A school talk, a Mayo victory, walking soccer and a lake swim – busy times in Ireland

By Sinisa Bjedov, Erasmus Entrepreneurship Programme participant, 2018

Every day, activities pass quickly.

Sinisa Bjedov

Working time here in Ireland is very different to that in Croatia. Here, people start to work after nine, have two breaks for mid-morning coffee and lunch, and everything is somehow easier and without any pressure.
In Croatia, we start working at six or seven and the whole day is designed differently. There are other differences too: coffee is bigger, for example, lunch is a sandwich and the main meal is in the evening but, from what I can see, Irish people in general are not overweight.
Near the end of last week, we had a school meeting. There were many interested parents. Teachers talked about Transition Year, and my Erasmus host entrepreneur Liam, who was one of the speakers, shared his experience of working with students. Transition Year is about preparing youngsters for real life and helping them to choose the right career or profession.
The meeting went on a little too long on a nice evening, but it was very interesting for me to see how the school takes care of its pupils and collaborates with parents. I think this could be a useful year in Croatia’s education system.

Big crowd at Gaelic football match

Over the weekend, Liam took me to a Gaelic football match in Limerick, Mayo versus Limerick. It was big surprise for me in many ways because I had never before seen this kind of football. There was a big stadium and about 10000 people, including families with children who had driven more than 130km to support their team.
The game looks like some a mixture between handball, soccer and rugby. It is a very fast and interesting game. I do not know anything about Gaelic football rules. The scoring system is very strange for me – under the crossbar (three points) and over the crossbar (one point).
The pitch had 30 players – 15 on either team – fighting for the ball, sometimes outside the rules. The referee was busy.
The biggest surprise came at the end of the game – which ‘my team’ Mayo won, of course (!) – when most people went onto the pitch. Later, I learned that this is a common occurrence as supporters have strong friendships with the players.
This is unthinkable in Croatia where we have untouchable stars on the pitch and many questionable characters involved in football.

I recognised in this moment how important is sport among people in Ireland and I can say that this is an impressive and correct approach.
During the week, Liam gave me some CV work to do. He gave me a lot of CV from teachers to find and share some phrases. It is a very interesting job and I spent the whole week on this. I hope this will be useful for Sli Nua Careers coaches writing future CVs.
Because of the EU GDPR data protection initiative, Liam took me to Sli Nua Careers’ offices in Limerick, Athlone and Tullamore. It was a very nice experience to meet the different people and talk with them. I was told that I have a Mayo accent and now, to become a fully-fledged Mayo person, I just need to start playing Gaelic football.
A man in a café told me I am a lookalike of a (former, alas) famous player. That’s a good start, I guess.

However, before I start to play Gaelic football, I start play – wait for it – walking soccer. Liam put me in contact with the organisers of a weekly game in Ballinrobe.
In the town park, Ballinrobe has a very nice astro-turf pitch. I got there on time – well, ‘a bit early’ according to Irish time, I was told. It was a very nice game, my teammates are wonderful and I enjoyed every moment of the evening.
Referring back to my first blog last week, I can report that Harris, the self-proclaimed king of Mayo, has accepted me as friend. When we rode together in the car, he sat in the front with me.

This is a great honour.

A lake swim in Lough Mask  is another experience I have enjoyed, though it is not part of my Erasmus programme placement…but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Until next week, slán agus beannacht (Irish for goodbye and blessings).

Lough Mask