From Grand Rapids to Tully Cross



Story by Samantha Bell, Opinion Editor
Photo courtesy of Samantha Bell

On Jan. 9, 2017, I did something I never thought that I’d do: leave America for a foreign country. The feeling of boarding the plane to Shannon, Ireland, was a feeling I’d never felt before—a combination of fear, excitement and uncertainty. After talking to a friend of mine that is also studying abroad in Tully Cross with me, we came to the realization that he would probably deal with the most culture shock. I mean, I was a small-town girl from Mackinaw City and he was a city boy who grew up in a suburb of Detroit. I was ready for the small-town culture that I grew up with, but now after having been here for just about a month, my preconception of Ireland was not quite what I expected.

Irish culture has a variety of differences from American culture, and one of the most prominent differences I noticed is their smoking habits. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people that smoke in the U.S., but here it is a very normal thing that just about everyone does. There doesn’t seem to be the worry of all of the side effects of smoking like we get taught in health class, commercials on TV, and just about anywhere else. Drinking is another thing that is very different here. It is very common in Ireland to go to the pub every night and have a pint or two while playing pool with the locals. It isn’t always about getting drunk here, like it tends to be in American culture (especially on college campuses).

Another difference between Ireland and America is the acceptance of hitchhiking in Ireland. Back in the States, hitchhiking is considered unsafe and it is frowned upon. Here, it is very common for one of the locals to give us lifts while we’re walking to our internships.

When I left for Ireland, I was very excited to leave behind American politics for a couple months. What I didn’t realize when I left was that the Irish are more interested in American politics than Americans are. The first thing any of us are asked when people find out we’re from America is about our political situation and what we think of it. This is something I didn’t expect, but it has been interesting to see other people’s opinions from an outsider’s perspective.

These are just a couple of the many differences between Ireland and America. Although Ireland has been nothing like what I had imagined, it is everything I could have ever wanted and then some. I have been blessed to be able to immerse myself in an entirely new culture, and I can say that Tully Cross has started to become my second home.

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