Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality.” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

I’ve finally arrived!! After much waiting and anticipation I have finally arrived in Ireland and sadly I was exhausted. As the bus drove us from Shannon airport to my place of stay in Cork I could only move myself to look at the scenery in pieces because of my tiredness. After overcoming my exhaustion after a couple of much needed naps, I was able to go out and explore the area.

Mentally I have been taking in as much as I can throughout the city. I’ve found that some Americans seem to perceive Ireland as a lot similar to the culture in the U.S mostly due to the similar language and a lot of people have heritage from here, but that perception couldn’t be more wrong. Little things such as not tipping in restaurants and the laid back attitude on timing make Ireland completely different. Even the language has little differences that I find heavily intriguing, and hope to eventually pick up some of the common sayings. Everybody is also so nice and much more willing to help out strangers in Cork, which I couldn’t see happening too often in America. I remember asking one person for directions and when he was having trouble with giving me the correct ones, another native behind me chimed in as well without me asking her. It just goes to show how much more willing people are to helping foreigners and others out.

Some differences I found intriguing and exciting, but some differences I found myself quoting Slimbach’s “Why can’t they just…?”(160) to other foreigners. Some examples include when it came to the gym and all the other people working out seem to put any weight anywhere. In America, one usually puts it back where they got it or in the numerical position. I don’t know if it’s just the gym that I go to here, but other foreigners found it annoying as well, and led to much complaining about the subject instead of trying to understand a reason why they might do that. Also when it came to measurements, me and other foreigners often got to complaining about how it is different from our measurements in time, degrees, and weight. In hindsight, after doing so, I realized how stereotypical it was of me to complain about something that was foreign to me instead of trying to understand it and learn from it.

The program that I am involved in right now is an early start program with a lot of international students, all mostly from America, participating in a class before the rest of the students come. This creates a heavy use of communitas between all the students foreign to the country. Some of the colleges here have huge groups, which also creates even more communitas’ within the already big communitas created by the foreign students. I usually have no problem talking to strangers, so making friends inside the foreign communitas has been exciting. A problem I could see in the future though is that the communitas created would block my interaction with natives. The early start program starts three weeks prior to the start of regular classes. This could create a strong communitas between the foreign students, but almost too strong to let others into the mix.

In my time here so far I have realized some challenges of being in the liminal status, stuck between two words. Social media is definitely a bad thing for me while here. I realize that sometimes it encompasses too much of my time, wondering what my friends at home are up to instead of enjoying my short time that I have in Ireland. It also makes me miss home a bit more than I would like to. I can learn from these challenges though and prepare to better my experience when the rest of the students come. When the native students finally come to the area I plan on making connections during class and maybe on my hall. I also plan on joining some clubs while I am here, maybe even play some club soccer while I am here.

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All though this is a very touristy picture I decided to pick it for my picture due to its touristy nature of visiting the Blarney Stone. I am realistically still a tourist in this stage of my studying and need to remember that in this early stage. I have only been here a week and hope to eventually immerse myself in the culture and not be a tourist anymore, but an actual member of this wonderful community.

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2 thoughts on “Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality.” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

  1. Hey Sam! I completely agree with your comment about the strong connections with our communitas here. Once the Irish students arrive for the semester we will really have to try to make connections with them as well as keep a balance with the new friends we have made so far. I can see how this could be a challenge as we have already made great friends in this short time here. We just have to remember why we are here and what we can learn from the local Irish students when they arrive for the semester. I also wanted to comment on how we are still tourists at this point all though each day that goes by we become more and more familiar with this new land we are living in. It is so crazy how much we have done and learned in this short time of being here, but there is also so much more to experience!

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  2. Sam,

    I love how you admitted that you were in the “tourist” stage. I thought that was a really cool way to put it! Because we have only been in our new countries for a week or so we really do feel like tourists. It is hard to believe that this is actually our permanent home for 4 months. I’m sure after a few weeks you will feel more like a local and that Ireland is your home rather than a short vacation spot. I completely agree that social media is a dangerous thing and it is important to stay off of it to avoid home sickness! I know sometimes it can feel like we have been here for months rather than a week because of all of the new things we are taking in.

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