Archives For Living Abroad

You’d think, being from Tennessee, that moving back to the USA would be a piece of cake. I feel like I should burst that bubble right now, despite having only been back a week. It’s been a nonstop, fully hectic, how much can I possibly cram into a week, kind of week. The insane laundry list of things we had to get done was unreal — and being the type who wants things NOW, presented its own challenges. I miss certain aspects of Irish life daily, and sometimes want to just sit in the floor and cry. Will I be able to fully re-acclimate? Of course. Am I struggling hourly right now? Absofeckinglutely.

I wish moving home had been as simple as stepping off a plane and it being like I’d never left. While all the buildings might look the same, roads might be in the same place, and people might all sound similar to me, I assure you it is NOT that simple..

Let’s start with jet lag. I don’t usually get jet lag when time is gained. For some reason though, jet lag hit me with the force of a ton of bricks and for four solid days I felt like a zombie. The most dull, annoying pain I’ve ever had settled into my head each afternoon about 2 PM and could only be cured by 800 mg of Advil. I’d be ready to fall asleep by 4 PM but had to force myself to stay awake until at least 11 PM. Every morning, like clockwork, I’d be wide awake at 4:01 AM and it would take me about 2 hours to fall back asleep. It wasn’t until copious amounts of alcohol were consumed over the weekend which forced me to stay awake until 3 AM (with a subsequent 8 AM wake-up for football) did my body finally decide to reset. And hey, there was football to watch! So, tip number one: when traveling, drink lots of booze and stay up way past when you think you can!

Blue MoFo

Say hello to the Blue Mo Fo. I have no idea why it’s called that or what’s in it…but, like a LIT, it’s STRONG.

Lemon Drop Shot

Lemon Drop gone wrong — for some reason the bartender thinks a Lemon Drop is simply Citrus Vodka. BLEH.

Twins!

My dear friend, whom I haven’t seen since December. Nope, we didn’t coordinate in advance of the game, but, great fashion minds think alike when it comes to UT football!

UT in Athens - 9.28.14

Panorama of Sanford Stadium in Athens. If you look closely, you can see the TN section in the lower level near the other end zone 🙂

 

Then there’s the “I have to deal with 8 suitcases, an art tube, and two backpacks in a hotel room for three weeks until our apartment is ready” fiasco. I don’t even want to know what goes through housekeeping’s head every day as they clean the room and see our pile of luggage! Hurry up inspectors, is all I can wish for here.

Moving Day

There was also the issue of buying a car. We were fortunate to have a rental car for a week, and we left my car behind when we moved, but with my husband going back to work on the Wednesday of our arrival, we had only one day to shop around together before I was getting bombarded by sales people on my own. But wouldn’t you know you can’t buy a car in Georgia without a Georgia driver’s license. And, as is the case with Ireland, you cannot get anything converted until you have proof of residency. And, well, since I’m homeless until mid-October, you can see where the problem lies! (Don’t worry, we figured out a solution, because I’m a problem solving genius.)

I swore I'd never own another BMW after the last one... but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

I swore I’d never own another BMW after the last one… but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

 

Those are just a few of the things you might expect to be a pain from an international move. But what about the day-to-day little things, like grocery shopping and driving?

Well, I won’t say I was overwhelmed by the grocery store, because Ireland did have a few massive stores that I visited every now and again, but I was overwhelmed by the lack of quality food. How can such a MASSIVE store carry so little that is actually healthy & good for you? I’m living in a hotel so making my own food from the fresh items just isn’t an option right now, so I’m having to find alternatives. Oh, you’re telling me to go to the natural aisle? OK, I did that. Have you looked at any labels lately? I assure you that almost everything in that “natural” aisle still has sugar added to it along with preservatives. You don’t get that kind of shelf life without it. Even the all natural smoothies you can buy are still insanely high in sugar & carbs, because apparently the American nation cannot eat or drink something that isn’t loaded with a ridiculous amount of sugars. (i.e. calories) No wonder our nation can’t seem to get their health in check! And it is those preservatives and lack of fresh foods that my body is absolutely rejecting. I can eat beef again, which is great for my anemia, but… we’ll just say I cannot wait for my apartment to be move-in ready so I can actually cook something and get my body back on track!

I won't lie. I did enjoy this donut!

I won’t lie. I did enjoy this doughnut!

 

Driving… I think driving in this city is quite possibly as bad as L.A. I was on the interstate the other day and I counted 9 lanes of traffic. NINE. I haven’t driven in 10 months and I landed myself in a city that has average commute times over an hour while navigating at least 6-8 lanes of traffic on any interstate route. It’s not easy people. Before I got a new phone, I was using a prepaid SIM card, which afforded me no data. And I can promise you I drove in circles on more than one occasion trying to get from point A to point B. I will just count my blessings that I haven’t ended up in a part of town I don’t belong in. But I certainly wanted to pull my hair out!

Pulling Hair Out

What exactly am I trying to drive home here? Moving home: where everything is new, yet unknown. New city, new car, new phone, new job, new apartment (literally, half of the building is still under construction), new life chapter, new, new, new. And while new isn’t bad, it’ll just take a little more of an adjustment than the last week has allowed. Here’s to this new beginning.

Until next time. XOXO – K

 

In early July, my husband and I found out our time in Ireland was coming to an end earlier than expected. I’d like to tell you together we consciously made the decision to cut our time here short, but that would be a lie. What happened really isn’t important, but just know the world ultimately had different plans from our own wishes, and there was nothing we could do but embrace what was shortly to come.

And so, our time in Ireland will come to a close in mid-September, two days after I run the Dublin Half Marathon. It has been an emotional roller coaster and I’ve cycled through all of the 7 stages (or 10 or however many there are — it was a lot, either way) — but we’ve come to grips with the time we have left and have spent every minute trying to savour it. And even though it has been a challenging road, this living abroad thing, it has been one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

And so, this post is about the journey; that reflection; the last 18 months.

There has been coffee.

Coffee

There has been adventure.

Adventure - Flying

There have been tears — lots and lots of tears; Which has led to wine — lots and lots of wine (and tequila).

Wine

Tequila!

There has been food — so much food!

Seafood

There has been laughter.

Laughter

There has been dancing.

Dancing

There has been running.

Running

There have been fashion firsts.

Fashion

There have been friends — friends from every corner of the world.

Friends 1

Friends 2

Friends 3

Friends 4

(It just dawned on me that in EVERY SINGLE PHOTO under this section I’m wearing pink. Even in the black & white photo, I know my dress is pink…. hmmmm… Seriously, look out Elle Woods!)

But perhaps, most importantly, there have been memories; And no one can ever take away the memories, even if the world alters the path a little. Our Irish chapter is coming to an end, but the book is far from finished; And memories last a lifetime.

So, as they say, when one door closes, look for an open window:

Closed Door

(Just make sure the window isn’t barred shut!)

America, I’ll be seeing you SOON.

Until next time, XOXO – K

There are a lot of lessons you learn while living abroad. Case in point, Monday’s post: The Top Ten Lessons Learned at the One Year Mark. Perhaps the most fun I’ve had the past year, has been keeping a list of all the words and phrases I’ve heard that are either used in a different context than my American English ears are used to or are just simply foreign to me all together.

Whats the Craic - Guinness

Yes, I have literally kept a list — both on paper and on my phone so I never miss the chance to pick up new ones! I’ve been working on this since July 2013! (Just ask my friends Alison and Emer! They’ve been a huge help in interpreting when needed!]

You should find today’s post quite humorous as this is the Love.Life.Fashion. version of Urban Dictionary! You find the Irish word/phrase followed by my understanding/interpretation. Enjoy.

Ode to the Irish Version of English!

WORDS

  1. Craic – Fun
  2. Gaff – House
  3. Brilliant – Awesome
  4. Grand – OK
  5. Chips – Fries
  6. Crisps – Chips
  7. Yoke/Yokey – thing/person
  8. Hoover  – Vacuum
  9. Queue – Line
  10. Loads – A lot
  11. Lead – Cord (e.g. cable cord)
  12. Plaster – Band aid
  13. Lorry – Tractor trailer
  14. Till – Register/checkout
  15. Jumper – Sweater
  16. Press – Cabinets
  17. Lift – Elevator
  18. Dodgy – Shady/Sketch
  19. Eejit – Idiot
  20. Lad – Man
  21. Trousers – Pants
  22. Pants/Knickers – Under garments
  23. Wrecked – exhausted, completely hammered, OR hungover depending on the context
  24. Deadly – Awesome
  25. Lashing – Pouring (e.g. rain)
  26. Cheers – thanks
  27. Boot – Trunk of the car
  28. Quid – Money (e.g. Bucks)
  29. Kip – Nap or really crappy place
  30. Sorted – Resolved/Settled

