My impulsive behaviour really can cause me a lot of trouble

After the whole tirade of moving house and not moving house I was left extremely low on funds, I had paid rent and deposit of over €1,000 at (the dirty) place and still had my deposit of €600 at my original place. On top of this I had a month’s rent due. I always try to ensure that I have some back up cash in the bank however with all of these expenses (not to mention a couple of trips to the doctors) my back up cash was gone. My pay came in and it was not enough to cover rent or living costs until my next pay.

hsbcBut it was alright, I had organised a credit card with HSBC for when shit really hit the fan. So I went and found the credit card and went off to save myself. The credit card didn’t work. I checked my account and there was an outstanding balance of 0.34c and almost $6,000 available to access. Well that didn’t make sense. I called HSBC and they advised me that I had been due to pay the 0.34c mid-July and as I had not paid the 0.34c a block had been put on my credit card.

You have to be fucking kidding me.

I paid the 0.34c but HSBC advised it could take until Tuesday to be processed and have the block removed (this was Friday morning).

ulster bank

I contacted my local Irish bank to see if I could get an overdraft, the earliest they could get me in for an appointment to discuss the potentially giving me an overdraft was Tuesday. The minimum personal loan I could apply for with my bank was €2,500 and for a minimum term of 12 months, not what I needed or wanted and as I had not been with the bank very long I was advised the application would not be approved. Again the Irish banking system has let me down.

dpcu
The DPCU and his trustee sidekick

Finally I went to the only other trusted banking source I knew of, the DPCU (Daniel Pearce Credit Union). I asked my brother for a loan of €500 until the following week when my credit card would be unblocked and I could return the money to him. The DPCU approved my loan within minutes and transferred the money into my Australian bank account immediately, all I need to do is withdraw the money here. God the relief I felt.

The drama isn’t over, the tenant from the house I was supposed to have moved into still hasn’t found anyone to move in and I don’t believe she is making much of an effort to find someone. I can text and call her as much as I like to follow up but this may only make her go slower out of spite. However the relief of knowing that I can pay my rent this month and that I have a clean and safe home to go to does take a lot of the burden off my shoulders.

Financially I have put myself not into the best position for the next couple of weeks (and potentially months), however I will recover.

This last fortnight has really taught me that although one of my personality traits that I have always liked about myself is my impulsiveness, my impulsive behaviour can cause me a lot of grief and stress. I have also learnt that a clean home and security are far more important than a housemate that may be a bit tight about the bills and have a personality that does not entirely suit you. But I have made the decision to slow down, I have not been here 6 months yet. Things will work out for the best, I just need to give them time and to stop trying to rush them.

When you throw the rational and pragmatic aside and start being impulsive

Since moving to Dublin in March I have been on the go to set myself up and secure myself in Dublin. Setting up bank accounts, finding a home, finding a job, meeting people, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. It has been go, go, go.

I was calculating and pragmatic when I planned my move over here and although I definitely had my stressful moments, I have always been able to make rational decisions and get out of hard situations. However being rational, calculating and pragmatic are not always words that some people would describe me as. Impulsive may be in some ways more accurate.

A few weeks ago after a particularly bad week with my new misogynistic housemate and older financially tight housemate I made an impulsive decision to move out. I jumped online and agreed to move into the second house I looked at. The house was close to my work, close to the city centre and the other tenant seemed relaxed and easy going, just what I wanted. I transferred the bond (deposit) and a month’s rent and moved into the house.

The place was what I considered a dump. When I had looked at the house the tenant had said it was only messy because of the other person moving out, and as you only have 20minutes (if you are lucky) to really look around and get the feel to the place I really hadn’t realised how bad the house was. On moving in I found leftover food caked onto the stove, the sink, the washing machine, the kettle… pretty much anything in the kitchen, and it was not new caked on food scraps. This was the type of caked on food that had its own ecological system growing on it. The bathroom was mouldy and had obviously not been cleaned for months (if ever) and the room I was moving into was dusty and dirty. I talked to the tenant however she could not see the problem and advised if the house was not clean enough for me it would be my responsibility to keep it cleaner.

dubThis on its own had me anxious. But what tipped the place over the scales for me was the neighbourhood. I had only visited the neighbourhood once on viewing the property and had been told that it was a working class area. However as I was moving in, the men across the street started catcalling and as I walked home that evening from a friend’s house and saw the drug addicts, drunkards and violence that was on the street I became even more anxious.

Within half an hour of waking up the next morning I found myself having an anxiety attack from the decision I had made to move in to this place. I got myself out of the house and went for a walk to calm down. I came back with an armada of cleaning supplies in an effort to make the most of it, but shortly after arriving back at the house and I had started cleaning I became too anxious again and left the house. I finally acknowledged my mistake, and messaged the other tenant to tell her this would not work out.  I would accept paying rent until she could find another tenant and would get the bond back once a new tenant was found. Really in this economy that should have only taken a week.

