It’s been a whole month (plus some) since I’ve moved to Ireland. Much has happened, though admittedly nothing of exceptional note. Which would likely explain my absence from this blog. Things like getting my visa so I’m not residing in Ireland illegally, or finally tracking down a swiffer equivalent (and paying hefty price for such a luxury) don’t really merit posts. Classes are in full swing, but thus far have taken up very little time. This, we are assured, will change, lest we think our vibrant social lives will continue. I’ve made friends, ironically, mostly with other Americans and have been reminded that little things from home bond people in ways you wouldn’t anticipate. Plus, none of us already have lives and friends here, so naturally we all banded together. So what have I learned in my first month as an expat in Europe? Here’s ten, in no particular order.
1. I miss the US. I didn’t anticipate it, but I really do. Aside from people, things I miss include food staples (kosher salt and chicken stock not from a cube), though I’ve been extremely impressed by the specialties that are available. But seriously Ireland? Get some decent salt (Maldon excluded). I miss the weather, or rather, California weather. I miss Target, Whole Foods, and the food scenes of our big cities (though Ireland is making some headway in that regard). I miss proper washer/dryers and not miniature everything. And the abundance of Gas stoves.
2. People in Ireland are really, very nice. Or polite. I can’t tell, but certainly people are outwardly more friendly than most places in the States. Which, as a result makes me nicer. I think this is a good thing.
3. It’s a tiny country. With a population smaller than LA city there’s a decent chance that somebody near you knows someone you know. As a result, people don’t gossip in public very much. Maybe that contributes to their stereotype of niceness. But I don’t think I’ve ever overheard people gossiping about others in the grocery store.
4. There is indeed, A LOT of drinking. There seem to be unending reasons for debaucheries. And while most the Irish kids I know are very conservative drinkers there’s no denying there’s a higher proportion of drunkenness than I’ve ever encountered in a non-vacation situation. And heck, I was in a sorority, I should know-right?
5. Ireland may be a first world country, but I can’t expect it to function with the rapid efficiency I’ve grown to expect in the US. Don’t get me started on the absurd process of opening a bank account in Ireland. I nearly strangled someone once. It wasn’t pretty. And I’m not normally outspoken. It didn’t have to do with being a foreigner so much as random bureaucracy and long waits. It takes five minutes to open an account in the US. I expected the Visa process to be obnoxious (and it was!), but I’ve found many other highly inefficient systems that really irk me. Not that the US is perfect in that regard, I just seem to be encountering it more often here than at home. And I shouldn’t complain, it’s a different country. But still, highly irritating.
6. Don’t even try to do anything productive between 1 and 2pm. Hours like this are not uncommon: 8am-10am (tea 10-11), 11am-1pm (lunch 1pm-2pm), 2pm-4pm. CLOSE. The heck are those hours? Lest anyone think it’s a good idea to stagger lunch so there isn’t this crazy rush, or if you need to do something during that break there are actual staff members to assist you. Though, I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind getting paid full-time for those sorts of hours. And open on Sunday? Unless it’s a grocery store or tourist related, you’re probably out of luck.
7. The weather predictors lie, so much. 4 seasons in one day isn’t abnormal. That said, the weather has been thus far, an improvement on Seattle’s.
8. Words like “craic,” “dickey ties,” and “ballsbridge” don’t illicit giggles from locals. So, maybe I’m a crass American. I still giggle at all the above.
9. It really is just as pretty as in the movies.
10. Traffic lights are suggestions. Pedestrians risk their lives by meandering around Dublin.
Overall I really enjoy my new city, though there’s much about home I deeply miss. It has helped further my conviction that the US will always be my home. And while I might prefer to travel abroad than sit at home, that place I will always return to will most likely be somewhere in California. But I have to admit, Paris being an hour flight away certainly doesn’t hurt.