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OPINION: Cultural differences between Nigeria and Ireland

Photo by Layla Bird for iStock

Embarking on a journey to a new country is an exhilarating yet challenging experience, marked by a myriad of emotions ranging from excitement to apprehension and as a Nigerian in Ireland, I’ve encountered the phenomenon known as cultural shock first hand.

Stepping off the plane onto Irish soil, I was immediately struck by the crisp air and lush green landscapes that define this island nation. The bustling streets of Dublin, with their eclectic mix of old-world charm and modernity, felt both familiar and foreign. As I navigated the city streets, I couldn’t help but marvel at the vibrant tapestry of cultures and languages that coexist in this country of diversity.

One of the first hurdles I encountered as a Nigerian in Ireland was the nuances of language and communication. While English is the lingua franca in both countries, I quickly realized that Irish English had its own unique lexicon and cadence. From colloquialisms to accents, mastering the subtleties of communication took time and patience. Yet, with each conversation and interaction, I gained a deeper appreciation for the richness of language and the power of cross-cultural communication.

Navigating social norms and customs was another aspect of cultural shock that I grappled with in Ireland. From greetings to dining etiquette, I found myself constantly learning and adapting to unfamiliar cultural practices like always saying “Thank You” to the bus driver, calling my boss at work and adults thrice my age by their first names.

X user @unrandomdude expresses cultural shock

The Irish penchant for small talk and friendly banter took some getting used to, coming from a culture where directness and warmth are valued. Yet, beneath the surface, I discovered a shared humanity that transcended cultural differences, forging connections that bridged the gap between us.

Culture shocks in Ireland by Anita Nwalo via Youtube

As a Nigerian accustomed to the warmth and sunshine of the African climate, adjusting to Ireland’s temperamental weather was a significant challenge. The infamous Irish rain, with its relentless downpours and moody skies, often tested my resilience and adaptability. Yet, amidst the grey clouds and drizzle, I found beauty in the lush landscapes and dramatic seascapes that define Ireland’s natural beauty.

Sampling Irish cuisine was an adventure in itself, as I explored the culinary delights of this island nation. From hearty Irish stew to buttery soda bread and creamy Guinness, each dish told a story of Ireland’s rich agricultural heritage and maritime traditions. Yet, as a Nigerian accustomed to spicy flavors and bold aromas, I found myself craving the familiar tastes of home. Thankfully, Ireland’s multicultural food scene offered a welcome reprieve, with diverse culinary options from around the world.

Despite the challenges of cultural shock, my journey as a Nigerian in Ireland has been defined by moments of growth, resilience, and self-discovery. Through embracing the unfamiliar, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. I’ve forged friendships that transcend borders and cultures, finding solace in the warmth and hospitality of the Irish people. In Ireland, I’ve found a second home—a place where my roots may be different, but my spirit feels at peace.

As I reflect on my journey of cultural adaptation as a Nigerian in Ireland, I’m reminded of the transformative power of embracing the unknown. Cultural shock may be daunting, but it’s also an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. Embracing diversity and fostering understanding can bridge the divide between cultures, forging a more inclusive and harmonious world for generations to come.

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