Elizabeth is a first year Master’s student in Environmental studies. She is on a program to Edinburgh, Scotland to gain an understanding of sustainable development from an international standpoint.
This past weekend I flew to Dublin with a handful of people from my program. My time there went by in a blur, and I find myself already longing to return. For the first time I stayed in a hostel. While located down a dingy alleyway and containing only the most sparse of living quarters, it was at least a clean and inexpensive place to stay. It also provided the opportunity to meet other young travelers from all over the world. This included people from Australia, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, and the U.S.
Dublin itself is not a particularly attractive city, particularly when compared to Edinburgh. Yet it’s rocky shoreline more than makes up for this with breathtaking views. I passed an entire hour exploring a beach at Howth, gripped by the rugged beauty.
While we spent much time sightseeing as typical tourists, the true significance of the trip came from our interactions with locals. I found myself surprised by the cultural differences between Scotland and Ireland. At nearly every place we went we encountered friendly people with a great sense of humor. The Irish have a knack at not taking anything in life too seriously, and will make jokes at the expense of anyone (and particularly the British). Notorious for their drinking culture, having several pints in a row is apparently no big deal. One local we met at a sweets shop who then invited us out to the pub told us of the Gaelic expression Is minic a bhris béal duine a shorn which translates to “It’s often a man’s mouth that breaks his nose.” I also quickly discovered that Irish men are very smooth talkers, and will use the Gaelic language to attempt to sweep women off their feet.