Coming to Ireland

Kelly Byer

View photos from Kelly’s Trip.

On entering the airplane from Washington D.C. to London, the first British accents reached my ears as flight attendants demonstrated safety procedures.

The plane then rumbled down the runway and the wheels lifted off the ground, making it the last time for about five months that I would be on U.S. soil. I was on a journey to a foreign country where I would be a foreigner.

But sitting in a McDonald’s or local movie theater, you could forget you’re even in another country if it weren’t for the toffee crisp McFlurry or Irish accents.

Since arriving in Northern Ireland, I’ve become a bit more accustomed to using public transportation (traveling on the opposite side of the road), British pounds and military time, which is used for things like class and bus schedules.

I’ve begun to understand a bit of the slang and now know that “half 12” means 12:30, “aye” means yes, “wee” is used for little and “craic” (pronounced “crack”) isn’t easily defined, but generally means to have a good time or some fun.

While I’ve had quite a lot of good craic in Ireland, there have been times where adjusting has been difficult. For example, not knowing when to get off the bus led to a long walk across campus when I first arrived, luggage in tow.

Registering for classes also proved to be a complicated process of online searching and office visiting. Even after the registration process was completed, there were still a few kinks to work out.

When I entered my first class of the Irish Folklore Tradition in Irish Studies, I realized that it would need to be dropped when the professor began conversing in the Irish language.

Also, restaurant hours that most Americans are accustomed to are not the hours that they operate by here. A trip into town around 6 p.m. for food provided a group of starving study-abroad students with little options, as most places had already closed.

That led, however, to quite a few conversations with the local residents about where to go and the discovery of a quaint pub called J.D. Wetherspoon. There the food was good and inexpensive, and the people were friendly.

So far, my time here at the University of Ulster in Coleraine has been an amazing experience that I can’t wait to continue.

In a country where you can see rolling hills of green grass and a flock of sheep from your flat, one can’t help but be caught up in the celebration of life in Ireland.

While in Ireland I’ve.


– A lot of congrats for Obama, as he was mentioned on the flight to London and by a woman on the bus, the man presenting the international orientation, a tour guide, my roommates and a taxi driver. Many wanted to know what Americans thought of the new president and were generally pleased about the outcome. (However, there was a small group of students who chanted “Hillary” on the bus to a dance club).

-Traditional Irish music, including songs from “Titanic” and “P.S. I Love You,” in a pub. The live band also played “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver.

-A bagpipe group, complete with kilts, playing in a local grocery store. Although a cashier informed me that that doesn’t happen every day.

-Mainly American music playing on TV, car stereos and in clubs. One taxi’s radio was even playing an American country song.

-People speaking in Irish accents, and also people speaking languages from many different European, Asian and American countries.


-Students wearing scarves, high-heeled boots and fashionable clothing more often than sweatpants or hoodies.

– American programs like “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and movies like “X-Men, the Last Stand” as well as British programs like “Coronation Street” on TV. There are also different versions of popular American shows like “Deal or No Deal.”

– A comedy of “Cinderella” where men played some female characters and women played some male characters. It included references to both local and American people and products, including Obama, Amy Winehouse and McDonald’s.

Kelly Byer is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].