Moving to Ireland for an 11-week internship experience with lots of adventures around the island was the best decision I have ever made, despite feeling heavy hearted to leave my loved ones behind. I had tons of fun and gained heaps of knowledge. I knew I did not regret taking such a big decision almost a year ago when I rejected a local internship offer. Of course, this involved a rollercoaster of emotions and patience but most importantly, I had the opportunity to observe and learn about a new culture.
Due to the fact that it has a long history on monastery sites during the golden age, Ireland is known as the ‘land of saints and scholars.’ The Irish culture is unique in its own way.
The Irish Humor!
One of the first things I realized about the difference between Malaysian and Irish culture is wittiness and humor. Malaysians typically joke around with their closed ones, unlike Irish people who can joke around with strangers without anyone feeling offended. One day, I was buying a card from Spar at the place where I worked at, the cashier played around with me by not letting me take out my bank notes from my purse. I did not realize it was a joke until I looked at him and he was giggling. My top employer too, teased me when he thought I sailed from Indonesia instead of Malaysia.
Next, Irish or Dubliners, in general, prefer to take public transport rather than driving unless they live far from the city center. On the other hand, Malaysians prefer driving our own cars with public transport being the second option, regardless where we live.
(Walking means you can explore castles!!)
Malaysians would say ‘okay’ or ‘alright’ after they understand a topic, or ‘Everything will be alright,’ Irish would say ‘grand’ or ‘Everything will be grand.’
Malaysians address customers as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, Irish addresses their customers as ‘love’ or ‘darling.’
In addition, Irish people are full of praises. Even when it is a small achievement, they would say, ‘Excellent!’ ‘Brilliant work!’ ‘Perfect!’ Unlike Malaysians, we only praise one another when it is a big achievement.
Malaysians say ‘thank you’ or ‘terima kasih’ in Bahasa – a lot but not ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ which are being said for almost everything and all the time in the Emerald Isle.
Your Health is Your Wealth in Ireland
In Malaysia, we work like there is no tomorrow or in other words, ‘work comes first before health’. In Ireland, it is the other way round, ‘health comes first before work.’ Even if it means you have a very light fever, you’ll be sent home immediately.
(Howth is a lovely place to unwind- plenty of fresh air!)
Food and Social Time
Rice is our staple food in Malaysia whereas potatoes are the staple food of Irish. Hence, why you’ll be able to buy 1 kilogram of potatoes at €1.
Malaysians love spending weekends at shopping malls ( an exceptional case for myself :D) and our shopping malls close at 10pm every day. On top of that, one can also easily spot a person with sunglasses even at the malls! Shopping streets or malls in Ireland generally close between 6pm to 7pm and even though the Sun is shining brightly, it is pretty rare to spot someone with sunglasses.
Random Fact: There are only 11 toll roads or motorways in Ireland. In Malaysia, there are 33 highways or expressways with toll points. Even so, our government is planning for more toll roads!
Unique to Ireland
You can hear Irish music almost everywhere you go including souvenir shops and on tour coaches, whereas Malaysian music is only being played at certain places or occasions like museums, temples or during weddings and local concerts.
(The amazing Cliffs of Moher)
At home, we love our beautiful sandy beaches, Petronas Twin Towers, and Mount Kinabalu. While the Irish love their green scenery, sheep, and Cliffs of Moher. We have 7Eleven and Mydin all over the country while there are Subway and Spar everywhere in Ireland. Pubs are the norms and hang out spots in Ireland while Indian restaurants or what we called as ‘Mamak’ are our normal hang out spots in Malaysia.
In terms of time keeping, both Malaysians and Irish are somewhat very relaxed about it. For example, when someone arranges a meeting to commence at 8am, this normally mean 8:15am or even an hour later for Malaysians.
Ireland: A Truly Amazing Experience
All in all, my time in Ireland was craic! I wouldn’t want to trade the experience with anything else. I have definitely missed hearing people say ‘grand’ at all times, on top of striking a conversation with strangers on the streets. If I were given a chance to return to Ireland for either a holiday or even a job offer, without any doubt I’d say YES.