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Entries tagged with “living abroad”.


LA Paris

LA view

 LA sufers  LA 2

My snaps of LA life: View of LA hillside; Paris Hilton waiting for her car; Surfers at the beach; Restaurant opening party in Santa Monica

It’s hard to believe that barely three months ago, I was packing up my life in Los Angeles and preparing for a whole new adventure in small-town Ireland. As I’ve hinted in several previous posts, I decided to move because I wanted to challenge myself and to force a change that felt necessary.

LA can be a strange place. It’s a city where residents get to observe celebrities in their natural habitat. It was perfectly common for me to see Drew Barrymore in the grocery check-out line or Orlando Bloom picking up coffee at Starbucks. Most people in my circle of friends have some connection to the entertainment industry whether it’s through work or social circles. My freelance work with a well-known celebrity magazine frequently placed me right in the center of Hollywood parties, red carpets and celeb-driven charity functions. One of my best friends works for Screen Actors Guild and my sister is a managing editor for a celebrity gossip television show. There are also actors, musicians, chefs, and filmmakers in my social group in Los Angeles.

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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.

…sigh.

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:

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Fresh salmon the way it should be served!

Here’s a recap of a conversation I had last night with one of my Irish friends last night:

Me: “I’m going to have a dinner party soon…what should I make?”

Friend: “Don’t make fish. I don’t like it.”

Me: “But you eat fish and chips, right?”

Friend: “Yes, but it’s fried. I don’t like fish unless it’s fried.”

Me: “Have you ever tried it not fried?”

Friend: “No, because I don’t like it.”

After a few more back-and-forths, it was determined that my friend has never eaten fish in any other form but fried, yet is adamant that he hates it. How does he know he doesn’t like something he’s never tried?

Strangely enough, we live in a fishing town and there is a wide selection of fresh, beautiful fish available at every grocery store in town. There are also several fishmongers who sell seafood that’s literally been caught that day. But from what I’ve observed so far, most people I know here not only prefer the fried variety, they actually like fish that’s had the shit cooked out of it – the complete opposite of what any fishmonger would recommend in regards to preparing fish.

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Me, just after waking up. I know you are sooo attracted to me right now!

Ever since I moved to Ireland, my hair has been less than cooperative. Gone are the soft, touchable locks of my LA days; here my hair is unmanageable and constantly tangled.

The reason is the hard water that is prevalent throughout Ireland. According to this map, I live in an area with “moderately hard” water (I can just imagine those poor folk who live in the “hard” areas!). For pipes this means lime scale buildup. For hair, it means disaster. The water here makes my hair very sticky, and by that I don’t mean sticky like honey or melted marshmallows. The best way to explain it is by comparing it to spaghetti. When you first drain cooked spaghetti, it’s loose and easy to toss with a fork. But if you let it sit in a bowl for five minutes or more, it starts sticking together. If you stick a fork in it, you’ll get clumps of spaghetti instead of nice, individual strands. My hair = five-minute old spaghetti. Fork = my hairbrush.

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Food should be colorful and inviting

Grocery shopping in a new country is always a treat for me. I honestly believe that the food and eating habits of a country reveal insights into its culture and people. So far in Ireland, I’ve managed to shop at Tesco, the large UK-based grocery chain; Dunnes and SuperValu, both Irish-owned companies; and Aldi, a German grocery chain.

Drogheda Farmers’ Market – my lifesaver!

If I had to summarize the Irish based solely on what I’ve found at their food shops, here is verdict: They love beige and yellow food. By this I mean breads, cakes, crackers, cookies, potatoes and various breaded and fried proteins. In fact, about 75% of the frozen food sections at all of the aforementioned grocery stores is comprised of breaded chicken (sticks, fingers, patties) and breaded fish (same as the chicken). They love them some chicken nuggets, so they do. You can buy them in the form of smiley face circles, chunky chunks and even “Southern Fried,” which, by the looks of it, would make Colonel Sanders roll over in his grave.  

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Drogheda sits on the  Boyne River

If you thought that moving to Ireland was going to be all shamrocks and scones, you were kidding yourself. I thought no such thing; some days even an open mind and a world of patience don’t mute the growing pains that come from adjusting to a new country and culture.

Case in point: the Laser card issue. Pretty much everyone here uses a Laser card, which is the Irish equivalent to the ATM/Debit card. It is by PIN code only, as a safety precaution, whereas in the U.S. you can either sign the credit/debit slip or use your PIN. Thanks to the joy that is Irish time, I still haven’t received my laser card from the bank, so I’ve been using my ATM/Debit/Credit card – with lots of issues. Many places will not accept anything but cash or a Laser card, and many a clerk has stared quizzically at my credit card as if it was a fallen piece of a spaceship from another planet (I’m sure it’s a different story in Dublin, but I’m in a small town). Though VISA is supposed to be an internationally-recognized brand, my experience here has made me wonder.

Dryers, as in the kind that you use after the washing machine, are still a new concept here. Some people have them, and I have a dual washer/dryer in one (not the kind that’s on top of the other; this is one machine that washes and dries!), but hardly anyone uses them. With electricity costs at an all-time high, people would rather hang their clothes out to dry…even in Irish weather (read: cold, wet, and freezing). Since I just moved into my new apartment and have no idea how much my first electricity bill will be, I’m afraid to use the dryer. I’ve also been running the heat quite a bit (did I tell you it’s COLD here?), and I’m having a hard time figuring that out. I have storage heaters, which store heat during the night to save energy. There are so many knobs with a zillion numbers that I cannot figure out how to use anything besides the manual position, which no doubt is the most expensive option. The best part? Neither the management company of my building nor the handyman has a clue on how to use them. “You should Google it,” said the building manager. Gee, thanks.

Comfort foods like beans & eggs & toast help in times of trouble!

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