Apparently I’ve changed a bit since my first year of uni.
In first year, I went to all the events, did all of the orientation things, you know. First year stuff.
I’m now half way through my third year of uni, and I’ve been to precisely two orientation events.
The first orientation lecture, which was mostly useless, and the International Students’ reception. It had snacks, I was running low on food.
I decided not to go to the second orientation lecture because it was about adjusting to the culture, and call me cocky, but I’d prefer to figure that one out by trial and error, especially the slang terms. It just seems like cheating to get that at a lecture. I didn’t go to the meet-your-student-mentors thing mainly because it was based around a campus tour (I’ve already familiarised myself with the campus; I’ve been here a week) and carried a high risk of bonding exercises (which I am way too socially awkward for).
What I did go to, gladly, was the societies booths. My technique here also differed from first year.
I’m still getting e-mails from societies I signed up for in first year, but then never went to any meetings or events for. I think I will continue to get those e-mails for the entirety of the foreseeable future. So I tried to plan ahead.
This time, I did a lap of the stalls first, to see who I really wanted to be talking to, and then went to the two stalls that caught my eye.
The first was the International Students’ Society. Straightforward, sign the thing, pay some money, go online when I get home and such.
The second was the Irish society. Language nerd’s dream. I was addressed in Irish, which was entirely confusing, but I managed to find my way to sign on.
So, my plans for the evening were set. I was to attend a “ceili” and then go on a pub crawl.
Knowing what you know about me, either in person or from earlier posts about adjusting to find my way around places, you can probably tell what happened next.
If you guessed standing in the rain near the front gate of the uni, watching all the soaking volunteers packing up stalls, searching for someone with the right T-shirt with increasing desperation, well done. Not only that, but since the flyer I was given was written in Irish, I had absolutely no clue where to go.
I eventually found someone with the right T-shirt, who led behind the building, up two flights of stairs, and into the Seomra Gaeilge. Because I totally would have guessed how to find that on my own. Yes.
I was greeted entirely in Irish. So, I understand what “Failte Isteach” means – welcome in, basically – but from there on in, I was utterly lost. It took me about three sentences spoken to me and a minute of deer-in-the-headlights, rabbit-smells-a-fox staring before I managed to get out the sentence “Sorry, I’m only just starting to learn.”
I expected this to have created one of the most intensely awkward situations possible.
I was so not prepared for the reaction I got.
It was like I’d announced I’d bought a house and everyone was invited for dinner.
I got quizzed on the little Irish I did know, and then reassured that just hanging around people speaking would improve my language skills and comprehension. Very true. Definitely looking forward to hanging out with this group more often.
I found out what this particular ceili involved: Learning Irish dancing. It’s a lot like SCA dancing, with different base moves.
And I now know how to order a drink in Irish. So there’s that.