How To Act Like a Local in Galway

Emma Burnett is a student at Emporia State University and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She served abroad with ISA Service Learning in Galway, Ireland.

One of the funniest things about my trip to Galway so far is the fact that locals know I am from America before I even talk. I am here in Galway on a Service-Learning program, and I asked my boss how the locals know we are Americans just by looking at us. She said: “It usually gives it away when you guys are wearing coats when it’s not even cold.” She makes a great point. This is the first lesson on How To Act Like a Local In Galway.  The weather here is usually around 50-65 degrees, which is actually quite cold for us Midwestern people. But for the locals, it’s perfect temperature. If you walk around wearing a bulky coat (like I did my first couple of days), your cover is blown.

Something else you need to know if you want to act like a local is everybody LOVES craic. Now, before you start thinking anything bad, “craic” (pronounced like “crack”) has a totally different meaning here. It can mean “fun,” for example, like saying “tonight is gonna be full of craic.” Or it can also just mean “What’s up?” like “What’s the craic?” It is kind of confusing at first but now, we all love talking about craic.

Never go into a grocery store without grocery bags. Ireland is really awesome in the fact that they don’t have plastic grocery bags at the store. You either come in with your reusable bags or you buy some while there. I definitely spent some extra money on bags when I went shopping for the first time in Galway. This isn’t just at a specific store, either… it’s everywhere. So always have reusable bags with you!

Drink coffee or tea. Daily. All of us ISA Service-Learner’s are in different host organizations. One of the girls here is working with the elderly and teaching them how to use technology. She came home from her first day on the job saying that throughout her workday of 6 hours, they stopped for FOUR “tea breaks.” Irish people love their tea. Who can blame them?

Walk fast and don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk to see the “tourist sights.” Definitely do not scream when you see the ATMs on Shop Street that are featured in Ed Sheeran’s music video of “Galway Girl”….. Okay, that one is really hard. Ed Sheeran was here!?

Also, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in Ireland. So if you want to act like a local, do not expect the cars to stop for you. This was a little hard to get used to, but luckily the locals are really nice here and will most likely stop the car for you.

The most important thing to know about being a local: Have fun and stay out late. They LIVE by this and it’s probably the best thing ever. Not once is there silence at my apartment complex. That may sound annoying but honestly, every time I hear the sound of music blaring in the late hours of the night I am reminded how lucky I am to be here. I was up late emailing my grandma about my experiences and telling her how I couldn’t sleep because there was someone outside playing soccer at midnight. She replied: “Get up and go play soccer. You’re only there once.”

What a local thing to say, Grandma.

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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