What am I – a Local or a Tourist?
Here is another column I wrote for the Times-Georgian! Hope you enjoy! 🙂 When my official Six Month comes up (ON SUNDAY!!!) I will tell you which one I think I have actually become!
I am two weeks away from six months in Ireland, and once a person has lived in the European Union for that amount of time, he or she is considered a resident. A resident!
However much I would love to be Irish, I am not. My vocabulary has changed, my taste buds are accustomed to different foods, and my fashion style is different, but does that make me a local? I don’t think it does. If anything it makes me feel more alienated from the Irish people because I know I am not one of them.
At the same time, I am not a tourist. I have a life here. I have friends, an apartment with bills, and a job I go to every day. But I travel around Ireland and Europe wide-eyed at the strange word around me. The six-month mark is causing a kind of identity crisis in my time abroad.
Am I a local or a tourist?
Life in Ireland is great! I know where many of the great restaurants are, and I know which places to avoid. Temple Bar was great the first time I visited, but I have since moved on to more quaint pubs outside City Center. The company I work for has taken me in and accepted me as one of the everyday receptionists. My friends and I hang out all the time doing whatever we want around the city. I have grown accustomed to crossing the street with oncoming traffic, and I know where to go shopping around town.
My life in Ireland is settled and has come together perfectly, but am I a local or a tourist?
As a tourist, I have seen some spectacular sites over the past six months. When I first arrived, I went to the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway, seeing two of Ireland most iconic landmarks. I have been to other parts of Ireland taking in the local scene and cuisine loving every moment. I have been blessed to travel abroad three times in my six months to Norway, Sweden and Belgium eating, drinking and traveling my way through each of them. What I do makes me a tourist by trade. I travel to new locations and take in the sights and sounds, but am I a local or a tourist?
I don’t know. I am stuck somewhere in the void with an identity crisis looming in the distance. When walking down the street, I blend into the crowd with my green pea coat and black jeans, but the moment I begin talking, I stand out like a sore thumb. My American accent and vocabulary goes against every sound and word the Irish use. I go to the local pubs ordering Irish whiskey, but get over-charged because the barman clearly knows I am not from here. What am I – a local or a tourist?
The EU tells me I am a resident, but I feel disconnected from this place. Ireland has welcomed me with open arms into its small green world, and I have fallen in love with every nook and cranny. The way people argue while walking down the street or the drive-by of the cars have all become
, but the awe and wonder that overcomes me as I find a new hidden gem reminds me that I am not from here. I see this place with open eyes, not the closed ones locals tend to have.
So what am I – a local or a tourist?
I like to think I am somewhere floating in the middle. I am a local girl who knows the good pubs but still sees her city with the wonder and excitement as a tourist fresh off the plane. I am glad that I fit in, but also thankful that I stand out.
Here’s to another amazing six months in Ireland. Cheers!
Cantrell is a Carrollton native who has moved to Ireland. She writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian about her experiences living abroad.