Monday, April 27, 2009

You Can't Fit a Round Peg into a Square Box

I recently read a quick plea for help from an American who is soon planning to move to Ireland. In the message, she states that she and her husband are moving to Cork; that she wants to bring her outdoor grill, but isn't sure if her 'propane tank' will work over here; and she signs off, 'Also, I have this fear that there will be "something" that I should have brought and can't find there. Any suggestions?'

Well, let me see. First about the propane. Don't bother bringing it along, was my reply. The fittings in America are different from the fittings here. 'Bottled Gas', as it's called in Ireland, comes in a variety of bottle sizes, and with a variety of fittings. The best thing to do is get new 'propane' when you get to this side of the Pond. Besides, it might explode in transport, if you brought it along. That's the sort of excitement that you might not want to experience.

Things are Different Over Here So Get Used To It
But what really got my interest was her query regarding what else she should bring, that 'something' that she mentions. Initially, I should have thought that she might bring a million bucks or so and I would have gladly helped her spend it. But there are some things that the earstwhile traveller to Ireland should know about before coming here:
  • You're Visiting Ireland, Not Antarctica - we have almost everything you can think of over here these days: from the latest technology to the most humdrum hair accessory. That's a pleasant change from when I first came here. Back in 1982, there were so many things that simply weren't available: from peanut butter to working telephone systems, the country was somewhat hard pressed back then. But remember that now, in the post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, this country is still one of the most prosperous in the world. Even if it's not quite as prosperous as it used to be. And it has a wide range of almost anything you can possibly think of to make your stay comfortable.

  • It's a Different Voltage System so Leave Your Electronics Behind - Ireland runs on 220 volts. America runs on 110 volts. If you bring along your hair dryer and plug it into a 220 volt system, you'll get more than curls in your hair let me tell you. And while I'm discussing electronics, and if you insist on bringing over those latest bits of technology, don't forget to bring a plug converter. We use 3 pin plugs over here. 2 pin into 3 pin just doesn't go. Most laptops allow charging with both 220 and 110 volt systems, so your laptop should work just fine in Ireland.

  • Food - remember that you're moving or visiting a different country and culture. Things are different here. And that's part of the charm. But I must admit that even after so many years away from home, I still miss certain bits of American foodstuffs: Bisquick (yes, they have pancake mix over here, but it's not the same), maple syrup, peanut butter (I can get it now, but it's not quite the same as my old Jiff), bread and butter pickles...the list goes on and on. Of course, if I REALLY miss something that bad, I simply pick it up when I'm home visiting Dad.

  • Don't Forget to Bring Your US Driver's License and Your Car Insurance Policy - if you're going to live here, you're going to want to drive here. And to drive here you need a licence and insurance. Car insurance in Ireland is expensive. But if you can bring proof that you have driven for 5 years or more without a claim on your policy, you can reduce your insurance premium by well over 50 percent. It's called a 'No Claims Bonus' and you'd do well to look into it. So before you jump on the plane, make sure you contact your car insurance company for a letter that categorically states that you've never had an accident.

Do the above and you'll have a much better time when you get here. But do also remember that you're coming to a different country, with a different people and a different way of life. No, Ireland will not be the same as the US or any other country, come to think of it. And that's what's special about Ireland. So rather than worry that you might have forgotten something, just come on over and experience Ireland like the Irish do.

Do that and you'll have a wonderful time. Frustrating, perhaps, but it's a joyous experience that you'll not soon forget.

1 comment:

  1. Tom,

    Thanks much for starting up this blog.

    Very helpful as we plan on making the move across the pond soon.