It’s been a few (6) weeks since the last time I posted a blog. I have written blogs but not felt any desire to post them. I was finding some of the things I wrote were filled with negativity about Ireland and I did not want to sound like I was always bitching, and other times I felt my life and experiences here too mundane to write about. But today I got to thinking and I remembered why I started to write this blog.
This blog was about sharing my experiences with my friends and family back in Australia, new friends, other expats, and complete strangers. When I first started the blog a friend expressed how shocked she was that I would open up like this; she understood that for me expressing my emotions and letting people see my vulnerable side was especially hard for me.
Of course she was right, but that was one of the more personal reasons for starting the blog. I wanted to overcome my fear. Writing behind the anonymity of a screen gave me a sense of courage to write about some of my more scary or vulnerable times in Ireland (while sometimes having a laugh at my own stupidity and misfortunes). It also meant that I was sharing those emotions and vulnerabilities with my friends and family who would read about them and be able to offer words of encouragement even if it was from afar. Essentially helping me to learn to communicate better with people.
The first few months were a challenge but they were also an adventure; everything was new and exciting, and although I found it difficult sometimes to share some of those challenges I think I did a pretty good job at opening up. But now I have started to settle into my life here, and I have found I have slipped back into old habits; the impulsive, feisty and self-assertive woman who started this blog has taken a step back and is now sharing the stage with her more pragmatic and sometime very shy side.
That is not necessarily a bad thing, reading back on some of my posts I shake my head and laugh at my brazen honesty about some of the things I have gotten up too. However I do want to continue to write and to work on my shortcomings, I don’t want to let my fears stop me from experiences life to the fullest here in Ireland. So I am going to publish the posts I have drafted and I am going to continue to blog, while I will continue to rely on my friends to give me a good slap over the back of the head when they think I may be letting my fears get in the way of life.
During 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.
Don’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.
Last Sunday some mates of mine invited me out to Tuesday Night Bingo at the Wrights Cafe in Swords. I had been to bingo before back in Australia so the idea of going to bingo wasn’t inciting any real feelings of excitement, but my mates are always a great crack and I knew it would still be a good night. Facebook informed me that Bingo didn’t start until 9.30pm and just as it crossed my mind that this was a little late for a Tuesday night, I rebelled against the thought and declared to myself that if I thought 9.30pm was too late to be going out I definitely needed to go!
Tuesday night came, the boys picked me up, and we headed to their place for some amazing homemade Cottage Pie and a few glasses of red wine. We chatted about my new place and settling into Dublin life, the renovations the boys were planning, and all the good stuff a couple glasses of wine brings out. Then it was 9pm and we decided it was time to head down to Wrights.
When we got to Wrights the place was almost deserted. Turned out it was closer to 10.30pm before bingo started and slowly as 10pm came round the place started to get a bit busier. Avril, the absolutely gorgeous Drag Queen and our ball-caller for the night showed up, and things started to liven up. I had to work in the morning so I keep to the red wine and “wasn’t having a big one”. The next thing you know its 2 cocktails for €10 and I have 2 … whatever they were in my hands!
Turns out the best way to enjoy bingo is drinking with mates, and a Drag Queen – who looks better in short shorts then you do! Avril was brilliant, keeping the whole crowed entertained with her dirty humor, classy dance moves, and killer legs.
Bingo finished about midnight and we stayed around to enjoy a couple more drinks. At this point I decided the best way to sober up a little was dancing. I headed to the dance floor where the rest of the 20 somethings were and decided it was time for a little fun. Being a Tuesday night, most of the people out were in their early 20’s and students or shift workers from the airport. I knew I was at the older edge of this crowed but I really didn’t feel it, and I didn’t care, I wanted to dance and have a little fun.
And a little fun I had.
It was a “school” night so I was, as always, on my best behavior (wink, wink). I was keen to dance the night away, however some young fella kept wanting to talk so I figured the easiest way to shut him up was to snog him. So I had my little fun, and the next thing I know it was 1:30am and time for this Cinderella to head home. I left my fun on the dance floor, said goodbye to my mates and headed off home for a peanut butter sandwich and 3 hours sleep before it was up and off to work again.
6 months ago I would have said I was getting too old for this shit – but these days I feel like I am getting my second run at 21!
The next morning I woke up, wished I could go back to bed but was otherwise all good for the day. I don’t know if it is me, or the adrenaline of being in a new county – but whatever it is, lets keep it going!
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 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.
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!
It is a universal truth that a single women must be in want of a partner…. Ok so that wasn’t quite how the famous opening line from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice actually went but I thought it made a good opener to today’s blog.
My relationship status, as a single person, is apparently a topic for public opinion. It doesn’t matter if I have known you since I was 2 years old or I meet you 5 minutes ago, people feel they have the right to pass judgment, make a comment, tell me the relationship status of every male co-worker in the building, or recommended one of their single friends to me. Having just moved to Ireland I often get asked “Did you move to Ireland for a man?” or “I am sure you will find a nice Irish boy soon enough” or “so do you think you will be settling down soon now that you’re in Ireland?”
