Moors, Melyssa

Name: Melyssa Moors
Location of Study: Ireland
Program of Study:
Sponsor(s): Robert Berner

20 thoughts on “Moors, Melyssa

  1. I’m currently at the bus station ready to head off to Donegal for my language immersion program. I’m really looking forward to it; I’ve been in Dublin for nearly 7 weeks now and the change of scenery and pace of life is welcome.

    I’m going into this experience with four semesters of Irish classes, but the most recent one was a course in translations, and I’m unsure of whether that will help or hinder my immersion into the language. Translation is radically different from conversation. I hope I can fall back into the old habits I picked up in my first three language classes with relative ease. The other worry I have is I have had relatively little interaction with the Ulster dialect, the dialect spoken in Donegal. I’ve heard that it’s significantly more difficult to understand, but I’ll go in with an open mind.

    I’m filled with questions about the place I’m going. In jest, Donegal is often referred to by the rest of the country as nowhere, the farm boys, the old folks living in the mountains with the sheep. I am aware that there will be a lot of sheep where I’m headed. Like I said, this sort of change after 7 weeks of the city will either be radical culture shock or a welcome change. I’m optimistic that it will be the latter. I’m looking forward to exploring the countryside as well as begin a sojourn into the Irish language. 

    One fear I pertains to my confidence with the spoken language. In any language, English or otherwise, I usually remain quiet until I know I can contribute something to the conversation. I had a bad habit or remaining mute in my language classes for fear I’d say something incorrect, or the words would get muddled in my mouth. I hope I’ll learn to have enough confidence to just let the Irish flow, instead of reverting to the safety of English. Everyone will say something incorrect when learning a language; I’ll have to learn to not let it hamper my efforts.

    My bus is here finally, so I should go make a valiant attempt to get my massive suitcase underneath it. Looking forward to the countryside!


    Addendum: The internet is spotty at best in Donegal. After having trouble sending a couple emails, I think it would be best for me to keep the journal first and foremost (handwritten, most likely, so I don’t have to lug the computer around,) and go through the process of posting it once I return to a reliable connection. Old-school!

  2. The journey north was easy and now I’m settled into my house with two other students for the week; another American named Audrey, a writer and editor of an Irish blog, and a Scottish medical student named Michael. Audrey is very advanced and has been studying the language for 9 years. Michael is a beginner, although his grandparents live in Cloughaneely (2 hours north of here) and speak Irish regularly, so he’s picked up a decent amount from them.

    We were “sorted” into our classes this afternoon. I started in Level 2, thinking that a gentle dip into the language would be nice, but was promptly kicked out and sent to Level 3 when I answered a question in full Irish. Serendipitously, the instructor for level 3 was none other than former ND Fulbright teaching assistant Ronan Doherty! A familiar face is great to have around the Gleann, especially since I’m the only ND student here currently (there will be one more joining next week.)

    Since introducing myself required my admittance that I was an American, I used this time to ask many of the people in my class what their thoughts were about America. In general, the younger crowd seemed to have a favorable view of America, even though they were becoming disenchanted with Obama. Michael, the man I share housing with, said that he was horrified by the idea that not everyone in America has healthcare. On more than one occasion, an older woman in my class couldn’t understand America’s vehement aversion to socialism. Stereotypes of Americans included confidence and penchant for talking all the time.

    Once, someone describe us Americans as ignorant. When pressed for details, it was because people often confuse her accent with an English accent.


  3. Classes are swell and I find myself becoming more interested in how to converse in Irish now than ever before. Something about the immersion experience, it must be.

    There aren’t any major holidays during my stay in Gleann Cholm Cille, but one “holiday” like event that tourists and natives alike partake in is “Turas na Cholm Cille,” or the Pilgrimage of St. Columba. St. Columba, after whom the Gleann was named, is the 3rd patron saint of Ireland after Patrick and Brigid. Talking with the locals who have all attempted at least part of the pilgrimage, they say that it’s extremely rewarding as a religious experience, but also as a historical endeavor.

    One local I spoke with said there are doubts as to whether Colm Cille was ever actually in the Gleann, and he says the Pilgrimage is proof enough for him that he was. On one of my afternoons, I went us to the holy well, and indeed it’s a spectacular site full of artifacts, religous and non-religious, and the construction of stone walls around the well all seemed so authentic.

    One Irish teacher I spoke to said that pilgrimages like these are common in Ireland, and although belief in the actual religious purpose of them waver nowadays, people are still invested in their history for the most part.

    On my last night I met with one of the American students who performed the whole pilgrimage. It took 3 1/2 hours, he said, but also said it was one of the most authentic, although crazy, experiences he had in his time here.

  4. Irish cuisine is fairly similar to American cuisine in the basics, there are a lot of regional variances. Food is actually one of the most exciting things I’ve come across in Ireland, and I’m pretty sure going back to the over processed American cuisine after my stay here is going to wreak havoc on my body. I can’t even remember the last time I ate fast food, or pop.

    Anyways, not to diverge too greatly from the task at hand, the problem with talking about Irish cuisine is that it’s very basic. In fact, a favorite dish of the Irish that could be considered different from American is curry, which isn’t Irish at all. They just seem to have adopted it and made it their own. They serve a lot of basic foods here, but the thing is, in Ireland, you know the food you’re getting is just that; basic food. There aren’t the same sort of preservatives in the bread, or milk, or beef like you get in America. Everything is very regional and locally sourced in Ireland, which I found difficult to wrap my head around at first.

    I told a fellow Irish student today that I couldn’t wrap my head about the fact that the Irish grass-feed all their beef cows, and he stared blankly at me for a while before he said “Well what else do you feed them?”

    However, each region has a few foods that I’d never think of trying to eat, and in North Donegal, that’s seaweed. Seaweed is considered a tasty snack, and the right kinds can be gathered up and dried before becoming a chip-like snack. I was wary of trying it at first, and it was EXTREMELY salty. Makes sense, because it came out of saltwater, but I’m not a fan of salty food, so I’ll let the Irish have their seaweed.