There’s many sayings about Irish luck, but it is most commonly expressed post-ironically. Like this week for example has been one of the best weeks for weather. Unfortunately, this nice weather coincides perfectly with exams. All the day trips that I had reserved for these gorgeous cloudless days (still mid 50s though) will land on the days when I am fastened to a desk. And, I can almost guarantee that by the time I finish my last exam, the weather will almost certainly return to overcast and rain. Another example of this could be mistaking the deadline for this post to be this Sunday as opposed to midnight last night. Regardless, it’s the luck of the Irish and I have become all too familiar with it. This week has been filled with studies and trying to prepare for my upcoming exams this week. It’s finally time to remove all distractions from my everyday life—so that’s probably another reason I why I missed the mark on this deadline.
I think one of the more interesting aspects of studying abroad is viewing and staying up to-date on the recent events of the US from a European perspective. It’s hard for Europeans, especially Irish, to fathom the current lay of the land and social benefits (or lack thereof) provided by the state and Federal government. One of the major bills that certainly caught a lot of attention over here was Congress’ decision to repeal and replace Obamacare. It really is a different mindset for a lot Irish citizens where most hospitals and health insurance plans are run by a state agency. Another conversation that I’ve had frequently is the cost of tuition. In a discussion with classmates, they were stunned by how much I had to summon to go a public university such as Virginia—it certainly doesn’t help that I’m out of state. Explaining my decision to attend UVA never really quite registered with any of my classmates. They would only utter: “Yeah, but all that money…”
Strangely enough, while I am not proud or trying to assert a political sway to any of these most recent events, I understand why the US has this constant struggle on public issues of this matter. I’m not saying that I accept that universal healthcare should be stripped, but I can see why there might be a majority among elected representatives in Congress to even put this repeal in motion. From moving across different boundaries in Europe, I’ve gathered that there is a stark difference in culture, language, and norms that can result from a matter of miles. While languages can tend to blend together as shown by the Belgians who seem to have almost everything except English, there is a vast difference in the way people of these major cities operate. You can just see these differences purely in the architecture of different landmark buildings. The US is such a large country that you forget how dissimilar expectations can be from one state boundary. The country of Ireland literally fits inside the state of Indiana for perspective. The thought of purposing and sustaining a healthcare bill that can withstand the pressure of different elected bodies and interest groups is daunting. Admittedly, I do not profess any prior knowledge about healthcare economics, but as someone that grew up in the Northeast, caught in between two metropolitan centers such as Boston and New York, I can see how the political views and expectations that I have come to expect most likely differs from another from the Midwest or South.
Another piece of American life that I have come increasingly cognizant is how Americans are driven by costs. This could tie into the larger argument above, but I feel consumerism runs far deeper back home. What I’ve come to accept in Dublin is that everything will more than likely be expensive. I think we as whole are a cost driven society in which we are always trying to get more for less. What I’ve come to expect over in Dublin and other cities like Amsterdam, London, Paris, and Copenhagen is that I am generally going to get less at a price for more. One of my more frequented coffee shops by my apartment for example has a separate price for patrons that choose to enjoy their purchase “in house” as opposed to to-go. I would never say that I missed late nights in Clemons Library, but there is no such thing as 24/7 establishment in Ireland. I assume that this is largely due to the fact that no one is willing to work a shift in the midnight hours of the weekday, but it is just another reminder for me on how Americans enjoy accessibility and “all inclusive”. Most stores are actually closed in Ireland on Sundays. Even though I do not live in a city, I feel like the corner on Charlottesville has more options late at night than Dublin—ignoring pubs and night clubs, of course.
While these are particularly small realizations, they are reminders of how perhaps these differences contribute to a parallel, but separate societal framework.