A Look at Dublin Expat Life After Three Months

After living in Dublin for only a month, I had the temerity to post a list of five things I hated about living in Dublin and Ireland.  Two months on, I have three times the perspective I had at that time, and have had time to settle in and get to know the city/country a bit better.  So how is it going?

Let’s start by recapping the infamous five things:

5. Irish Cat Litter – Still crap (pardon the pun).  I order mine from Germany and take advantage of free shipping. God love the Internet.

4. Separate Hot & Cold Water Taps – Still alternately scalding and freezing myself, but now I simply shake my head, and recall the dozens of sympathetic emails I’ve received saying something along the lines of, “Yeah, what’s up with that?”

3. Bad Sausage – The sausage here is still bland to my way of thinking.  But I’ve been told that what they call sausage here is an entirely different product than sausage in the U.S.  Even the “good” sausage that people have pointed out to me, while better, is pretty bland.

But I no longer complain, and have come to a wary truce with Irish sausage.  I’ve decided I like sausage rolls.  But, the oft-lauded breakfast roll (sausage, fried potatoes, rashers, black and white puddings) is a cardiac carnival that is too much even for me.

On the other hand, while it’s not “bacon” as I know it, rashers are pretty damn good.  And Irish pork chops are fabulous.

2. Atrocious Bus Service – Yes, the information design kiosks can be laughably unhelpful, but the buses are pretty clean, and have, thus far, gotten me where I’m going.

1. Institutionalized Disorganization & Shameless Lack of Accountability –This is still just as bad, perhaps worse.  Today, I have more incidents to add to the list of offenses,  but I’ve started to relax about it, and, sadly/predictably, my tolerance of said craptastic standards grows daily.

Now, at the three month point, we are approaching the point where we have the money train (from and to our stateside accounts) figured out, moving reimbursements settled, Irish and US taxes arranged, payroll direct deposits and electronic bill pay set up, U.S. utility accounts closed/ zeroed out, and our stuff has arrived and been unpacked.  Happily we are starting to feel like we actually live here, and aren’t just spending time in lines and on the phone.

And, predictably, the weather has begun to turn to crap.  Dublin weather, which had been fine summer weather, is now characterized by gale force winds day and night, and needle-fine persistent drizzle.  Give it a few weeks and I’m sure it will improve itself to needle-fine sleet and snow.

Work for both of us has begun.  Kalpana is enjoying her students and colleagues at UCD (University College Dublin), and I’m enjoying the online tutoring I’ve been doing.  I’m also making some progress on Ireland-based travel and film writing.

With no real support system in place here, I’ve been reminded just how marginalized and cut off you can feel when working from home.  After about 6 weeks of working from home and not really having the chance to go out and interact with folks on a daily basis, I began to crack.  From that day forward, I’ve made it a point to get out every day for extended forays.  I also bought a bike, and have found that the exercise works wonders on my psyche as well.

At the three month mark we’ve also gotten to the point where we are making friends (who we’ve seen more than once) and want to spend time with on a regular basis.  We’ve been reminded that the process of making friends is a learned skill that few of us practice regularly.  As we get older, most of us stick to our existing friends, and rarely find the need to meet and make new ones.  Consequently the skills needed to do so atrophy.  Living in a new country/culture, you don’t have that luxury, unless you want to feel as if you exist completely outside both your new world and your old, trusted, comfortable “home”.

Three months in we are also starting to ferret out sources for our old hobbies, and new ventures that tickle our fancy.  This is also a great way to make new friends as well.  People are starting to know me on sight as the guy in the bike store, or the bee guy at the hardware store, etc

When I ask myself if I’m having “fun” yet, if I’m feeling blunt that day I have to answer “no”.  It’s not that I don’t really like living in Dublin, and having all of Ireland at my doorstep, but living in a new country is still work.  I’m looking forward to a time when living here requires a bit less effort.  Fortunately, I’m far enough along in this process that I can see that time being not too far off.

Overall, Ireland is just now starting to feel like a place we could call home for a while. In three more months, ask me again if I’m having “fun” yet.

Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:

Out in the Country

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About Glenn Kaufmann

I'm an American freelance writer, photographer, and web publisher. I specialize in writing about travel, food, arts, and culture. I also write dramatic scripts for stage and screen. I'm based in Ireland.
This entry was posted in Dublin Life, Friends & Family, Home & A Sense of Place, International Moving, Irish Life & Society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A Look at Dublin Expat Life After Three Months

  1. Jana says:

    Hi, Can you let me know what online site you order your cat litter from? I can’t find any litter that’s decent at any of my local pet stores.
    Thanks!

  2. Marisol says:

    Thanks for the new update Glenn. As always insightful and fun to read. I will only that you are bit hasty waiting to settle and feeling like only after 3 months LOL. It took me years just to get used to living in Los Angeles and USA after I left Puerto Rico and we are all “Americans” but as you know just having a SSN or a passport that said you are American doesn’t make you one in the eyes of the “regular” joe that truly doesn’t get what is the deal with those Puerto Ricans or [fill your favorite non-English person] But I am thinking that indeed in a year or two you will get a better sense of self in Ireland. In the meantime, relax, have fun and yeah, keep doing those outside things, they do help to keep your sanity :-)

  3. I always look forward to reading your blogs and I always pass them on to my ex-pat daughter in Cornwall so she can compare. Of course, being married to a Brit made her transition easier but there are still challenges. And she doesn’t miss our tornados. Keep up the good work.
    I’m heading for Spain soon — wish you were going to be there, too.

  4. lordstilton says:

    you should check out des bishop live at vicor street DVD…hes and irish american stand up…his routine was about the culture shock of moving from the states to Ireland…he’s not the best stand up artist but this ones funny enough.

  5. Just stumbled across your blog and glad I did. (I, too, am a reluctant blogger, but some days it saves me.) Thanks for the cat litter tip. We are still awaiting our cat’s arrival (if interested, you can read my tale of woe here: http://wp.me/p1Jb9X-7J). I’m looking forward to digging in and reading more of your blog. And if you haven’t checked out the Xpert Taxis app for smartphones, I highly recommend it. Makes life without a car here much easier.

    • Welcome. I’m looking forward to digging into your blog as well. Looks like good stuff.

      I’m still working on getting my iPhone up and running over here. AT&T still has its stranglehold until I can get it unlocked (waiting for an iphone 5.0.1 solution to come on the market). Then I’ll definitely use the Xpert app.

  6. Heidi Murray says:

    Just a tip with the taps, you’re supposed to run the water and mix it to an appropriate temperature in the sink, it’s hardly rocket science.

    • Heidi,

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      I understand how the mixer taps work. And, again, you’ve done an excellent job of making my point for me. Irish plumbing is ludicrously antiquated and needlessly unhygienic.

      Let’s take an example that happened to me a few weeks ago:

      I’d been working with some acetone (a very toxic and highly corrosive solvent. When I finished, I needed to rinse it off my hands. If, I’d been in a country with a single mixed tap where I could create a steady stream of hot (not scalding) water, I could simply wash my hands, rinsing the soap and acetone down the drain.

      In Ireland, I was forced to fill the basin and rinse my hands, creating a toxic soup of acetone and non-potable water (thanks to the open cistern system) that meant I was still bathing my hands in the corrosive substance until I drained the sink. At that point I could remove the residual acetone left by the aforementioned soup by rinsing my hands in a stream of either cold (and arguably less effective at cleaning) water or scalding water. Neither of these choices is necessary in a world that has widely mastered mixed water taps and a potable water supply.

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