I am currently studying at the University of Limerick in Ireland. The town of Limerick has something called the Milk Market every Saturday morning. It is a local market where people sell everything from fruits to flowers. All the produce is fresh and it is a great way to spend the morning.
One Saturday in particular I headed to the Milk Market with some friends to pick up some local favorites. By the time I got there the market was already closing down so we ducked into a local cheese shop across the street. The shop was adorable and the owner was very helpful. I was indecisive as usual and ordered a coffee as I made up my mind.
A middle-aged man strolled up to my two friends and me and asked where we were from. (I am guessing it was the accents) After some small talk, he invited us to come sit with his group. Every Friday this man, named Joe, and his friends meet up for cheese, coffee and practicing the Gaelic language. Everyone in Ireland speaks English, but technically the language of the country is Gaelic. He told us about traditional Irish greetings and about places in Ireland that we needed to visit. Then Joe and his friends gave us free packets with a couple Gaelic phrases to learn. Here are a few of my favorites:
Dia Duit! – Hello!
Cupan Tae – A cup of tea
Bainne – Milk
Pratai – Potatoes
Then the owner of the cheese shop came over with a little plate. It was filled with a myriad of cheese slices, chorizo and fresh olives. She told me to try all of them and then decide what to get. We munched on the cheeses and finally I ordered a second plate with my favorites from the first.
Now I go back to Marie’s cheese shop in town as much as I can on the weekends. The owner calls me “her American” and always has my cheese plate ready when I come through the door. My love for the place was so great that I started bringing friends and even my family when they visited.
It is great to make connections like this because you feel more at home. All of your surroundings are so different from University of Alabama. It is like starting over as a freshman again, navigating the campus, making new friends and learning the best places to go. Finding a place that is so welcoming was a blessing. I hope to go a couple more times before I return home!