Comforts of Home

I thought that when I arrived in Europe there would be all new things to taste and try and while this is partly the case, many items are the same as would be at home. There is such a strong American influence here, on the television, in the music, and in the food at the grocery store. The interesting thing is finding these familiar items in slightly different packaging. Crisps are potato chips, chips are fries, and biscuits are cookies. Sour cream is much more watered down, Irish ketchup is sweeter than Heinz, Cup of Noodle is called Pot Noodle, and you can only find travel size deodorants on the shelves. No matter how confident I am when I walk into the grocery store, I continually find that I have to examine what an item is and whether or not the name of it is deceiving. How strange it is to buy a can of pop and find that it is two inches shorter than cans in the US. Even the McDonald’s Mcflurry is significantly shorter in packaging and I thought they had been used as a business example of standardization! I’m enjoying the fact that I can buy the things I need, and I get a laugh every time something has an entirely different name from what I am used to.

It really is amazing to me how similar, yet very different, two cultures can be. Ireland has embraced a lot of American television, such as Friends, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, and even Frasier, but there is an equal presence of the UK as well. This can be found in the UK Mtv shows that copy Laguna beach, the reality show Dirty Cows and the day time soap, Hollyoak, all of which us international students have become addicted to! Even the Nickelodeon channel has a mixture of UK and American cartoons. I’ve even noticed that some of the commercials are the same as in the US, but with a overlapping audio track of British voices. This has made it almost a seamless transition for me and I feel more and more comfortable here everyday.

Side story, one night while I sat at the bus stop, four Irish boys came up to me and started talking to me and were shocked that I didn’t know anything about Irish tv shows because they were sure their channels were as common to Americans as ours are to them. They also couldn’t believe that Seattle Grace from Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t a real hospital in Seattle. I was sorry to burst that bubble for them….

So all in all, the differences in Irish culture seem to be diminishing the longer I am exposed to them. It all goes to show that we are more alike than we believe. What an experience it will be to return to Seattle after a year in a place that already feels like home