Punched in the face in Dublin

It was the day before St. Patrick’s day and I was at London Heathrow trying to find a last-minute couch to stay on because even a month before the date, the cheapest hostel I found cost 50€ a night. I was just starting to panic when I remembered a girl I met while in Munich who invited me to stay with her anytime while she was studying abroad in Dublin.

So I contacted her, feeling a little guilty at the same time. How do you phrase “Hey, can I stay with you?” in an indirect way? I don’t know why I was so hesitant to call on this favor, but it took me 5 separate conversations with her before time ran out and I HAD to ask directly. But to my surprise, she told me to come on over when I arrived—but that she had two friends from the States that were also over for St. Paddy’s.

In my experience, English and Irish humor are a bit more harsh and sarcastic than American humor. Some people don’t understand it. In addition to being people that shouldn’t travel, these girls were part of the first category. They weren’t bad at first; they were actually pretty easy to get along with. The problem started once we started encountering other people… and didn’t stop until both of them got punched in the face later that night. Haha, fooled you, didn’t I? You thought I got punched in the face.

 

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“Those old assholes by the bar totally insulted us for being American!” the shorter girl stomped over, huffing. “What the hell! What did we ever do to them?”

I looked over at what seemed to be a friendly-enough conversation between the girl wearing the Irish flag and an older man sitting at the bar. This should’ve been a sign of what was to come, but I wasn’t there for the interaction to judge.

It escalated a bit that night when, seeing an older man handle a teenager, they stormed up to him and pushed him around. “You don’t hit children! You don’t do that!” When the returned to the group, they sheepishly told us that he actually had his wallet stolen by the teen and was trying to get it back. “Oh, guys, I feel bad now. Oh no…” Two minutes later, she was distracted by music that erupted from a nearby bar and promptly forgot all about what happened.

But that isn’t even the worst part.

Around 10PM that night, we were walking around Temple Bar area when shit actually went down. There we were, standing outside one of the bars. I was talking to my hostel friend while the two other girls were talking to some smokers loitering around the entrance.

“Where are you guys from?” one of the smokers asked casually.
“United States.”
“Oh, sorry, we don’t let Americans into the bar,” he says, in what clearly was a joke. He wasn’t even the bouncer.

Before I knew it, the girls started shouting at random people passing by; the smokers were gone.

“Did you hear that?!” they shouted to a large group, “They won’t let us in because we’re AMERICAN!”

Horrified, I stood off to one side, close enough for them to think that I was with them, but far enough that strangers would not. After causing more of a ruckus in front of that bar, we all decide to go buy beers from the convenience store down the street instead. In here, I met some lovely Irish guys and had a good albeit confused conversation with them. A few people ahead stood the two girls.

temple bar st patrick's day dublin ireland

In the middle of my conversation, I hear one of them say, “These goddamn Irish people just won’t leave us alone!” A few of the locals in line behind her chuckled a bit and shook their heads. And suddenly, the shorter one was standing in between me and the guys.

“THAT GUY JUST TOLD US TO GO BACK TO AMERICA! THAT ASSHOLE. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS??”
“Oh no, people CANNOT just come up to you, insult you, and leave. I’m going to go talk to him,” said her friend, storming out of the store to chase him down in the street. She caught him a few feet from the store and grabbed his shoulder, turning him around.

“Hey! You do NOT talk to my friend like that, you hear me??” she yelled, pointing her finger dangerously close to his face. He yelled back at her—something I didn’t hear—, tried shrugging her off, and leaving but she wasn’t having any of that. Out of nowhere, she wound her arm back and moved to slap him across the face. He saw what was coming, blocked her blow, and came back with a punch across hers. I groaned. Shit was REALLY going to hit the fan now.

Immediately, she starts crying loudly, searching for sympathy in the crowd. “Did you see what he did?? He just PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE! I’m from a shady part of Philadelphia but you just don’t do that! You just don’t hit girls. That’s not acceptable. You just don’t do that!”

