FlipSide Face

by Mark Pleiss

Junior Ruauri Smyth is Simpson’s only student from Ireland. He’s built an identity of his own at Simpson, but his favorite part of his reputation is just being Irish.

“I’m proud to be Irish here,” Smyth said. “Everyone loves the Irish. Of course my parents live in Spain, so I like to think I’m also European.”

Among his many interests, soccer reigns supreme. He played goalie for a club team in Ireland and walked-on two weeks into Simpson’s soccer season where he earned a spot as the backup keeper.

But the 5-foot-eleven, 210-pound Irishman struggled in the steamy Iowa sun during his first weeks on the team.

“When I started playing here, I hadn’t had much training for awhile,” Smyth said. “Let’s just say some of the workouts ended up being a bit more intense than I was prepared for.”

Along with soccer, Smyth has a certain thirst for life. He’s created an aura at the local pub anyone can vouch for.

“I’ve spent a few nights out at the Zoo Bar,” Smyth said. “The bartenders just love me because I’m the only guy around here that loves Guinness.”

Smyth said the biggest difference between Iowa and Ireland is in the eating and drinking habits of their populations.

“In Ireland, drinking is an activity in itself,” Smyth said. “Anytime you’re in bed by two it’s an early, disappointing night. Typically we start drinking at 7 p.m. and go to the bar around 11. We stay there ’til about 2 a.m. or until we can find where the party’s at. That’s when the real fun begins.”

Smyth is vocal on the differences between American and Irish politics.

He says politicians in Ireland agree on what’s important, – education and health, – and are pretty straightforward in the media.

Smyth believes the United States lacks the trust Ireland has in its politicians. And when it comes to presidents, he’s not exactly a Republican.

“Of course I hate Bush,” Smyth said. “I’m a foreigner. I’ve never found anyone outside this country who likes him.”