This academic semester in Dublin was my first experience in Ireland. Attracted by this country for several years, I knew only that what people would say about it. As each trip, Ireland reserved me a lot of surprises. I learned a lot about this country, its culture and its daily life which are different than France. Therefore, many things suprised me during the semester in Ireland.
Firstly, the Irish education system challenged me. Indeed, in class, irish students leave class without saying a word to answer a call, go to restroom or leave definitvely the course. For teachers this is quite normal. Conversely, students can arrive at any time for the course. For example, if the course occurs at 9am to 11am, a student may arrive at 9.30am or 10am or even 10.30am. Indeed, Irish are very often absent in class, teachers autorize them to come at any time because they estimate already well that the student has come even for 30 minutes.
Moreover, employment in Ireland surprised me. Indeed, there are a lot of people of 40-50 years old who resumed their studies after having already worked. The goal is to reorientate them or develop their skills to have higher skills and increase their employability. This is due to the fact that the Ireland has been very affected by the financial crisis from 2007 to 2010 which has impact on employment and increased unemployment. I had the opportunity to meet these people during my courses, they took very seriously courses. They were really interested by examples and ask lots of questions to teachers to fully understand the course.
Another thing surprised me very pleasantly : Irish people. Indeed, they are very open and cheerful. They were very happy and proud for hosting us in their country and make us discover it. At the beginning of my semester, I was often lost in the city, Irish guided me very kindly. Besides, they are very polite, respectful and honest. For example, they do not go throwing cigarette butts on the street, they let first the elderly go up on the bus etc. And all of this with the smile, we really feel than they take pleasure to do it.
In addition, one of the things that surprised me the most in Dublin is the number of french. In fact, when I went for a walk in streets of Dublin, I heard very often spoken french. It was a mixture of tourists and Erasmus students. In my university we were about 70% of french Erasmus students. This disappointed me a lot, because I really wanted progress in English. I imagined myself completely immerse and obliged to speak English all day. However, with the number of french in Dublin, my progress in English are lower than I was expecting.
Ireland is known for its bad weather. However, I did not expect that bad weather will be also strong. Indeed, from January to late April, there was a lot of rain but mostly lots of wind. I have never seen before as much wind in a city. A friend of the university even fell because of the wind… Bad weather was the biggest negative point of Ireland, in fact, this prevented us to walk and visit the city pleasantly or doing activities outdoor.
I was also surprised by the lifestyle of Irish. Firstly, hours in which they eat. Indeed, they take the lunch at noon (exactly) or before and take the diner from 5pm. At the beginning of my stay, we visited several restaurants with friends around 9pm, it was impossible to eat because all the restaurants were about to close. Secondly, from 4pm, Irish are already drunk because of beer and they start to go out in nightcub from 9pm, then, they end up at 3 o'clock in the morning. Finally, in Ireland, even in Dublin, shops close early (6pm). Life in Ireland is offset from France, everything happens earlier in the day.