After seeing what had happened, the smaller girl ran out to try to tackle him and got punched in the face too. But she didn’t cry until asking for help from the crowd and receiving a “You deserve what you got!” in return—from the customer that stood behind her as she loudly insulted the Irish in the convenience store.

Standing there, in the most popular bar area in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, surrounded by people of all nationalities, she starts yelling, “Ever since we got here to Ireland, we have been SHIT ON by the Irish! No one has shown us any kindness. Everyone we’ve met has been ridiculously rude to us and I’m tired of it! These motherfucking Irish people… I’m trying to reconnect with my heritage and this is what happens. I don’t think I’ll ever want to come back to this fucking country ever again!”

If I hadn’t already dropped all my belongings at my hostel friend’s house, I would’ve left and found friends elsewhere. Being part of this group was drawing negative attention to us and giving me less than a good memory in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day.

But the night was far from over.

I found them after a few minutes by the police, reiterating what just happened to them. After being told that it was a night of heightened tempers and behaviors, they were told to go home and cool down. And how did they get home? Strut up to the nearest taxi and demanded, “Hi. Can you get us home for 15€? My friend just got punched in the face and needs to get home immediately.”

We all left hostel friend’s house at the same day.

“You know what?” said one of the girls. “I’m so excited to finally go back home. I don’t know how you do it, traveling for so long and by yourself. I’m already homesick from traveling 10 days and Skyping my family every day didn’t help. And I’m tired of being in a foreign country, tired of being shit on all the time just for being American. I just want to be back in America.”

They had only been abroad for 10 days.

I hmmed my way through that conversation and bid them farewell as soon as we hit the first intersection.

***

While horrific at the time, this actually turned out to be one of my best stories. More than anything, however, it taught me how differently two people can experience the same city; it all depends on your mindset and how you approach other cultures. If you bring excitement, curiosity, and joy to the table while visiting other cultures, I truly believe what you’ll receive in return will be filled with kindness and wonderful experiences. On the other hand, if you bring preconceived notions and an inability to be flexible, you’ll see exactly what you thought you would see: negativity. It’s travel karma.

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  • http://snowintromso.com/ Van @ Snow in Tromso

    Great story though I’m sorry it put a shadow on your stay in Dublin. But that’s exactly why intercultural competence is so important. If you have all those stupid stereotypes in mind and have never read anything on how to behave in a certain country, your journey is doomed to failure. And these girls clearly haven’t learned anything about other countries and cultures so far other than how not to behave if you’re abroad, though I doubt they understood by now that it was their fault and they probably won’t set foot on European ground again :D

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      I completely agree, Van! As a traveler, YOU’RE the one visiting and YOU’RE the one who should be deferential to the cultural differences. After all, didn’t you travel to find something different? And no, I’m sure they still haven’t realized and are more wary now of traveling.

  • http://agirlandhertravels.com/ Polly

    Wow. They sound like total winners. And like they need about 10 more punches to the face to rattle their tiny brains back into place!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      I know… I think I was basically in shock the entire day. I couldn’t believe what was happening at the time ! Haha…

  • http://www.tothedayslikethis.com/ Sammy @ Days Like This

    This was really well written and I couldn’t agree more. It’s all about your mindset and keeping an OPEN mind to different cultures. It’s sad that some people can’t embrace travel and all the good (and sometimes bad) things it brings!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      I’m happy to find other people that feel the same way about this! The point of traveling is to learn about others, not impose your culture on others. Thanks Sammy! :)

  • http://www.theladyokieblog.com/ Amanda

    Good grief! What a crazy but kind of awesome story. Haha. Those girls are nuts!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Hahaha, agreed! Thanks :)

