Since the start of my journey here in Ireland, I have noticed a significant difference between America’s energy conservation and Ireland’s. The first thing I noticed is how everywhere in Ireland I have been to so far, they are big on conserving energy. Everyone here is so conscious to monitor energy used, for example not putting on more lights than necessary and always turning off lights when you are done to be aware of how much energy they are using. Back in America, I find that the average person does not care about how much energy they are wasting and people do not care how much energy they are going through. Ireland has more eco-friendly ways for their sources of energy.
In the states we use oil, for example, to heat our homes. Oil is expensive and very bad for the environment. Here in Ireland people are able to heat their homes right from their own backyard. Farmers for example can find an Earth substance called peat in which they dig right from the ground. Once the peat is dug up from the ground it is laid out to dry up in the sun. After the peat dries up, it is then used to burn and heat homes. Another source of energy is burning wood like they do at the ecovillage in Cloughjordan. Instead of using oil like we do in America, burning wood for heat is kinder on the environment.
Another big difference I noticed is wind turbines that you can easily find in the countryside of Ireland. Wind turbines is a source of energy that America is trying to get on board with but is not yet as heavily populated as Ireland. Wind turbines are a great source of energy and Ireland acknowledges that and has put many into place. Overall, it is clear that Ireland puts their best foot forward when trying to conserve energy and create energy in the best ways.
When spending my time in the eco-village in Cloughjordan, I became conscious of just how much water is a crucial component to our everyday lives. We bathe with it, drink it, and use it for washing things and before this trip I took water for granted. Most people are used to taking excessive showers at home and just enjoying the luxury of a long, hot shower. In America, it is commonly seen that we sometimes forget to turn the faucet off when brushing teeth or washing your face and hands. People in America tend to pour perfectly good water down the drain and wasting water multiple times a day. I never realized how thankful I was for water until now.
Our first stop on the trip was the eco-village. The eco-village is very impressive with their conservation efforts and water preservation acts. In the hostel and community, the whole village does its best to reduce water usage. The first difference I noticed was the showers that have timers and turn off every 15 or so seconds. This adjustment may be difficult for people in America because as I said before, we are used to the luxury of long showers. The purpose of timed showers is to be conscious of the water and when you need it, for example you do not need the water to be turned on as you are scrubbing your hair, only when you are rinsing it. The next difference I noticed was the sinks as they turn off every few seconds as well. If more people in America had timed showers, it would make people more conscious to be quick when rinsing hands or brushing teeth. Not keeping the faucet on for longer than necessary means you are being more aware of how much water doesn’t actually need to be used. There were no plastic water bottles, also harmful to the environment, so I was very aware and cautious about conserving the water I poured into my reusable water bottle. I did not waste any water and only refilled the water when I was finished with the whole bottle. Lastly, the strategies eco-village has to washing dishes are extremely eco-friendly when it comes to conserving water. Instead of keeping the water running like I normally used to do at home, the sink was filled with water and that water was used to wash all the dishes.
It has not even been a full week since I have been in Ireland and I already came to a confident consensus that Ireland is intensely more environmentally friendly and impose conservation efforts and actions daily. The people and country are aware of their footprint on this planet and remain conscious of their water usage every day.
Before coming to Ireland, I was very concerned about foods I was going to eat here since I am a vegetarian. I had this preconceived idea in my head that all people ate here was corned beef or beef stew. I actually thought that the only foods I would be able to eat were potatoes for every meal. To my surprise, the stereotypes in my head were proved wrong the day I arrived in Ireland. My friend Bailey and I arrived a day early so we had time to explore and our first meal was lunch at a sandwich shop. I was able to eat a mozzarella, tomato, and pesto sandwich that I very much enjoyed. Breakfast foods here are the easiest since our most common breakfast meals have been toast and cereal. For lunch and dinners I was served a whole array of different foods such as: soups, pastas, salads, sandwiches, veggies, and quiches.
Food here in Ireland is certainly different than what I am used to back in America. Back home, we are given so many different options of food. You could see Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Thai restaurants all on one block and a lot of options to choose from. When looking for restaurants here in Ireland, the foods I have seen so far have stuck to the same agenda. For lunch it is common to see soups and sandwiches and then for dinner it is common to see potatoes, beef, chicken, pork, and salmon dishes. Common desserts that I have seen include apple crisp and brownies, all common in America as well.
Service with the food is very different to me as well. The food you order here in Ireland comes out extremely fast, versus America where your food takes you a very long time. You can also tell they really value their food here and want you to enjoy and finish your whole meal. Back in the states they serve large portions and seem to not even care if you finish it or not. The food also tastes different in a pleasant way. Irish food tastes fresh and healthy while American food tastes processed, salty, and reheated. So many people here also grow their own fruits and vegetables and the food here is prided in being fresh and healthy. Even how meats are prepared in Ireland surpasses how American’s handle meat. America steps away from farms and switches to factories, holding animals in small cages and using antibiotics and hormones. Animals here roam freely and eat healthy grass and live healthy lives. Overall, it is clear to me that Ireland truly cares about the food they grow and serve and cherish every meal that comes their way.
Community makes up a large portion of our daily lives. Community is always around us and can shed a positive or negative light on our environments, personal living, and happiness. Community shapes who we are as a person. Communities also vary based on your location. Throughout my trip I had been mainly exposed to country communities and the people there. I was able to witness a city community for a night as well.