I packed up my belongings that afternoon and moved back to the house that I had been living in. I had paid up until the end of the week and my old housemate was happy to have me back. Someone had already put down a deposit to rent my room from the following week, however following all the trouble the misogynistic housemate had caused the landlord had kicked him out earlier that day so I organised to take over the lease of his old room at the end of the week.

sandymountThe room is smaller but I am hopeful that it will work a lot better for me. The much bigger wardrobe is a bonus, the privacy of a window looking out into someone back yard instead of the main street is also nice, and there is more usable space as there is no fireplace in the centre of the room. Not to mention the rent is slightly cheaper. Things weren’t so bad and I thought things were looking up from the bad situation I had impulsively threw myself into….

 

As this saga was so long I decided to break it into two posts, please watch this space for part two of my impulsive misadventure.

Interviewing

Today I had an interview for a permanent position in the organisation I am currently temping in (potentially my own role). Being a temp already in the position you might think that I would be a shoe-in for the position, but it is public service position within the human rights sector and probably one of the harder fields to get a foot in the door for even the most educated and experienced of people, so really there are no guarantees. So with all this in hand I knew I had to treat this like any interview I went for, I had to prepare, I had to make sure I was professional and that I communicated why I would be the right person for the position.

28a961dI knew this was a competency based interview which meant that the interviewee’s would be looking for answers using the STAR method. Situation, Task, Action, Result. It had become a very popular model used to access interviewees across the board, but knowing this and signing it in practice are two completely different things. I went through all of the different area’s that I knew the questions would be based around, people management, skills and expertise, communication, commitment and drive, etc. and wrote up standard dot point answers using the STAR method for each of these potential areas of questioning.

But in the end I don’t think it matters how much preparation you do, when you really want the position and you know the competition is stiff the nerves are always going to be there. I walked into the interview and put everything I had on the table, in some cases I used the examples I had prepared, in other cases the questions where put in such a way that my pre-planned answers were not going to suffice and I had to think on the spot.

Overall I was satisfied with how the interview went, there was one question in which I believe I truly choked and it should have been the one I did best in – communicating with difficult, complex, different clients. Really I should have had this one in the bag, but I choose a bad example, lost my train of thought half way through, and then had someone knock on the door and interrupt the interview. In the end I turned around and said ‘let me give you another example, it does not quite fit the question you are answering but I think would give you better insight’ and proceeded to give a different example. I am not sure if it worked but the visual response from the interview panel was encouraging.

So now all there is left to do is to wait. I was told by the recruitment agent that it could be a few weeks before I receive a response, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the successful applicants will know by mid next week at the latest. So fingers and toes are crossed that there will be a very drunk Charmaine celebrating a new job in the coming days.

Who you gonna call…

As someone who has left all there family and friends, a secure job and a nice apartment behind to move on their own to a new country and start again I would call myself a pretty independent, self reliant person. But over the last couple of weeks I have had to face my more vulnerable side and realise that there are times when I do need to call someone and ask for help.

independent women sick memeI am not the best patient, when I get sick I get “man flu” and think its the end of the world. I don’t battle through it, instead I crawl back into bed and wait for the end… or my recovery. In Australia, when I was living at home (and I may have tried this a couple of times after moving out) I would text my daddy to bring me water, boost juice, toast, a bucket, etc. as I lay in bed dying.

When I broke my toe on Christmas eve I called my mum, who had to drive across town to pick me up, and then spent Christmas to New Years taxiing me around while I was unable to drive.

In Australia, even when my parents where not available there was always a close friend or boyfriend  I knew I could call to pop down to the shops and pick up some medicine, comfort food, or just pop over and keep me company while I was being a baby.

A couple of weeks ago it was a concussion, this week it was a cold and slight feinting episode in the shower, and although I am fine it has made me realise that no matter how independent or self reliant you may think you are, you should always have someone you know you can call if you need help. Of course I have my parents and friends back in Australia who I can call, but you also need someone close by.

sick_woman1After my concussion, I was talking to a work colleague, who was shocked to realise I didn’t have anyone to check on me while I was concussed and insisted in exchanging numbers so if anything did happen I could contact her.  I now also realise that I do have a group of friends that if needed I could call on for help.

It is important as you establish yourself in a new city or country to identify people in your life who you can call for help when you need it. They don’t always need to be your closest friends, just someone you know will answer your call. Because you never know when you will get sick… get hit in the head by a boom… drop a dumbell on your toe… or need a place to crash for a few nights.

So who are you going to call?

Weekend Adventures, Kevin the koala and my Epiphany

DSC_0146During the week I made a new friend, he’s an Australian who’s been living in Ireland the last few years. His name is Kevin and he is a koala.

After meeting Kevin he very quickly grew on me, I think the idea was that he was something familiar from home, but without knowing it actually hit another soft spot. You see my mother has a little teddy bear called Yellow Ted, I gave him to mum years ago and now that my parents are retired Yellow Ted travels Australia with my parents. Yellow Ted even has his own Facebook page  where he shares his adventures… it is very cute and I love reading it and seeing his pictures.

