Jon Anleitner ’14 - As an American citizen with no abroad experience, it is hard to distinguish between your culture and one from another country such as Ireland. Some Americans think that they don’t come from America because their ancestors didn’t. During my time here, I felt very American. I began to truly understand what it is to be an American because I became more aware of how my culture is different from other cultures such as the Irish one. One of the biggest characteristics that differentiates the American culture from the Irish culture is that the dialects are different. Everywhere that I have been, there are people who speak differently and talk in a manner that I am not familiar with.
During my stay in the Aran islands, I noticed that some people were speaking in the Irish language, which was interesting because the Irish language is an ancient language that only a few people can speak today. In addition, the music, the foods, and the architecture in Ireland are different from what I have seen in the United States. In Galway, I had the pleasure of eating Hagis, which is fried lamb meat that is popular in Ireland. The texture of the meat was gooey and soft but very good at the same time. The buildings in Ireland are smaller in comparison to the ones in the States. Everything seemed to be condensed together in a way that made me feel like a smurf in a village. The history of Ireland has also helped me gain an appreciation for the Irish culture and the nation itself. We learned about the roots of Ireland and one of their famous writers, James Joyce.
While in Dublin, we had the pleasure of visiting the James Joyce house from the story “The Dead”. It was nice to see the window in the house that is on the cover of my edition The Dubliners, and is a large part of the story. In “The Dead”, Gabriel sees Gretta (Gabriel’s wife) by the window and is filled with desire for her. He observes her stature and beauty in the midst of the shadows. Long story short, he did not get what he wanted that night because Gretta was reminiscing over her ex-boyfriend, but he managed to make it through the night while he sees the snowflakes fall on the window of his hotel room. We also went to the basement of the house, which is below the Liffey River that runs through Dublin. While down there, my colleagues and I got to see an old print stamper that was used many years ago. It is always nice to see old machines because it gives you an idea of how much technology has advanced over the years.
My experience with my colleagues and professors has been unique in a way that I believe I wouldn’t have had at any other college and/or university. I plan to continue to immerse myself in the Irish culture and to enjoy the rest of my time here while we learn more about James Joyce. I hope other students also have the pleasure to enjoy the experience that have had here in Dublin.