In the past two months I have become a foreigner for the first time, acquired an unexpected taste for Guinness (the black stuff!), begun to incorporate the words “cheers” and “brilliant” into my everyday vernacular, and fallen madly in love with Ireland. For the past two months, I, a twenty-year old, Texas-born, Cali-dwelling, American sorority girl have lived here in your city of Dublin interning at none other than this very magazine, and I have had the time of my life. If I have met any of you during my time here (likely at a pub, bar, or club, since that is where I have spent the vast majority of my time outside of the office), it is pretty safe to say that I love you, since I have developed an unnatural affection for Irish people. Don’t runaway yet—let me explain myself. One of the first things that became exceptionally evident to me upon my Dublin arrival was that Irish people are far, far different from American people—especially Los Angelenos—in the best way possible. Y’all (please excuse my language. I’m Texan) are just so unbelievably friendly. In America, and especially LA, where I go to college, there is a sense of competition, superficiality, and every-man-for-himself attitude that plagues every aspect of life. But here, there is camaraderie, joviality, and a sense of relaxation that infuses your lives in the most uplifting and refreshing way. Now, I don’t want it to seem like I am totally knocking my life back home. I love my life in America. It’s sunny and warm for 90% of the year for one thing, which I’m sure makes most of you want to slap me across the face, but hey, it’s true. I adore my university and despite the stereotypical superficiality of Hollywood (that is definitely more reality than myth), Los Angeles is a dream. But when it comes to people, at least in terms of friendliness and fun, well, it really is no contest. So congratulations Irish folk, you are my favorite people in the world.
Everywhere I go, I am greeted with smiling Irish faces and cheerful Irish greetings, and this has been, hands-down, the most memorable facet of my summer. And it’s everywhere! On the street, in my office, in the pubs, even on public transportation. I can’t even tell you how many Irish cab drivers have become my best friends, giving me genuine and heartfelt advice about this and that and thanking me, ME, for being so kind as to ride in their cab. This is very strange to me. In LA, the most you get from the cab driver is a series of grunts intended to convey that they did indeed hear your intended destination and they do plan on at least attempting to get you to where you want to go, with no guarantees.
Another highlight of my time here has undoubtedly been experiencing what it’s like to be foreign. I am as American as they get. And I’m also Texan, which evidently has an even more “American” connotation than just your average American, if that makes any sense at all. Basically, I say the word “y’all” and apparently speak with a stronger accent than non-Texan Americans (news to me), so my voice, appearance, and whole aura in general essentially scream, “I’m American!” So, when asked where I hail from, which, due to my aforementioned qualities, inevitably happens upwards of a dozen times per day, my go-to response is “I’m from Texas, but I go to school in California,” which almost always generates a reply in the form of a musical rendition of one or more of the following songs: Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” The Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” and/or George Strait’s “All my Exes Live in Texas” (I actually had a cab driver serenade me with that song for the entire 30 minute drive home once. I loved it.). People here have all sorts of stereotypes and whatnot about Americans, some of which are true, many of which are false, but it has been purely delightful, and often hilarious, to experience the vast scope of reactions to my American comrades and I.
In America, competitive spirit pervades everything we do—it is not about being your best, it is about being the best. Sure, growing up, we were all taught that as long as we do the best that we, ourselves, can do, we are good enough. But let’s be real here. Americans are conditioned to believe that we have to be better at everything than everyone else or our self-worth decreases. If our SAT scores are not as high as our peers, we don’t get into the best college. If we don’t go to the best college, we don’t get the best jobs. If we don’t get the best jobs, we won’t make as much money. And we all know that people who make the most money are superior to the rest of humanity, right? Well, strangely, most Americans foster the subliminal belief that that is true. As an American, I subconsciously expected the rest of the world to share this competitive spirit, but after spending only a few months here in Ireland, I am coming to realize that that is not the case. In Ireland, there is a much greater attitude of camaraderie rather than competition. Sure, everyone wants to succeed at what they do, but you also want other people to succeed. “Workaholics” by American standards are few and far between—if they even exist at all—in Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, I am not expressing by any means that you are lazy or blasé about work. Quite the contrary. You are extraordinarily passionate about what you do, but you are even more passionate about the people you work with. This quality is a rare gem.
