It’s already less than two months left until the academic year starts, and I guess that a number of international students will soon be coming to Maynooth University! So, I would like to give some advice about what to expect when you start living here in Ireland.
1. Friendly and polite communications
Firstly, as you know, the Irish are well known for being friendly and chatty people. I’d say this is certainly true, when I started living in Ireland I found that they are also very polite. I’m Japanese, and Japanese people are also considered to be polite and patient in general. For cultural reasons, people prefer to be discreet and show respect in Japan. On the other hand, even though both Irish and Japanese people are polite, Irish people prefer to initiate conversations to welcome to others. For example, when I stayed at my host family’s home, we used to start conversations with ‘Any news?’ at dinner-time. Taxi drivers ask you many questions like ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘What do you study?’. It’s funny but I thought it’s a little strange telling people who I met for the first time about personal things since we don’t do so often in Japan. So, I was a little hesitant at the start talking about myself! Now, I can say that these worries are far behind me and I really enjoy the conversations because they are just trying to be kind and friendly to you. Actually, I love saying ‘Thank you!’ to a bus driver after a bus journey as we don’t usually do this in Japan!
2. Irish weather, of course!
Irish weather might not be one of the best tourist attractions in Ireland! As many people would say it’s windy, wet and changeable, especially during winter. My advice to you is don’t forget to pack an umbrella or a raincoat with you (Maybe this goes without saying!). And hoodies and jackets with hoods are very useful too as it’ll start raining out of the blue, even it’s for a few minutes. Although I personally like winter rather than summer (because I don’t like extremely warm weather), I can be super happy on warm sunny days while I’m in Ireland during the summer. Temperatures rarely exceed 25 degrees or 77 degrees Fahrenheit in this country. When the sun does start to shine, drop everything and get outside side before you regret it, because you’re not guaranteed it’ll last long that day
3. Outdoor activities
‘The Emerald Isle’, the international term for Ireland, has absolutely some of the most natural beauty you will come across in the world. There are many opportunities to go hiking, cycling, and cliff walking. If you have a few days off from study head west to Galway to see the Cliffs of Mohair in neighbouring County Clare. Closer to Maynooth make sure to walk along the cliff down to the cute fishing port of Howth (Where you’ll enjoy the best Fish & Chips too!). Howth is neatly located to Dublin city centre (about an hour by train), so you’ll be able to take a day-trip. There are also maintained Greenways where you can cycle from city to city in the west and southern parts of Ireland. These activities will help you better experience some of the most spectacular parts of Ireland.
These are the three main things I reckon you should know to best enjoy your stay in Ireland and what I discovered when I first came.
Even though there may be many cultural shocks and differences to what you are familiar with in your home country you’ll love the culture and life adventures in Ireland, enjoy!