1. Friends are the most important accessory.
I found my friend soul mate in Ireland. Matilda is the three-year younger Swedish version of me. She and I went through break-ups and make-ups and oopses and drunken adventures together. The bond that she and I have cannot and will not ever be topped. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would have made it in Ireland if I didn’t have her sassy pants to push me to keep going. You can ask her, on Christmas Eve I considered leaving Ireland. I thought about going home in May when I visited and not coming back. And she saw me in September when I cried and cried and cried because I didn’t want to leave. She’s my partner in crime and I miss her everyday.
Friendship like that is special and doesn’t come everyday. When abroad, you begin to realize how important relationships are. It can be an extremely lonely time in another country when all of your close friends and family are miles away. The friendships that you make in the new countries mean the world to you. I love Matilda with my whole heart and am forever thankful that she and I both ended up living in 46 North Great George’s St.
2. “Ten minute walk” means different things to different people.
The Irish are wonderfully kind people. They are more than willing to help you with almost anything including giving directions. However, when asking for directions in Ireland, most people will tell you, “Oh it’s just a ten minute walk that way.” You go ten minutes but are no closer to the place you were before. Everything seems to be a quick ten minute walk. People in Europe walk a lot faster than people in America. That’s probably because they walk 1,000xs more often than we do. Nonetheless, they walk faster. What may be a ten minute walk to one person, may in fact be a fifteen or twenty minute walk to you.
I’m from the south, and we like to take our time walking from one place to another. I quickly learned to pick up the pace in Ireland. Soon enough, I was giving people directions and telling them, “It’s about ten minutes from here.”
3. Not everyone likes Americans.
Now this one isn’t so much about Irish people but other people in the world in general.
I knew that people had strong opinions of America before I left. I had been to Europe twice before and do watch the news. But I didn’t realize the extent of the annoyance/hatred of Americans. Maybe the problem is that we don’t speak the local languages or that we are sometimes unaware of what is going on locally in the rest of the world. It may be too that we are known to be horribly loud, obnoxious, and drunk. I’ve seen and been the latter.
I’m not sure why/how it is, but not everyone likes us.
4. Tax forms are a world-wide struggle.
It doesn’t matter where you go, tax forms suck. I guess I was hoping that maybe it would be simpler elsewhere and that going through a program things would be handled easier, but well, it wasn’t. Moving abroad requires a lot of dotted lines, crossed T’s, and John Hancock’s. Be prepared.
5. I will always call my mom with questions.
It doesn’t matter if I living in Auburn, Alabama, the basement of our house, or in Dublin, Ireland, I will always call my mom with questions. “What’s the recipe for that chicken stuff?” “How do you do that thing you were telling me about that one time four years ago?” “Yeah, I know you told me, but I wasn’t listening then. I need to know now.” Stuff like that. Recently she’s gotten sassy and has told me to just look things up, but that won’t stop me from asking her. I’m 97% sure she just googles stuff anyways. 😉 Love ya Mom.
I think some of the best questions I called her with though had to do with food. I’m a baker and struggled the entire year I was in Ireland because the ingredients are slightly different. Baking and cooking was a fight, but between her FaceTime guidance and my ability to google everything, I made it just fine.
6. Living with strangers has its advantages.
When I moved into 46 North Great George’s St Apt 1, I had no idea who I was moving in with. I knew I was taking the room of a French guy named Reuben and that a Spanish lad had the room next to mine. I quite literally brought my bags into the house, sat on the bed, and wondered, “What the hell had I gotten myself into?”
I was the only native English speaker in the house. One of four girls and a guy. Five people, one shower, one kitchen, one toilet, one tv, but luckily my own room. The girls were 33 from Romania, 25 from France and 19 from Sweden, and I was 22 from America. The lad was 28 from Spain. We were in no way friends before we all lived together, but from the day of my arrival in the house the middle of October to when Deb (the French girl) moved out at the end of June, the five of us lived, loved, laughed, and fought together.
We cooked for each other, we drank together, we watched Friends marathons together, we cried when we were dumped, and danced when we were drunk. I loved my flatmates. It was bad when we got into fights because the common language in the house was English, but I was the only one who spoke it natively. You know how when you get mad you want to be mad and cuss and rant in your own language? Yeah that happened several times and cause us to only get more frustrated when we couldn’t fully explain ourselves.
When Deb moved out, Tom, 29 from Australia, moved in and added English and noise. Up until then, I was the only one in the house who was constantly loud and annoying. Tom added to that. 🙂 When Oti (the Romanian) moved out at the end of July, we got Aoibhin (21 and Irish) in her place. Aoibhin and I quickly became close friends. She is spunky, loud, and sweet as can be.
In all, I lived with six different people throughout my year in Ireland. Not one country was repeated. I love them all and miss them all the time. Thinking of y’all. ❤
7. Working as a temp forces you to adapt quickly.
Want to talk about frustration? Try being thrown into a job where no one has given you any kind of direction as what to do or how to do it and expects you to do it perfectly. That is in essence the job of a temp. Now imagine trying to do that in another country where they may speak the same language you do, but it is with a funny accent and the words don’t exactly mean the same thing. #StruggleBus
8. The pub is the local watering hole and serves as more than just a place to get smashed.
One of the many beautiful traits of life in Ireland is the pub life. Whenever I would tell my parents that I was going to the pub, they would pinch their lips and tell me to be careful. What they didn’t understand, was that the pub is so much more than just a place to get hammered. The pub is a place to unwind. It is a place to laugh, love, and lust. And yes, it is a place to drink.
At the end of a long work week, my coworkers and I would go to the local pub and have a pint. We weren’t going to get drunk but going to unwind, cut up, and relax now that the weekend had begun. Matilda and I would go to the pub to hang out with friends behind the bar. We would post up on the stools and waste an afternoon away. Drinking yes, but also spending quality time with our friends.
I have many many memories in pubs around Dublin. Some of the memories are nights I’ll never forget and others are stories that people have to tell me (cause well, I may not remember them 😉 ). Some of the memories I am completely sober and others still are just times with good friends catching up over a pint of Bulmers.
The pub is so much more than just a place to get drunk.
9. I can do it.
I learned that I can move abroad.
There is nothing more frightening than packing up all of your belongings into two suitcases, waving goodbye to your family, and flying off into the sunset. I landed in Dublin with no housing, no friends, no job, and no idea what the ____ to do. I took it day by day but slowly figured out how to live in Dublin, Ireland.
I moved abroad, and I would love to do it again.