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Irish Culture Shock: What to Expect When You Arrive for Your Erasmus Internship

Embarking on an Erasmus internship in Ireland is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture, expand your horizons, and gain valuable work experience. However, adjusting to a different culture can be a bit challenging at first. This post will explore the differences between Irish culture and your home culture, including language, customs and social norms. We will also provide you with tips on how to adjust and thrive in your new cultural environment.


Warm and Welcoming Irish Hospitality


One of the first things you'll notice about Irish culture is the warm and welcoming nature of the people. The Irish are known for their friendliness, hospitality, and sense of humour. Don't be surprised if strangers start conversations with you or go out of their way to offer assistance. Embrace this hospitality and reciprocate with a friendly attitude, it's an excellent way to make new friends and build connections.


Friends conversing

Then the ‘Art of Conversation’. Irish culture places a strong emphasis on conversation and storytelling. The Irish love to engage in lively discussions, share stories, and exchange banter. So be prepared to join in and contribute to conversations. Don't be afraid to express your opinions and engage in friendly debates, as long as it's done respectfully.


Early Dining Habits


Next, when it comes to dining habits, one aspect of Irish culture that may cause a bit of culture shock is the tradition of eating early. In Ireland, it is common for people to have their main meal earlier in the evening compared to some other countries.


Alarm clock

In Ireland, it is typical to have dinner, which is the main meal of the day, between 6 pm and 7:30 pm. This can be earlier than what you may be accustomed to in your home culture. Restaurants and pubs often start serving dinner at around 5:30 pm, so it's essential to plan your meals accordingly. To adjust to the early dining habits in Ireland, you can gradually shift your mealtimes. Start having a slightly earlier dinner during your first few days in the country, and your body will adapt to the new schedule. Consider having a substantial lunch or snacks if you feel hungry in the late afternoon or evening.


While it may take some time to get used to the early dining habits, it is an excellent opportunity to embrace the local culture. Enjoy the slower pace of the evening, appreciate the opportunity for a leisurely meal, and use the extra time to explore the vibrant nightlife, attend cultural events, or simply relax with friends.


Remember, cultural differences in dining habits are part of the experience when immersing yourself in a new culture. Embrace the opportunity to try new foods, adapt to local customs, and appreciate the distinctiveness of Irish dining traditions.


Driving on the Left


Caution sign

One other aspect of Irish culture that can cause a significant culture shock, especially for individuals coming from countries that drive on the right side, is the practice of driving on the left side of the road. Adjusting to this change can be challenging, but with some preparation and awareness, you can navigate the Irish roads safely.


Pubs and Socialising


Moreover, Irish pub culture is renowned worldwide, and it plays a central role in Irish social life. Pubs are not just places to have a drink; they are social hubs where people gather to meet friends, listen to live music, and engage in lively conversations.


Friends socialising at a pub

Visiting a pub can provide an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Irish culture, make new friends, and experience traditional music sessions (known as "sessions").


Everyone Speaks Accented English


Another aspect of culture shock that you may experience in Ireland is the prevalence of accented English. The Irish accent is distinct and can take some getting used to for those who are not familiar with it. Here are a few points to consider.


Irish English is often spoken at a relatively fast pace, and the intonation and rhythm can be different from what you might be accustomed to. This can make it more difficult to follow conversations, especially in the early stages of your visit.


While the accent may initially pose a challenge, it's important to note that the Irish people are generally known for their friendliness and warmth. They are typically patient and understanding when communicating with visitors, and they will try to be clear and accommodating.


Remember that communication is a two-way process, and it's okay to ask for repetition or clarification if you don't understand something. Irish people are usually more than happy to help and will appreciate your effort to connect and adapt to their way of speaking.


Dramatic Weather


Lastly, the country is known for its ever-changing and unpredictable weather patterns, which can sometimes shift dramatically within a single day. It's not unusual to experience a chilly morning, followed by a sunny and warm afternoon, and then a cold evening. It's advisable to dress in layers and carry a waterproof jacket to be prepared for these variations.


Irish cliffs in bad weather

The country's location on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean means that fierce winds are a common occurrence. Particularly along the coastal areas, gusts can be quite powerful and can make the weather feel even more dramatic. Be cautious when walking along exposed cliffs or near the sea during windy conditions.


Ireland is notorious for its rain, and it can rain at any time of the year. Even during the summer months, you should always be prepared for a sudden downpour. It's not uncommon for the weather to change from bright sunshine to heavy rain within a short period. Ireland occasionally experiences severe storms, especially during the autumn and winter months. These storms can bring strong winds, heavy rain, and even the possibility of coastal flooding. It's important to stay informed about weather forecasts and any potential storm warnings during your internship.


To adapt to Ireland's dramatic weather, it's helpful to come prepared with appropriate clothing and gear. Having a waterproof jacket, sturdy shoes, and layers of clothing will ensure you can adjust to the changing conditions comfortably. Be careful, even your umbrella can fly away!


 

Arriving in Ireland for your Erasmus internship might initially bring about some culture shock, but by embracing the differences, you'll soon find yourself adjusting and thriving in your new cultural environment. The warm hospitality, lively conversations, unique slang, pub culture, sense of humour, and love for the outdoors are all aspects that make Irish culture an exciting and enriching experience. Embrace the opportunity to learn, grow, and forge lifelong connections during your time in Ireland.

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