DSC_0202Don’t worry, I am not about to set Kevin up with his own Facebook page. But Kevin the koala reminded me of Yellow Ted. So this weekend when I decided to go on my mini adventure Kevin came with me.
It had been a couple of weeks since my last mini adventure and I had decided to walk from Greystone to Bray via the Cliff Walk before heading to Powerscourt House and Gardens. I started the Cliff Walk at a decent hour, about 9.30am and the track was quiet. The walk itself has a lot more untamed beauty to it than Howth Heads or any of the other trail I have done in Ireland so far and I really enjoyed it.

I had lunch and ice-cream in Bray and headed over to Powerscourt House and Gardens. I love Powerscourt. When my mother was 17 she lived in Ireland and went to Powerscourt. We had a picture at home of her in front of the main water fountain feature there. When I first went there 8 years ago I took a photo in that same spot, and today I went back to that same spot and had another picture taken of me in front of the same water-fountain.

The gardens at Powerscourt are amazing, everywhere there are people, friends, couples, families just wandering around or laying on the grass enjoy the serenity of the place. I could have spent an entire day there, and I wished I had brought a picnic blanket and some lunch to just sit in the sun and enjoy the day with friends. But as usual I was doing this adventure alone, I had actively decided not to invite anyone on my mini adventure and for once I was starting to regret my decision.

I can be stubbornly independent. For the last 10 years I have almost always traveled on my own and am so use to it I find it difficult to  travel with others. I like to decide where I go, what I do, what I don’t do, where I eat, when I eat and not have to worry if the other people do … I don’t like having to spend an entire day in mindless chatter. I can go minutes, even hours happily being in peoples company without talking to them. Pretty much I like things my way. I know, I know, not my most endearing quality but at least I recognize it and can work on improving it.

Anyway being at Powerscourt today, just Kevin and I, brought this all to the forefront of my mind as I wondered the gardens. After sitting in the Japanese Gardens at Powerscourt for some time pondering my newest epiphany I  decided that I am going to make more of an effort to invite my friends to come with me on my mini-adventures. Because lets face it, sometimes the things that we most dread or the events that make us most anxious usually turn out to be some of our best adventures…. or misadventures.

DSC_0241

Dublin Horror Renting Show

It’s been several weeks since I moved into my new home and finally the anxiety I would get thinking about the events leading up to the move have now disappeared, so I have decided it is time to share my renting horror story.

In the months leading up to my move to Dublin I had been fiercely watching DAFT.ie to get an idea of house sharing options in Dublin. I was keen to live in the Swords / Malahide area as I knew the area well and thought it a great place to spend my weekends. I had done a few Skype calls to try and secure accommodation before I arrived but to no success. Instead I arrived in Ireland with 5 night’s accommodation at a local hotel and determined to find a place within that timeframe. What I hadn’t realised was that Dublin has been in the midst of a housing crisis, rents were astronomical and though discrimination against people without references is illegal the surplus of people looking for accommodation means that landlords can and do only rent to those who provide all the right references.

In the end, I did find accommodation that did not require references within my 5 day time frame (maybe that should have been my first warning bell). It was a 3 bedroom house on the outskirts of Malahide sharing with a young married couple and another married guy who worked in Ireland to and sent money home to his family. When I moved in I paid a deposit and my one month’s rent in advance; I was promised a sub-lease agreement to sign in a few days from the main tenants of the house once they received the paper work from the agent. The sub-lease agreement never materialised even after multiple requests.

For the first week my housemates seemed quite friendly, and I thought everything would be grand. However the 1 ½ hour commute into the city each way for work was more than I had expected so after only a fortnight I told one of my house mates (the wife of the married couple) I would start looking for a new place to live close to work, however assured her I would give notice. By this stage I was already beginning to feel uncomfortable in my new home; two of my new housemates did not speak English as a first language and when the wife was not home, always spoke in their mother tongue even when I was around. They also watched television in their native language meaning I was never able to sit with them and watch television if I wanted. The husband only worked casually and spent most of his days at home lazing about the house in his underwear leaving dirty dishes everywhere – when I approached him about being uncomfortable with him lying around in his underwear I got a lecture about he and his wife being the main tenant of the household and it being his ‘home’.  Only working causally meant the husband was constantly concerned about the cost of gas and electricity and would often follow you around the house reminding you to turn off the lights when you left a room (whether you would be returning to the room 5 min later or not); he wouldn’t use the timer on the hot water to save energy and often turn off the hot water the moment you got in the shower leaving you with cold water a few minutes into your shower; and when you turned on the heating on a cold evening he would turn it off and suggest you go put more layers on…. I was getting infuriated with him and so was the other house mate, however talking about it only ended in argument and being told we could leave if we don’t like it.

