The question I get asked most often from both Irish and American friends is how my daily life is different in Ireland compared to the United States. A typical day for me living in Ireland is drastically different than in the United States. To be honest, I’d say that the biggest difference would be my eating habits. While living in Ireland, I can’t indulge myself with Taco Bell (my favorite American fast food) or even hit up a drive-through because I also can’t drive here.
While the privilege of not driving and having my own car has been frustrating at times, I have realized that walking everywhere and eating much less fast food has been really beneficial to my health. I buy my own groceries about once a week and I have to cook for myself, which has also been quite challenging. Of course, I have college during the week as well, which is also different compared to the US in many ways. The schedule is different in that lectures start later in the year and there are breaks before exams twice a year. Exams in the US would normally take place throughout the academic year and before breaks, so getting adjusted to a different schedule was interesting for me.
On a typical day during the academic year I wake up around 8am because the earliest lectures start at 9am. Lectures in the US can sometimes begin up to two hours earlier. I’ll attend my lectures and grab food on campus or somewhere along the main street, spend some time in the library, work out, and then finally head home. While I find that there aren’t as many food options on campus in Maynooth compared to US colleges, the main street is just a five minute walk from campus and has many more options. I also find it interesting that many students spend time in the library between lectures because they often commute to college. On the weekends the students at Maynooth will travel home, which left me wondering what I could do to entertain myself while my friends were gone. Thankfully, Dublin city is just a half hour bus or train journey away, and the Liffey Valley shopping center is even closer. So, on the weekends I can go to the cinema for a movie or even do some light shopping. On occasion my roommate and I would spend the weekend in Galway or Cork. It is super easy to get train tickets and you can get anywhere in Ireland within a day. I have noticed that I often find myself bored or with a lot of extra time on my hands while in Ireland. While I have made a lot of friends, it is different to my friends back home because I have known them my whole life. I found that many of my Irish friends have also grown up together and already have friend groups, so I haven’t fit in to one group of friends yet. Hopefully that will change as I get further into my major and have lectures with many of the same people.
Next semester I’ll have to find an apartment or a house off-campus because it is difficult for second year students to find accommodation on campus. While living on-campus has its benefits, I think living with my friends in town will be fun despite the lengthened walk to campus and weather complications.
I have taken all my exams and finally finished my first full year at Maynooth. I am back in the US for the summer and I hadn’t realized how much I had adapted to life in Ireland. It’s almost as if I’m experiencing reverse culture shock. It’s nice to be back where I grew up for a little while, but I am eager to get back to Maynooth to start second year.