Charlotte Tilbury (UK)

Gael Goer: Your Guide To The Gaeltacht

It’s time to say dia dhuit to your best summer ever!

Whether it’s your first time or you’re an old pro, a stint in the Gaeltacht has the possibility to change your life. New friends, new challenges and new experiences are just around the corner. What are you waiting for? The Gaeltacht is some of the best craic you’ll ever have.

Here’s your guide on how to have the best time at the Gaeltacht and what you need to pack.

 

Make Friends

If you’re lucky enough to be attending the Gaeltacht with your posse don’t roll up like you own the place. It can be especially intimating to attend the Gaeltacht on your own, so try make a special effort with those who might by flying solo. People can often be very shy, so take the time to get to know everyone properly.

And if you’re that person flying solo, don’t worry you won’t be the only one. Prepare yourself in advance to really try your best to put yourself out there and make friends. Don’t be afraid to be the first person to say dia dhuit. If you’re normally the quiet cailín at home this is your chance to break out a brand new you! Nobody knows you and you can be whoever you want to be.

Even if you’re going with your group of gals, mentally prepare yourself to be really confident in case you all get separated when being placed in dorms or when playing activities.

 

Beat The Homesickness

Feeling a bit anxious about being away from home, especially if it’s your first time, is perfectly normal. The Gealtacht can be overwhelming. Being thrown in and expected to socialise with brand new people is the stuff of nightmares for a lot of people. Give it a chance. The first few days you might feel lonely or out-of-place, but don’t give up on it too soon. Don’t be afraid to bring little bits of home with you like pictures or your comfy pillow. Depending on the rules you mightn’t have constant access to Snapchat, so bring a stationary set and some stamps to post some letters home.

 

Béarla Is Banned

If you go to Irish college expecting it to be a holiday, you’re going to get a massive wakeup call. The odd slip up will be forgiven, and you’ll be helped out if you don’t know a word, but if you persist in speaking as Béarla, you will be sent home. Yikes! Put a big effort in to try speak Irish as much as possible, it’s half the fun of being in the Gaeltacht anyway. Don’t be afraid to break out the foclòir or throw in a few focal Béarla in your sentences.

 

As Geailge le do thoil

Yes, the Gaeltacht is lots of craic, but at the end of the day you are there to improve the ol’ Geailge. Bring your Irish books and copies with you (but for the love of God don’t lose them or you’ll be in trouble with your múinteoir come September) You’ll find over the weeks that they’ll make more sense as you learn more and more.

Don’t allow Irish to scare you, no one will care as long as you are making an effort. If there’s a particular area of the language that really stresses you – we bet it’s the moth coinniollach, jot it down and ask your cinnire or Bean and Ti when you get a moment alone with them. Sometimes it can really help having something explained to you outside of the usual school setting. Not the mention the fact that you are immersed in the Irish language and culture for 3 weeks. Seriously, you’ll be fluent by the end and won’t want to go back to speaking as Béarla.

Some Advice For Packing

When it comes to your wardrobe, be practical. Pack an assortment of stuff – from Ts, to shorts and jeans and hoodies. Be prepared for all-weather. Pack things that you can mix and match easily. It’s not exactly school, but there will still be a certain expectation about dress codes.

Don’t over pack. Not only will you look ridiculous rocking up with so many bags, it will just be annoying to sort through – especially if you don’t have a wardrobe. Be honest with what you need. If you have something that you’re not sure you might need or extras leave them on your bed at home and you can easily ask her parents to bring them during parents weekend.

There are often fancy dress parties and of course the Céilís, so make sure that you bring clothes to wear for them.

 

The Essentials When Packing For The Gaeltacht

  • Extra underwear is always, always a good idea! Buy a few new packs in Penneys.
  • Don’t bring anything valuable or sentimental. With so many girls living in close quarters things are bound to get accidentally mixed up.
  • Magazines, books, your phone (gasp!) and spray deodorants may be off the agenda, so check what’s allowed before you pack.
  • Invest in packing cubes to make the most out of your suitcase, but to also keep everything organised. Also bring a bag to keep your dirty laundry in.
  • You might not be allowed to have your phone on you 24/7 so pack a disposable camera (how old skool!) to make sure that you capture all the memories.
  • Stock up on all toiletries before you go – think pads/tampons, deodorant, plasters, bug spray and hay fever meds.
  • If you’re a fussy eater it might be an idea to bring some food you can store, just in case you don’t like what’s on offer.
  • If you’re a dab hand at any instrument make sure that you pack it. Not only can you jam at night with your new pals, but you’ll get to show off at the Céilís.
  • Taking a shower becomes like a marathon sprint. Pack dry shampoo and 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner.
  • Face wipes are always great to have on hand, as well deodorant wipes.
  • Don’t forget to bring a water flask with your name written on it, so it doesn’t get mixed up with anyone else’s. Eww!
  • A lot of Gaeltacht houses can be quite old, so bring 4 socket extension lead to stop any arguments over who gets to use the socket and when.
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