Monday, November 28, 2011

So you want to move to another country?

I've gotten a couple of emails recently from some of my blog readers seeking advice for moving to another country.  For some of them, they fantasize about being able to move to a different country and start a different life and for others, they are actually taking that step and doing it.  Either way, talking about it and doing it are two completely different things.  Nothing is ever as you think it will be.  Here is my experience so far.  Keep in mind, I'm still trying to find my way here, too.  So, if you have advice for me, I'll take it haha!

I've been in Derry, Ireland now for nine months.  Cannot believe it has been nine months! Time has flown and it feels like I just got here.  I have to say, it hasn't been easy but, I don't know how easy it is to ever uproot one's life...quitting a job, leaving friends, family, car, basically everything you've ever known.  The hardest part was the first six months and even today, I still don't feel fully settled (maybe when they open a Taco Bell here...but, I dunno).  But, it has gotten easier.

The first six months I think are usually the hardest when it comes to moving to a different country.  Personally, I did my best to put on a brave face, put on my big girl pants and just get on with life.  Of course, that brave face was the one I wore when I was out in public.  At home, I was depressed. I managed to pull myself out of my depression long enough to teach my Zumba classes and I felt great at class, but at home, the depression returned. Barry had to witness the worst of it.  Probably the worst day was when I threw a box of scarves at Barry while I was deep in one of my crying fits.  Don't feel bad for was only scarves, it's not like it was a box of books or anything.  But, the look on his of pure confusion and a did-she-really-just-f******-throw-a-box-of-scarves-at-me look was priceless.  If only I would have thought to turn my video camera on we could have been YouTube sensations.

Anyway, I cried everyday for the first three months at least.  I cried because I wanted to go home. I cried because I had no friends here.  I cried because I missed my car. I cried because I missed my family.  I cried because it was like having to re-learn every aspect of my day-to-day life...aspects that you normally don't think about.  I felt almost as if I were recovering from a head injury.  A few examples of these different aspects are:

  • Even though English is spoken here in Derry of course...a lot of it I didn't understand. Do you know what it means when someone passes you on the street and randomly says "Alright" to you?  I didn't, but now I do (it means hello). Check out this blog post and this blog post to get an idea of some of the language differences.  
  • And, it took me nearly eight months to be able to open my own bank account here simply because I wasn't a citizen.  And, because of that there are about a dozen extra hoops you have to jump through to do the simplest opening a bank account or even getting a established in a doctor's office.  
  • And, I had to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road.  Which, I's proof.
  • I had to re-learn how to use a washing machine and a dishwasher.  Remember this post from my second week here where I babysat Barry's two nieces for a week?
Of course, no one's experiences will be exactly the same as mine, but it may give you an idea.

Now, nine months later, the crying spells have more or less stopped and I'm slowly beginning to feel less and less like a fish out of water.  Of course there are still moments...some weird, some awkward and some just plain hateful, but for the most part it's easier.

Just remember if you ever do move somewhere else, it will be hard, but if you have a good reason to do it, it does make it all worth it.  Here was and is my reason and the only way I think I've kept myself sane throughout this process:

My wonderful husband, Barry.
And, of course, another reason has been my wonderful Zumba classes and participants who have made me feel welcome and at home and have given me energy to keep on keeping on:

Here's a few of them from our Zumba Halloween Party...all dressed up and lookin' good!
Plus, being in a different country makes going home to visit that much more precious and it makes you realize and appreciate your friends and family more which is why I'm so looking forward to going home for Christmas this year...not to mention, I'll be going through the Taco Bell drive through about a dozen times while I'm there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No turkey wurkey for me

It's Thanksgiving week back in America, and I won't be there this Thanksgiving Thursday to partake in the turkey, dressing and all the other deliciousness that comes along with the holiday and..GASP...I won't be there for Black Friday!  Which, may be for the best...the crowds,'s exhausting.  I am looking forward to going home for Christmas though (when I'll also be going to a baby shower being thrown for me by my friends and family...just a few more months to go until Baby Concannon makes his/her debut) so at least there's that.  I did, however, have a dream last night that I was driving in America and I kept driving on the wrong side of the road since I'm so used to the side of the road used here.  Um, hopefully that won't happen.

 It's the first time I've never been home for Thanksgiving, so I'm not super thrilled about it.  Anyway, I thought I'd post a few photos of some previous Thanksgiving days (well just last year) for old times sake.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!  It's the Thanksgiving turkey butcher!  Run turkeys run!  Na...that's just my brother.  I don't think he reads my blog, so I'm sure he won't mind me posting this.
The bird that didn't have a chance.
Me and my niece Madison.

A few of the dessert options...pumpkin pie, pecan pie and yum yum.

The aftermath.  We de-boned that Turkey.
In the end, the turkey won.