PHRASES

  1. Taking the piss – Teasing someone
  2. What’s the story – What’s happening
  3. What’s the craic – What’s new
  4. Yer man/Yer wan – That guy/That girl
  5. Giving out – Grumbling, yelling, or arguing
  6. Straight away – Right now
  7. Out on the lash – Out drinking
  8. On the mend – Feeling better

I’m sure there are loads more that I’ve left off because at some point it all just become natural! Want some more fun? Here are a few good reads I’ve come across or my friends so kindly gave me:

11 Questions That Only Mean Something in Ireland

13 Useful Phrases You’ll Only Hear in Ireland

I do hope you are enjoying my spin on this week’s posts! XOXO – K

This week is a pretty important week; mostly because I finally start my new job, but also because it marks one year of living abroad in Ireland! And so, as a tribute, all of the posts this week will have something to do with my time abroad–and I sincerely hope you enjoy them.

Today, I present to you the top ten lessons I’ve learned while living abroad. From the good, to the bad, and even the downright funny.

The Top Ten Lessons in Living Abroad

10) Water isn’t just magically hot in old buildings. Flip that switch and wait it out. And don’t forget the sink likely has two separate taps for hot and cold so don’t scald your hand!

9) When trying to set up anything (cable, internet, a bank account, anything) plan on the process taking at least a month! And don’t plan on it being particularly straightforward. Why on earth would it need to be easy?!

Calendar Month

8) When the Irish (or a European for that matter) tell you they’ll be there in 5, they really mean 15.

Clock

7) Always carry an umbrella, but a rain jacket with a hood is your best friend when that puppy flips inside out and snaps in half!

Broken Umbrella

6) You cannot beat a pastry and a cup of coffee at a cafe on this side of the pond. Nothing in America compares! The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other country, but I’m amazed by how fabulously they do coffee here!

Coffee & Pastry

5) When traveling in Europe, it is best to pack lightly for you will have to lug whatever suitcases you take over god-knows-what kind of terrain. From cobblestone streets to five flights of stairs at a hotel, and crazy subway turnstiles, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way!

Moving Abroad

4) You miss Mexican food, talk to all your friends about Mexican food, and eat at every single restaurant that claims to have Mexican food in hopes of hitting the spot and satisfying the craving, but with no avail. Ultimately, you end up figuring out how to make your own Mexican food — but it’s still just not the same because you’ll never have the right queso blanco. Vicious cycle.

Mexican Food

3) You have absolutely no idea how you can possibly survive without your Kitchen Aid mixer, your surround sound, and your giant king-size bed when you first move, yet you make a trip to Ikea and buy your apartment essentials. Then you spend six months cooking, cleaning, and living with less and one day realize all those things in your storage unit might have made life easier, but you’ve managed just fine without them. It’s amazing how your perception changes when you move abroad! 

LessIsMore

2) Technology is the greatest thing ever. FaceTime, iMessage, and Google Text get you through some of the really tough times and help you feel like you aren’t missing out on quite so much! Having a cell phone plan to support this is crucial because you aren’t always at home on your wifi.

FaceTime2 FaceTime

1) It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.

I was fortunate enough to meet a very influential blogger my first week here and she’s been a god-send for that part of my life. Thank you for everything Lorna! You are absolutely amazing and I cannot thank you enough for introducing me around and inviting me along to events.

I’m also fortunate enough to have found a great running group and made some awesome friends out of it who keep me focused and motivated. Without you gang, my lofty marathon goal would NOT be happening this year! Thank you!

And I can’t forget the wonderful friends I’ve made, who took a chance inviting me to crash their party on Fourth of July and have been causing shenanigans with me ever since. Your friends make all the difference in the world in your ability to cope and handle the stress and change of living abroad. THANK YOU GIRLS.

Perhaps the most important “who you know” revolves around employment. Even having an influential tax partner, a very amazing recruiter, and a few others in my pocket, it still took me 365 days to land a tax job. Patience really is a virtue and it’s always worth the wait!

Stay tuned this week for more fun posts about the living abroad adventure! XOXO – K

I got a job last week. And with that job, comes the requirement of having a bank account into which my employer can direct deposit my paychecks. But wait, I don’t have a bank account. And because I don’t have a bank account, everything we do in Ireland is in my husband’s name and has been for a year. Why is this an issue, you might ask?

To answer that, let’s discuss the issues of foreign banking for five minutes, please?

