Home Ireland Ireland and United States: 4 Ways They’re Different

Ireland and United States: 4 Ways They’re Different

by Allison Waymire
irish countryside and castle


First off, Daylight Savings is on March 27th in Ireland, not today like in the Untied States. Spring Break is called Easter Break here and starts the Monday before Easter. Easter Monday is a holiday celebrated in Ireland where students don’t have to go to school.

School System

The school system has been the hardest thing to get accustomed to. The schedules are the same but the way you earn your grade is vastly different. In the US, there are tests throughout the semester ending with a final at the end. Most classes will have part of your grade based on attendance to class and/or labs. Then there is usually a project or a paper that will also contribute. So your final grade would look something like this:

  • Tests: 60% of final grade
  • Final exam: 20% of final grade
  • Paper/Project: 15% of final grade
  • Attendance: 5% of final grade

In Ireland, your final exam is at least 60% of your grade. In my ethics class, attendance was 10% of my final grade and the one test we had, which was our final, was worth 90%. In my psychology class, I wrote a paper that was worth 40% of my grade and then the other 60% was the final exam.

Words and Phrases

The way people speak in Ireland is very different than the words and phrases people use in the United States.

Example 1: “I bought a gallon of milk for only $1!”

  • American response: “No way!” or“That’s awesome!”
  • Irish response: “Go away!” or “That’s grand!” or “That’s class!”

Example 2: You walk into Subway and you want a turkey club on wheat bread.

  • American: “I would like a turkey club on wheat bread, please.”
  • Irish: “I would like a turkey club on brown bread.”

Example 3: Let’s talk about candy for a moment.

  • American word: Candy.
  • Irish word (and pretty much English speaking Europe word): Sweets.

A Milky Way candy bar in the United States is called a Mars Bar in Ireland. An American 3 Musketeers candy bar is called an Irish Milky Way. There is nothing to my knowledge called a 3 Musketeers in Ireland. So once I am done with my Mars bar, the wrapper is now rubbish (Irish form, and like I said earlier pretty much the rest of English speaking Europe, of trash).

The word “thirty” here is pronounced way differently and if you say it like an American, you will get laughed at. I know this because it happened to me. Obviously words are said differently here because of the accent but this word is special. I haven’t gotten laughed at for saying any other word. Yes, I said trash instead of rubbish and that was funny but those are two different words. Americans pronounce the number “30” this way: therdee. The Irish say it: tur (like ‘turn’ without the ‘n’ at the end)–tea (like the hot beverage): tur-tea. It rhymes with turkey. Just change the key to tea and — ta-da! — you have the Irish pronunciation of thirty. The Irish didn’t appreciate my “th” sound.

Last one and then I will move on. You have just chugged three bottles of water and now need to relieve yourself. In the United States, you “go to the bathroom.” In Ireland (and the majority of English-speaking Europe), you “use the toilet.” Restroom, I have found out, is used by both countries. So if you want to be safe, just say restroom and you will be fine no matter where you are.


In my opinion, Ireland is a very eco-friendly county. Every house has a recycling bin. You will find recycling bins all over the campus, too. I’ve learned that isn’t not only an Ireland thing, it’s a Europe thing. I got judged pretty harshly once when I said we don’t recycle in my house. Whoops.

Since heat is expensive here, the heat gets turned off during certain parts of the day. The house I live in has hot water and heat coming out of the radiator from 6-9 AM and 6-9 PM. So if you lose track of time and it’s 10 pm, you get to enjoy a nice cold shower. I sleep with two layers of clothes and two blankets on my bed. If I sleep with only my Cuddl Duds on, I get cold, but if I layer my sheep pajama shirt with it, I’m good.

This content was contributed by AIFS Alumni Ambassador, Allison Waymire, who studied abroad with AIFS in Limerick, Ireland

Cultural Differences Between Ireland and the United States | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in Limerick, Ireland
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