After a few weeks in the house our first guests arrived… it was the wife’s mother, two sisters, and the new born baby to one of the sisters. They stayed for 5 days, meaning there were 6 people sharing a 3 bedroom house with only 1 working bathroom. Finally they left but a fortnight later the other housemate’s wife and daughter arrived to stay for almost 3 weeks. It was a full house, and I was expected to make allowances for the toddler staying in the house.  I understand people have families but I never signed up for this when I first moved into the house. All of these extra people don’t just mean that the house is more crowded, it also means that it can take longer to get a shower, use the kitchen, or that more electricity is being used… and when I brought this up with my housemate they thought me selfish for asking whether they would be paying for the extra electricity being used by their families while they were here.

All the while I had continued to look for a new place to live. Finally I found the place, my lovely little old miner’s cottage with its 170 year old fireplace in Irishtown, and not a moment too soon! A few days earlier I had had another run in with the husband about the hot water system, I had turned it on for his wife to have a shower after he misuroomnderstood me telling him the water was not hot enough yet for the wife to shower. I had then left the house and no one turned the hot water off after his wife had showered, so he had a go at me for leaving it on… I, being a bit fed up at this stage and didn’t back down, in the end after a few harsh words I just walked away with nothing resolved and things had been tense between us since.

Anyway, I had my new place and was now only a few weeks away from moving out… The day I found out about the new place told the wife, when I first told her I was leaving she was very good about it, thanking me for giving notice and acting as normal. We chatted and laughed in the kitchen about the bingo night I had been to the night before, everything seemed good. However that was the last time she talked to me unless I asked her a direct question which she could not avoid. From that day on she avoided me, would not say good morning when I would see her or communicate with me in any way. Her brother had happened to show up the evening I told her I was moving out and continued to stay at that house every night from then on, sleeping in the lounge room. The brother made me feel uncomfortable, constantly sleazing up to me when I was home and being a right misogynist, while the sores on his mouth and face suggested he had a drug problem. After he started to stay with us, on several occasions I found my bedroom door and window open either when I got home from work or in the morning when I woke up making me feel even more uncomfortable and causing me to hide my valuables.

By the end of the week, after telling my housemates I was moving out, the father of the wife was also staying at the house and the 4 of them would start drinking and carrying on loudly about 11pm at night. As this started on a Friday night I did not mind so much until this continued on to Sunday and Monday night when I had to get up early for work. Monday night about 2am I went down stairs and asked them to keep it down as I would need to be up shortly. I was meet with a string of abuse and laughter, and returned to bed angry and upset. It had happened to be Census night on the previous Sunday and as it was my first Census I was keen to complete the survey. I had asked my housemates about it and they had told me they never received on, so on the Tuesday I rang the Census office to ask for a new copy to be delivered. While on the phone they had asked me my address and I could never remember if it was 57 or 75 so I quickly jumped on DAFT to check the number on the ad for the new housemate… turns out it was 76. But while I was there I noticed they had the move in date a number of weeks after I had moved out. I thought they may not have realised I was moving out that weekend so sent a text message to my housemates to tell them. The reply was a phone call with another string of abuse, and when I explained about the Census all hell broke loose… apparently we had received a Census but they had not wanted to complete it so had thrown it out and did not like that I had organised a new one.

I hung up the phone to the housemate shaking and in tears. After several nights of lack of sleep, the ongoing isolation I had left in that house, and the overall stress of the situation I had reached my breaking point. Walking back to the office I had decided I was going to rent a car that evening and move out, I had no idea where I would go for the next 4 nights until my new place was ready but I needed to get out. As I neared the office I saw the one person from work that I knew would help me if it was in their power. I walked up to him and explained through some uncontrolled sobs what had just happened and asked if he knew anyone with a spare bed, couch anything who may be able to put me up for a few days. In the end he was able to offer me a room in his apartment that luckily was free that week as its usual occupant was on holidays. After sitting through a team meeting with a big fake, calm, smile plastered on my face I pulled my Head of Department aside and explained briefly that I no longer felt safe at my home and was moving out that evening. As much as I tried I was unable to keep the calm composure I had managed through the meeting, and the tears and silent shaking came back. Of course leaving early was not a problem.

I sent my housemates a text message advising them I would be moving out immediately and went to pick up my rental car. When I got back to the house the lot of them where there: the husband, wife, brother and father. They proceeded to sit there and watch me pack my stuff into the car, never offering any assistance, appearing to be trying to intimidate me. I asked the husband to transfer my deposit back to my account, which he said he would do, and I got into my car and left.  I left the car I had rented with some friends of mine, who gave me food and the comfort good friends can only give before I caught the bus to my workmates house. Finally about 9pm that night I arrived at my workmates place, he and his partner welcomed me into their house making me feel more at ease in the first 5 minutes then I ever had at the other house. A glass of wine later and I was relaxed. 3 bottles later I was drunk. The next morning I am not sure if I was hungover or still drunk…

I never received my deposit back on the other place. I did contact them several times to no avail and with no sub-lease agreement in place I had little to no legislative backing to assist me in getting my money back. In the end I decided that the stress of trying to get the money back was not worth taking the matter to the small claims tribunal.

houseIn my new place, we signed all of the leasing documents before I moved in; receipts were given and each tenant even has an ongoing spreadsheet of expenses. I have meet the landlords and there is a much more open and by the book approach to the rental of the property.

