04 March 2009

What Ireland Taught Us

WE'VE BEEN LIVING in France for a year-and-a-half but it took a trip to Ireland for us to realize something: living in France is a huge cultural change for us.

We knew this, of course, but it really became clear after just a few hours walking around Dublin. Although we were keenly aware that we were in a foreign country (and one we had never visited before) it felt so different from France. And in many ways so much more comfortable. The language was familiar; the restaurants were familiar; the hours of operation of the restaurants was familiar; the 'American-style' coffee shops were familiar. About the only thing that seemed really out of place were the cars driving on the wrong opposite side of the road.

You have to understand that Kerri and I still get nervous about striking-up conversations with people on the streets when we are in France because we're not confident enough with our French. While this will come in time (won't it?), it's frustrating --particularly because we both like to strike up those kinds of conversations. In Ireland it was easy. When I wanted to know how the locals were feeling about the big rubgy match against England coming up, I just asked. When we wanted to know where to find the best fish n' chips in the country, we just asked (by the way, the aswer was Mc Donagh's in Galway...and it was great!!). And when we want to read the local newspaper (OK, that's just me) we can do it without pulling out a French/English dictionary. I guess English-speaking countries have more in common and have a way of making you feel more in your comfort-zone -- and not just because you can get coffee to go.
At one point, while waking down Grafton Street in Dublin, Kerri and I were both thinking the same thing: living in France puts us much further away from 'American' culture than we realized -- and sometimes that makes us sad. Not often, but at times.

1 comment :

Christina said...

I'm so jealous that you live in France. I know exactly what you mean though. While I was living there, I'd watch Friends in the evenings sometimes and it was such a comfort to listen and not have to translate in my head! When I visited London, it was the same. But now that I'm back, I miss it there so much. The idea of moving there and being out of my element terrifies me but I long to live there more.