1st Blog: It’s all about mindset

The pandemic brings along a lot of changes, including, of course, traveling to a foreign country during this time. Many activities and events that were once considered commonplace are no longer allowed. There are restrictions in public places, but also in private life, such as seeing as many friends or family members as you want. However, there is one thing that remains like a constant in life. And that is the weather.

On the very first day of orientation I was delighted  to see that Irish people love to talk about the weather. The island is known for its rainy, wet, cloudy weather and mild temperatures. Thanks to the Irish Government, people are allowed to go outside to get some fresh air despite quarantine and Level 5 restrictions. And that’s what Irish and foreign residents do regardless of the current weather situation. When I think of my home country of Austria and the people there, myself included, and what we do and feel on a rainy day, I can't think of many things. Most of the time I want to stay at home, snuggled up in my blanket with a cup of tea in my hands. My feelings range from unmotivated and lazy to angry because I can't get myself up to do anything - whether it's outside or in the house. When I think about Ireland now, I definitely want to make the most of my time here, no matter what the weather is like. And that includes getting out and exploring the countryside and the city. So when I went out for the first time here in Galway, of course I wore a rain jacket, thermal tights under my jeans, and a warm cap. The air felt like 3°C. However, I enjoyed my walk along the riverside because I was prepared in terms of my clothing. Then I saw a man jogging along the same path - and had to look twice. Were my eyes deceiving me? I glanced at his clothes and couldn't believe it. The man was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and running shoes. That was it. I kept walking, thinking maybe this is just a crazy person. Who else wears shorts in January when the temperature drops close to zero? But then I realized that it was not the only person. The majority of joggers and even some walkers wore short clothes. And if you thought that was the only thing that impressed me about Galway, it's not. There are even people jumping into the sea and swimming their laps. This seems to be quite a common thing in Galway.

When I looked for reasons for this behaviour, the first thing that came to my mind was that the people of Ireland must obviously have a different sense of temperature. Since the ratio of rainy days to days without rain is fairly equal throughout the year, I imagine that they are used to it and therefore their bodies are already hardened to it. Also, I’m used from home having four seasons. It's very warm in the summer and very cold in the winter. Here in Ireland, the seasons seem to blur, so the temperatures don't fluctuate as much. Even when the sun is shining, it's not very warm. Furthermore, I believe that the Irish people are positive people. Because even though they know it's raining, they seize the day and make the best out of it. While in Austria I sink into boredom and laziness, the people here in Ireland manage to pick themselves up and continue their daily routine despite the weather. These are probably all plausible explanations for why it’s so normal in Ireland to go running in short clothes on a rainy day and to swim in the sea in January. Although it was a strange and new situation for me at first, I have to admit that I like this attitude. I like to go outside no matter if it's raining, cloudy, windy or foggy. That's why I’ve started to go for a walk or run or a bike ride every day. However, I still wear warm clothes, I'm not that hardened yet. I also really want to enjoy the cold sea water, but I think I'll wait a few months before doing that, keeping in mind, of course, that it won't be much warmer then. When I reflect on myself now, I realize that the Irish people's favourite activity mentioned at the beginning, namely talking about the weather, has also reached me. But it simply determines a large part of everyday life here. By the way, there’s a saying that the Irish people use to say: It never rains in a pub. Hopefully I’ll also be able to adopt this in the next few months.

Miriam Berchtel Galway, Ireland 02/17/2021