I've lived in the north of Ireland for around seven months and despite being trapped in my flat by the pandemic, I’ve experienced things that I’ve come to truly love. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorites.
They say that all that will be left after the nuclear apocalypse is cockroaches, but I feel like they failed to consider Irish grannies. I’ve never seen a hardier group of people in my life. It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like, even if it’s hailing golf ball-sized chunks of ice they’ll still be out and about with their little shopping trollies. I’m convinced a squad of them could take out Putin, they’ll stop at nothing to finish their errands.
I mourn my American friends that will never know the joy of a fresh bag of Taytos. I never liked sour cream and onion crisps back home, but something about the cheese and onion Taytos just feels so right (especially with a good sandwich). I’m a lifelong fan of salt and vinegar crisps, and the hand-cooked Tayto ones are some of the best I’ve had.
The older ladies at the shops
Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen my mom since September, but I love it when the older ladies at the till call me “wee love”. It’s just so sweet, I don’t care if I’m having a stereotypical yank moment, I love it. Going along that same vein, people here are just very friendly. I have met some dicks, don’t get me wrong, but overall people are just friendlier here than they are back in Massachusetts. I’m not surprised, given that we’ve been ranked as one of the least friendly states multiple times, but it’s nice being able to have a bit of small talk while I’m getting my groceries.
Ireland really does live up to the “Emerald Isle” name. I saw some pretty green grass back home, my dad treated our lawn like it was another child, but the grass here is almost vibrantly green. It kind of looks like someone put a filter on it, even the grass in the city is beautiful. One of my favorite things about Belfast is that you can see the fields and valleys beyond it from nearly anywhere you stand, so even if you’re surrounded by concrete you can still see Ireland’s lovely landscape. I stayed with my boyfriend outside of Belfast over Christmas break and he took me on a walk by a small creek and the scenery was just gorgeous. The greenest fields I’ve ever seen dotted with sheep, cows, and horses, adorable ducks and robins, old trees covered in ivy, the whole nine yards. I’m from a very woodsy area and grew up with all sorts of wildlife and livestock, so it was incredibly comforting to see.
I haven’t heard an accent I don’t like
I’ve heard people from the north complain about their accents a bunch of times and honestly, I don’t really get it! I haven’t heard an accent I don’t like. Ireland is chock-full of different accents and some of them are harder to understand, absolutely, but none of them sound like nails on a chalkboard. I think that all Irish accents speak both English and Irish with a beautiful cadence that’s very sing-songy and easy to listen to. I never heard or read a lot of Irish back home for obvious reasons but it really is such a cool language that is deservedly being revived, if you’re interested I would absolutely recommend taking a look at it.
Irish butter is simply the best butter I’ve ever had. It’s no surprise with all the dairy farms around the place, but seriously, I will die on the Kerrygold hill.
I wish I could’ve seen more during my first year of university but what I have seen has been nothing short of amazing. The Irish are some of the most resilient, well-humored folks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and I can’t wait for the next two years on this island.