How I See It – 25 days

From time to time I post observations relating to our move back to the US after 12 years in Ireland. From the culture to ourselves, many many things seem different. This is my take on it. Views and observations are my own and only my own. They are simply observations and musings, not facts or absolutes to any one place or environment.

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So many ways to say the same thing. It gets confusing sometimes.

  1. I’m seriously considering carrying a flask with me. A flask of milk. A flask of milk for my tea.
  2. When I ask for “tea” here they assume it’s iced tea unless specified, “Hot Tea.”
  3. It’s possible we stand too close to people in lines.
  4. People seem to need a lot more personal space to pass each other in aisles. I’ll be standing there and someone will be waiting for me to move so they can get by while I’m thinking that two additional people could get by with all that space there.
  5. While in a car waiting to pick up kids from school, people leave loads more space between cars here. I have to stay calm and not get stressed about all that wasted space. We were always in need of more space in Ireland. Always. But not here. There is a lot of space. I still can’t help myself from saying, “Stop wasting all that space!” It’s a good thing my car windows are rolled up or they would be like, “Who’s that weird lady yelling about space over there?” But thankfully, they probably wouldn’t hear me because of all the space between our cars. 
  6. I must remember to smile back when random people smile at me. 
  7. People seem so outwardly friendly. I’m not used to that outgoing nature. 
  8. There are so many different words here that sometimes I can’t talk and people look at me funny. Whoever said, “It’s so good you get to speak English in Ireland” like it’s the same thing, needs to know, it’s not the same English. No joke. *
  9. Where we are located,  it doesn’t seem like people are used to dealing with people who are unfamiliar with how to do things in America. Please be patient with me.
  10. I heard a foreign accent the other day and immediately felt at home and wanted to be friends with them. 
  11. I am tired. Learning a new place and relearning my birth culture (if you can call moving to a new, and very different, region 12 years later relearning. Not so sure about that.) is exhausting. Time for some sleep.
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Nothin’ like a proper cuppa.

 

*The Irish predominantly speak a dialect of English known as Hiberno English.

Observations on America (from an invisible foreigner)

Early 2012 212That rare gift of being able to see your own culture objectively… I can already feel it waning. But I’m thankful for this time where I can see my birth culture through the eyes of an outsider. And I never want to forget. For me, I am an invisible foreigner. I look and (basically) sound American. But after living 12 years in Ireland, I feel foreign. I keep thinking of the millions of those who have come to this country over the decades and feel compassion for how confusing and tiring it must have been or still is for them.

So, for now, this is what I see. It’s still all very surreal.

This first list is from after being in the US for six days after we arrived on January 9, 2016 to Central PA.

After 6 days in the US:
1) I have rarely been cold indoors. In Ireland I was rarely NOT cold indoors in the winter time (okay, sometimes in the summer time too).
2) Changing cultures is VERY tiring. (Even when it’s your home country (but still a different culture within that country)).
3) People don’t stare at us when they hear us talking, only when they hear us talking about living in Ireland and how it’s different in the US.
4) Even though we are familiar with the US we are totally UNfamiliar with the US. This feels surreal.
5) Lots of food. Lots. We keep ordering more than we can eat.
6) We are starting to adjust to everyone having an American accent. But we still do double takes when we hear American accents, but then realize it’s just how most people talk around 
 here.
7) I am slow at counting out American money.
8) I still call it American money.
9) People will not wait very long for you if you are late.
10) I’m proud of how my boys are doing so far.

** All these observations are only my own experience from my own point of view, yours may be entirely different, mine may even be different a few months down the road. That’s okay. They are observations as a learner and student of culture, not judgments or finality in thinking. 

I Come From the Future…And the Past

So….

I moved…

Across an Ocean…

But it feels like 17 oceans…

Like I am coming from the future…

Back to the past…

But also…

From the past into the future…

Confusing?

I agree!

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Ireland

Three months ago we moved to the US after living in Ireland 12 years. We not only left our adopted country and home, but we moved to a place where started out knowing only one person which we had only met once 15 years ago for two hours.  One. Single. Person.

