It has now been over a month that I have been an American Expat in Ireland. Every day has been filled with new challenges and new adventures. Expat life is turning out to be more or less everything I imagined. Moving to a new country is thrilling, terrifying, the worst, and the best all at the same time. I have been filled with the feeling of joy that this was exactly the right move for my family, and then I’ve had days where I don’t want to get out of bed and just want to fly back to Chicago.
Here’s the thing – that’s normal. All of those feelings of regret, sadness, anxiety, and frustration are all parts of becoming an expat. My husband and I were both prepared to feel these exact feelings before we left, and took all of it into account when we were making the decision to move.
Even though I am SO homesick I am still glad we made this move and I know little by little it will start to feel like home.
Since I’ve been here an entire month (very seasoned expat) – I can’t help but make comparisons of life in Ireland to life in the U.S. so here are a few things I’ve noticed about Ireland:
In Ireland I have found MORE:
Free time: Quite a few times we have been on a walk and before you know it we’ve run into someone we know and have been offered a cup of tea and had a chat for over 45 minutes. It’s not uncommon that someone else will stop by seeing us have a chat and join in and maybe buy us lunch. People seem to just have more time.
Beaches: In Ireland, you’ll find over 1,900 miles of coastline and you need to remember that Ireland is around the size of Indiana, so anywhere in Ireland you are never more than an hour away from the coast. The middle of Ireland is about Lecarrow, Co. Roscommon from there you’re only a little over an hour away from Galway Bay, and even closer to the lake Lough Ree (about 10 minutes).
Dogs: It seems like everyone in Ireland has a dog (at least where I am in Greystones). What is with that?!? They’re everywhere and often not on a leash.
Dads: There are not more dads in Ireland, but I have seen SO MANY dads alone with their kids – at the park, on a walk, out to eat, at the grocery store…I am so impressed with all these Irish dads spending quality time with their kids. I am sad that I’m impressed by it because it shows just how uncommon it is – but keep up the good work dads!
Mean kids: I’m still not sure on this one, but I’ve interacted with so many mean kids! At the park kids who tease my kids, lie (to me), and are just straight up rude! We we’re outside playing in our street and a neighbor kid came over and started kicking my son’s bike (out of the blue) while he was on it. I know there are mean kids everywhere but a lot of these Irish kids are very tough and have me a bit scared.
Jeans & Sweaters: I didn’t bring shorts to Ireland and have not even missed them. I’m so happy in jeans, or a blouse, t-shirt, and a sweater in the evenings. These Irish summers have me in heaven.
Daylight: I’m in Greystones on the east coast and the days are so long! The sun rises at 4:46 am and sets at 9:56pm. It’s brilliant.
In Ireland I have found LESS:
Hot water: The hot water in Ireland you set on a timer to come on and heat up the water. SO many times I have run out of hot water and it’s not cute anymore.
Dryers: Where are all the dryers in Ireland? ALL of the apartments we looked at did not have dryers. Everyone hangs up their clothes on a clothesline – I’m also just over it and want a dryer in my house.
Space: Houses are smaller, restaurants are smaller, cars are smaller – take something from America and just shrink it down a little bit and there you have it!
Preservatives: The food in Ireland goes bad faster because they generally have way fewer preservatives, salt, and sugar in them. Just check out this graphic from Boss Babe:
I’m so all in for this one. Love it.
Food: You’ll find smaller portion sizes in Ireland than in the U.S. I was told this but it was a different thing to experience. I bought my kids yogurt at Tesco and the portions were so small! I’ve found the same thing with milk, crackers, pretzels, chips, and coffee. I’ve also found that when we eat out there is enough food for us to eat, but not necessarily enough for leftovers.
You will NEVER find the perfect place to live. There are pros and cons to living anywhere – even paradise. If you’re thinking of moving to Ireland and becoming an expat yourself – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.