The Awkwardness Of Being Irish Abroad
BEING abroad on Erasmus can mean many great things: a break from that small Irish town where the only thing that seems to be still doing any business is the rumour mill, a break from that shite Irish weather that leaves your skin pasty and keeps your motivation at bay and a break from that certain someone who loves to fiddle with your last remaining nerve. However, being on Erasmus can also mean you’re left feeling like an eejit because people haven’t a clue what you’re on about.
You can’t say grand
We’re the only charming little country that uses the word so often that we have forgotten its actual meaning.
Grand (adjective) – magnificent and imposing in appearance, size, or style.
So if you’re in Spain on Erasmus, for example, and your Spanish friend asks you how you are and you reply “Ah sure, I’m grand”, that translates to either (a) I am as prestigious and magnificent and a grand ball room filled with music and general haw-dee-hawness or (b) I am an uppity git who thinks very highly of myself. Don’t say grand, they just don’t get it.
Modesty doesn’t work
Ah Ireland, a country known for her inconsistent rejection of any form of compliment.
“Fiona, you look gorgeous today, dya get the hair done?”
“Are ya havin’ a laugh? STATE!”
When my Aussie friend congratulated me for giving a great presentation in class the other day, I replied and said “Thanks, but I thought it was shit enough”, he looked at me with an awfully confused expression. It was as if I had insulted him by rejecting his compliment. Everyone needs to understand that that’s how we roll. Our reply of “haha, are ya serious?” really means “Aww, thanks so much”.
Everyone thinks you’re an alcoholic
If you have been abroad, I’m sure you already know that our reputation has exceeded us. When in the newsroom the other day in college, our lecturer handed out a Spanish story about liquor to Lorna, my Kildare friend, and coupled the action with “Sure you’ll love that, you’re Irish”. Good one, we haven’t heard that before.
The Irish pubs aren’t Irish
Finally, a piece of home where I can sit with my own and have some banter. Oh wait, your name is Carlos? And you own this place? So you’re Spanish? And everyone behind the bar is either English or Scandinavian? And you only have 22 of the counties on the wall? And you’re not showing the hurling match? So I may as well sit in the bar down the road called El Toro then? Great.
Where’s the craic?
Being an international student means that you make friends with other international students from a host of countries all around the world. Somehow though, we ended up being the only two Irish students in this whole city (ok, that’s an exaggeration), well, in our circles anyway. International students are great and all but let’s face it, they don’t get the craic. Nobody gets the craic. I need me some craic!
Our dress sense is a little more naked then everyone else’s
I don’t know where we’ve gone wrong in Ireland but I was under the impression that people showed some skin in nightclubs and wore heels that they could barely walk in. I’m not saying that we dress trashy but there’s no harm in looking sexy in a playsuit and six inch heels, right? Wrong. Here, it’s actually ok to wear flats out. You can get away with wearing converse to the nightclub and as for flashing flesh? People wear tights here. Tights. In Spain. Can ya imagine? It seems a bit bizarre to me, particularly when its 22 degrees in February which is the equivalent of an Irish summer. If you get your legs out, they look at you with this Spanish judgment. It’s all a bit scary really.
We can’t take the heat
As I said, its 22 feckin’ degrees in February. I don’t care what you say that means T-shirt time. Lorna and myself are walking around in T-shirts sweating our asses off and all the Spanish people are in boots, coats and scarves. Did we miss something? Last time I checked, 22 degrees was warm.
I suppose whilst the weather back in Ireland is as shit as it is at the moment, I don’t feel as if I can justify my complaints. But since it has recently hit me that it can be very awkward to be Irish abroad sometimes, maybe that means that the grass truly is greener back home.
Photos c/o sephira.ie, news.ie.msn.com