The whole ordeal has been an eye opener to some of the harsh realities of Dublin life. But this problem is not isolated to Dublin or Ireland. Any major city often does not have the capacity to provide accommodation to the 1,000s or millions which move to the city in search of work, adventure or a new life each year, and without the correct knowledge and out of desperation many of these people will find themselves in situations like mine or worse. However unlike myself, they will not have the knowledge, ability or supports around them to get themselves out of this situation.

I don’t want this post to put anyone off moving to a new city or country, instead use my experience to learn from my mistakes and put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen to you. Travelling is an adventure and allows for so much personal growth, as much as this has been a major challenge to me it has also helped me to grow and develop as a person; and while I would not wish this experience on others I do not regret the decisions I made at the time – at least I have learnt from them.

Until next time….

Charmaine

Care Packages

It is now over 2 months since I first moved to Dublin and my birthday is fast approaching. As such my mum has already been given the heads up that I would like a care package full of the things I am missing from Australia. It is funny, for a country that I am not particularly fond of there are a few things that I really do miss, such as:

  • Going into one supermarket and being able to buy everything I need! – This is driving me absolutely insane; I walked all across the city centre last weekend going into every Asian / Middle Eastern/ African / Western supermarket I could find looking for endame beans and only found one store on Thursday on the way home from work that stocked them…. In Australia I could walk into any Coles or Woolworths and find them in the frozen veg section of any store.
  • Cheap, decent quality electronics and appliances. I always took it for granted how cheap and easy it was to get a microwave, new headphones, a television, etc. in Australia. Now, when I need to buy all of those things here in Ireland without the benefit of Australia’s trade agreements with Asia the cost of electrical goods here is SO, SO much more expensive.
  • Clothes drying in one day. Yes, yes… I know I came to a wet cold country what did I expect… but I did think I would have a dryer.cadbury_oldgold_rum
  • Old Jamaican chocolate by Cadburys – I forgot to pack a block or two when I left, however this stuff does not travel well in a care package so sadly I will have to wait until someone is coming over here and ask them to bring a block with them.
  • My friends. I know they are only a phone call, Facebook message, SnapChat away but I miss not having them around on the weekends when you are wanting to just hang out in the park or go shopping. I know I will make new missyfriends that I will be able to do this with eventually but for the mean time I miss my Australian friends.
  • My dog, Missy.

But all of these cannot be packaged up and sent in my care package from home, so I will have to be more strategic… and a little materialistic on what my care package will contain.

So, for my birthday mummy dearest I would like in my care package:

  • Bean bag covers – these things are ridiculously expensive in Ireland 80euro and up! In Australia I brought one with filling from Kmart for $25 total. So I would like Bean Bag covers so I can have a bean bag in my room (and some spares just in case).
  • A Kate Hill overnight/ weekend away handbag and/or side bag – I love Kate Hill handbags and am really missing not being able to order a bag online anytime I want (they don’t ship to Ireland)!

KH travel bag  KH Crossbody bag

  • 1 double adaptor and 1 power board – I brought 2 Australian to European plug adaptors with me when I came over here, however I must of brought about 6 items which require the adaptors and I am constantly switching back and forth between them, so instead I would like 1 double adaptor and 1 multiple power board so I do not have to be constantly switching back and forth.
  • Hydralyte – I had a massive hangover the other day so I checked in to the chemist to pick up what in Australia we call Hydralyte – pretty much it rehydrates you. Turns out the Irish stuff tastes horrible and is nowhere near as effective at curing a hangover as the Australian version. So in preparation for my next hangover I would like some Hydralyte (the orange one please).

Hydralyte-Product-Shot-web

  • Brown Brothers Cienna…. Well if I am going to have the Hydralyte I Cienna-glass-ShaneHengst-201502may as well have my favourite bottle of wine to go with it. Still haven’t found anything that I enjoy drinking as much as a bottle of Cienna.

So that is what is in my care package, fingers crossed mummy dearest doesn’t kill me with my list and I shall definitely update you and show you the goodies when it arrives at the end of June!  In the meantime I am curious to know what others would have in their care package so feel free to leave a comment telling me what you miss from your country of origin and would have in your care package.

Cheers

Charmaine

Back in the Game…

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted something… my bad. Between work, finding a new place to live, moving, getting sick, not having access to my music and all of the other small stresses that have seeped into my life, my motivation for writing has been at a low. I am still not wanting to talk about finally leaving my old house, but when I am ready I will share my story as I think it would be a good warning to others.

But this week I have begun to feel motivated to write and engage in my blog and motivated to be in my life again.

I moved into my new home a fortnight ago and it has been great so far. It is a shousemall two bedroom miner’s cottage in Irishtown, just outside of Dublin’s city center and less than 5 minutes’ walk to the beach. Owing to the housing crisis this 2 bedroom cottage has been converted into 3 bedrooms by turning the lounge room into a bedroom… not that I mind at all, I have always wanted a fireplace in my bedroom!