For any person moving to a new city or country on their own there is so many other things to worry about. Finding a job, an apartment, the best restaurants to eat at, best places for coffee, finding new social or sporting clubs to join, and making new friends are the priority – we don’t have time to be dealing with the emotional rollercoaster ride that is dating.
The last thing I am thinking about is dating. I don’t care if Mark in Accounts is single, or if Ger is currently going through a messy divorce. I don’t care that you have a really nice friend in Navan who may be a little young for me. I just moved here.
The last thing someone moving to a new city / country is thinking about, or should be thinking about is dating. If you are planning on moving or just moved to a new city and you are more worried about not having a boyfriend or girlfriend then where you are going to live or about having friends then you may not have your best interests at heart.
Being single and moving to a new city is great. You only have to worry about yourself, you discover new things about yourself, you learn how much you can do on your own, and you push yourself to try and do new things you may never have thought of doing before. For me it is the third time I have gone to a new city on my own and a highly recommend it.
So random strangers stop pushing the subject, and single people just ignore their ignorance – they obviously don’t know how fabulous it is to be a single person in a new city.
The weekend is here again so that’s my cue to launch myself on the general public and try to make some new friends. After last weekend’s fail in the local pub’s I decided to give Meetup another go and tried another coffee and chat Meetup group who meet weekly at Starbucks. This one, I am happy to say was a success!
The group was great. They meet in an upstairs area of Starbucks every Saturday and pretty much have the place to themselves, which means you know everyone there is there to chat and meet new people. The organiser is an energetic Irishman who introduced himself to everybody and helped introduce new faces to other people in the room. Walking in was initially overwhelming, although an outgoing person I do find it difficult to introduce myself to new people when I don’t know anybody in the room. But I had a crack at it, and have to say I am getting better at it. As the afternoon progressed I felt a little more confident walking up to complete strangers and introducing myself.
By the time the event was over I had a small group of new acquaintances and we decided to head down to a nearby pub for a drink and some dinner going to other Meetup groups. In the end three of us decided to head to the Meetup group I had wanted to attend, Saturday Night Drinks and Dancing at Lillie’s Bordello… in hindsight the name really should have given it away, this wasn’t a meet new friends, have a drink and dance meetup group like I had assumed. The type of “friends” you made here was usually only for the night and the average age of last night’s patrons was probably 35 – 55 years.
After some very awkward encounters – imagine a man who reminded you of an Australian trucker telling you about the effects of cider on your bowel movements while ignoring all of your blatant rejections – and within 10 minutes of walking through the door we were about to leave when some of the other younger people we had meet at the Starbucks showed up with the same misunderstanding of what this group was about.
Lillie’s Bordello is a swank little night club and the drink prices weren’t too bad so we decided to grab a corner lounge and isolate ourselves a bit from everybody else. As the night went on, a few other younger people came in and joined us and we ended up having a great night chatting, learning about other Meetup groups of interest, laughing and some causal drinks. By the end of the night we were all exchanging numbers or sending Facebook friend requests and not entirely regretting our choice of meetup event.
Lesson learned: Meetup groups that have social events on during the day are more likely to be focused on meeting new people / making new friends. Meet up groups that are on after 8pm at night in a nightclub are more about “hooking up”. All in all it was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon/evening and I definitely think I will be heading back next week for the coffee and chat at Starbucks.
If you are interested in the Meetup groups I went to this week I have linked their pages so you can find out more about them:
One thing I have to say about moving to a new city on your own is that you have to be prepared to spend a LOT of time by yourself. This is my third weekend now in Dublin since I moved here and again I have spent the majority of it by myself. Meeting new people is difficult and you really do need to be constantly putting yourself out there if you want to build new friendships and social networks. If you want to sit at home and watch television all weekend that’s cool but that’s not me.
This weekend I planned to do three things which I hoped would help build my social network or at least push my comfort zone a little. I attended a Meet Up group event, went to the Andrea Roche Modelling Commercial Open Day, and went to a new pub to watch the Six Nations Rugby.
The Meet Up group were meeting at a coffee shop in the city center about lunch time Saturday and I had the Open Day after that so I threw on a more dresser outfit then I usually would have worn and headed to the catch up. The Meet Up group wasn’t the right group for me, a little too old and a little too bitchy about life, so I was only there for 45min before I left and headed across town to the Open Day.
I really had no idea what to expect with the Andrea Roche Modelling Commercial Open Day, and it did push my comfort zone buttons a bit, but in the end I am happy I went along. I had found out about the open day after being side tracked looking for a new hairdresser (I figured modelling agencies and Dublin fashion bloggers would be the best people to seek advice for in where to find a good hairdresser experienced in working with blonde hair). I was nervous about going, I am not a 6 foot, size 2, busty blonde but I figured it wasn’t going to cost me anything but my time, it was something different, and I may actually enjoy it.
