It is no secret that many American college students binge drink. Since the drinking age is 21 in the U.S. kids tend to go a little crazy when they’re on their own for the first time and take it too far. I’d always heard that Europeans were much calmer when it came to alcohol because they’re allowed to drink at a younger age and its just not a big deal for them. Whoever said that had obviously never been to Ireland.
A few weeks ago there was what is known as “R&G” week, or RAG week. It stands for Raise and Give; the university puts on a bunch of events to raise money for charities but it has somehow turned into a week long booze fest. Its something like spring weekend at UConn but to the tenth power. It was literally the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. There were just drunk people EVERYWHERE. All the time. One night when I was walking in the opposite direction of the bars (because I am a good girl and would never go to a bar, mom) and I was swimming against a current of stumbling, screaming, rowdy drunk kids. I passed a man standing on a barrier-type thing in his front yard wearing only a bathrobe, holding a pint, and conducting a chorus of strangers in an Irish song on a SUNDAY night. Out of control.
There was a lot of build up around RAG week so we were all pretty excited. We geared up with a selection of the classiest of 4 euro wines that Cork has to offer and prepared for mayhem. On Monday Marlene and her roommates threw a Valentine’s day party complete with some wholesome fuzzy red handcuffs. I ended up handcuffed to her roommate Edel and we walked around Cork for a while as a pair until they eventually broke and became fuzzy red bracelets. Tuesday I went to a party where I’m pretty sure I was the only American (always a good conversation starter) and didn’t really know anyone. Still had a grand time, though. I became a grandma after that and stayed in my room for the next two days, but it was still a lot of fun. I tried to make it to some of the on-campus events but they were just too crowded. In one of the on-campus bars they were doing a UCC version of Take Me Out (my aforementioned FAVORITE Irish show) but the line snaked down the stairs and outside so that got squashed. Instead, Chrissy, Julia, and I decided to splurge and try fish & chips. It was actually pretty good! I absolutely HATE seafood but I tried it anyway and was pleasantly surprised. I decided I’m not going to let my picky tastebuds hold me back from cultural experiences…except for the whole black and white pudding nonsense, I’m fine with watching other people eat that. Actually no, I’m not. That’s just gross. Anyway, back to RAG week. It was a lot of fun, I met a lot of new people, did fun stuff, went new places. I’m glad its not every week, though. It was a little intense for me but I’m glad we all got to experience it.
Apologies to my family reading this because there is a lot of mention of alochol, but I haven’t really mentioned it and its definitely a part of the culture here. And since the drinking age is 18 in Ireland its perfectly legal! Plus I’m uber responsible, so no worries, ‘rents. But while I’m on the topic I’ll tell ye about the Jameson Distillery.
The Jameson Distllery is in Middleton, not too far from Cork. I know zilch about inner workings of whiskey making but I’m always up for learning about things that will get you far in life. The tour of the distillery was pretty cool. Our tour guide was French which I thought was a little odd and took away from the Irishness of it all but whatever, she knew her stuff. We learned all about the differences between Jameson and other types of whiskey and the aging process of whiskey and tons of other stuff. It was actually really interesting. There are so many things that go into making the flavor of the whiskey perfect. The type of wood they use for the barrels its stored in, how long its in the barrel for (I think its a minimum of three years), how many times its distilled, and a bunch of other stuff. In the U.S. there is a law that whiskey has to be stored in brand new barrels (of course..Americans pshh) but the Irish re-use barrels to give the whiskey more flavor..no wait, flavour. And Jameson whiskey is distilled three times whereas scotch whiskey or Jack Daniels is only distilled once or twice. At the end of the tour our tour guide asked for volunteers to taste different types of whiskey and compare them. Chrissy, Marlene, and I all got picked and Julia took pictures. We got to try a little less than a shot’s worth of Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker Black Label, and of course, Jameson and compare the flavors. As we were tasting them she was explaining all the details about the way they were made and I could actually taste the difference. I like Jameson the best, not only because they were giving me free whiskey, but it really was the best. After that they give everyone a free drink of Jameson. I was a badass and drank it straight.
I would add cool pictures to illustrate my exotic life but my computer is on the fritz and freaks out every time I plug in my camera or external hard drive, where all of my pictures are saved. Maybe later. Just creep my Facebook for now.