This study abroad experience was eye-opening to me, because it is easy to forget that not everyone lives the same way we do. Things that we consider to be normal could be considered absurd to those from another country and vice versa. However, that is not to say either one is right or wrong. That being said, I challenge all of my friends to travel to another country at some point in their lifetime and to fully engage with the culture.
Monday, June 10, 2019
As stated in one of my previous blog posts, Ireland has taken steps to become a more sustainable country. They have done this by implementing recycling programs throughout the country, replacing plastic straws with biodegradable straws, and getting rid of almost all paper towels in restrooms. Although Ireland is a small country, they are taking steps to improve the quality of the earth surrounding them. Small changes can have a big impact on the environment. That being said, Ireland sets an example for other countries to become more involved in sustainability efforts. It has also helped me realize how wasteful humans are. Usually, we do not think about the amount of waste we are creating. After spending 2 weeks in Ireland, I feel that I am more conscious of how much trash we produce daily.
Friday, June 7, 2019
Ireland seems to be a very sustainable country overall. Recycling bins are much more common here than from what I have seen in the U.S. Where there is a trashcan, there is a recycling bin. Also, do not expect your drink to come with a straw in Ireland. If you do get a straw just know that it will be made out of paper. The straws here in Ireland are biodegradable. Another common thing in Ireland is glass water bottles. Glass can help reduce waste and better protect our environment. It is also very uncommon to find paper towels in bathrooms in Ireland. I have only seen paper towels in one bathroom out of the 2 weeks we have been here. Small steps such as these are helping our planet in bigger ways than we may realize. However, Ireland is a small country. If bigger countries also took these steps to become more sustainable, it could have a lasting impact on the earth.
Yesterday we got to visit the Blarney Castle. A fun fact about the Blarney Castle is that it is actually not a castle. Technically speaking, it is a tower house. It took a total of 40 years to build! While we were there, we all got to kiss the Blarney Stone. The infamous Blarney stone was once given as a gift to the lord of the castle at the time, and it cannot be moved. Climbing to the top of the castle was an interesting experience in itself, because of the narrow design of the staircase. As you get closer to the top, the staircase becomes narrower and narrower. I finally made it to top, and I got to kiss the Blarney Stone. It is said that those who kiss the Blarney Stone receive the gift of eloquence, so we shall see. It can feel intimidating at first, but the key is to not look down. They have also placed metal railing underneath the hole to ensure safety. Plus, there is an employee there to hold you. The view from the top was amazing too, so of course we had to use it as a photo op!
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
It is easy to forget that not everyone lives the same way we do in the United States. In Ireland, many restaurants will not split the check for a large group. It has been difficult at times, especially since we are a group of 13 people. Trying to calculate the exact amount each person owes, including the 10% service charge to everyone’s meal can get confusing at times when there are 13 people in the group. In the United States it is not uncommon to ask the waiter to split the check, but here it is not common at all. Another thing that I found interesting is the portion sizes. I expected the portions to be small, but surprisingly they are huge here. In the United States it is wrong not to tip your server, but in Ireland it is not expected. It is also considered unusual to tip your waiter in Ireland, which was difficult for me to get used to at first.
Today we went on a field trip to the Heineken Headquarters in Cork. The people at Heineken were so welcoming to us. When we arrived, we were offered scones, tea, and coffee. Then, we were given a presentation on the history of Heineken and how it came to be. Did you know that Heineken is the number 1 brewer in Europe and number 2 in the world? After the presentation we got a private tour of the process of making Heineken. We also got to try the non-alcoholic Heineken 0.0, which has become increasingly popular in Ireland since its launch in March of 2018. One of the most interesting things I learned on this tour was that it takes 28 days to brew the perfect Heineken beer.
Monday, June 3, 2019
Today we took a trip to the Aran Islands. Our day started with a ferry ride to the largest island, Inis Mor, which actually means “large island” in Gaelic. One fascinating part about the Aran Islands is that most of the signage on the island is written in Gaelic. Once we got to the island, we got on a bus that took us all around the island. As you can see in the pictures, there are stone walls all over the island that were constructed by people years ago in order to divide their property. At the end of the bus tour, we got to hike up to the Dún Aonghasa fort, which had an amazing view. The wind was pretty intense today and yesterday, but it did not stop us!
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