Studying abroad has definitely made me think about stereotypes a lot more than I normally do. Prior to arriving to Ireland, I definitely had my fair share of stereotypes of the Irish people. First, was that I kept hearing they are the nicest people in the world, so I started to truly believe this. I always held the notion in my head that they were nice people but never really believed they were the friendliest. But now that I have been here two months, the Irish are the nicest people in the world (well at least the nicest out of everywhere I have been in the world…which isn’t that much of it). Another stereotype that I had of the Irish was that they were a huge drinking nation with bland food consisting of meat and potatoes. While I have observed that they definitely aren’t shy on drinking many pints in the evening, the food is a different story. I have had meat and potatoes for meals, but their cuisine is a lot more than just that. They have really great food here that spans from cottage pie, Sheppard’s pie, stuffed chicken all the way to Asian and Italian food places. I think that one stereotype about the Irish that exists within their culture that wouldn’t be apparent to someone here on vacation is that they are talkers. Everyone here loves talking a lot and they say everything really fast. I had never heard of that stereotype before arriving here and it didn’t really become apparent to me that they LOVE talking until I had been here for about a month and had so many conversations with strangers. This is probably my favorite thing about them. They are never shy when chatting it up with strangers and they are always so friendly to me that it really makes me feel welcomed in their country.
In talking with the various chatty Irish people in my stay here so far, I have learned some of the interesting stereotypes that the Irish people have about Americans. First, when talking to a waitress at a restaurant, who was interestingly half-American, half-Irish, she felt that Americans are a lot more open and less judgmental than the Irish. Another Irish student who I talked with one day, asking her what she thought of Americans, said that she thought that we always over dramatize things. She gave an example of like a typical night out for an Irish student and how they would say it was a fun evening, but she felt that Americans considered every night out to the most epic night of their lives. It was quite funny that she said that because it really is so true, especially within American college culture. I think another stereotype that the Irish have about Americans is that we are all rich. This stereotype probably comes from the fact that so many Irish people left Ireland for America during the potato famine for a better life. It’s probably engrained in their thoughts that America is where the wealth is. Further, Ireland is a nation built upon tourism, many of which are Americans, so they see a tainted image of Americans. Not everyone has the financial means to travel abroad to Ireland; therefore, they only see the more well off side of American culture.
This image, titled “Irish Yoga” really had me laughing. It brings to light probably the most common stereotype about the Irish, that they are a nation of heavy drinkers. While this may be the case to some extent, it should also be noted that they are a nation of responsible drinkers. They are highly intolerant to drinking and driving here and if caught doing so the offenses are very harsh. Further, I have learned the legal BAC is under 0.05g/dL, that is less than America’s .08. When considering this stereotype people are quick to jump to conclusions with doing their research. While they may be a laid back nation that enjoys drinking as part of their culture, they also are much more smart about it in my opinion. In Cork City, people use public transit to get around and don’t drive when going out on the weekends. Overall, stereotypes can never tell the whole story of any nation and should always be taken with a grain of salt.