Living in Ireland: Q&A

I asked you on Facebook to tell me your questions about Ireland & living abroad. Get ready and honest recollection of a year in another country.

How did you navigate a new food scene with shopping and everything, now that you don't have access to the same stuff?

I think food has been one of the best and worst things about Ireland. On the one hand, I absolutely love that there is much cheaper produce available in Ireland. It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to eat clean. On the other, the Irish eat a pretty limited range of meals, in my opinion. The main foods eaten here are traditional meals (roasts and fish and chips) or curry. So there's been a lot of things that I've had to dig around to find. I think really it's just been a matter of searching around in different stores. I tend to keep a list on my phone of different food items I've been looking for, and then when I'm in different grocery stores or even different cities, I check my list. There's been a few things I've had family send over that will last in the mail, but if I want something I usually make it from scratch! Homemade ranch, mac n cheese, etc.

What did you do while your visa was processing to keep sane and not bored?

Luckily, I didn't have a long time before I was allowed to work. When I first moved to Ireland I lived in a much more rural area so I had limited access to things, especially public transportation. I tried really hard to get out and go on walks to explore the area and become more familiar with my surroundings. I also started focusing back on my blog where I wrote about my experiences and the differences. My go-to when I have a lot of downtime also tends to be reading, so I worked my way through the Harry Potter series.

Did the country lose some of its romanticized beauty once you moved there, as opposed to just falling in love with it while traveling?

I think this is one of the downsides any time you move somewhere. There are going to be aspects of the country that are better than you imagined, and ones that are worse. I think one thing that's lost its hint of magic was Irish people. If I was deaf, there wouldn't be too many differences between the way that Irish people look and live. With so many pictures of the beautiful green hills and castles and old cottages, it's easy to get this picture of people living a very simple life off the land. But that's so far from true, especially in Dublin! I don't think that I'll ever get tired of the Irish accent or the scenery here though. I still get excited about seeing sheep and cows and pheasants and castles.

Are the kids in school during the summer?

They are not! The schools work in pretty much the same time frames that most American schools do, with the most time off around Christmas and summer. There are a few longer breaks in between, such as Halloween and bank holidays, which are the national holidays here. Kids will be going back to school pretty soon in the beginning of September.

What are the works hours like?

Work weeks are typically 35 hours, although some companies just 30. It's pretty much the same as America.

What are extended family relationships like?

The Irish are extremely close with their immediate family. Parents and siblings maintain a close relationship. But extended family tend to get lost in transportation. If they live in another county, then there's a much lower chance of seeing them. However, there's a tendency to "call in", or drop by, in Ireland, so if people are in the area there's usually a visit to whoever is there.

Do they have to water their grass?

I can't say that I've really noticed anyone watering their grass here. All of my family in Utah have sprinklers to water their lawns, but not many people in Washington did. Sometimes people would buy an attachment for their hose for the few times they wanted to water their grass in the summer. Lawns aren't as big in Ireland, which I think contributes. Most homes are either apartments or duplexes, and those almost always have just concrete with maybe a tiny patch of grass if anything. The weather stays pretty mild here. Getting up to 80 is major major heat, and happens maybe twice a year. So there's not too much of a need for it!

What is the most used mode of travel by you and the general population?

I personally use the Luas the most. It's a light rail system in Dublin. The name Luas means "speed" in Irish. I think it's kind of hard to tell what's used the most because it really depends on the area. In the country, people use cars the most because there's much less transportation. There's trains and busses that come into closer cities and out of those, usually trains are used. Within cities, busses are pretty common, but if it's not really far out of the city, a ton of people ride their bikes. You'll get the odd horse ridden by a traveller.

What's your favourite and least favourite part of living in Ireland?

Easily the best part of living here is the scenery. There are so many castles, churches, abbeys, and so on everywhere you go. It's just as pretty as you'd think it would be from pictures online. My least favourite part might have to be some of the social aspects. I'm an introvert, and I prefer to keep a close circle of friends. But everyone here knows everyone, and that doesn't fit my personality very well. It can be hard to keep up with dinner conversation on who's doing what!

What do you miss about America?

When I first moved, I really missed single house neighbourhoods. I think most of that came from having a really hard time looking at a building and knowing whether it was a house, an apartment, or a business. Think of an icon that would represent each of these. They're all somewhat different. But here, they can easily look the same. That really tripped me up! Now that I've adjusted to that, I probably miss the food the most. Having good Mexican food, sushi, and American style pizza and burgers ready any time. I also really miss having closets. Random, I know! But inherently tidy and useful. There's some other things that I miss about American homes like carpet, a laundry room, and central heating.

What stereotypes about the Irish are true?

Funny enough, the stereotypes about drinking and potatoes are true. I wouldn't say that the way drinking is portrayed is true though. It's not sloppy drunkenness. It's just a really big part of social life here. And potatoes are had with most meals! You can buy huge bags of potatoes in most grocery stores. There's also potato markets all over the country.

How easy is it to get a visa to move there?

I can only speak as an American, because other countries have different agreements with Ireland as far as different visas go. The visa I came over on was called a Working Holiday Authorisation, and lasted one year with no ability to renew. It allows you to live and work in Ireland for the one year, but not beyond that. To get a visa past that, there are basically 3 different options. A work visa, which is really difficult to get. A marriage visa, which obviously requires marriage (you have to apply months in advance to be married, then think The Proposal, then if you want to get divorced it takes many years!). And then if you're in a committed relationship and have been living with an Irish citizen for 2+ years, you can get a visa to work that way. So flying solo can be a little difficult. It also takes 5 years to be able to apply for citizenship.

There's so much more that I could talk about! But I'll leave it at that for now. If I get enough questions, I may do a second Q&A. Leave yours in a comment below. Did anything surprise you? Would you want to live in another country? Which country would you move to? I'd love to hear your thoughts!