My first month in Galway has brimmed with sunny days and bright nights. It’s absolutely lovely and so unique. I’ve met and spent time with Irish students and other international students, explored Galway’s shops, pubs, and markets, traveled to Connemara and Dublin, and eaten a delicious full Irish breakfast (complete with eggs, toast, ham, beans, chips, and black pudding, or pork blood sausage, which was tasty!) Also, tá mé ag foghlaim na Gaeilge! (I am learning Irish!)
One difference between life here and in America is the college culture. Back home, weekdays are generally for school-related activities and homework, while weekend nights are for parties and outings. Here, it’s the complete reverse! Many Irish students go home on the weekends—instead, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings are the “craic”, or the fun that’s going on. These are the nights when students walk from the store with armfuls of liquor, ready for the pregame house parties before taking taxis to clubs and pubs in town. These vibrant nights are for lipstick, dressy outfits, and impossibly high heels (which the Irish girls wear so gracefully!)
Also, at NUI Galway almost every student is involved in clubs and societies. My roommate and I took a leap of courage and joined the rock climbing club, and it’s been a wonderful way to connect. Every Tuesday night, the club goes to the pub Monroe’s to chat and have a drink after climbing. It’s part of the effervescent night life of the city. Some of my favorite memories so far include walking through town in the lit-up chill of evening and stopping at pubs like The Quays, The Front Door, or The Kings Head to enjoy live bands with friends.
Another difference between Galway and home is the appreciation of art that’s woven into the everyday. Handfuls of performers dot Shop Street, including unicyclists, jugglers, painters, sand artists, living statues, singers, dancers, and musicians playing guitar, fiddle, piano, saxophone, and flute. It is part of the city’s energetic pulse, and so refreshing.
Most of all, I love the Irish spirit of humor, warmth, and fun that has made my fellow American girls and me feel so welcome. I’m already finding myself drinking four cups of tea per day and saying “grand” and “brilliant.” Slán go fóill!