Overseas Briefing

By Guest Contributor

My bags imprudently overstuffed and my back frequently overburdened, I spent a 13-hour travel experience wondering whether carrying-on my raincoat was truly necessary.  I allude to the rather awkward task of confronting a reality that you’ve only ever conceived of as a casual collection of stereotypes: Ireland.

Let me do the legwork for you: Guinness, zealous binge drinking, rolling green hills, gingers and … rain.  Needless to say, I felt altogether touristy, and frankly embarrassed, cramming my brown raincoat into a bag already bursting with plane-ride comforts and entertain-ables (most of which went unused – turns out I hadn’t seen The Hunger Games yet and couldn’t tear my eyes away from what will likely be my only opportunity to see children nonchalantly killing each other in the name of good sport).

Anyway, it was raining buckets when I got to Dublin Airport. Score one for Mohan.  It was still raining after a two-hour bus ride to Galway, the town from which I am humbly submitting the present column. Moreover, the entire ride was through a rolling and verdant landscape lined with charming stone fences and peppered with frolicking redheaded children (just kidding about the redheads – but you get the idea).  And, to spite the kind folks at Public Safety, I should mention also that my twenty-year-old stomach has never encountered Guinness in such flowing abundance.  From a conversation I had with some keen young gentlemen from Donnegal, an Irish town known for its distinctive accent, I’ve gathered that rumors of excessive drinking also appear to be valid – for first-years, at the very least.  Indeed, the local police chief was actually given the podium during “Visiting Student Orientation” in order to caution the 600-person crowd that trying to keep up with the locals would only end in paralysis or incarceration.  Duly noted, sir.

I don’t mean to tell you that everything you’ve ever heard about Ireland is true, or even that you have a clear picture of what its like (or that I’ve degenerated into a bumbling drunk).  Visit the country if you get the chance – the people are incredibly witty, the food is not as bad as alleged and the landscape is singularly beautiful.  Nor am I trying to say that stereotypes are true; even if they are, they are reductive to the point of misrepresentation.

But it rains every single day.  No exceptions.  Oddly enough, the people here don’t even bother with raincoats most of the time. There is essentially a fine, pervasive mist at all times, and it’s not terribly inconvenient.  Not being entirely convinced of this, it wasn’t until about the third day that I took a proper walk around Galway.  Since then, its been hard not to.  My apartment is on a cobbled canal that runs through the center of town, and after it rains you can admire the ducks and swans through spider-webs illuminated by filtered raindrops – perfect circles that shine ubiquitously in the fences along the canal’s edge.  A giant cathedral towers stoically in the middle of town.  Never mind getting lost on the narrow meandering streets, my biggest concern has been remembering to look right first when crossing them.  Oh, and you know when you walk past a couple of people on the sidewalk and hear an amusingly brief segment of their conversation?  I mostly just hear a jumble of ““er’s and ““ar’s and can’t help laughing uncontrollably afterwards.  I haven’t made any friends yet.

Here’s to not getting a Renault logo tragically and irreparably imprinted on my butt. Cheers.

Written by MOHAN FITZGERALD ’14 from Galway, Ireland

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