One Week In: Some “Getting Used To’s”

Today marks the 1-week anniversary of our move to Ireland. To be honest, it all still seems like a blur to me–we’ve been so busy moving and getting settled in to our new house that the days all just blend together (jet lag helps with that, too). There are a lot of things here that are a lot like home–the weather, the landscape, the types of food that are available. In fact, a lot of the time  since we’ve been here I have kind of forgotten that we’re in a new country–but then something will snap me back to reality and remind me that I am, in fact, living in a very different place. There are several things that will take some getting used to here. For starters:

This is oppositesville to me. They drive on the left side of the road.

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I have to really pay attention to know which lane we should be in, which lane we turn in to, and how close to the edge of the road I am. I’ve actually only driven once this week because we have a manual transmission car and it kinda freaks me out. Jon’s giving me driving lessons in empty parking lots, though, so I feel like I’m 15 again sitting in the driver’s seat for the first time. Good times!

Another difference? There are castles. Everywhere. This is Blackrock Castle and it’s about a 2-minute drive from the business park where Jon works (it’s currently used as an observatory and a restaurant).

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I’ve had a couple of “oops” parenting moments, too. When you go out to eat here, they have these little bottles of juice that they’ll give kids with their meals. David sure loves them! And now I know why–they are cordials that you’re supposed to mix with a full glass of water–I was just having him drink them straight. Way to go, Mom–at least highly concentrated fruit syrup never killed anyone, right?

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There are also some really neat products here that we don’t have readily available back in the states. My favorite is the washer/dryer. You just put your dirty clothes in, push start, and the machine washes and dries your laundry in one go. I’ve kinda always dreamed of a machine like this, and here it is.

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Some products just confuse me. None is more confusing than the humble shower. You see, every time I want to take a shower I have to turn on the hot water downstairs, then go upstairs to turn on the hot water for my shower. See the pull cord hanging from the ceiling? That turns on the hot water. On top of the confusing hot water situation, it’s an electric shower so you have to actually turn on the shower as well (that’s the big box hanging on the wall inside the shower). Energy efficient? Yes. Convenient? Not so much.

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Another energy-saving device they have is the wall outlet. Every single wall outlet has a switch that you have to turn on when you want the device that’s plugged in to receive power. When you are done using your electric toothbrush/cell phone charger/toaster/hair dryer you flip off the switch so energy isn’t wasted going to devices that aren’t being used.

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When I went into our backyard for the first time I saw this large black bin. Since I’ve been discovering all of these energy-saving devices all over the house, I got really excited to see that we had our very own compost bin!

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Unfortunately, when I opened my compost bin for the first time, I was gravely disappointed. Turns out, our “compost bin” is actually our coal bin. I didn’t even know people still used coal! Hmmm…not quite sure what to do with that…

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The grocery store is actually a lot like the grocery stores I’m used to shopping at back “home”. There are a few key differences, though. Groceries cost about 30% more than I’m used to spending–plus I still haven’t figured out how to use coupons (called “vouchers” here).  Another interesting part of shopping here is the whole cart situation–you have to insert a coin every time you want a cart (it is returned to you when you return the cart). You also have to bring your own bags. They have no free bags available. So, if you forget your bag (or if your reusable shopping bags happen to be on a cargo ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean) then you have to buy reusable bags on the spot for about $2 a pop. Guess who has a collection of 10 new reusable shopping bags?

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Other shopping experiences are quite different from what I’m used to. I haven’t found an equivalent to Target or WalMart yet, but this place came about the closest as far as the products available. How you shop there, however, is pretty unique. You walk into a showroom that has a bunch of computer stations and catalogs set up. You browse the catalogs and find the items you’d like to buy. Then you write down the item numbers on little slips of paper and take your “ticket” to the cash register. After you pay for your items, you have a seat in the waiting area while they collect your purchases. Then they bring them out to you and you’re set to go. I actually kind of like this method of shopping because in the future I’ll be able to enter my purchases online and then just pick them up in the store–no winding through shopping aisles with 2 screaming children, thank you.

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Then there are the beds. The beds come in many sizes: twin, full, queen, california queen, king and california king. The sheets, however, only come in 3 sizes. We’ve looked in half a dozen stores and can still only find sheets that are in the sizes “single”, “double”, or “king”. None of those sizes fits any of the beds in our house. So, we just bought a bunch of flat sheets (since none of the fitted ones fit on our mattresses). We put one flat sheet on top of the mattress and do our best to tuck it in–then we re-tuck it in every morning. I think someone could make a killing here selling sheets that actually fit mattresses. Just saying.

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Yes, there are many things that we’re getting used to. It will probably take awhile but, slowly and surely, we’re starting to get the hang of it all.

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