Every Country Has Their Own Little Differences
In Part 1, I told you about what life has been like living in another country far from where I come from. I told you a lot about things I’ve discovered and things I’ve had to learn since taking up residence in Ireland. It was too hard to tell all in one post so here is part 2. Let’s find out what other notable realities I’ve come to know while living a new life in Ireland.
My daughter finds it annoying when people point out differences like in the way she speaks or the words she uses. Maybe they’re just fascinated by it. I know I can be. Learning about people and what makes them who they are is something I love.
In our current situation, we’re the ones who are different. So our differences will stand out. But since I’m not Irish, I often think about the little nuances that make people who live in Ireland, Irish! It also helps me understand where the slightest difference can be a big deal. I want to respect a culture that isn’t necessarily my own or one that I’m entirely used to. It can make a big difference in the relationships that I create with others and the new friends I make. So, I’ll start by telling you a little about time.
Every day we find ourselves becoming a little more Irish even if some of us don’t want to admit it. “What does that even mean, you ask?” For one, it means learning time in a whole new way. “Why can’t people just say the exact time?” my older girls ask. I try to explain that many people (not just the Irish) say things like 10 past or 10 till. They’re right, though. It would be fewer words to say the exact time. But in Ireland, there are other ways to express time. For example, 4:30 is half 4. For some reason, my mind goes to the hour before, so I think 3:30. I guess it’s all those years of teaching “half past” the hour. I think the girls just got the hang of telling time, so it drives them nuts that people can’t just say 4:30 or 5:10 and so on.
Some of the other time-telling confusing situations are when someone says that something is going to happen Monday week or Tuesday week or whatever day of the week, week. This confuses the heck out of me. It essentially means two weeks from that day from what I understand. So, not this coming Tuesday, but the next one. Isn’t that two weeks from Tuesday? It comes down to semantics. All I know is that you better give me a date or I’ll show up on the wrong day. Another word often used is fortnight. And I’m not talking about the game. It wouldn’t be a word I’d hear often or use myself. According to the girls, only people who lived in the days of Shakespeare used words like “fortnight” and “ye” (ye is used very often).
The Last Goodbye
Who’s going to hang up the phone first? Hanging up the phone after a chat can be tricky because saying goodbye can take a little longer than expected. I’ve never heard so many “byes” being said before the phone is hung up. I used to feel like I was hanging up on people all the time. I’ve often found myself hanging up the phone too soon not realizing there were more “byes” to be said. It can feel a bit awkward, so I say “bye” a few times and then hang up.
Can You Repeat That?
I notice most Irish people aren’t very direct which is fine, but sometimes it can lead to a lot of confusion. I’m so used to Americans, or maybe it’s Californias saying exactly what they mean. Sometimes so much so that it’s a little offensive. In Ireland, I often find myself leaving a conversation wondering what the outcome was. I’m still learning how to decipher what was decided or what is going to happen next and it isn’t because I didn’t understand their accent. You get a lot of “ya’s” and “ah sure, you know like,” but I don’t know! If they do answer you directly, they always ask if it’s okay. Sometimes asking again can feel hard. So, I’ve started repeating what I think I heard. I see the older girls struggle with this as well. We’re all getting the courage to ask again.
It is true that the Irish are very hospitable and welcoming to visitors. Unlike home, people often pop over with short notice or none at all. Now that is something I’m really trying to get used to. Mainly because I don’t want to be caught in my pajamas or my hair all over my head (curls need time before they’re presentable). But I’ve never seen people whip up something so fast for their visitors. I watch my mother-in-law and she just amazes me. I’m still thinking about what I have to offer anyone who comes by while she’s already got the kettle on, tea, biscuits, and sandwiches on a tray! Thank goodness for an Irish husband or you could be waiting a long time for me to figure out what to offer you. It doesn’t help that we can’t keep anything nice to eat in our home because the girls always discover it first.
Can You Be Polite to a Fault?