The city community was very much as well what I expected. It was crowded, loud, and chaotic. The group of students and I ventured off at night into the city and got to experience it first hand. To my surprise, I actually witnessed a large street fight between 20 to 25 men around the ages of twenty years old. The fight was violent and one Irish native saw me watching and came over to talk to me and some other students. He expressed to us that this type of behavior normally never happens in Westport and this was the first street fight he had seen in a very long time. This proved to me that even though we were in a city community, that the city was still normally kept peaceful the majority of the time and people were shocked to see this fight happening in their community.
The rest of the trip being in the country, I noticed communities are very calmed, kind, and welcoming. In towns, everyone seems to know everyone. People will walk down the street to their local pub and have a drink with all their neighbors and friends in town. For the most part, everyone is always smiling and wanting to talk to anyone who comes in. Everywhere you walk you see a smiling face and a loud hello, it makes you feel good about where you are. Overall it is clear that the communities are portrayed as positive from the majority of my experiences.
Habitats are all around us. They make up living environments and can determine our overall living conditions and life. When focusing specifically on animals, animal habitats cover the world yet not all are the same. One specific area I have really taken a focus to while in Ireland is animals, their environments, and their living conditions. I came to Ireland only really knowing what “farms” are in America. I did not actually think that healthy, thriving farms and habitats existed for animals anymore these days. In America, farms are factories. Animals are kept in small metal cages and kept in horrid, unhealthy living conditions. Some animals, like chickens for example, may never see the sunlight a single day in their lives. This is how America sets up habitats for farm animals and it is inhumane and cruel. I always had this negative image about farms in my head, until Ireland.
Farms are everywhere here in Ireland. I see habitats for mainly cows and sheep and every time we have passed a farm, the land goes on for hundreds of acres with the animals roaming freely across the land. When I visited Killary Sheep Farm, I was extremely impressed with the life and habitat these farmers created for the sheep. The sheep at this farm roam 500 acres freely. The farmers walk the land every morning to make sure the sheep are healthy and okay. They are fed fields of green plentiful grass and even corn mixtures sometimes when they need it. These animals have healthy and thriving habitats; it is the way life should be for these animals.
I believe America should take a hard look at the habitats Ireland provides for their animals versus the habitats we provide for our animals in the states. I think humanity sometimes forgets that this Earth was created to support all living things and land is meant for animals too. They don’t belong in unhealthy, unnatural habitats.
The following is a work of fiction based on recent events and experiences in Ireland.
I had the craziest thing happen to me this week and I could not wait to sit down to write you this letter and tell you all about it. It all started earlier this week on Wednesday, I was having a normal day on my farm taking care of the horses and cows doing my daily chores. I stopped for a break at lunchtime like I normally do and then after my meal, I went out to the yard to have Lily herd the cows in for milking. As I call for Lily and walk to the fields, I notice all of my cows are missing. I was in a full-blown panic as I ran around the fields trying to figure out what had happened until I saw it- the front gate to the road broke and had opened letting out all of my cows. I run inside and immediately dial up all of my nearby neighbors to warn them my herd of cows has gotten loose. One of my neighbors to pick up the phone, Debby, told me that they were right near her house stopping traffic as people could not go around the large herd of cows in the road.
I dial up the local police to have them come and help the problem at hand and my neighbor Debby thankfully came out and helped me. She took her sheep dog Benny and I took mine, Lily, and it took us almost an hour for both dogs to herd the cows back to my field. The total time for the cows to reach home again should have been a seven-minute walk but since things took awhile to get sorted, the walk leading back seemed to be an endless line of slow cows. It took traffic that hour entirely to get going again because there were so many cows in the road. I was mortified and all I could think was wow I am going to be the talk of the town this week! As the last cow walks through the gate I hear my phone ringing. I run inside to grab the call and it is Debby telling me that five cows broke from the herd and were even farther down the road now. I had to start the entire process all over again just to get my five cows home that strayed away!
I was so embarrassed and so overwhelmed trying to get all of my cow’s home again. The first thing I did when every cow was back and counted for was I immediately got my tools and fixed the fence so this issue would never happen again. I wish you were there to see this all happen, you would have died! I miss you, you need to come back to the country and visit the farm and myself soon.
Below are some photos of my views. I hope all is well, tell the family I say hello.
Before entering my freshman year of college, I had a change of heart where I decided I was not going to be happy pursuing my current registered major, Marine Biology. I knew the best thing for myself would be to focus on a major that would make me happy, successful, and focus on my strengths. I chose Communication and Media Studies because I knew I loved writing and have a creative mind and it is my creativity and life experiences that help me within my major every day. When I sit down to write, I focus on all of the thoughts and feelings running through my head. Every time before I have had a paper due thus far in my Communication major, I wait until inspiration hits me before I start writing. I will go for a drive, take a walk outside, or talk to people in my life and try and grasp creativity within me. My major, personality, and life experiences all go hand in hand for me. I believe I resemble journey’s that have been taken, lessons learned, happiness, and creativity, which help me to gain inspiration for all assignments, papers, and projects I am assigned in school. I dig deep and am dedicated to not only the tasks required for my major, but with every task in life. I learn more about myself every day and know I strive to be the best person I can be and make the absolute most of my life.
The paths I have gone down in my three years of college thus far have really surprised me. I used to be a shy person who was comfortable blending in the background. College has given me the courage to find myself and become who I really am. I have broken out of my shell and become an entirely different person since starting college taking on many leadership work positions, public speaking, and making myself known in a crowd. I feel proud of the choices I have made knowing that they have made me thrilled with the path I have chosen. A common theme I see within myself is strength. I find the strength to persevere, the strength to keep moving forward, the strength to keep life happy and joyful, and the strength to live the best life while always remembering my journey.