“Studying Abroad…it’s more than just a walk in the park” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

Walking; a very under appreciated method of transportation. There are so many options of transportation in Cork from bus, to train, to bicycle, but walking clearly takes the cake since I have been here. I have become very accustom to getting a ride to places in America even if it’s over a short distance. Here in Cork, I walk almost everywhere. There has only been one instance where I have taken the bus and in my defense it was when I had a lot of groceries. Needless to say I have had numerous opportunities to take in the city over a slow pace.

Despite this fact I still decided to go out on an excursion with a friend to just walk. Back home there is always somewhere that I have to be and things to do so that I never have the time to just take in my surroundings. This walk gave me the opportunity to just walk peacefully with nowhere to be and no pressing matters to attend to. As we walked past our college I realized how reasonably quiet it was despite the fact that we were near the city. Here there is only soft noise where back home there is always more of a dull roar. Although I do enjoy the happenings of the cities back home, I definitely think that in Cork, there is a substantial difference. Back home there are always sirens of police and ambulances, as well as the hustle and bustle of business. In Cork there is rarely if ever sirens of emergency vehicles and the workings of business is usually calm and collect. As we walked I started noticing the smells of the area around me. I had briefly noticed it before but sadly took it all in on this walk. There is a general smell of cow manure usually right outside my apartment. This is just something I’m not used to yet and I hope to get used to very soon. Closer to the city though, by the river, I smelled something I had never really noticed before. It was an unpleasant mixture of the ocean and fish, much worse than the smell of cow manure. I don’t know how long it will take for me to get used to this smell, but definitely a lot longer then the cow manure.

On our walk we stopped in the famous English Market where the Queen of England visited on her tour of Ireland. This is a very cheap and fresh place to get groceries and is also a great place to people watch. While here I saw the real people of Cork (this is a place where lots of residents get there groceries). Generally everybody is very friendly and kind, always high on manners and helping others. When we entered I actually got into a “fight” over letting someone go in front of me, each one of us trying to “out-manner” the other. In the market most people were well dressed despite that it was just a Wednesday afternoon. Everybody seemed to know each other fairly well also, giving the city a comfortable ambiance.

The walk actually taught me a lot more about Cork then any guide ever could. While walking at my own pace and on my own time I was able to take in the scenery and actually use my five senses, which I hadn’t done in the time I had been here. “The underlying assumption is that if we know some basic facts about our new circumstances we will feel more positively inclined to adapt ourselves to them” (Slimbach 182). I feel that this walk helped me find out some basic facts and knowledge that I wouldn’t have discovered on other methods of transportation or in my normal fast paced manner. Since I have found out these more behind the scenes facts of life in Cork, I think I will be more positively inclined to adapt quicker and easier to the lifestyle.

My travelogue, “McCarthy’s Bar, by Pete McCarthy was a great read. It follows Pete McCarthy an English comedian with Irish roots as he travels through Ireland. Since he had been visiting Ireland for so long his Rite of Passage process was a bit different, but there were still some evident concepts in his stories along his journey. In each place he visited in Ireland he was usually very taken aback by the different culture and usually coped with this by forming a communitas with other people in the bars he visits. One of his main rules is to never pass up a bar that has his surname on it, so every McCarthy’s Bar he stopped in he formed a sort of short lasted communitas with those at the bar. In my perception this communitas can be seen as a trickster in his travels. These communitas were very much short lived and involved alcohol very frequently. This in my perception helped him write a great travelogue but didn’t help him in making any long lasting relationships.

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The picture I chose is of me in front of the bar on the cover of McCarthy’s travelogue. I hope to not fall into the same pitfalls as he did with tricksters but still would like to take as long of a walk as he did to places such as West Cork and Dublin. I need to take action to travel and not take comfort in purely staying in Cork and I believe McCarthy’s travelogue will push me in the right direction.

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One thought on ““Studying Abroad…it’s more than just a walk in the park” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

  1. Hey Sam, I also love how easy it is to get around in this city. Walking can take you so far here and I feel like you really experienced that on your walk. I’m glad you stopped in the English Market because it is a really cool place to see and shop at. I also thought that “McCarthy’s Bar” was a great read and can really relate to our experience here. So glad you are having a great time here like I am!

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