The Whole World in Carraroe!

It feels like forever since I’ve written even though it’s only been a week! This week, we learned more about sentence structure and the genitive case. My vocabulary has definitely grown and I am getting used to the pronunciations. I feel very confident when reading and writing Irish because my foundation has gotten even stronger these past few weeks. I am also learning a lot about the Connemara dialect. My teacher, Dónall, is great because he offers such an interesting perspective. He was born in Canada, grew up in Ireland, but now lives in Germany and teaches Irish there. He told us that the difference between the Connemara dialect and the dialect in Dublin is like difference between listening to a grand piano and a cheap keyboard. I hope that I can get to the point where the differences are that obvious to me too! It’s so interesting to hear what sounds the dialect cuts out and adds and what words they use instead of the standard. Dónall makes a point of giving us our readings in the standard Irish and in Connemara Irish. We were speaking Irish with some locals in the pub this last week and they were correcting us and instructing us on how we can sound more like a native. I am going to miss this direct contact with natives so much! In addition to the natives, I’m learning so much from the other students in this program. There are people from all over the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Cyprus, England, and Japan! I can’t believe the Irish language has reached as far as Asia. I love meeting people from other countries because they have such different experiences growing up and such fascinating opinions of the United States. The people from Japan find Irish to be easier to learn than English! Mostly, people can’t believe how large of a country the U.S. is and how divided everyone is politically.

This weekend, we went back to Galway and we were lucky enough to be able to stay with our friend Kelly’s mom. She has been staying in an apartment in Galway for the past month while Kelly is at the program with us in Carraroe. She has become a real local in the city-getting to know all the hotspots, volunteering at the Galway Arts Festival events, and meeting all kinds of people. She told us about the politics of Ireland over the last few years. Apparently, there was a big economic boom a while back that is referred to as the Celtic Tiger. However, the economy is now on a bit of a downturn and the people haven’t quite changed their spending habits. She referred to it as the “Paddy greed.” It was really cool to hear about what she had seen and heard because it’s not something someone could’ve picked up on on a normal vacation. I hope I get the chance to become a local in a city like that someday. Despite her warning of the abundance of “Paddy greed,” we had an amazing day. Everyone in Galway was very welcoming. There were lots of people in the city this past week because of the Galway races. A group of students in our program went to the races and had a great time. Those of us that stayed in the city also had a great day exploring. I don’t think I could ever get tired of Galway!

the Galway races!
pit stop in Spiddal on the way to Galway!
the view from the apartment we stayed in