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The Luck of the Irish
On a journey of their lifetime, a band from Bunclody, Ireland stepped onto a plane with America as its destination. My school has been part of a week hosting program for many years now and this year it was our band’s turn to host the Irish students. It was one of the best experiences of my life and it was also a life changing experience for them. When they first arrived, I did not expect them to find a big difference between Ireland and America, but as the week carried on and they became ecstatic over things Americans would find simple. It became apparent that maybe Ireland and America were more different than I thought, so I decided to interview the girls I was hosting to determine their view on our lifestyle and get a taste of their lives.
What things did you like most about your trip to the US?
Mamobo: I liked everything! The people, Rhode Island and especially the food! But what I liked the most was how welcoming the people in general where to us!
Aisling: Em...I loved the shopping because everything was so cheap compared to Ireland!
Was there anything that you were worried about before you came - things you heard about that made you worried? Did those things happen?
Mamobo: I was really worried about getting a visa to go to America cause if I don’t get one I cannot enter the country. I also thought that Rhode Island was going to be big and fast like New York which was not the case. It was nice and quiet like where I live
Aisling: I was worried that I mightn't like the food and that I might get homesick. I didn't like the fact that there is loads of sugar and fat added to everything but I did like the food. And I did get a little homesick at the beginning, but I got over it pretty quickly because everyone was so friendly. I just really missed my dogs.
Was there anything that surprised you about the US?
Mamobo: One thing that surprised me in the US was that everything was huge! The houses, the buildings and the food! I also did not think that fire hydrants really existed! I thought they where only on TV. Also the people’s accents surprised me! It sounded just like the television! (I know I watch too much TV!)
Aisling: I wasn't really surprised by anything really to be honest...oh but I did notice the grass was kind of browner than it is in Ireland and that was weird.
What were some things that you thought about the US that turned out to be untrue?
Mamobo: I honestly thought that everyone was going to be obese which was not the case. Hardly anyone I saw was fat at all!
Aisling: Well this sounds kind of ignorant but some people say that everyone is fat in America but that's not true at all!!! From what I saw, it's the exact same as Ireland! There are slim people and there are always a few larger people, but I didn't notice this at all when I was there!
What were the biggest differences between Ireland and the US that you noticed?
Mamobo: Ireland is so boring and green. In the US, it was so exciting and big and loud, which was a huge change from our environment! Rhode Island makes Enniscorthy look like a soccer pitch!
Aisling: The houses were really different! There are exactly like they are on the tele (television)! They are all coloured and they have the porch and the garage and everything! That was the biggest difference I noticed. Your school is way bigger and better than ours as well! Ours is a box compared! We don't even have lockers or a cafeteria and we only have one story. The school system is different too. Everyone also drinks loads of tea with milk in Ireland and I noticed that loads of people either don’t drink it or they don’t take milk which is really weird! In Ireland, practically everyone drinks tea!
What was the same? Were you surprised that it was the same or did you expect it would be?
Mamobo: Emm nothing was really the same. Maybe some of the shops are the same, but they are so much smaller in Ireland.
Aisling: Emm…the fruit was the same. That was basically it. I expected there to be more things that were similar to Ireland.
Were there expressions that the US people used that either you did not understand or you found interesting?
Aisling: I can't remember any expressions besides “awesome.” I never use that. Most people in Ireland don’t, but they've started to since they left America! I say “cool”, “deadly”, “stik” or “savage”. “Stik” and “savage” are Bunclody sayings (the town they live in). We also say “quare” instead of very good looking and girls are called “beours”.
What did you experience while you were here that you had never done before? Is this because it is not available to do in Ireland or because you simply had not had a chance to do it before?
Aisling: I had never been to an ice hockey game before! I liked the intervals cause they were good craic (oh that means fun!) but if that happened in GAA or rugby I would get really annoyed cause I would be really into the game! I also had never been to a pot luck supper. Oh and I never had a meatball.
What things could you or did you buy in the US that you could not in Ireland?
Aisling: Emm… I’m not sure what you could buy, but I know that we couldn't buy alcohol! It's normal for us to go out and drink. We’re not supposed to until we're 18 but everyone does before then...it's kind of bad but fun!
How is our schooling different from yours?
Aisling: Well we have the Leaving Cert, which is basically you do seven subjects minimum (I do 8 because music is counted as an "extra subject" …it's so silly). Anyway you have books for all these subjects and you get loads of homework every night so you have practically no social life. Then before Christmas and summer we get tests every year and then at the end of 6th year (which is 12th grade in the US) we get a big long test on every subject and the amount of points you get determines the course you get to do in college. An A1 is 100 points, and A2 is 90, etc. Also, six subjects are counted so the max you can get is 600 points. For subjects there are music, Irish and French. There’s the practical. For music you have to play an instrument or sing, and for the languages you have to do a listening test where you answer questions and then an oral. Also instead of freshman, sophomore, junior and seniors for grades we have third, fourth, fifth, and sixth years.
Are you happy you came?
Aisling: Yes. I am delighted I came! The whole experience was amazing and the people were so friendly and lovely!
Would you like to return some day? If so, would you like to re-visit some of the places you visited this time? Is there someplace else in the US that you have heard about and would like to visit?
Aisling: Yes I would love to come back! I loved New York because it was surreal walking through NYC!! It was incredible though, not just for the shopping but to just stand there and look around and Wrentham Village was amazing for shopping! Of course to go back to see all of ye again and I hope to visit America again soon!