I walked into a small conference room with about 30 people from 2 – 40 years of age. It was mainly teenage girls, women in their 20’s, and a couple of parents with their children, and everyone critically judging everyone else who walked in the door. There were five people in particular who struck me the moment I walked in; a blonde with a dream-catcher tattoo on her back and the most amazing black and white chequered overalls; two 6 foot brunet’s who instantly reminded me of a BooHoo campaign; and a couple who completely looked the part for a modelling agency. Later I found out that the guy from the couple was a Dublin YouTuber (Rob Lipsett) with a pretty big following, so I wasn’t far off the mark.
I sat there for about an hour waiting to have my mini photo shoot, watching what the other people did waiting for my turn to came around. Finally my name was called and all that ‘I’m just here to give this a go and have some fun’ was out the window. I had no idea what I was doing and felt so conscious of myself with all these other people sitting there watching you. The photographer was great though, she was really encouraging and whether the photos where any good or not she made you feel like you were doing everything right. After my photo shoot I sat down with Andrea and her commercial booking agent where we had a quick discussion about my being from Australia and then about commercial modelling, and then I was done and out the door. Now it may have all been a bust and nothing may come from my little adventure but I gave it a go and who knows, maybe the photos came out better than I thought!
After all that I still had the Rugby to go. After my failings in the pubs of Malahide I thought I would give the Old Borough in Swords a shot. I was running late after the Open day and arrived at half time for the Ireland V Scotland game and was disappointed to find the pub almost empty. I ordered myself a drink and sat down at one of the bars near the sports screen prepared to watch the second half of the game. The second half came and went (not a very impressive game I have to say!) and then it was time for the England v France game and another drink. Again the bar stayed ridiculously quiet, a few people came up and sat at the bar near me, a few people constantly stared at me from a across the room but again I could not get anybody to talk to me. Thankfully I was there to watch the Rugby as well and with England beating France I did not leave entirely unsatisfied with my venture.
After my busy Saturday, Sunday was a very much spent by myself. I am currently living out in the beautiful Malahide (not a convenient place for someone who wants to be in the middle of everything but it does have some amazing parks, running trails, the beach, and little coffee shops at your disposal). I slept in until 7.30am (I do really like being out and about and enjoying the day) before heading down to Devoted to Food in Malahide village for breakfast. This place is still relatively new and not well known, but if you are ever looking for somewhere to go on a weekend for coffee and scones I would highly recommend this place – it also has a locally sourced fresh fruit, veg and butchers attached to it which is remarkably good value.
Apart from that I spent the rest of the day at Malahide Castle and on the running trails, it’s really hard not to want to workout and spend your day outdoors when you have beautiful places like Malahide to workout in.
My housemate’s were having an impromptu BBQ when I got home from my run so I had a bit more of an opportunity to be social Sunday afternoon before we called it a night. A great way to finish off the weekend.
As you can see weekends in a new country can seem very lonesome, but I know they will get better. I have already started to meet new people and as I meet more people and get to know them better I will have more opportunities to go out with them and meet other people through them. But I am enjoying my time, and I am enjoying putting myself out there even if sometimes it does seem like a fail! This week I am off to look at some apartments in the city center and attend another couple of Meet Up events (this one is for 20 Somethings so may be a bit more eventful!), I also have some more blog idea’s up my sleeve as well so please watch this space!
Paddy’s day was a bit of a learning curve for me this year. I had been torn between having a quiet one and working on my ‘new life’ plans and going out and trying to enjoy the day. In the end I did both, and although it didn’t go entirely to plan I am happy I did it. In the end I remembered I can work on my new life plans as much as I want, but your life doesn’t start until you get out there and actually start living it.
My first attempt at experiencing Paddy’s day was a bust. I went to my local pub by myself about 1pm and sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. From experience this has always been a great way to meet new people and I thought a great way for me to potentially make some new friends. Apparently 1pm on Paddy’s day is not the case. I found the people not unfriendly but unwilling to engage in conversation and not interested in meeting someone new. Which is fair play. It is early in the day, most people have just come from a Paddy’s day parade, and it is a day for people to enjoy with their family and friends. In hindsight I probably should have waited until about 3/4pm before heading into a pub by that stage everyone has got the big conversations out of the way and are a bit more relaxed and ready for meeting new people.
My second attempt at the Paddy’s day pub scene was much more successful. Going out with some old friends about 7pm the night was a lot more fun; and I still meet new people outside of my friends group who I will meet up with again. I meet these new people all in the same way, while standing at the bar waiting for a drink (it doesn’t always need to be alcoholic, by the end of the night all my drinks were water), so even though my first attempt didn’t do to plan at least I know my method still works!
In the end it was a pretty good Paddy’s Day, and I think the hangover the next day was proof of that!