When you’re preparing to visit another country for the first time, you come equipped with a very basic kind of knowledge, a knowledge that you feel will be sufficient enough to prepare you for the inevitable culture shock that will ensue. You know about the language, the currency, the customs, that ‘crisps’ means ‘chips’ and ‘gaff’ means ‘apartment’ and ‘good craic’ means ‘a good time’.
You are prepared to engage in loud discussions with drunk people about Lady GaGa’s “Telephone” video; you are prepared to adhere to the delightfully quaint national customs, such as toasting in Gaelic and waiting approximately three decades for the check to come after a meal; you are prepared to immerse yourself headfirst into a world that is totally different from your own, and you are prepared to accept any communication breakdowns or cultural misunderstandings or inebriated naked people that might come your way.
Today is Thursday. I have been in Dublin for approximately four months. On Saturday, I will clean out my disgusting apartment, say goodbye to my friends and board an Aer Lingus flight to Edinburgh knowing that I now have the information necessary to navigate my way around a foreign country, and have a fantastic time whilst doing so. I will leave Ireland knowing that I (kind of) came prepared.
But nothing, NOTHING could have prepared me for this: