Initially when coming to Ireland I was under the impression that Americans were the more blunt culture and the Irish were more subtle, which is true in some ways. In social settings, Americans are definitely more noticeable and forward with our personalities, while still respectful all the same, mean while the Irish culture can almost seem disingenuous. Whereas an American will immediately tell you what they mean, Irish people tend to say one thing and really mean another, while expecting you to ask two or three more times before they tell you what they really mean. Yet when it comes to more personal questions such as religion and politics, the Irish culture tends to be more blunt in their questioning, whereas Americans tend to avoid controversial topics or try to sugar coat them at the very least. In addition, although the Irish culture is very similar to the American culture in regards to being more democratic and liberal in a sense, there are some differences in ethical and moral issues that arise, such as abortion, marijuana, guns. I find Ireland to be more “black and white” than America, on specific issues, in which they completely outlaw abortion, marijuana and guns, mean while America leaves it up to the individual state to choose. Apart from these societal differences, I find that the cultural differences were bar far the hardest for me to adjust to, specifically in regards to language.
One of the major differences I have noticed between my culture and the irish culture, specifically on campus, is their ability to speak and preserve the Irish language. Galway is one of the largest speaking Irish counties in Ireland, which means all of their signs are first in gaelic then in english, yet on campus some of the buildings don’t even have english translation which really shows the divide amongst our cultures. As a result of this, I decided to interview one of my Irish Civilization professors, Ailbhe Nic Giolla Chomhaill. All professors within the Irish Civilization department must be fluent in the irish language, and everyone within that building including the cafe, must predominantly use the irish language. I chose this professor, because I have noticed that the individuals who cling to the irish language tend to also be more knowledgeable of their history and more aware of cultural differences.
When doing the cultural exercise with my professor, I wasn’t all too surprised at her answers, especially since I have had the time to observe the culture myself. For Instance, she informed me that as of only a couple of decades ago Ireland has experienced significant economical and societal change, they have become more technologically advanced, in which Dublin now holds the headquarters for Google and Facebook. Yet regardless of this advancement, Ireland is still determined to maintain their original culture, through sport, music, dance, and language. Another differentiation between Americans and the Irish is that Americans follow the motto “live to work” meanwhile Irish people “work to live” which is shown through the hour and half closing of stores for lunch breaks. Overall, the Irish culture tends to be more spiritual driven, family oriented/dependent and culturally driven. Meanwhile Americans tend to be more formal, independent and materialistic. With this in mind, I will do my best to learn as much about their traditions and culture as a means to better connect and understand them on an ethical and moral level.
In doing this exercise I begin to consider other communities at Quinnipiac that I have yet to connect to, do to a lack of understanding and effort to get to know them, one of which being the athletic community. I feel as though this community is the only one that I have yet to truly connect with, even though I myself have done sports all throughout highschool and have done intramurals on campus, this community seems the most distant and closed off. I feel as though this community receives a lot of negativity because non-athletic students only hear the benefits and special treatment they receive on a daily basis, without knowing what truly is the price of those benefits. I feel as though if I were to sit with this community and get a better understanding of what they have to endure, then maybe we can try to bridge the gap between their community and the rest of the school.