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Ireland

So we moved to a new country, a new region in that country, a new home in that region, new schools, a new job. It’s all new. Nothing is the same. At first glance Ireland and the US do not seem that different but, they are. They really are. And considering the culture shock for me, imagine the shock for my 11 & 12 year old boys. Their whole lives they have been told they are American. Well, here in America, now they are Irish. It’s the plight of the TCK (Third Culture Kid). You are seen as being “more so” from the country in which you are NOT currently present in. Never fully one or the other.

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Green in Ireland, White in USA

Sure, we took several short trips over the years. We even spent two, four month stints in the US when they were little kiddos.  But trips never cut it in terms of cultural awareness when you move to the place you’ve only ever visited. The didn’t come “home” to America. They are effectively foreigners. And mostly invisible ones. Even the language, though both English, is different enough (Hiberno English and American English are different dialects) that they struggle to understand at times. We all do actually. And the slang? Let’s put that on hold for a while can we?

All this to say,

I’m going to attempt to be writing about this for a while, still interspersing creativity and art and other beautiful things. But for now, adapting to a place that is simultaneously home and a foreign land, and all the observations and crazy stories and misunderstandings and funny happenings that come with it is going to be the hot topic around here for a while.

There is a small window of time after being away from your home country that you get to see things more objectively than we otherwise are able. I hope to capture these moments and note them here. Partly for me, so I can remember, because time passes quickly and it’s easy to forget. And partly, I hope, for you.

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A New View: Flat, Wide Open Countryside

So whether you are an outsider looking in (which we all are to some extent) or insider looking out, her we go. One particular perspective after living between two particular countries.  I find things like this particularly interesting. I hope you do too.

 

*All photos were taken by me. Copywrited. Do not use without permission.

All Around The World

Here is a map. The countries highlighted in green are the places all of you have visited from in the past year.

Countries who have visited this site in the last year

The world is an amazing place! You are all amazing!

I hope that in the years to come I can visit more and more of these places. I dream of seeing it all, but in reality some places I will never get to. Seeing this map leaves me feeling like I’ve gotten to be a part of these places, even if just a little bit. Thank you! I’m better for all of you.

Let see how many more places we can touch in the coming year.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Color

Colour. Color. No matter where you live or how you spell it, colour is what gives our surroundings oomph, sparkle, and delight.

I’m so glad I can see colour. I’m so thankful there is color in this world for us to see.

In February I was fortunate to be able to visit Malta for a Creative’s Retreat. We spent time together creating and sharing our art. It was really great to have artist’s from different mediums together. It enhanced and challenged my thinking and perspective.

Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea south west of Italy. It’s an independent country and part of the EU. It feels like no where else I’ve been in the Europe. With multiple European and North African influences, the palette of Malta reflects all these cultures with beautiful mixes of boldness and subtlety. Sandstone, the most common stone, and used in many buildings, is a beautiful BLOND, TAN colour. It’s very different from the damp GREY stone so commonly seen in Ireland. There are also bright bursts of color in doorways, windows, walls and a miscellany of other things.  The Sea was so BLUE and the fields were already blooming GREEN.When we arrived these colours struck me. It felt bright (and warm!). It’s the sunniest place in the European Union and you could feel it. A welcome change from the freezing temps we’d been experiencing in Ireland

We soaked up the sun and the change of scenery.

Each day we had contrasting word themes to inspire us as we went around and experienced the islands (Malta and Gozo). There was writing, photography, painting and inspiration. There are more things to share about this experience than I will be able to here. But here’s a few more:

Eventually the week ended and we flew home to Ireland. I found it striking how several of us, at different moments, individually commented as we looked out the window at our own very, GREY, yet very, GREEN country, and said “What would we do without the green?!” and “At least we have all this green.”

Sometimes it only takes a few days to make you appreciate something you forget to see.

Beautiful Home

Beautiful Home

I Had A Brother

I had a brother.
His name was Roger.
He was born on April 2, 1980.
I was 2 1/2 years old when he was born.
I don’t remember life without him around as a child.
He was my annoying little brother. We fought and endured sibling rivalry like many do.
I know we played too, although I would have never admitted it when we were young.        He liked to push my buttons like little brothers do.

For a significant portion of my teen years my brother was not around.                          Addiction introduced itself to Roger. They got involved, really involved.                        Things changed.                                                                                                                      It was hard.                                                                                                                              A couple of times it was scary.                                                                                               It was definitely messy.                                                                                                            I was 16 at the height of things. My baby sister was 6.                                                           It was hard – for everybody.

Eventually Roger found a sub-culture he seemed to fit in. For a few years he would visit from time to time when he passed through town.
He met my first son as a newborn and held him so gently and carefully, being aware he wasn’t the cleanest. It meant a lot to me that he came to meet my son and hold him.

Being himself, he would tell us wild stories of the adventures he had. They were never dull. At the same time you could see there were many more stories that went untold simply because they were painful and we became, whether real or perceived, too distanced to relate or even make the attempt.
For a majority of the time since they met, addiction stayed involved.                                  He tried hard, over and over but it’s grip was strong.

Eventually, his addictions caught up with him.

An overdose…revived at the scene…vegetative…1,177 miles from his birthplace…surname given…family contacted…days…decisions…waiting…

I had a brother.
His name was Roger.
He died on April 2, 2004.
I was 26 1/2 years old when he died.                                                                                        I will remember life without him now and wonder what may have been.                                He was my annoying little brother. He liked to push my buttons like little brothers do.

I miss him. Especially today.

Stacey & Roger

Dublin Time Lapsed Beauty

Sometimes after you’ve lived in a city for a while you can forget what makes it beautiful. You get caught up in the things that are frustrating about it. Then something happens. The wind shifts, a new song plays, and you are reminded again why it’s beautiful in its own way. You remember why you love it.

Matthieu Chardon’s video just did that for me. It’s made up of time-lapse sequences but truly it’s made up of so much more. It really captures the history and a heartbeat of Dublin.

It was striking. The stillness in the movement and the changes in the constant.

All at once. Separate. Together.

Watch it and think about it. (I promise. It’s short. And lovely.) Tell me about it. Do you know Dublin? Have you been there? If you haven’t been yet, what did you see? Or if film and media are your thing, tell me what you saw in the film. What was your one beautiful thing?

(yes, the clouds really move that fast. and yes, they are there most of the time)

Serviettes, Craic, Trolleys and Sessions

photo credit: Sheryl McElwee

It’s not something I’ve written about in too much detail up to now, but I had the pleasure of being interviewed recently over at MOVE Guides on what it’s like to move abroad and live cross culturally. (Thanks Stephanie!) Here’s your chance to learn a little more about me and my experiences moving abroad and living cross culturally. Go on, I know you want to find out more…;-)  Here it is: An American Moves to Dublin

Bonus points if you can tell me what the four title words mean! (No Googling allowed!😉 )

Weekly Photo Challenge – Delicate

I like this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate.

I love it when we’re given a theme that leaves room for interpretation.

For our own eyes to translate, word to picture.

Much of Ireland’s landscape is quite rugged. There is an abundance of stone. For example, The island of Inis Mór (Inishmore), one of the Aran Islands, is barely 12 square miles, yet it has around 900 miles of stone walls covering it! Stone is everywhere.

People tend to think of green when they think of Ireland. It’s true, it is a green place. It’s a good thing too because of all the grey, rugged rock. Green and grey offset each other.

There is a place here called The Burren. On your way to the Burren you pass green fields and beautiful landscape. Once you enter the Burren it becomes another world. Limestone fissures consume the landscape. Soil is scarce. Green is scarce. The Burren is about as rugged as you can get.

But then you look down and you start to see the most delicate of things. It’s quite a sight. Rugged and delicate. Sharing their space…

Delicate Persistence

Delicate Persistence

Burren Flower

Against The Odds

Against The Odds

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Renewal

Going places like this…

Poulnabrone Dolmen, The Burren, Ireland

With people like this…

Beara Pennisula, Co. Cork, Ireland

On days like this…

Pulleen Loop, Co. Cork, Ireland