  • Arman @ thebigmansworld

    The irony of it all is that it’s an ENGLISH speaking country too- that is ridiculous. I kinda knew it wouldn’t have been you that received the punch haha- too much class to ever receive such antics!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      I know! The language barriers here were little to none (yes, there were some incidents when I completely thought an Irishperson was speaking another language but…. I’m half deaf :p ). Thanks for the faith, Arman ;)

  • http://www.chicadeedee.com/ Dannielle @ Chicadeedee

    I’ve got some friends while they are great and I love them, they aren’t travellers. I cringe at some of the things they say. Some people can’t just accept and learn about different cultures, they are stuck in their little bubble.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      The same! Out of the traveling context, I’m sure these girls were wonderful people. It’s a shame sometimes, because I think that everyone should reap the great benefits of traveling!

  • http://foodloveandlifeblog.blogspot.com Jennifer Smith

    OMG. I would have been so mortified if this happened to me. Goodness. I actually have no words. I was just in Dublin and Galway for a long weekend and it was absolutely wonderful. We loved every local that we talked to! So sorry you got stuck in such an uncomfortable situation.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Hahaha, mortified is a good word for what was happening to me emotionally :p I love talking to locals—you actually get to know and connect with the foreign culture that you’re in! I’m glad you guys had a wonderful, non-mortifying time!

  • http://www.melaniefontaine.com/ Melanie Fontaine

    Question: How many drinks did you guys have that night? Okay, I’m just kidding. But the sad thing is that they are probably not the only Americans that return with stories like this – no wonder, that there’s a stereotype that people in Europe are super unfriendly and hate Americans! I’m probably biased, but I like to think that Europeans are just as friendly and sociable as Americans even if they are not so ‘in-your-face’ about it. In most situations it’s worth it to just chill a little bit – especially if you’re out at night and most people you meet are drunk anyway and won’t even remember half the stuff they’ve said the previous night. On the bright side: You got a story out of it! ;)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      HAHAHA, Mel your comments are the best. I’m sure alcohol played a bit role in all of this, but we all know that no one ever means what they say under the influence! But yeah, I’m sure they’re not the only ones… which is where both stereotypes probably come from! It’s funny that you talk about out ‘in-your-face’ friendliness… that’s one HUGE cultural difference I noticed while abroad. It took a while for me to get used to, but now that I’m back, I find I prefer the European friendliness!

  • http://unlockingkiki.com/ Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

    So people, no matter where they are from, just aren’t travellers. But wow punched in the face, that is crazy!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Yup, exactly. Haha I think this was a more extreme situation than what usually happens… hopefully?!

  • http://www.amyandthegreatworld.com/ AmyMacWorld

    I think I would be off cringing to the side, too! I honestly sometimes wonder why people who have no desire to even experience somewhere besides their home country travel at all? I obviously love to travel and think EVERYONE should do it if they can…but not if they’re resistant to enjoying it or learning anything from it!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Exactly, Amy! Unfortunately, as much as I love and think that everyone should do it, there are some people that may be better off without?

  • http://www.laughteriscatching.com/ Laura @ Laughter is Catching

    Oh my goodness, this is terrible!!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha, exactly what I was thinking at the time!

  • Iam Clapclap

    Americans are great for giving Americans a bad name abroad, aren’t we?

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Seriously, haha… I’ve met a lot of both types, though. So we’re not all hopeless :)

  • http://www.adelanteblog.com/ Courtney @ Adelante

    I was bug-eyed and horrified the entire time I was reading this story! It blows my mind that those girls thought that the Irish “shit on them for being American”, because I think the Irish are by far the friendliest people I’ve encountered throughout my travels. But I guess I wouldn’t want to be nice to bigoted tourists either. It kills me that there are so many Americans out there perpetuating those negative stereotypes!!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      I know!! It annoyed me that they instantly took on the victim role, like they’d been expecting it the whole time! I love Irish people, they’re so friendly, funny, and know how to have a good time—at least the ones I’ve met. I knew that the stereotype comes from somewhere… but up until then, I never met anyone that would ever fit the bill!! Yikes :/