I love being close to the beach, and although it’s not the same as an Australian beach it does relax me to be so close to the sea. Irishtown is proving a great little suburb, a decade ago it would have been considered one of the more run down suburbs of Dublin but owning to the boom of marketing and IT companies in the Grand Canal Docks, most notably – Google HQ, the area is really up and coming. In-fact Irishtown is sometimes dubbed Googletown owing to the amount of Google employees living in the area. Irishtown, the Grand Canal Docks and Sandymount (all within a stones throw from each other) have many cute little bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, and organic food stores all within a 10 minute walk from my front door, while if I want to do some serious shopping or have a night out it is only a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride to the city centre.

docksIt’s a 45 minute walk to work from my new place, which is great; even if I am feeling lazy and don’t want to work out I still get at least 45min of activity each way going to and from work. There are plenty of gyms as well within a 10 minute walk from my front door, a nature reserve, a sport ground, and of course the beach so I am spoilt for choice in creating my new workout routine.

Now that I have moved into my new home I am really starting to feel settled in my new life. I still have to work on finding a permanent job, but now after working in Ireland for the last 2 months and seeing the level of what is expected of employee’s I have grown more confident in my own abilities to break a few glass ceilings.

Love

Charmaine

One month in…

It has now been just over one month since I arrived in Dublin, the weather has turned wet, and the original excitement of being in a new city has begun to fade. The hunt for an apartment in the city center continues as I get another “I am sorry but we decided to go with another applicant” rejection text message for yet another place, and that elusive bank account still feels like a unicorn just out of reach. While my scant wardrobe of wintry clothes makes me dream of a shopping trip I can’t afford and the effects of my not great diet and lack of real high intensity exercise begin to show…. It has all begun to add up.

But with what sometimes feels like all the negative, there have also been a number of not always so obvious positives in the last month, and this post I wanted to focus on the positives.

Unlike many new migrants to this country I had been fortunate to start a temping job by the end of my second week here, and have been in the same temp position since. My co-workers at my workplace are amazing, you really couldn’t ask for a better team to work with, and there are a number of full-time positions coming up within the organisation which (if I am successful in applying for) would actually mean I could use my degree and have the opportunity explore my other career interests too!

My co-workers have also been really supportive in my search for a new apartment, keeping an ear out about anything that may come up, making recommendations to try different websites, and even offering to write a letter of reference. They have also been really emphatic of my banking saga’s trying to make any offers of assistance that they can. I don’t think I have had two days in that office where people have not come in with food to share with everyone and really they have just made me feel so welcome. For any temp that is not always something which you get to feel, and it makes the experience of getting up and going to work just that bit much more enjoyable.

Social media, blogging, Meet Up groups and apps have also been a huge positive in my life over the last month. As I’ve talked about in previous blogs I have been attending Meet Up groups, some have been a success… some not so much, but all worth attending at least one. Dublin Facebook groups have allowed me to meet new people, find out about things happening around the city, and sometimes just connect to someone when you are feeling isolated on a packed commuter bus. My blog has allowed me to connect to other bloggers, and the communication/ relationship you develop with your readers/ other bloggers has been just as enjoyable as writing my blog. Blogging and communicating with other bloggers has also allowed me to find out about things happening in Dublin and offered new ways of meeting new people, for example Bumble.

bumble-bff

Bumble is the Tinder for finding a BFF. Well Bumble is a dating/ ‘hook up’ app owned by Tinder but it does have a BFF option for people like me looking for female friends (it may work the same for men, I am not sure). I am only in my early stages of this app but so far I love it! – But I will keep you posted.

Apps have been a huge positive in my life over the last month. All the public transport companies have them Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and the Luas, so I always know when my bus is going to arrive – or if it has been cancelled (which as annoying as it is, at least
I know it has been cancelled now and I am not standing at a bus stop for half hour waiting for a bus that never arrives). Twitter has also been a huge help, often I find it is updating me on an accident or traffic delays etc. which may affect me long before any of the news agencies are updating their news feeds.twitter-logo

The new people I have meet have also been a huge positive in my life. Although I have not known them long, and acquaintances may be a better word to use then friends, just having those people in your life when you first move to a new city has made all the difference. A text message of excitement when someone finds a new apartment or to let you know which pub they are drinking at if you want to join them, makes you feel wanted and connected to the city.

Last but not least, the biggest positive has been that I have been going this alone. That is not to say that I don’t have encouraging family and friends back home, or supportive co-workers and new friends here. But I have been able to develop those friendships, wade the tide of frustration and anxieties when things go wrong, and just survive and thrive in the day to day on my own. I have not needed a significant other, whether they be a boyfriend/ girlfriend, sibling or parent to hold my hand through this last month, and that in itself is an extremely gratifying and liberating feeling.

