The one overarching theme of my time in Ireland so far is “Money, Money, Money”. It seems as if “they” who make up the prices of things, or that is to say the “market”, just plops a euro sign in front of an american price for say, a pint, and calls it a day. I must stop doing the conversions from euros to dollars in my head because that is a surefire way to frustration and insanity. But no matter, I’ve made a budget for myself - Ha, we will see how long I can stick to that.
The most expensive budget category in Ireland would definitely be entertainment. One can find food, especially produce, for relatively to very cheap. However, buy that same food and serve it in a restaurant? The prices become outrageous. And maybe a bit ironically, it is incredibly expensive to go to pubs. You would be hardpressed to find a pint for under 4.50 Euro, or around 6.25 Dollars.
So, the obvious solution is to buy liquor or beer, or my new favorite, cider, from your local Off-License (Liquor Store), and do what we Americans call “pre-gaming”. In Ireland they have a comparable practice called “sessioning”, although “sessioning” could be done at any point, not just before going to the pubs or clubs, but before, after and instead of.
“Sessioning” is basically just a verb used to describe sitting at a buddy’s house and drinking instead of being at a bar - not a house party, but something more chill than that.
This past weekend, the five people I’m studying abroad with went to Waterford to stay with two different families. One group attended an Irish Christening and the family party afterwards, while Julia and I got shown the town by the 23 year old son of our family. It would seem that these two weekends would be quite opposite, but they are tied together in similarity by the thread of drink.
In America, we would tend to assume that any religious celebration and family party would not, at least not so blatantly and with such excess, be focused on drinking. However, when we told our new friends that the other Americans would be at a christening, the response was “Oh, they’ll be hammered then”.
Another interesting note on the christening; One of the Irish fellows we met explained the tradition of christening this way: “Oh, everyone gets christened. I’m not religious at all, but if I had a kid, it would get christened”.
This would be a nice segway to a bit of reflection on religion in Ireland, but to be honest I don’t have the energy. Let it suffice to say, it holds a truly bizarre place in the fabric of an Irish life. More on that later when I have the energy to try and translate to the page some of the speech we were given on Irish Identity by a professor of English at University College, Dublin.
Settling in to life in Dublin has proven to be a tad difficult. Last night was actually the first night that we stayed in our apartment overnight. Apparently the Irish electricity company, ESB, are a bunch of buggers. However, today the fun continues! Fresher’s Week!
Edit: Day One of Fresher's Week cost me 42 Euro - Membership fees for five clubs (The Phil, The Alternative Music Society, DU Food and Drink, the Publications Society and the International Student's Society), plus a 5 Day Pass for Fresher's Fest 2009.
Yes, this school is so big that it has its own festival to mark the beginning of term - I'm not at Sarah Lawrence anymore...