So this post is prompted by my exam this evening, which requires me to answer this exact question. However I thought it was interesting enough that it could warrant a good post while I sketch out some ideas for this exam.
What can Ireland learn from America?
- Storm Water Drainage: For a country that is known for rain, you think it would be better at managing it. Sure campus has part of the main sidewalk covered with concrete pavilions, but the water comes at you from every other side. Most importantly, the water has no place to flow to. As a result the paths and streets of this country are often flooded. My teammates were once very later for a presentation we had to give because their buses got stuck in traffic caused by the roads being flooded. It took them over two hours to get to campus from somewhere that was a half hour walk. In reply to this point, people often say Ireland is old, but I always point out that they have a modern infrastructure, so where is the storm-water system?
- Healthcare: I have been to multiple doctors while I have been here and so have some of my friends. Apparently people are more accident prone when they are in a foreign country. Anyhow, Ireland has a strange medical system that has both a private and a public dynamic. This mixed system seems like it could be good in theory, but from personal experience it is much worse than the healthcare that can be received in America. Seriously, I went in for an ear infection and the doctor pulled it up on Web MD. Also how the order of medical care goes is if you feel sick you first go to your local pharmacy and ask them for your opinion. If they advise or you’re sick you go to a clinic, which is similar to going to a general practitioner or a Minute Clinic in the States. And if they determine you need to your last visit up the ladder is to the hospital where they will somehow figure out how to deal with you. From what I have heard from friends the hospital is the place you want to avoid because it is slow and inefficient.
What can America learn from Ireland?
- Third Places: Dublin county has 751 pubs and 2500 cafes, which is a lot. When the coffee shops close in the evening, people move to the pub to continue their conversations. Bars and pubs here don’t exist just for the reason of providing alcohol. They are a place where people can come together and talk. You might even *cue awkward look from Americans* talk to strangers. The first time I walked into an Irish pub, I got offered an interview from some businessmen and women before they left from a work function.
- Walls don’t make things better: Venturing up to Belfast, one can see a city that is still separated by walls. Every single night at 6 pm every gate blocking the streets in the city closes except one to allow people through in case of an emergency. This is a policy that has been in continuation since the end of the Troubles with the Good Friday Agreement. The Catholics and Protestants still exist in separate areas of Belfast and keep themselves cordoned off. Now, the border wall that Trump is suggesting is slightly different, but it will still cut people off from their families. The world as we know it has only existed since the falling of another wall dividing the city; the Berlin Wall. Do we really want to put up another?
- Local is Better: Most stores you go to in Ireland are local. You won’t find Walmarts Targets, and Costcos here. The only stores where you can get food in the same place you get your clothes are Dunnes and M&S. If you need medicine or shampoo, you either go to Boots or the local pharmacy. Starbucks isn’t as popular; the local coffee chains are ILLY and Insomnia. But people are just as likely to go to the local coffee places. And once you get out of Dublin, almost every town that we have visited mostly just has local stores and a few of the Irish chain stores, such as Dunnes, Centra, and LIDL.