Journals from National University of Ireland, Galway
2009-01-12 First Impresssions
The eleven of us (students from Linfield) arrived safely in Galway after nearly 24 hours of traveling. There were a few complications (delays and lack of boarding passes) on the way, but we managed to stay as a group and made all of our flights. By the time we got to our apartments, we were worn out, had oily hair, and felt dirty from all the airplane riding. Many of us debated whether to shower that night or sleep right away and wait until morning. Also, many of us wanted food and bedsheets, so we walked to the 24-hour store, Dunnes, just down the street for such items.
That first night was a cold one in our rooms, because we hadn't yet figured out how to work the heaters. And still, with the knowledge of how to work them, the heaters are on the opposite side of the room from our beds, so they're not too helpful... but we all manage.
The days following our arrival exhausted us with campus tours, orientation after orientation and an 8-hour time difference. By now we've gotten into a routine of waking around 9 (as the sun is still rising) and going to bed as early as 10.
--- --- --- --- --- --- -- --- --
Preparing for Ireland I had heard that the Irish women were more stylish than-- and uninterested (even a bit hostile) in American women. It is true of the former; they are more stylish. They wear boots with and without heels everywhere. They're hair is always done up and they wear lots of makeup and, in a very general term, are quite attractive. My Linfield group has a major disadvantage in this world of fashion. Mainly, we're from the Pac Northwest; dressing up for us is a pair of funky flats (shoes), lip gloss, mascara, and maybe some sort of styled hair. We learn to incorporate raincoats into our wardrobe and don't think otherwise. Here, our raincoats and ski jackets distinguish us as definite Americans.
As far as "hostility" goes, I have seen nothing of it. I sat in a popular lounge area near the student cafe and several female Irish students around me smiled at me and were mildly curious about me and my writing in my journal... perhaps because they figured I was writing about them... which I was. But they gave me no dirty looks and I have no reason to dislike them or feel refused by them. Had I sat closer to two girls talking, I might have asked to be their friends... probably by asking just that: "Can we be friends?", but I was sitting a few seats away and others were in between us and it would have been far too awkward.
I've gotten used to asking strangers for directions, and each time they are helpful and add more than what I asked for. Outside the post office today, I asked a man where could I find a potato restaurant I'd seen previously but couldn't remember exactly where. He directed me up the street and said, "It's a nice place, I hear. Are you all American?" ( I was with seven others.) We answered yes, specified Oregon, and he told us about Boston where he studied "ages ago" in the 70s, then talked a bit about Galway. Then there was a pause and I was about to thank him and go on my merry way to the spud house, but he added, "There's Ward's. A sandwich shop. And soups, too. Down that way and to the left," he motioned with his arms the way to go. We "oohed" in a tummy-rubbing way and decided on that. We got a bit lost on the way, didn't turn left where were supposed to, but found it soon enough and it was packed with students. The sandwiches were delicious and fairly inexpensive, too. :) I have a feeling that I won't ever eat "unwell" this trip.