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!

Getting my cable, Internet and telephone has been riddled with more drama than an episode of Eastenders. First I signed with one company, which seemed easy enough. Then I was told that company cannot install in my building because the city planning code doesn’t allow satellite dishes to be put on the side of the building, which – quell surprise – is the only place this company can get a signal. I called another company, the only one accepted in my building. Only they cannot provide telephone or broadband or DVR capabilities in my building yet. I signed up for just cable and called the big phone company here. They can send someone out in 10 business days to install the line for phone and Internet, and then switch it on in another 10 business days after that. Twenty business days (that’s a whole month) to get a landline and the Internet, and I live smack-dab in the middle of town! My friends in the country are getting better offers than this. I’m currently Googling other options.

Strangely, there are plenty of things that are much easier to do here than back home. Last night, I went to the DVD rental place next door and got a membership card with just my ID, no credit card or Laser card required. I pay cash for the rental up front and that’s that. I got my apartment with just a deposit and first month’s rent; there are no credit checks here for that sort of thing. All you need is ID and a bank account. And yesterday, while shopping for picture frames, I experienced genuinely good customer service. The store (Woodie’s DIY) only had one of the frames I needed, and the clerk not only called around to all the other stores to find more but said she and some coworkers would go and pick them up and bring them back to her store for me to pick up. She could have easily sent me around to the other half-dozen shops to collect them, but she didn’t.

The view from my apartment reminds me of why I love it here

It is these small but kind gestures that help balance out the daily frustrations of adjusting to my new life in Drogheda. I still love living here, and don’t regret moving to Ireland for one second. There are going to be obstacles and I’m sure I will experience a few mini-meltdowns along the way, but I’m living in Ireland! I’m living in Ireland.