One month in and the culture shock

Well it’s official, I’ve been living in Northern Ireland for a little over a month, and although it was a very shaky start, I survived!  Quick synopsis of the past few weeks here for my friends and family back in the states: I was originally supposed to live with a host family in Derry, which is the same city I am volunteering in. Long story short…

…my host family basically told me I couldn’t stay with them anymore (yikes!) Can you imagine planning a trip to a foreign country for months, spending loads of money on a plane ticket and presents for the family, only to find out  (when you’ve actually landed) that you don’t actually have a place with them?! Needless to say, I was not a happy camper, but two of my new years resolutions were the following:

  • Say yes to everything: Sureee, why not go live on a farm with sheep, cows and goats (ohh my!)
  • Forgive

Thus when Joanne and her fiancé Paddy offered to let me come stay with them on their farm in Gortnaghey (a long journey away from Derry), I welcomed the experience to learn a different lifestyle then my own.  But I won’t lie, it was a major culture shock at first.

The Internet

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

I never realized how much I took the internet for granted.  99% of all my family and friends rely heavily on the internet for…well…everything. Email, Facebook, Twitter, Shopping, Ebay, Sports Center, Music…the list can go on.  Not only that, when we want to do an email check, we expect it to happen FAST and wherever we are.  In the middle of a grocery store, I should be able to hop on my phone and tweet that the price of milk has gone up.  Waiting for a movie to start at the cinema, I should be able to do a quick facebook check before I’m told to silence my phone.  I should be able to watch the Bruins play live on my cell without a delay. That’s the lifestyle we live. So, you can imagine my shock (and sheer panic) when I found out we didn’t get reception out on the farm.  A million thoughts went through my mind: What if a school emailed me about a job interview? What if someone put a bad picture of me up on facebook and it needed to be detagged stat? I have no idea what Ryan Gosling has been up to these past 24 hours (ya know…sine we’re bff on twitter).  Believe me, I know how ridiculous this sounds but it was literally all that was going through my head! Now, a month into it, I can honestly say, I don’t miss it nearly as much as I thought I would. Yes, I miss my friends like crazy and hate that I can’t skype everyday and it drives me up the wazoo that my pictures take hours to upload, but other then that, it’s actually been quite the eye opener for me. I’m not constantly glued to my phone or obsessively checking profiles and emails. I make it into the City of Derry a few times a week and I can now wait til then to do all that (but let’s be honest, if I didn’t make it into Derry and receive internet on weekdays, I’d be going mad). PS those three weeks where I had no contact with people back in the states? Nothing life altering happened via the internet. No emails from potential jobs were missed (although, I had about 12 emails from my mother…”Hi dear…hope you got in safe…”…”why aren’t you answering my emails?”….”Joanne told me you have no internet there…bummer”….”…”just saying hi”….I love you mom, but if I have no internet (and you know I have no internet) there’s a good chance I’m not going to respond, no matter how many times you email me :)) Also on the plus side, no embarrassing photos were posted on facebook and Ryan Gosling had absolutely nothing interesting to tweet.
Ryan Gosling at Fun Fun Fun Fest
Ryan Gosling at Fun Fun Fun Fest
Not being able to drive
As much as I complain about having road rage and hating on Boston drivers, I never knew how much I actually loved the freedom of driving until it was taken away.  Out on the farm in Gortnaghey, there are no subways coming through every ten minutes or buses driving past.  I have to relay on other people to give me a ride if I need to go somewhere, which I have to say, is a most unsettling feeling! I don’t think I’ve relied on other people to drive me places since before I was 16 and had my license.  Joannes family is so incredibly nice and drive me to Youth Action for my volunteer work (sometimes I take the bus home) but it’s still that feeling that I’ve lost my independence in a way. Something positive? I get to learn how to drive a tractor!
I’ve never been an unhealthy eater. I love egg whites for breakfast, a good salad for lunch and some protein and veggies for dinner. Sure, I splurge on pizza and sushi or my absolute weakness: hot spicy chicken wings, but in general, eating healthy has always been something I’d been conscious of.  The food here in Northern Ireland: Oh. My.God.  It’s a fatty blend of amazing deliciousness.  I’d never really enjoyed french fries (called chips out here) until Joanne made them in her deep fryer.  Paddy’s mom makes the best homemade scones I have ever tasted and Ann’s Irish Stew is to die for. Tons of carbs and not so many veggies? Fact. But once again, I’m saying yes to everything, which includes the Irish diet (just small portions!!) I’ve had my taste of Guinness and Whiskey here, which aren’t my favorite but I can’t say I didn’t give them a go! Other noteworthy drinks that they don’t serve in the states? A bubbly wine cooler drink called WKD and a shot served in bars called Sambooka (nothing like a Lemon Drop but equally as tasty :))

 Shower vs. Bath


I never thought I would take a nice long hot shower for granted. In the winter time, I typically take 2-3 showers a day to warm up.  On the farm, there is only a bath, and it needs at least an hour to heat up.  What?! I have enough crazy ADHD as it is, how am I supposed to sit in a bath and just…relax? Not going to happen. Am I supposed to take a bath every time after I work out ( then again…I haven’t been running as much as I should be…so thats not really an issue) Although I’ve embraced the bathtub phenomenon,  I’ll still be constantly craving a shower during my stay here.

Truth be told, I feel like a very lucky girl.  Things could have gone a lot worse if Joanne and her family were’t able to help me out in a rough situation.  I’m absolutely loving my volunteer agency (more to blog on that!) I’m meeting wonderful new people and reconnected with a long lost old friend.  But most of all, as much as I joke and make fun of the “farm life” I’m very appreciative to learn a new culture and its a brand new experience! Who knows what could happen next 🙂

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