My time in Ireland is flying by
2016-03-01 16:05:52 -

Meghan Nosal


I have been studying in Ireland over a month now and am still stuck in my honeymoon phase. Even the weather cannot change how happy I am to be immersing myself in this new culture.

My mornings in busy New York City consisted of falling asleep in my cab, trying to tune out the driver’s ethnic music. I love the busy mornings in Dublin, sitting in traffic with a chatty taxi driver gabbing on about his travels to America and his home life in the country. 

The drivers in Ireland do not compare to those back home. Most cab drivers in the States are immigrants and there is little conversation aside from telling them where to drop you off. A taxi ride in Dublin, however, is often filled with laughs and stories and amusement at my tourist questions.

Perhaps my biggest adjustment coming here has been trying to understand the Irish grading system. In America it’s not uncommon to receive a mark higher than 85 and most students aim for a 4.0 grade point average, or straight As. Professors in Ireland, though, are explicitly clear that students should not expect anything higher than a 70, and even that is too much in most cases.

Trying to convince myself that a 70 is the new norm has been an adjustment for myself as well as my parents who still expect A grades despite the system not working that way.

The classroom experience has been intimate and independent. My lectures are full of interaction with teachers interested in student feedback and stories. Teachers want to ensure their students understand the topics and can relate to them.

Unlike in the States, there is no busy work. My few assignments have all had a purpose and expectations for presentations are much higher. French, German, Austrian, and Irish students interact to create a synergetic class population – a refreshing difference from my old classes exclusively filled with overly caffeinated Americans. Group projects are full of cultural differences and finding a compromise on how to work together.

My illusion of Ireland was cracked slightly by my experience registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). It was similar to going to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the States, only employees here were much friendlier and the lighting in the office less gloomy.

My time at the GNIB lasted two hours but I am told that is very lucky. Some in my group were there almost five hours, others for many more. It was also not easy handing over €300 for a piece of paper that gives me a time limit in this country.

My four short months in Ireland are flying by, but I am looking forward to continuing my cultural experiences and grand times abroad.


Meghan Nosal is a student at Marist College in New York state and an intern with Metro Éireann

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