If I was going to India, Japan or to South American jungles I would expect to find surprises every step of the way. Different cultures bring many unknown traditions. A different way of greeting someone on the street. Houses over there are decorated in a very native way.
Ireland seems so close and so well known to everybody, however it is still not fully understood. Sometimes I got the feeling that they are filming a foreign movie over here. One abstraction after another. Many things cannot be explained logically. Not even mentioning that they drive on the left hand side. Even if you are not driving, you still need to cross the street. In the city centre they came up with a brilliant solution- auxiliary signs. While crossing the street you will see : look left and look right on the street.
Palm trees in the middle of winter
My logical thinking was knocked out. Going south I expected beautiful plants, which grow in Egypt and Maroko all year round due to their exotic climate. However, Ireland is in the northern part of Europe. So the climate should be much colder. I knew that Ireland did not get snowy winters, but I did not expect to find palm trees on the street. I was really surprised, but in a good way. Recently my friend told me what causes this abnormality. Millions of years ago, when the continents where splitting, from what we know now as South America, a small island was separated and moved over to the north. The ground here stayed warm despite the cold climate.
Two taps in the sink
Who needed this? Medieval times in modern design. Instead of filling a bowl of water and disposing of it outside, the new sink was created in the restroom. One that has a drainage system. Warning! You will need a drain stopper if you want to mix the water together. Unless you prefer burning yourself first and then getting freezing water on you. And you do want to wash your hands, especially after using the toilet with that weird flushing knob. Is it not easier to press a button?
Windows open to the outside and door handle goes up
If someone does not tell you exactly how to close the door you will not be able to exit your house. There is a lock, you have the key, but you cannot do anything about it. Magic will not even help you. You will need to bring the door handle up in order to unblock this locking mechanism. If I was to run into my house because someone was chasing me and I had to close the door very quickly I would not be able to do it. Good thing you can open it with ease in case a fire broke out this is the only way out. You cannot use the window to escape. Weird building techniques force you to open them to the outside . Most of the windows do not open at all and the ones that do are parallel windows split into two little ones capable of creating a gap to the outside world. I tried to imagine myself jumping out of a window like that. I could get my head out first, but what kind of a landing would that be? Head first. Trying to get my legs out first and then jump into the unknown is also dangerous. Change this building technique. Unless this done to increase employment for people that wash windows from a ladder.
Wall socket with three terminals
If these types of sockets where in Poland I would have suspected that someone gave a bribe to the building company in charge, in order for this type of socket to exist. It is not practical or even comfortable. Most of the electrical devices that you can buy in Ireland are not actually made for these sockets. Of course you can always stick something in the top hole and unblock the two bottom terminals. If you prefer you can always buy an adapter for 5 euro.
Horrible. Beige is not a colour, it is dirty white. Why are all the rooms in the houses painted in this colour? No one will make me believe that this is landlord’s way of saving money (Magnolia paint is the cheapest). I try not to spend too much money too, but my esthetical sense is suffering. And those wooden bars on the window. They remind me of English houses from the turn of the century, that you can see in movies, used to separate the wall paper from the painted top. I was pretty sure that they only used these types of walls on a set of a costume movie.
Insurance for the driver, not for the car
Right here I should take a long pause. I will try to be concise about this. If I have driving license and I want to drive my boyfriend’s car, I can’t do that. During insurance you have to name the first driver and possibly a second driver. If you do not name a driver on your insurance and an accident happens your insurance company can tell you to stick it. The price of insurance depends on the car, how old it is, engine size, as well as the driver’s age (under the age of 25 it is very expensive), insurance claims history. Warning! They also look at how long you have your driving licence and how long are you driving on Irish roads. They do not care that you have been a driving for the past 20 years in your own country. If you have just arrived to Ireland, you will have to pay a lot to get your insurance. If you happen to have a car back in your home country, you will not be given a lower price, unless you end the policy, so basically this means selling your car. You can also exchange your foreign driving licence for an Irish piece of paper, and with that your insurance will cost less. Discrimination against European documents is more than obvious, but what can you do, they have to cut their costs. By the way can anyone tell me why all the insurance companies raised their prices this year?
The bank does not want my money
I want to give it to them, but they will not take it. People what is up with that? I thought that all of the banks worked in a similar fashion. They will do anything to make money on you. It is not important if it is a simple bill, an investment or taking out a loan. All of these services come with a price and the one paying for them is me, the client. So where is the problem? Oh yes, I have to give them a proof of address, work details, because they do not accept money from the unemployed, even if I had a million in savings. Do banks over in Sweden have the same requirements?
Everyone is so nice
Too nice. They smile at you, and always ask you How are you? They do not expect an answer. I think this is a bit fake. And if you want to say anything other than Ok, I’m fine, you better bite your tongue. No one likes complaints over here. The weirdest form of greeting that I saw, yes saw, not heard, was a head going to one side, that I would never accept as a form of greeting. He expected me to do the same thing. But how do you go about that? I will forgive them everything just because I enjoy all of those smiles I get.
Does anyone speak English here?
The tower of Babel. Walking down the street or sitting on the bus English will be the last language you will hear. Latino and Western European languages are the most popular. Poles and Romanians people are two of the biggest of the nation’s minorities in Ireland. You can find these speakers everywhere you go. In town you will mostly hear Spanish in both its native and South American form. Many students come here to strengthen their English. If you hear Irish people talking you would not think that it is English either. It is not the English I am use to. Sure once in a while you will pick up a word or two that you know but the rest is gibberish. People please speak slower when you are taking to me, speak clearer and preferably in capital letters. So many people everywhere. O’Connell Street is the main street in Dublin, Henry and Grafton Street is where you will find most of the large shopping areas, and even Aldi, Lidl and Tesco. Hundreds of people everywhere. The parking spots are never free. It does not matter what they of the week it is. Everyone is always shopping. Don’t they work? Where do they get their money from? I don’t understand any of it.
Office. First floor. Few people are waiting for the elevator. They go in. One of them farts and presses 1, gets out a leaves the horrible stink behind. The doors close. What do the other passengers do? They laugh. Funny right? No one here is disgusted or thrown off by the odour. I think there is a rule over here: nothing human is alien to me. But what’s funny about that?
I am sure that during your visit in Ireland you came across many surprises. Share these experiences with me. Warn me. Tell me how you dealt with it.