When it comes to my internship here at Totally Dublin, the highlight for me has been, without a doubt, the interviews I have conducted with various extraordinarily talented people in the fields of theatre, art, and dance. To be able to converse with such an eclectic group of brilliant and gifted Irish individuals, some of whom are quite well known in Dublin, has been a truly unforgettable and rewarding experience. I will never forget sharing some super-trendy soy chai lattes with the unbelievably inspiring Novacic sisters who co-founded their own production company and co-wrote, directed, and produced an original adaptation of Master and Margarita just out of college. I had a serious girl-crush on both of those super-cool, Serbian-born sisters after that interview, even if their astounding accomplishments made me feel slightly inferior. Or sitting in the stunning and historical Abbey Theatre lobby casually chatting with the well-known and charming Rory Nolan, one of the stars of Brien Friel’s brilliant play Translations. Or skyping overseas with Gerard Minakawa, the brilliant founder of Bamboo DNA, whose astonishing bamboo creations have dazzled music festival-goers worldwide. The list goes on and on, but one thing remained the same: I left each interview with my mouth agape, feeling so unbelievably lucky to have encountered such a unique, talented, and inspiring individual. And beyond that, Irish people are just fun to talk to, plain and simple.
One of my favorite interview moments actually happened just a few days ago: I was chatting with Cathal Leonard, a charming and endearing Irish actor, about Sunday Morning Coming Down, the play that he is currently acting in. He ordered a Guinness and then was all “This play is about showing Irish people that excessive drinking and alcoholism is a real problem in society and that we need to stop brushing it under the rug and deal with it.” I was all “Oh totally. How’s that 3 pm Guinness?” He was all, “It’s fucking delicious.” I was all “I love you and your people.” Okay, I didn’t actually say that, but I totally thought it. Because I do. I really, really do. I love that anywhere, anytime, Irish people are completely and 100% down to have a good time. You know that stupid American saying that goes something like “sing like nobody’s listening, dance like nobody’s watching, live like there’s no tomorrow blah, blah, blah”? Well, the Irish actually live like that without having to have some dumb quote written in fancy cursive and posted above every preteen girl’s bedroom doorway. See, Americans like making fun of ourselves too!
I have been here for an entire summer, but I still feel like I have barely skimmed the surface of Dubliving (Did that work? Too far?). I’m going to miss the sunny and warm but never miserably hot Dublin days (Though I am not going to miss the days of “pissing rain”). I’m going to miss smiling and saying hello to every person I pass on the street. I’m going to miss hearing “cheers” instead of “thanks.” I’m going to miss my triple espresso Americanos from Insomnia (yes, I know we have coffee in America, but it’s just not the same). I’m going to miss walking everywhere. I’m going to miss drinking everywhere. I’m going to miss Guinness. Hell, I’m not even legal to drink in America! I’m going to miss the Irish accent (so, so, so much). I’m really going to miss being foreign. I’m going to miss Irish theatre. I’m going to miss live music in pubs. I’m going to miss the song “Galway Girl.” I’m going to miss working at Totally Dublin (not a self-promotion, I promise!!!). I’m going to miss the beauty, history, culture, and liveliness of this remarkable city. And boy am I going to miss the Irish people. This city, and y’all (Texas, remember?) have changed my life forever. I know that everyone always wants what they don’t have. People here tell me all the time that they would give anything to live in California. But you know what? I feel the same about Dublin. Appreciate it! Love it! And if you ever find yourself wandering around California or Texas, give me a call. I’ll show you around; buy you a drink. It’s the least I can do after showing me the greatest and most craic-filled summer of my life. Cheers, Dublin!
|lovely st. stephen's green park on a sunny dublin day|
|the americans work here|
|last night out in dublin|
So there you have it! In the next few weeks, I will be posting a Spain recap (Ibiza and Barcelona were INCREDIBLE), a family vacay recap of Dublin, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and London, a fun "best of summer" post that's still marinating in my mind, andddd the revelation of where my blog will go from here! I have decided that I definitely want to keep blogging after the summer, since writing is something I want to do for the rest of my life, but I'm still working out exactly where I want to take the blog. Soooo stay tuned for more! For now, I'm off to brave some not-so-stellar rainy scottish weather with the fam for dinner!