Ireland, week one

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Whew! A week ago at this hour I was sleeping off jetlag for the first time, curled up in my wee apartment in a new city over four thousand miles from home. I’ve caught up on sleep, and the time difference is not the only change that has taken some getting used to.

Its true, they drive on the left side of the road out here, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Wild. You’d think it wouldn’t affect you as a pedestrian as much, but I still get confused at crosswalks! Look right, then left, then right again because it feels so wrong… I end up rooted to the ground, head bobbing back and forth.

Everything is smaller here: the roads, the cars, the serving sizes. In a week I think I’ve seen two consumer trucks, looking mammoth compared to the hatchbacks and coupes speeding around everywhere. They name some of their cars differently too: the Volkswagon Jetta is a ‘Bora’ here.

Shopping at Tesco, (a more expensive and self-controlled cousin of Costco) I quickly realized that American portions are enormous. Talking to my coworkers, we surmised it is because in Ireland at least, there is a ‘going to market’ culture, and because of the close proximity to everything, you can find farm fresh eggs and dairy at any store on your weekly shopping trip. Oh and most of the food ‘goes off’ in a week or two, because it isn’t pumped with preservatives to last for years like much of American groceries.

This is how far 50 Euro got me:

50Eurobought900

 

My first night out, my roommates and I went to a traditional Irish pub, probably the best way to experience the cultural differences firsthand. As soon as we sat down, the owner came over and introduced himself. There were singing young men wanting everyone to dance with them in the middle of the room, elderly gentlemen at the bar drawing us into political discussions, and some old birds who looked like they belonged to a knitting circle in a corner, with pints in place of needles. When a middle-aged fellow threw his arm around my neck and roared with laughter,

“ELI ME LAD!”

I think that’s when I realized I was in for a grand old time.