Name: Anna Snyder
Major: Creative Writing, Susquehanna University, PA
Hometown: Towson, Maryland
Destination: Dublin, Ireland
Institutions: University College Dublin (Undergrad Study Abroad)
National University of Ireland, Galway (Masters)
1. What brought you to Ireland?
Originally it was my dad’s suggestion that I study abroad in Ireland. He has some Irish heritage and had traveled there before, and I just wanted to study someplace where everybody spoke English.
2. What do you want travelers to learn from your experience in Ireland?
I think the best thing I learned from my experience in Ireland is that traveling can help you open up to new things and express yourself in a way your normal routines don’t allow you to. When you put yourself in a totally new environment and get out of your comfort zone, it forces you to learn things about yourself that you didn’t know were there. Ireland has a very spontaneous, outgoing, musical culture, so I was able to develop those aspects of myself in a way that I wouldn’t have if I’d stayed in one place.
4. Did Ireland meet your expectations?
I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I first went to Ireland, so in a way it was all new to me. One thing that did surprise me was how different the culture was from what I was used to growing up in the United States. It’s easy to assume that, because they speak English over there, it won’t be too different from living in America. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth – I traveled in Russia for the summer before I studied in Ireland, and I’d say Ireland is as different from the US as Russia is. So be prepared for some culture shock when you first arrive.
5. Name one traveler’s mistake that made you laugh.
There are plenty of differences between American English and Irish English. They use a lot of the same slang words as the UK does, one of which is the term “fancy dress,” which is their way of describing a costume party. I found this out on Halloween, when a friend of mine invited me out and told me to “come in fancy dress.” So of course I came in the fanciest dress I owned, thinking it was going to a formal event, and I showed up to a house filled with people dressed up like Superman, hockey players, and dinosaurs.
6. What advice would you offer to student travelers planning to write about their experience for personal or professional purposes?
The best advice I can give students hoping to write about their travel experiences is to keep a journal as often as you can. It will come in handy when you’re trying to remember what happened and where you went, and it can serve as a rough draft. It also helps to collect as many pamphlets, flyers, etc as you can from local landmarks or events, which can be used as resources in your writing later on. One more thing that comes in handy is to befriend locals – while it can be easier just to fall in with other American exchange students you meet, meeting kids who grew up in the area is the best way to get an insider’s look at what Ireland is really like. ( And of course, this goes for any other country you want to study in as well.)
Want to hear more about Anna Snyder’s adventures and her book 24 Hours Dublin? Interested in doing some of your own travel writing, but have a couple questions first? Stop by the Towson Ukazoo book store on Dulaney Valley Road. The date of the Q&A session will be Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 1 PM, and there should be tea and cookies for the event!