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Journals from 2008 Semester Abroad in Galway, Ireland

2008-01-22 Adjusting to a New Culture

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First night out in Galway, Ireland!

Greetings from Galway! We have been here two weeks today. It feels like it has been longer because we have been keeping busy running errands, touring the city, meeting people and attending classes. The first few days were hard because everything was unfamiliar. One might assume that because Ireland is an English-speaking country, it cannot be that different from the States. However, the Irish culture varies greatly from ours. There are basic differences like how the Irish drive on the opposite side of the street or how the outlets require three prongs instead of two. However, I believe the most significant differences are found in the customs, mannerisms and traditions that are practiced within Ireland and America. Take, for instance, the weekend. Most students in America use this time to hang out with friends. Conversely, the Irish spend the weekdays with their friends and on the weekends they go home to spend time with their families. Also, Americans value time and like to use it wisely; that is, people are on time to appointments and classes. On the other hand, the Irish are leisurely people; meaning that classes often start 10-15 minutes after the hour. These cultural differences are taking some time to get used to, but as we become familiar with them I believe that we are all slowly gaining more appreciation for their culture and our own. We have had our first week of classes at National University of Ireland, Galway. The university has over 15,000 students, which is approximately seven and a half times larger than Linfield. One may think that the size of the school would be the most difficult thing to adjust to, but I believe it is the lecture courses. We are all used to attending courses that encourage student participation, which adds variety to the courses. The lecture courses here are large and strictly involve the professors. Although the material is interesting, its hard to listen to one person for a whole course. We are all enjoying our time in Ireland and are looking forward to traveling around the country in order to see its natural wonders, as well as learning more about the culture. Cheers! Victoria H.

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