I still need to get my computer situation together. I guess I assumed too much in thinking there would be Macs, running CC, readily available for university students. (Nice going St. Joe's; having all the high tech stuff!) In terms of photos, I have scouted a lot of good areas to shoot when the weather permits. Since my workflow has been on hold, due to the computer situation, I haven't been shooting as much. Unfortunately, I also think I am roughly three hours behind in terms of catching up on time zones.
But in any case, I have been loving it here so far! I went to a gym a ways down the road from where I live with some room mates. So that allowed for me to see more possible areas to shoot. Eyre Square seems to be a good place to shoot street photography. But I won't lie, Irish folk have a really intimidating demeanour. Coming from Philadelphia, that's saying something. The major difference is, once you open your mouth to an Irishman, he's likely to be personable and welcoming. Philadelphia --eh how do I put this gently? The City of Brotherly Love is more of a "f*** you" mentality; "What are you doing talking to me?" Sure it has a community feel to it, but that only exists between acquaintances, not random people. It's odd that a lot of Irish immigrants moved to Philadelphia throughout the 18th century (and obviously later). The Irish hardened, outward appearance turned into something more while assimilating into the "blue-collar" American that resides now in Philadelphia. Galway is fascinating in terms of displaying the hierarchies of the Irish workforce. Obviously, it attracts a lot of commuters as any "city" might. But there are some observations I have made that certainly differ than the good ole American (Protestant) work ethic.
For starters, the hours on restaurants and shops don't indicate a 40 hour work week. With the high prices for drinks, which is obviously a major factor in the Irish social sphere, it is odd that all the social classes seem to go out. I don't know what minimum wage is here, or how the welfare system works, (though I am taking classes on that!) But the work week just strikes as me as unbalanced when compared to the degree people entertain a social life. Galway is the "big city." So I guess to some degree, in comparison, people would go into Philadelphia, aware that they are going to pay more to socialize.
But on the other hand, the cost of living doesn't seem to be incredibly high. In terms of housing and food, the prices are lower than back home. Not only that, there definitely seems to be missing classes on the social hierarchy ladder. To be clear, I think that Ireland's scale ranges from low-working class to professionals (or a a lower end upper class) while America clearly has that 1% and sliding scale below it. I don't know if I just haven't seen the wealthier parts of Ireland, but I am assuming that an island cannot have as many huge estates as America's 1% can have.
It must have something to do with status. Irish people, at least in Galway, don't measure status the same way we do. Sure, there is style, which is maybe more of a "thing" the urban community partakes in here. And yes, people spend a considerable amount at pubs. But it's not really for show. In the back of my mind, I have large, multimillion dollar estates embedded in the category of non-utilitarian properties. Ugly, brick, six bedroom houses for a family of four. That can't be for utility's sake; that's just status (i.e. gluttony). Cars are another example of this. There are nice European brands here. But why was there a Mercedes taxi on the street? Isn't that what daddy's little girl drives back in America?
Getting to know the architecture here, I can see that there are wealthier neighbourhoods outside of the city limits. Yet somehow, every class seems to enter the city for the pub scene. The fashion fads here are difficult to discern. There's a lot of make up, which to me, makes the female population look a little monotonous. The male situation isn't much better. Maybe a peacoat signals for classy? Who knows?
Hope no one was offended by my mental meanderings...All I can say is that Ireland is still frustratingly foreign. By that I simply mean that so much seems the same on the surface. But if you pay attention to some of the details, you can't easily put your finger on the differences that you know that are there. So I just jot my observations and reflections with no intention but to try and make some sense of it all.