One year in Ireland; a year since I left behind Paris to – FINALLY! – live with my lovely Irish boyfriend (and now fiancé).
I didn't need much persuading: long-distance relationships might have their charms, but after five years, the twice-a-month Ryanair commute was getting tiresome.
And with 12 months of habitation in this country now under my belt, I have grown to love it a lot more than I thought I ever would.
1) People are very friendly
A few weeks after I arrived, I was working around Grand Canal Dock and I forgot to fill up my Leap card – the insane price of the bus and public transport in general is also something I had a hard time adjusting to. When the bus driver told me the card didn't have enough money on it, a lovely young lady offered to pay for me. No questions asked, she didn’t want anything from me, she was just being kind. Not a chance that would EVER happen in Paris.
2) The alcohol issue
Irish people are famous for their drinking, but I do think there is a real alcohol problem in this country. Don’t get me wrong, we do love our wine and spirits in France, but we don’t have this culture to drink purely and solely to get drunk. Most people are able to have one or two glasses – rather than five… or ten. Also, WHAT is it with off-licences times? Do the authorities really think that people will curb their drinking if they can’t buy booze before 10.30am or after 10pm?
Living in a foreign country, you miss your friends and family, of course, but mostly you miss the food. Especially when the food is French. Not that you can't find nice stuff in Ireland, you most definitely can, but it’s just the taste of home you miss. Among the French community, the French week in Lidl is probably the most exciting event of the year. On our Facebook groups, we also share tips on where to find the best raclette or croissants in town. Food is for French people what alcohol is for the Irish.
4) The renting situation
Insane, properly insane. I never thought it would be that hard to find a decent affordable place in Dublin. It is much worse than Paris, both in terms of price, quality… and stress involved. And if it is hard for Irish people imagine what it is like for foreign people, who have no proof of address or bank account or job when they arrive.
5) The immersion
I just can’t get over it. Ireland is a fully developed country, yet for some reason, there is still no hot water in the tap unless you turn on the fecking immersion 30 minutes before you plan to use it. How come every country in the world (or almost) has figured it out and Ireland still hasn’t?!
6) Christmas time
At home, you are not allowed even mention the word Christmas until December, let alone put up decorations or bring out reindeer jumpers. In Ireland, Christmas is like a marathon and you never seem to see the finish line. Between the shopping, the eating, the songs, the million Christmas parties and the alcohol, you end up looking forward to the January detox by December 12.
7) The 'summer'
What summer? Sorry, but I didn’t see anything that looked like summer over the past 12 months. I remember a couple of pretty sunny weeks in May (I think), but that was it. All these summer clothes I got in May were worn once, at best. This year, I have decided to invest in boots and a coat – which I can then just wear constantly. Perfect!