Happy Friday everyone, hope you have a great weekend!

happy-friends-park-having-lunch-sunny-day-54768692

 

Keeping fit in a new city

9 months ago I started a lifestyle change which lead to me loosing now 30kg. Over the last 6 months people have asked me how I did it, and now that I am in a new city my friends and family are asking me if I am able to maintain my lifestyle change. Thus today I wanted to share how it is all going, what I am doing to maintain my lifestyle, and how I intend to keep fit in a new city.

How it is all going

Since moving to Dublin to say I have relaxed my routine and diet would be an understatement.  I workout only on the weekends and that is limited to running in the park with a few free workout stations thrown in. I don’t own a car in Dublin and rely on public transport to get around which means I do walk quite a bit. To help make up for the lack of exercise I also get off the bus a few stops early and walk about an hour each day to and from work.

My diet is a complete other story. Chocolate Minstrels, pastries, scones, fried potato, bread and dips, hot chocolate and wine have all made a big appearance in my diet in the last month. But each week as I settle in to my new life a little more my diet slowly improves, and I am happy to say after a month of being here I haven’t put on any weight – if fact I somehow managed to lose a kilo or two!

What I have been doing to maintain my lifestyle

 Exercise

As I previously mentioned I walk a lot, on average I do about 5km a day just through walking to and from work. The first thing I did when I moved into my new place was to find the nearest park for me to run to/ around. In this case it was Malahide Castle and I was lucky in that a 5km running trail was already marked in the park with a number of basic workout stations based at intervals around the trail.  However when I first arrived in Dublin I did not know this, and had already made a plan that at every park bench I would stop and do an exercise, for example:

Run to bench 1 – do 10 step ups on each legpark equiptment

Run to bench 2 – do 3 sets of 10 triceps dips

Run to bench 3 – do 20 squats

Run to bench 4 – do 20 star jumps

Run to bench 5 – do 10 lunges on each

Then repeat until you were too exhausted to continue (or mum called) then walk back to the house.

Although my workout stations ended up being slightly different with the equipment provided by council it essentially worked a lot of the same core areas. This was a great workout and from walking out the front door to walking back in the workout session usually took me about 1 ½ hours, I ran/walked 9 – 10kms and burned about 1400 calories.

Diet

Since I started my healthy lifestyle kick I have been a stickler for breakfast, and when I say breakfast I mean eating something within the first hour of waking up. I don’t care if it is an omelette, a piece of fruit or a yoghurt but I really do believe having something (more than tea or coffee) within that first hour is really important as it does kick start your metabolism.  It also stops me going into Anne’s Bakery on the way into work to buy a scone and hot chocolate like I did this morning as I was running late and forgot to grab my banana!

I also like to eat every 2 hours where possible, admittedly on the weekends I find this difficult as it can be hard to have access to good, healthy food. But when I am at work I always have a pile of carrot sticks, fruit, and a healthy pre-prepped lunch within easy reach.  At the moment my go to lunch is a ‘Super Value’ Ceaser Salad with some lemon and herb chicken which I cook up at the beginning of the week and keep in the work fridge, it is quick, easy and very filling.

At night I try my best to stick by the rule of eating dinner 2 – 3 hours before going to bed. At the moment that means that by the time I commute home I have to eat straight away if I was to be in bed by 10/11pm at night. I also keep my meals very simple, you know meat and veg. I love potato, so I allow for one jacket baby potato with dinner. I find this helps with the potato cravings and means I do not get to a stage where I binge eat a truck load of fries.food

I know, I know this sounds so, so boring… but this “boring” diet means:

a) I don’t really have to think about food or what I am going to cook which has been one less stressor in my life; and

b) It means I don’t feel guilty on the weekends when I go out for dinner or coffee with friends.

As mentioned I have fallen off the band wagon quite a bit though in the last couple of weeks with 3pm sugar hits and stress eating. Thankfully with keeping to the above diet and exercise as much as possible the effects of my 3pm sugar hits, stress eating and occasional breakfast scone and hot chocolate have been minimal.

Over the last week however, I have started to feel it is time to really get back in the habit. I have started to get tiered (even if I have enough sleep) and constantly bloated. When I exercise and eat right I am an extremely peppy, energetic person who always wants to be on the go. So if I am lethargic and bloaty that means my diet isn’t as good as it could be and/ or I am slacking off on the exercise.  So this past weekend I worked on what I could put in place to improve on my current habits and maintain a healthy lifestyle in a new city.

The Plan

 Exercise

I hate gyms, I went to the gym in Australia – but I am not a fan of them. I would much rather be exercising outdoors or at home than in a gym.  In Australia, I had put together a few things at home to help me avoid going to the gym and I have started missing my old exercise routine. So over the weekend I went out and brought myself what I consider to be the must have home fitness equipment:

  1. Runners
  2. An exercise mat
  3. A set of dumbbells, and
  4. A skipping rope

Back in Australia I live 5 min away from my work so I had plenty of time in the mornings and evenings to work out. In Dublin at the moment I spend on average 2 hours a day commuting (yesterday I spent 5 hours due to an accident in the Port Tunnel!) so being able to get my entire routine in every day and still have a life can be difficult. So when I can, I do all four exercises routines in one day – on the days when I just can’t manage it I at least do one of the three routines below.

Exercise One:

 Side Scissors x 10 each side

Plank (min 30 sec)

One leg hip raises (min 1 min)

Side planks (min 30 sec each side)mat

Reverse crunches x 10

Sit-up twists x 20

Skip for 1 min

Repeat 3 times

Exercise two:

 Squats x 20

Overhead triceps extensions x 10 (4kg weight)

One arm shoulder press x 10 (4kg weight)

Rear delt row (2 types) x 10 (4kg weight)

Triceps kickbacks x 10 (4kg weight)

Skip for 1 min

Repeat 3 times

Exercise Three

Criss Cross – or as I like to call them the “spread your legs” x 10

Russian Twists x 20

Heel taps x 30

Crunches x 20

Skip for 1 min

Repeat 3 times

Exercise 4

9.5 km run or walk to Malahide Castle and back including work out stations.

These routines where created using two methods – researching different workout programs and from learning which areas of my body I wanted to work on; and based on the exercises I will do. There was no point in me putting push-ups into my routine because I knew I would never do them. I know I physically needed to have a fitness instructor standing over me to make me do a push up so I am not even going to pretend like I am going to do one. On the other hand I know that Exercise Two is my favourite workout routine and when I have the time I will do that twice a day.

Food

I am big on planning, it’s what works for me. I am also a big fan of pre-cooking meals such as lunch. So over the weekend I made a basic spreadsheet outlining from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed what I eat or drink… I know, I know its sounds nuts but I find it helps me prepare for the day. To give you an example:

6am – Wake up make cup of black tea

7am – Eat omelette

9am – Banana and cup of black tea

10am –Water

11am – Carrot / cucumber sticks cup of green tea

12noon – Water

1pm – Ceasar Salad Lunch

2pm – Cup of black teafood1

3pm – Water

4pm – Berries and cup of green tea

5pm – Water

7pm – Make dinner

8pm – Cup of green tea

10/11pm – Go to bed

I also have some block cheese and coco pops bars at work for those days that I want a little more or to satisfy the chocolate cravings. While at home I currently have a jar of peanut butter, and if after dinner I am feeling like that little naughty snack I just grab a teaspoon of peanut butter and treat it like an ice-cream cone. It hits the spot and is great for protein.

Conclusion… I feel like I am writing a school report!

This lifestyle change plan has been altered from my Australian lifestyle plan. The weather here and lack of hills and mountains does make it quite difficult for me to be able to do the same types of exercises I did in Australia. In Ireland I am putting more focus into running as it is something I feel that if I move it will be easy to continue.  I am also looking into joining a Saturday morning kayaking group; I have an app that shows me all the local hiking trails in the area and have been using it to go hiking on the weekends; I am going to try out a Pole Fitness class (although I am expecting it to be a complete fail); I am trying to meet other people like me who are into maintaining a healthy lifestyle; and I have changed the wine to vodka and cranberry.

I am not a fitness instructor and I don’t pretend to be an expert in exercise or diet. Everything I do or have learned and continue to learn has been from word of mouth, talking to nutritionists, talking to doctors, and my friend Google. I still need to learn a lot more about nutrition and about cooking and baking with healthy ingredients so I can vary up my meal options. But right now I have a plan which works for me, and as things change and I learn more so will my lifestyle.

From reading this you may think that all I do is spend all my time exercising or working on my diet and this type of lifestyle would not suit you, but I don’t. I do like being active and I don’t really watch television, so spending 3 hours a day on the weekend hiking or working out is fun for me. But I do do other things, like blog! Or go shopping, watch the rugby, go out to meet new people at Meetup groups, catch up with friends etc. and the more active I am the more active I want to be.

I really hope that my experience and detailing my lifestyle habits helps others
moving to a new city or really even those who haven’t moved help keep a healthy lifestyle in their city. I would really like to hear about other people’s experiences in keeping a healthy lifestyle when moving, or even if you have any recipes to change up my meals that would be great too!

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Below I have listed some of the websites and apps I have used in the past to help me in case anyone is interested!

http://www.bodybuilding.com/ – Although it may seem to be for serious Body Builder type person this site has a lot of good video’s to show you how to do exercises but it also allows you to choose the muscle/ area you would like to work and gives you exercises you can do to work those areas.

http://www.kaylaitsines.com/ – Although I do not prescribe to this in its entirety (apparently I am also too old for this program as it is supposed to be for those under 25 years) I did find it had some great tips and exercises that I have incorporated into my workout.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/ – this is an Australian government website which I found really helpful when it came to the basics of understanding food choices and the difference between potato and sweet potato.

https://au.pinterest.com/ – Pinterest!

www.meetup.com – MeetUp

Apps

Endomondo

Food Switch

Walking Routes.ie

My Fitness Pal