Recently my life has been rather Irish-heavy. They’ve lived two doors down for a few months now. My roommate talked to them briefly once in a while, but I didn’t really know them. One particularly boisterous one was more outgoing and made friends with my roommate. He was drunk every time I met him, and therefore a fun chap. He came over once or twice, and then I got to know the Irish after my roommate and I attended a large party on the apartment building’s roof hosted by the Irish.
The Irish are around 3 guys and 4 girls who live in a 2-bedroom apartment. Apparently in Ireland it’s really easy to get a visa to the US, so they all come here for the summer for laughs. And it’s a lot of them, not just a few of them. A sufficient number that a good chunk of their social group can come over with little difficulty. They only frequent a few spots in the US, the major cities held as the brightest gems in the crown of Americana – San Francisco and Huntington Beach on the west coast, New York City, Chicago, and Boston further east. Choice is mostly arbitrary, and they take road trips and plane flights from one place to another, so they’ll have visited most of these places before they return to Ireland.
I can’t help but feel that the European geography lends to self-reliance. It’s all sufficiently close together that plane tickets are peanuts, so even university students can be well-travelled. With such a wide diversity of travel available, you’d have to be a member of the BNP to hunker down in your own country. And going to other countries relying on youth hostels and your own personal moxie builds character. Comparatively, the US is much larger and doesn’t have the same concentration of hostels, making travelling for students a financial burden.
The party. The Irish invited a bunch of their friends over – other Irish they knew back home, all from County Cork. I’ve documented it all in another medium, but this party was how I became familiar with the rest of the Irish crew.
The guys included the boisterous one, the quiet one, and the one who looked like a parakeet. I didn’t get to know them very well, because they returned early to Ireland. The four girls featured the scary one, the quiet one, the one who could do a really awesome valley girl accent, and the one who looked extremely Irish. A bit later, another crew of Irish people moved in to replace the guys who left. They came from San Francisco and hastily departed their local habitation because some of that crew had left and the remainder couldn’t pay the rent. Their deposit was forfeit anyway, since they apparently subjected their apartment to all sorts of horror while drunk (like throwing trash everywhere, carving their names into a door, breaking household appliances).
Anyway, my roommate likes to be nice, so he made them quiche (pretty bad quiche where the filling separated and cooked into layers, it was more like an egg mcmuffin). Then they made Irish stew (a bit bland, but its faults were easily correctable. Then we made risotto, and they made… something pretty generic. Beef, chicken, and bell pepper roasted together. Anyway, we were going out night after night. My roommate had spent every night of the past month drunk. We were both taking classes, but a getting B+ in calculus is an acceptable tradeoff for meeting interesting people. I have low expectations when it comes to math (is this the last math I have to take? Yay!)
What’s amazing is that they’re actually interesting people! It might just be the cultural exchange, but I’m not sure that’s it. It’s like they’re all cultured. I know it could be an in-group/out-group thing. That’s certainly a portion of it. Maybe part of the dynamic is that I am relatively cultured and I’m able to talk about cultural stuff of most cultures in the world which is always interesting but the same exchange isn’t readily available with people who’ve had the same general cultural experiences as yourself.
So, we went out. We went out to bars. Over here, the dorms are mostly on the south side of campus, and the really crappy bars are there as well. The kind of bars where the floors are sticky, and the lower half of the IQ curve attend nightly to be sardine-packed into a dimly lit urban cavern, jostling among girls who clearly can’t pull off what they’re wearing and guys who eat pudding as a hobby. In these places, it takes all of my energy just to stand in one place, let alone partake in any kind of activity. I’m uncomfortable when I’m out of place.
My last night, we went to a bar that I hadn’t been to on the south side. It was complete garbage, and I had the horrors. “Having a laugh” means that you’re having a good time and “having the horrors” means that you’re having a bad time, with some ineffable nuance. So I walked around campus by myself.
In the end I think the real measure value isn’t cultural, although that might give bonus points to the affair. For every Irish person I met who I genuinely liked, I was lukewarm about two or three.