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4 posts categorized "Ireland"

An Irish Christmas

Being on exchange means that you will have the chance to experience a different cultures way of celebrating holidays. Though you are away from the traditions that make this sacred time of year so special, those traditions will be there when you return. Spending Christmas with our host families gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly grasp the culture of your host country. This can be one of the hardest times of the year for exchange students, but it is also one of the highlights of our year abroad. The Irish Christmas isn’t all that different from the American in the ways of how big it is, though the traditions and feel is still unique.

I remember being in Ennis in early December when the lights first decorated the town, and Christmas music played through the streets. That day as the sun set, I was transfixed by the magic of the season. Wondering through the streets with my friends we were excited to share what Christmas was like in our home countries and the plans are hosted families had.

 A must do for Christmas in Ireland is wandering through any Christmas market. So a bunch of my friends and I took a trip up to Galway, to do some shopping and to just experience this Irish tradition. Strolling through Galway the lights decorating the buildings and hanging over the streets as well as the atmosphere of the Christmas market, any wish to be at home for Christmas dispersed, and I was so excited to spend Christmas in this beautiful country with my host family.

Something I really enjoyed, was the school mass. I was really looking forward to the service and was not at all disappointed. The music classes had an arrange of songs that they sang which were all very lovely. It was also nice to have the whole school together something I have missed from my American school.

I always look forward to the Christmas Eve service at my church and though I was able to live stream it I also wanted to attend the Catholic mass in my host community. After I returned from the lovely service my host sister and I decided to watch a Christmas movie. So, I made her turn on Christmas vacation a true classic that she had never even seen. I fixed that problem, and I’m pretty sure it’s her new favorite Christmas movie.

Christmas day with my host family was very relaxed. After exchanging gifts that I had been dying to give them we spent the rest of the day playing various games. Of course, I also called home as my whole family had come for brunch and to open presents. I really enjoyed Christmas with my host family. They are actually not religious but they encouraged me to share anything I would be used to with them, such as praying at Christmas dinner. The Irish Christmas was truly magical and lived up to be much better than my expectations.   

If you want to see more from my time in Ireland I started to upload videos onto youtube!: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt5ONMMZN1GMmPOTs3dSOoQ?view_as=subscriber 



Happy New Years 




Christmas with the host family!


My local coordinator had us all over on New years eve


A trip to cork




Friends you make on exchange are the best

as you can see I am in love with Dexter, my friend Emilia' host dog 

Thank you for reading!



Homesickness. It’s something you forget about when counting down the days until you’re on a plane bound for your new life. It’s the thing I was desperately persistent to not be, to not acknowledge in the slightest. But then it finds a way inside, most of the time late at night. When I just want to be in the woods of the mountain I grew up on. Where I long to feel the sun dancing on my skin, as the light intertwining through the leaves creates patterns that flow and change with the wind. I never thought I would be so utterly yearning for the mountains, for the forest filled with towering trees, or even for the scent of Signal Mountain Tennessee. There are times where I find myself with an excruciating ache to just hear the voice of any of the people I have strung up on my wall. I’ve been homesick, there I admit it. I don’t know why I pushed that feeling away for so long. Some say if you try to forget about it, then it will go away, but in all honesty, that is not the case. It was worse when I tried so desperately not to be, then when I finally allowed myself to cry.

There are times when I’m sitting in the midst of my Irish classmates who have known each other for years, and I start to wish for the familiar, for the classmates I left behind. Randomly in school, I find myself looking for certain faces, ones that I have known since six-grade, but there never there. When I think I see one of my American classmates, it’s never them. How could it be, I’m in another country remember? Of course, I chose this, to be the foreigner in a room full of citizens. I’m the one who has different views, the one with the accent, the one out of place and most of the time I like it, being different. But then there are days when I can’t stand it, having people acknowledge my accent on certain words or my use of ‘strange’ phrases, or having to constantly watch what I say or do.

It’s hard being somewhere, where the culture is so extraordinarily different, where the peoples’ backgrounds are too. I’m used to being comforted by the fact that my class knows me, and understands me and my personality. But it’s almost the complete opposite here. From a private southern all-girls prep school, where we all come from relatively the same financial background, and where I’m always certain someone will share my same views, it is hard for me that it is not the case here. What’s normal to me is in no way normal to them, things that you can and are almost expected to discuss where I come from is not here. Part of my personality is constantly aware of the goals I have for my future, and the benefits that come with it. At home, it’s expected to talk about our futures, after all, we have the concept of the ‘American dream’. Though Irish people are a lot more reserved in that aspect, apart from teachers asking what we want to study or what we might want to do not many people even hint of what their future holds, it’s not something really talked about.  

I think some of the Irish kids don’t understand the completely different cultures and background we come from. I know we share the same language and don’t have the same troubles as other exchange students coming to learn English, but for us Americans we face different challenges that feel harder in some ways. Unlike our foreign friends we don’t always get a second chance when we say the wrong thing. It’s a challenge I never thought about, how what I say could be taken the wrong way or come across not how I intended it too.

Coming to a place where they think they know you from what they see on TV is difficult. I feel as though they expect me to be this ‘American girl’ who will automatically live up to their image of us across the sea. In some ways I am, I fit into some of the models of the million American stereotypes out there.

Sometimes, well probably most of the time I like to go along with the red white and blue picture I am portrayed as. It’s fun most of the time, but then there are times where I have just had enough, days where I can’t keep up with the slags or the idea of who I am supposed to be as the American. I never thought it would be this different, more than just culture, I never imagined what it would be like to interact with people who are not only different from your nationality but financially too. I think this is one of the more difficult things I have been faced with. I hate talking about money with the people of my host community, but it is a question that comes up. Living in a small Irish town means that most of the residents cannot afford all the luxuries in life or even small things you could be used to. I’m sometimes afraid that I come across as a spoiled brat to people if they ask me about my school at home or things I don’t catch myself from saying. I’ve actually talked to one of my teachers about this and she reassured me that if someone asked me a question and didn’t like the answer that it was their own problem, and I shouldn’t worry about that sort of thing.

As an exchange student, I wanted more for myself, I wanted to learn about new cultures and be faced with obstacles that keep on growing. Though they seem difficult at sometimes, these challenges, that I am getting through, are what make this experience so special. I am so glad I found a way to be where I am today, sitting in my Irish room writing this blog. Never in a million years would I take back the decision to study abroad in high school. I would never wish to not face the struggles that come with culture shock. These things I never imagined I would even be faced with are what continue to build me as a person, helping me discover who I am and strengthen who I am going to become.

Now I know this isn’t a super happy blog but I wanted to show another part of this experience that can sometimes be forgotten about. Right now, I’m living the best year of my life so far. Though for a couple weeks in November I started to feel the effects of homesickness I have gotten over most of it. I’m sorry I didn’t get to talk about any exiting events but I thought this would be an important post. 

Now for pictures!

An Irish rainbow


Bike riding in Killarny national park on our independent travel over midterm 

For Thanksgiving we(my host family) went out to eat for dinner Fix red eye

Some of my American friends came to Galway, it was great meeting up with them again
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Also in Galway city, but with one of my EIL friends 
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the whole group I went on an independent travel with, this was our first day in Kerry
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more of Killarney and the ring of Kerry
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this past weekend in Cork 

Thank you for readin another one of my Irish Blogs 


Top Bants in Ireland

Hey y’all

It's Lindsey back again with another blog! I’ve had trouble deciding what exactly to talk about in my second post because there is just so much I have been wanting to tell y’all and I can’t just pick one. This dilemma has left me with a few different topics I’m going to be sharing with you today. I’ll mostly be keeping it to just some fun Irish culture differences, though I’ll also be giving you a little update on my life, sorry I just can’t resist. Ladies, gentleman and fellow wanderers grab your popcorn it’s time for another one of my Irish blogs. 

    One word: Hurling. It’s all about hurling here in south Galway, I don’t think I go a day without hearing the word ‘hurling’. Now I’m not complaining I’ve had the chance to go to a hurling match and it is truly an incredible sport. So, forget American football it's hurling, and only hurling. I actually had never heard of the fastest land sport before coming to Ireland, but I have to say it again once you’re here you can never escape it, no I’m serious it’s not possible.  It might also have to do with the fact that Galway won the All-Ireland match that I see a maroon Galway flag representing the team literally everywhere I look. If your counties team wins they make a huge victory tour out of it, going to all the schools and towns. So, when Gort Community School had the privilege of hosting both the senior and minor champions it was a pretty big deal, also with the fact that a lot of the players had gone to the school and a couple of the minors are current students. I even got to miss double biology, but why couldn’t it have been DCG. So, Galway hurling team next time you go off and win some fancy trophies, think of me, an American girl who is constantly struggling with drawing shapes.

    I’m sure you’ve all heard of the stereotypes foreigners have of Americans that we are all oblivious to the world, for instance, we all suck at geography, right? Well, Irish people should have counted themselves in that very statement, because let me tell you I’ve had countless people respond to me telling them I’m from Tennessee with, “That’s in Texas, right?” I actually enjoy hearing peoples’ thoughts and stereotypes on my home country, its good craic and I would happily hear more. People rarely ask me or say anything about the US, they only ever slag me on my accent. Now don’t get me wrong everyone is interested in my culture but it hardly comes up anymore. Half the time I forget that I haven’t always been here.

Since I’ve last written a blog so many more people have come up and talked to me, in fact, I’m pretty sure the whole school knew my birthday was on September 27th, people I swear I have never even seen before were wishing me happy birthday. I have never really been treated as an exchange student. It may be because I am so outgoing or in other words a loud American that the Irish have no trouble talking to me, or finding something to say because I’ll just do it for them. I’m not sure if everyone is aware that I am an exchange student. Most of the foreign students would come to Ireland to learn English, and I’m in the top English class so it doesn’t quite fit. Recently I have found out that my host sister and I are cousins, or at least that’s what some of the lads at my school have assumed, but Hazel is pretty sound so its grand.

The first thing that really confused me in Ireland was how the Irish tell time. No one says 4:30, but instead, it’s half four. Now to me, I thought this either meant 3:30 or 2, I kept messing up on the time for a while after I arrived. Also, everyone is late, all the time. Now this doesn’t bother me so much because it's more relaxed, but it can really get annoying when your bus was supposed to leave 20 minutes ago but it hasn’t even shown up. Irish time works around the relative time set, it’s never exact in any circumstance. For instance, one of my teachers is always late, so my class is just out in the hall for 5 minutes after the last bell.

At my school in Chattanooga we use our laptops to do all our work on, where here it’s all on paper, all of it. It’s also all in pen witch in the US if we ever to write out our work it would be in pencil, number two to be exact. Here my maths teacher actually said we weren’t allowed to use pencil, he literally banned us. Also in English, my teacher insisted that I start to use pen after I turned in my first few assignments written in pencil. I know what you're all thinking well how do you erase a pen marking, as I am someone who would accidentally write the wrong letter or number down and have to erase it quite often, well you tip-ex it my friends, cross it out and layer it with white-out or tip-ex as they say in Ireland. Though it took some getting used to, I now prefer to write in pen and have already gone through about four. Please forgive me I almost forgot it is a biro, not a pen. On the first day of school in biology, my teacher told us to get out our biros and have not heard this term I thought he meant my agenda.

As ye may have noticed I now include Irish slang in my vocabulary. In all seriousness, the Irish have amazing words and phrases for things, and it all just works. Now some of it doesn’t make any sense, and others I have literally just learned, for example, yesterday in biology a boy asked if I had a topper, some not knowing what on earth that was just said no. After turning to my friend and asking him what a topper was I learned that I did have one, it’s a pencil sharpener. But for the majority, the Irish sure did know what they were doing coming up with their slang. Its top bants including these phrases or words in my everyday use, and I now don’t even think about it when I respond with “grand”. I’ll now include some of my favorite irish slang:

Irish slang


  • Fun



  • Fun


  • Great/perfect


  • Thankyou/great/perfect



  • Boys


Lads Lads

  • THE BOYS, popular boys, the jokes/tough boys



  • Kiss

Your man

  • He



Your wan

  • She

Giving out

  • Angry at/complaining about/yelling at



  • Making fun/picking on

How she cutting

  • How are you


What’s the craic

  • What’s up



  • The best sport in the world




The American and her flag


another Saturday in Ennis 

The Flaggy Shore. I was inspired to take the 'drive out west' by my personal friend Seamus Heaney, from reading his poem Postscript in English. I recommend y'all read some of his poems especially Postscript as it as an amazing use of imagery to put across a great message.  


also the Flaggy Shore 


Coole park 

Thank y'all for reading another one of my Irish blogs, don't forget to tune in next time!

1st blog/1st month

Hey, Y'all,

I’m Lindsey and welcome to the start of my Irish blog. I’m from Chattanooga TN, and my new home is in Gort co. Galway. This small Irish town truly does already feel like home to me, if I were to leave tomorrow I’d also be leaving a part of myself here in Ireland.

Now before I get ahead of myself let me tell you a little about my life in the States. I have a dog which I miss like crazy, and oh yeah three siblings one older sister and two younger brothers, and my parents too. No, my family does not all have the “traveling bug” that’s just me. I’ve always found ways to travel through, most of the time with my grandmother, who has taken me anywhere from Colorado, to the Namib desert. I love learning about new cultures, seeing new places, and meeting new people.  These are some of the many reasons why I decided to study abroad for the year.

Over the last year, I felt like there was something missing, something I couldn’t find in a small southern city. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my small southern city, but to me, that just wasn’t enough. I wanted the world, really wanted to experience new cultures first hand. I guess that’s how I ended up in Ireland, well not exactly. My dad still hasn’t exactly said yes to this whole thing, but he did just end up going with it, got to love him. I remember the first time I brought up study abroad, showing my mom all the research I did on foreign exchange programs, and it instantly getting rejected. Though after loads of convincing, through any means necessary, both parents got on board, well relatively got on board.   

I’ve been in Ireland a month now, and have made myself at home in my host community. It didn’t take nearly as long as I originally thought it would settle in a new family. Of course, there are still things that are not completely perfect, but it barely took three days for the rest.  I couldn’t ask for a better host family, they have truly added me to their family dynamic, and I feel as though I’ve been here forever. I have two host siblings, my brother has started college in Limerick, so he is only here on the weekends. I’m beyond lucky to have my host sister in 5th year with me. She introduced me to her friends before school even started, and I have come to fit perfectly in the group.

There are a couple other exchange students at my school, but I primarily hang out with the Irish. Though I have now made a bunch of foreign friends from meeting them at an orientation for our community. None of them go to my school but I still see them on weekends. Last weekend a group of us went to Galway city, and I’ll be spending the night with a couple of them this weekend as well. Other exchange students are the only people who know exactly what you’re going through, and it’s important to have someone to talk to who can understand.

I’m now going to tell you my favorite thing about Ireland; digestive biscuits. I’m not kidding at all, it’s a little bit of heaven in every bite. Of course, you have to have these perfect biscuits with your tea, which happens to be every night. My host sister and I always have tea and some craic, after we are done with homework. Most night after our first cup of tea we move to the sitting room and watch my all-time favorite show parks and recreation with the whole family.

In the US, I went to a private all-girls prep school, so an Irish co-ed school was a big change. I’m not going to lie, its absolute banter having boys at school. I look forward to going to school every day, and not only because of the nice-looking boys. I’ll do a separate post all about the Irish school system and how it compares to my own school, in the future.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog and getting to know a little about me. I love it here in Ireland and can’t wait to share with you what this amazing country and a year abroad throws my way.

some photos: IMG_1073



ciee friends: