Having a Blast Being Single While Studying Abroad in Ireland
Back home in the States, my girlfriends and I like to go out and have some fun. It’s a reasonable assumption to make–we are all nineteen to early-twentysomethings, single, and in college. When you study abroad, you don’t just get educated in the lecture hall; you learn about social customs and culture as well–and that includes the going out culture.
I am a rising junior at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. Where I went and what I did for fun with my friends during my freshman and sophomore years was very different from what I now do in Ireland.
Being of age to drink has no doubt increased the number of places my friends and I can go to have fun. In the States, college students ages 18 through 20 stick to house and dorm parties. Freshmen mostly go to the dorm parties, whereas sophomores and underage juniors go to house parties. Going to pubs for the first time in Ireland was quite an experience.
Irish girls get very dressed up and wear much more dramatic makeup compared to me, the other American girls here, and the ones back home. The pubs in Maynooth (where I go to school) are not high-end pubs either. There is only one club in the entire town. During my first time in the pub, I felt so underdressed in my jeans and blouse. Other girls wore dresses or nice tops with skirts and six-inch heels. It is by no means mandatory to dress to the nines, but do not be shocked if you are one of the few people who is not.
The other major difference I have noticed while studying abroad in Ireland is how the men behave. One of the things I love about going out in Ireland is the fact that grinding is not something that people do–at least not in the pubs I go to. Here, if a guy asks you to dance, he twirls you around. In America, if a guy asks you to dance he turns you around and starts grinding against your backside. Totally romantic, right? Yeah, no thanks. I cannot even begin to express how much of a relief it is that grinding is not the style of dancing that exists in bars and clubs here. I feel much more relaxed and free to dance with my friends, and do not have to worry about some drunk, sweaty man trying to grind on me. It is much easier to have fun.
On the other hand, like other European men, Irish men can be a lot more forward. While sober, they are much more reserved. However, this can change once they have had a drink. Coming from a conservative Catholic college in the Midwest, it was definitely a shock when a man asked me to go home with him after only talking to him for a couple of minutes. After responding, “No, I don’t know you!” he shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal. At that moment, I left him and went to find my friends. I must say, his blasé attitude toward the idea took me off guard.
This was not an isolated incident either. Other American girls here have had similar things happen, and it has happened to me a couple of times. Most American guys would not be that upfront in general. Back home, usually you talk for a while before the guy makes his intentions known. The guys I flirt with and date back home did not have these kinds of intentions. Guys I talked to back home had much tamer ideas in mind, like asking for my number or just making out.
Honestly, you have to be careful as an American girl abroad. Often when we tell guys that we’re from the U.S., their eyes might up. At that moment, you can instantly tell what they want from you. It’s all over their face.
Having said that, I enjoy going out in Ireland more than I do back home. While I miss my friends constantly, the attitude to going out here is much more relaxed. At the pubs, you never have to worry about being pressured to drink. Whether you drink or not is not a big deal. At house parties back in the States, you need to at least grab a red solo cup to avoid being asked, “So why aren’t you drinking? Are you sick? DD? Why?” every few minutes by a stranger. Pubs are a big part of the culture here, but no one cares whether you are drinking or not. The lack of grinding and peer pressure to drink make going out for me a lot more fun! All the best and most unforgettable nights out I have ever had have been in Ireland.
While I wish the main nights to go out were on the weekend instead of during the week (Irish students go home on the weekends and return on Sunday), I love how much fun I have here with my American and Irish friends.