First, I need you to know that the banks in Ireland are governed by legislation, as are most banks, but the legislation in Ireland seems to hinder a competitive market. In America, you see/hear ad after ad after ad about why Bank XYZ should be YOUR bank, or why you should choose bank ABC for your next loan. I’m here to tell you this is not the case in Ireland. I promise you that it doesn’t matter which bank you walk into here, because there is zero competition. Keep that in your mind.

Now, the nitty-gritty. I need to touch on what is REQUIRED to open a bank account in Ireland. There are three requirements:

  1. Photo Identification
  2. Proof of Address
  3. Your Personal Public Service (PPS) Number

Seems simple enough right? Oh no. No, no, no. Think again. Let me break each of these with a minor discussion.

Photo Identification

      1. Your valid passport
      2. Your current Irish, UK, or EU drivers license (with photo) OR
      3. Your EU National Identity Card

Fine, photo identification really is as easy as that. I have a valid passport. Done. Well, kind of. There are four major banks in Ireland and two of the ones I’ve called require you to have your valid identification certified. I have to certify, AGAIN, I am who I say I am? Because if you have an US Passport, you know the headaches you went through to get said passport, and this just sounds loony! But, nevertheless, if I want to bank with one of those two banks, I must take my passport to a Garda (local police) station so they can in fact verify my identity. AWESOME.

Stress Reduction Kits - Bang Head Here

 

OK, so, I’ve now proven my identity. And I have a migraine from trying to sort that out! Now I need:

Proof of Address:

      1. A utility bill (cable, electric, gas, landline) dated within the last six months
      2. A bank or building society statement issued in the last six months
      3. Your Determination of Tax Credits notification for the current year
      4. Your original household/health/motor insurance documents (less than twelve months old)

THIS one is the kicker for everyone. As mentioned above, everything we have in Ireland is in my husband’s name because HE is the one with the bank account. The ONLY thing I have in my name is a mobile bill, and wouldn’t know that simply won’t do. Don’t even ask me to elaborate on number two, because I honestly have no idea what that is. The Determination of Tax Credits is also issued in my husband’s name, because he has been the one with a job, claiming those credits. And wouldn’t you know that we have no insurance in Ireland? We don’t have a car, so no car insurance is needed. We don’t own this home, so no home insurance is needed. (You could argue we need renters insurance, but seeing as how the only thing to insure is our clothing in the fully furnished apartment we live in, we decided to take our chances. *knock on wood*) And while we have health insurance, it is based out of the U.S. and still gets delivered to our U.S. address. Even if it WERE our address in Ireland, guess who holds the policy?

Frustrated - Pulling Out My Hair

Are you starting to understand my frustrations? We don’t even need to discuss three because I cannot seem to make it past two! (Yes, I do have a PPS number, for the record.)

I bet you’re thinking, why don’t you just convert your husband’s account to a joint account? (Never you mind why his company didn’t do this from Day 1 — I’ve been asking for a flipping year!) Well, wouldn’t you know that in this country you can’t simply click a button and change an account type from individual to joint? No, we’ve tried that. To open a join account we would have to open a completely NEW account, and I have confirmed that I would STILL be required to have proof of address. Apparently my marriage license means shit in this country.

Now you’re thinking, “you dummy, just call up the utility company and have them add your name to the account”? Think again. It’s a vicious GD cycle. I cannot get added to the utility bills because I do not have rights to the bank account. Something about data protection. Again, apparently my marriage license means shit in this country.

I swore to myself when my husband took this photo I would NEVER put it on the internet. Well, it's EXACTLY how I feel right now, so, enjoy my "I Hate You" look.

I swore to myself when my husband took this photo I would NEVER put it on the internet. Well, it’s EXACTLY how I feel right now, so, enjoy my “I Hate You” look.

At this point, whatever bank will take my stupid money is the bank I’m ultimately going to land with. I’ve had advice given to me from a friend of mine who has gone through this same headache, and I’m attempting to change my address on my U.S. bank account to my Irish address as well as changing the address on some of my credit cards. I’ve also contacted my landlord about sending me a letter verifying I live here (my name is on the lease!) in hopes that having all of these documents certified at the Garda station will suffice and eventually I’ll have an account. Until then, I’ll keep burning through my cell phone minutes attempting to call these banks until I stop getting NO’s and finally get a YES.

I tell you all of this, so if and/or when you ever move to a new place, you know there will be battles–BIG BATTLES–because if you think living overseas is all fluff and thrills, you are completely mistaken. And I say this even after having lived abroad for 11 months and 8 days.

Until tomorrow. XOXO – K