I’ve been asked now several times by friends and family, what differences there are between home and Ireland. Well I’m here to tell you, there are a lot! When you travel to a new place, you understand that not everything that is back home is going to be there. Brands will be different and the names of items will be different. You know these things going into it. While that’s great and all, you don’t realize exactly how large that difference is until you walk into your first store. I’ve never been so ridiculously lost in a store in my whole life. It was like that time when you were really little and lost your parent and started to cry. Yup, just like that only instead of crying, colorful words were chosen and then you decide you didn’t need the item anyways.
While walking down the aisles I searched for any brands I knew. What small amounts that there were, I was able to find and successfully pick out shampoo and conditioner, after about 10 minutes staring at the shelves. Then I went in search for shaving cream. Either I am blind and don’t know what Irish women’s shaving cream looks like or there definitely wasn’t any there. After giving up there I headed for some snacks. I searched and searched for just a plain bag of potato chips. I looked at every bag there was in the snack aisle and was so excited when I saw the yellow circle with the red ribbon through it. But you see, in Ireland instead of Lays they have Walkers (same symbol). And instead of a nice big bag of chips that you could sit and eat and not feel bad because it’s only one bag of chips, in Ireland you get a bag of tiny bags! You get six tiny snack bags! For anyone that knows me you already know they didn’t last long.
Aside from the distraught nature of my shopping trip, Ireland is wonderful and the people are even better. They are kind and welcoming and very patient. They keep cool as a cucumber when you ask them to repeat themselves or say “what” 5 times in a row. Thankfully I don’t have much difficulty understanding my homestay family but my friend that works on the farm with us, is another story. The amount of times I make him repeat the same sentence is actually sad. Some days I just nod my head or laugh. But we are getting to the point where now he just automatically repeats himself when I stare at him blankly. It was only just the other day that it was the other way around. I made sure to point it out and enjoy the moment and boy did we laugh.
So here’s my words of wisdom for this week, laugh at yourself. It can be hard leaving the things you know and the things you are comfortable with. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable to look lost in a store or ask people to repeat what they said because you can’t understand them with their thick accents. No one expects you to travel to another country and be an expert. If you don’t know something, ask. But most importantly you have to laugh at yourself. It is so often that we all get caught up in looking cool and we put on this facade of constantly knowing exactly what we are doing. We don’t want to look dumb or be embarrassed. Well guess what, that’s going to happen more often than not in your life so you best get used to it and laugh it off. Honestly, at the end of the day I’d rather have a good laugh.