assure you this is not the case. In the short time I have been living in Cork City, one of the most popular topics of conversation between women at various pubs and clubs has been just this; why are Irish men not buying us women drinks?
Fact: According to Urbandictionary.com the phrase “Can I buy you a drink?” is “recognized as the best way to attract members of the opposite sex” because “let’s face it, who doesn’t want a free drink.”
It’s the classic pick up line which I have seen put to use in the states a countless number of times. Though the majority of Irish men my girlfriends and I have encountered have been relatively forward, quite adept conversationalists, and just plain sweet, we don’t know where the drinks are!
An Irish man may argue that he is just money conscious, and therefore not willing to pay for a drink for someone other than himself. Yet, I have witnessed in my first two weeks here that this is untrue. On my first night out my male American friend met two young Irish men at a pub and became friendly with them. By the end of the night, my friend, my heterosexual male friend, had received three drinks from his new Irish pals.
On a later day, I asked the generous Irish man who bought my guy friend drinks, why Irish men don’t buy women drinks.
He explained that “The only women Irish men buy drinks for are prostitutes.”
So, maybe it’s out of respect. They don’t want to be a factor in the intoxication of a woman. If so, this brings up a good point in drink-buying etiquette: A man should never buy a woman a drink if she is noticeably inebriated. In this case, the man would not be making a kind, flattering gesture; rather, he would be crossing the line into the realm of a creepy, prowling, hound.
Nevertheless; I would like to call upon my fellow American women to teach Irish men this simple trick. One technique my girlfriends have tried is described as follows:
Step 1: When at the bar ask the attractive man next to you, “What are you drinking?”
Step 2: Upon receiving an answer, explain, “Oh, I haven’t had that before.”
Step 3: Wait for the man to say “Well, I’ll have to buy you one then.”
Step 4: Say “Thanks!” and accept the drink if you desire to.
Though I have yet to test this approach myself, when I asked my friend how it went, she answered by quoting Ms. Elle Woods, the “Legally Blonde” sorority sister turned Harvard Law Graduate. When describing her “bend and snap” action, Elle explains “it has a 98% success rate of getting a man's attention, AND when used appropriately, it has an 83% rate of return on a dinner invitation.”
Ladies, if you’re in the same dilemma my American girlfriends and I are in, I urge you to try the technique. I would love to hear stories of success and failure (let’s hope not)! And men, if you’re within our age range, interested, and want an easy conversation starter, buy us a drink!
I imagine the variation in the type of nightlife won’t be the only difference I experience in my time living in the city.
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