Yep. You read that right. Free shoulder massage. What does that have to with anything, you may wonder? Well, two days ago, I was sitting in a pub in Dublin eating a traditional Irish lunch (meat and potatoes!) with a few of the jet lagged people from my program. The waiter (maybe the bartender… they seem to be the same person in pubs) came up to us, cracked a joke in his beautiful accent about shoulder massages, and then (out of nowhere, it seemed), he totally started giving me a shoulder massage. I was startled, so I got really tense, but after a second I relaxed and it felt great! I still can’t decide if it was a little creepy or just a great example of how nice Irish people are… so I’m going to go with the latter.
I apologize for my peculiar story- honestly that’s probably not the most exciting thing that’s happened so far. A LOT has been going on! Traveling to Ireland wasn’t too stressful, although I came a day earlier than most of the other people in my program, so I sort of had to wing it for a while. 2 other girls came early too, so thankfully the 3 of us managed to meet up even though we were staying in 3 separate hostels. Unfortunately, we were all really jet lagged during dinner that night, so I don’t think we were actually speaking coherent sentences (I had been awake for 28 hours at that point). However, it was awesome to start to get to know the other people in the program and to gain new perspectives on what to expect for the next 4 weeks. Everyone else came the next morning in a double decker bus (25 total students in the ISA program), and since then I’ve been having a blast! Although it’s hard to move past the whole “I’m from Maryland but I go to school in Seattle” thing when I introduce myself to people, I have had some really interesting conversations with the other students. They’re from all over the US, so I’ve really enjoyed hearing about where they’re from, where they go to school, and why they chose the program. I’ve noticed I’m definitely one of, if not the youngest student, so I’m hoping I’m acting just as mature as everyone else. Yesterday we took a walking tour of Dublin led by our 2 Residential Directors (both originally from Ireland), and then we stayed the night at a hostel in the heart of the city. This morning we went to the Guinness Storehouse and then we drove to Galway and (finally!) got settled in the apartments that we’ll be living in for the next 4 weeks. Everything has been absolutely wonderful so far- I love it here! I especially love Galway, and I’ve only been here for 6 hours!
Just a few quick comments before I wrap it up for now- Irish people are really really REALLY nice to Americans, the hostel we stayed in reminded me of the Leaky Caldron from Harry Potter, I recognize some brands/ads/restaurants/stores from America, like Starbucks (yay Seattle!) and McDonalds, but there are plenty I have never seen before, the roads are extremely complicated and confusing, oncoming buses and cars do NOT stop for you like they do in America, “chips” are french fries, the country is very small (we drove from Dublin (East Coast) to Galway (West Coast) in 2 hours- a plane ride from Maryland to Seattle is 5 to 6 hours! WHOA.), the Guinness mascot is a Toucan (I tried to find out why but I’m still clueless), Irish accents are just simply heavenly to listen to, Dublin had zero skyscrapers (at least what I would define as a skyscraper), Ireland is very environmentally friendly (I found that out the hard way- the shower at the hostel only ran water every 5 seconds with a button you had to push every time you wanted more water), hardly anyone speaks Gaelic but a lot of the signs have English as well as Gaelic, I like Galway way more than Dublin (more on that later), and last but certainly not least, I’m having so much craic and I can’t wait to have more craic!
P.S. “Craic” in Gaelic means “fun”. Pronounced “crack”. So I’ve been told…