Looking back, the biggest shock when I arrived in Ireland was how American I realized I was. I have been fortunate enough to travel overseas prior to this trip, but to become a resident of another country was not an easy task. The change forced me to realize how much I relied and focused on American culture and way of life. I hunted for Oreos in numerous supermarkets, wore my backwards hats, and overly embraced my foreignness. Now my room here at DCU is filled with an American flag, an American flag towel, American flag backpack, American flag flip flops, and an American flag duvet cover with a matching American flag pillowcase.
While I have continued to embrace my home culture and individualism, I have slowly embraced a more European way of life and made sure to try new things. At the very minimum, I have evolved from my over-the-top American flag shopping spree. Throughout our time in Ireland and our travels to other cities, we have frequently used the adjective “euro.” My wardrobe is now a little more “euro” after buying a couple pieces of clothing at a local store. I am a little more euro in that I can now look the right way when crossing a street. I say “sorry” instead of excuse me, which is an easy way for Irish to spot foreigners.
When I was in Brussels, I visited European Parliament, and on nights out I made friends from Austria to Egypt. In Scotland we visited a local food market and I made sure to try as many local fares as I could (but I could not bring myself to eat haggis.) In Paris, I became an expert on the sprawling Paris metro system. This time I was a bit more adventurous when I tried roasted duck and absolutely loved it. We drank wine and ate croissants and crepes in every corner of the city.
I am so glad I have been evolving into someone more comfortable with a culture, attitude, and home that is not my own. It has been great to get to mainland Europe as well to compare/contrast not just the U.S. and Ireland, but the U.S., Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, etc. I have a few trips left and about a month in Dublin. I will be leaving behind so much but come back a person with a better level of cultural understanding. The transition back might not be easy but I will make it through. Even if that means covering everything in my room with an Irish flag.