Dislike: Lack of variety on television…

It’s been a little over one month since my arrival to Drogheda and I’m starting to settle and adjust to my new environment. Things that I thought I’d never get used to, like driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car, is now second nature. I use my laser card for nearly all my purchases, drink tea about 3-5 times a day and have become quite adept at hanging an entire load of laundry on one clothes horse.


There are some things, however, that I still have a hard time with. And while I realize the following may make me sound a bit like an entitled, spoiled American, I’m just being honest. So, without any further ado, here are some things that drive me pretty nuts:

*Lack of cable channels: I have about 30 channels through the only cable company that services my building, and that is the largest package you can get. About half of these channels are not even on the air 24 hours a day, so often I’ll get an “Off Air” message when tuning in. The other issue is that many of the channels play the same show, over and over, all day long. While I’m no TV-junkie, it would be nice to have a bit more selection for those evenings when I just want to veg in front of the tube.

*Lack of customer service: The manager of my apartment building, which currently has no mailboxes for its tenants, told me a month ago that mailboxes would be installed “in a few days.” As of today our mail gets dumped into a shoe box in the front lobby area. After a long day at work, I’m sure my fellow tenants love sorting through 80 envelopes just to find the one bill or letter addressed to them…I know I do! And remember how I was waiting for my landline to be installed? I’m still waiting…today is day 24. And to add insult to injury, I received my Eircom contract the other day which, according to a bolded statement at the bottom, had to be signed and returned “within 5 business days” else risk my order being cancelled. So I have five days but they can take a month to turn on a damn switch? Grrrrr.

Like: That this is as bad as traffic gets in town. Nothing compared to LA traffic!

*General stuff: I’ve been looking at gyms, and the other day I toured a very posh one. I noticed that on the weight machines, the weight blocks were numbered consecutively: 1, 2, 3…so I asked the trainer what each block weighed. “Oh there is a system,” he said, and brought me over a small sheet of paper. “1 = 20 lbs, 2 = 40lbs, and so on.” But what if I want to lift 25 lbs, or 30 lbs? “Oh…you just can’t.” Bizarre. Another thing I find strange is that there are no electrical outlets in bathrooms here. Nowhere to plug in a hairdryer, electric shaver, etc. No light switches either; they are outside of the bathroom. My friend says it’s to keep people from electrocuting themselves. Call me crazy but I think the practice of keeping your hairdryers and other electric appliances out of a bathtub or sink filled with water isn’t that hard a concept to grasp.

Of course with the bad there is plenty of good, and I can’t write a post like this without mentioning the things I love about my new home. I love hearing the church bells ring every hour in town. I appreciate how easy going people are around here; they may be late all the time but at least they’ll never get mad at me if I’m late. I adore how friendly people are, especially when they find out I’m American. From the checkout lady at Dunnes to the bartender at McPhail’s, they are warm and welcoming. I love driving around the country and seeing little lambs grazing in the pasture and hearing the cows moo in the distance. I get a kick out of how everyone here says “bye” a half-dozen times in quick succession when they’re getting off the telephone (“bye, bu-bye, bye, bye, byeee!”). I think it’s charming how people in Collon pronounce Mathews, a local pub, as “Matt-i-tis” and Watters, another pub, as “Waters-is.”

Like: That everyone here knows how to make good scrambled eggs!

I appreciate how important recycling is here, and that everyone is responsible for taking any glass to the numerous  bottle banks around town (paper, plastic and tin goes into the regular recycle bin at your home, glass does not), and how people here bring their own bags to the grocery store AND bag their own groceries. In that respect, Ireland is way ahead of the U.S. I like that tax is already included in the list price of any item at any store – it costs what it says on the tag. I’m also very impressed by the national health care here, and as a resident I enjoy its privileges. I recently made an appointment with a doctor, was seen promptly by a very good physician and paid 50 Euro for the exam. My prescription was 19 Euro. No insurance, no hassles, no referrals/HMO/PPO red tape.

Like: Weekday entertainment in town like these kids doing a samba performance.

I think that eventually, I will learn to appreciate even the things that drive me a little crazy around here. There are just too many good things and lessons to be learned and life to live to focus on the little annoying stuff, even if they make me want to pull my face off at times. How does that song go? “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life…”