The Irish are almost always so polite. I say almost always because no one can be polite all of the time. They’re so polite and concerned that it can be kind of a strange thing. I’ve often noticed this kind of politeness or overly concerned nature when people are providing you with a service of some kind. For example, a restaurant prepares your food and asks if it’s okay to charge you. The hairstylist asks if it’s okay for me to sit down at the shampoo bowl. The immigration officer tells me what I need to do as I enter the country and then asks, “Is that okay?” I didn’t know I had a choice.
Maybe people don’t want to sound too direct or as if they’re ordering you around. I guess I’m not used to being asked if I’m okay with something when it’s something so routine or expected. Or maybe it’s a way of making someone feel at ease. I have to say, it does make you feel more relaxed when you’re visiting places that you kind of hate to go to like the doctor or the dentist.
An Apologetic Nature
As I was finishing up this blog post, I happened to be listening to the radio. They mentioned how the Irish have an apologetic nature. If they’re not saying “Is that okay?” then it’s “sorry!” Nobody wants to offend anyone or put someone in an awkward situation. It probably comes down to that same thing about being too direct. If that’s the case, maybe I am a little Irish too.
The radio hosts were trying to help a lady come up with a way to tell someone that they forgot to pay her. You shouldn’t have to beat around the bush for that. I can see how it could make someone feel awkward, but you shouldn’t have to say sorry or apologize for your every move. I remember when I would say sorry as a child. My dad would tell me “Stop saying sorry, or you’ll be a sorry person.” I’m not exactly sure what he meant by it, but from then on, I stopped using that word unless it was necessary. Hearing people always say “sorry” about this or that is an example of the little nuances that I pick up that make me want to know and understand more about the culture.
I’m definitely not in San Diego anymore. I live in a small village on the west coast of Ireland. It is truly breathtaking and there’s no mistake that it is rural. The nearest grocery store is a thirty-minute drive. We have small a shop in the village which is convenient when you’re running low on things like milk. Good thing my kids are a bit older because I used to say I’d never live anywhere that took more than ten minutes to get diapers and milk.
As I mentioned in part 1, the roads can get quite narrow where we live. Although I question my driving abilities, I think I’ve become pretty good at navigating these country roads. I don’t jump or squeal as much at situations that kinda freak me out. I’m getting used to the darkness and the absence of city lights. You’d think you would see more stars in the sky, but the clouds prevent it, making the nights darker. At night and especially in the winter, the road is so quiet. We do have a few neighbors, but it can feel like no one is around but us. Luckily the kids don’t seem bothered by it. I often ask myself if it makes me a tad afraid. It usually doesn’t.
Let’s Talk About the Weather
We went from warm, sunny days to cool, cloudy, rainy days. Supposedly, there’s only one other place in Ireland that gets more rain. I believe it. We get A LOT of rain. I don’t really know much about weather systems, but I guess it’s the way the clouds come in from the sea and get trapped by the mountains that surround us. Who knew that weather and landscape can make a place so dramatic? It can often make you feel that way too.
There can be such contrast in weather on a single day. I guess that’s why the Irish spend a lot of time talking about the weather. It plays a huge part in what you can do. If the weather is nice, then you drop what you’re doing if you can and get outside. Dry days can also be a time when outdoor jobs are done. Experiencing four seasons in one day is not uncommon. I do remember saying I wanted to live in a place with seasons. This is where you might say, “Be careful what you wish for!”
Sometimes the days are so gray and the wind can be so strong. It can feel like the sky is literally closing in on you. The sky is so low, it’s like the mountains don’t even exist. When the clouds and rain clear away you can’t believe the landscape that lies before your eyes. The sea against green mountains with huge rock formations. Waterfalls that come rushing down after the rain. It’s truly magnificent scenery and I can’t believe I live here! When the sun shines, you forget about the days when the wind and rain feel unbearable. And that’s living in Ireland so far.
There’s a lot to consider when moving to another country. There are a lot of ups and downs that you can go through in the process. You plan for as much as you can, but there will always be surprises or something that comes up that never crossed your mind. If you ever considered moving abroad, maybe my posts will help you. If you missed Part 1 of this blog post, you can find it Here!