I've been asked a few times to explain what Thanksgiving actually is and what it means and I seem to have a hard time explaining it, so for anyone here in Derry that isn't too sure about what it is, here's a link to Wikipedia...maybe they can explain it better haha.

And, it can also be summed up pretty well by Adam Sandler and his Thanksgiving song...listen below:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Winter Wonderland

I've decorated our house and the shop a bit early for Christmas this year.   Actually, I did it just a few days after Halloween.  I figured I might as well since Thanksgiving isn't a holiday here and because I'm going home for Christmas...otherwise I wouldn't be able to enjoy the decorations.  I realize the first week of November is incredibly early, but lucky for me, I'm not the one who has had to listen to people give us a hard time about decorating the shop for Christmas so early...Barry is since he's down there most of the time anyway.  Oh well...I'm spreading the Christmas cheer a little early this year!  Ha!  Take that...yeah!  I'll show you some pics here but don't get your hopes up on how elaborate the decorations are because they're not!  They were all bought at the pound, they may appear quite cheesy.  Enjoy this Derry winter wonderland.

If you turn your head to the right and try to see how the image is supposed (frickin' blogger) to appear you will see pretty stickers on the soda fridge.  I feel the Christmas spirit already. I think I need to sing as I finish the rest of this blog post. "Rockin' around the Christmas tree..."

I hope Santa leaves us something good in these stockings!  "Sleigh bells ring are you listening..."

Who doesn't love snowmen and Christmas tree stickers on a window!?  "In the meadow we can build a snowman..."

And what could possibly make a display of crisps (chips) more festive than a red bow?  "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way..."

Ah...the best part:  Red and gold foil jingle bells taped to the ceiling in key places to add to the holiday charm.  "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."
Our mini Christmas tree in our flat.  "Have a holly jolly Christmas..."

Our intricately hand-designed stockings.  One for me, Barry, Charlie and Fox.  "These three kings..."
Okay...singing done for now.

49 again...

Today's my mom's birthday! Happy Birthday!

At my wedding rehearsal.  Sept. 17, 2010

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday night

It's Saturday night. If my 22 year old self could see me now, she'd be shocked.  As a 22 year old, what constituted a rockin' Saturday night included drinking with my friends at my local favorite college bar in Huntington, West Virginia--The Union.  In fact, one of my best friends and I could knock back about 3 or 4 pitchers of beer between us before racing to Taco Bell and then scooting home to beat the sunrise.

Fast forward 9 years.  Now, I'm 31 and it's Saturday night. What now constitutes a rockin' Saturday night for me and Barry includes playing YouTube videos of cat noises to see what kind of reaction we get from our cats.  Which is what we did tonight.  Please, don't be jealous of our rockin' lifestyle.  Here are some of the videos we played that got the most reaction from our cats:

This one above stressed them out a lot but it amused Barry and I.  It's freakin' cool, actually.

Okay, well that's all for now.  End of boring cat video post.  Back to my rockstar lifestyle now.  Yep, all sex, drugs and rock n' roll here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm a cow and a ram

Not too much to report here in Derry recently...well, besides the fact that my bladder is constantly being dropped kicked by a 2lb fetus.  Can't wait til February when my schedule doesn't revolve around trips to the loo.  Oh, and I decorated Barry's shop for Christmas...yes, a teeny bit early, but since I'm going back to the States for Christmas, I thought it best to go ahead and get them up early so we can enjoy them.  I'll post pics of this winter wonderland courtesy of the pound shop later.  So, in the meantime, here are a few photos taken from when my mom and brother were here visiting last month.

"What are you looking at?"  Those are some fly earrings cow...supa fly.
A waterfall along the causeway coastal route near Benone Beach.

Dunluce Castle

There's a teeny rainbow there in the background.  As there should be!  We get enough rain here I should see a rainbow 24 hours a day.
Slieve League Cliffs in Co. Donegal.
Giant's Causeway
Me and my bro at Victoria's Square in Belfast overlooking the city.
Shot taken from Grianan the ancient ring fort just outside of Derry.

"I'm a ram."
These are some photos taken just a few blocks from where we live in Derry.  These are the famous Bogside Murals by the Bogside Artists.  These murals depict the modern troubles in Derry.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A ninja and a cat burglar

Derry's 25th Halloween Festival was over the weekend.  It is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in Europe.  It was too cold to wear the poodle girl outfit I wore a week ago, so instead I had to make due with what I could find in the house. In case you can't tell what I was supposed to be, I was a cat burglar. I basically drew on a cat face and put on all black.  Eh, it worked in a pinch.  Barry was a ninja.  That was hard work, lemme tell ya!  He karate-chopped every sign and lamp post from here to the parade and back (almost injuring himself on one).  Oh, and he also requested that we not use his instead call him "ninja."

Me and "Ninja."
"Ninja" and the neighbor girls before we went to the parade.
The cat burglar (you can just call me Lesley) and the neighbor girls before the parade.

Parade pics: