08/08/2016

First Impression of Dublin


Here I sit, finding myself as a newly arrived immigrant in yet another strange country. French has switched to English, poutine to stews of all sorts and all the beer - well, to more beer. A month has passed since I moved from Canada to Ireland, and it has surely taken some struggle getting used to my new hometown, Dublin.

I miss Québec. There, I said it. I miss Québec tremendously, and as I walk around the (unpleasantly often, unlabeled) streets of Dublin I act like a broken-hearted teenager who longs after her ex while leaning on the shoulder of her unsuspecting rebound. Sorry Dublin - just like Québec, I think you have to win me over, because I'm in the midst of a culture shock.

Now I hear a little voice on the back of my head asking "But what about Finland?!" I say Finland, no. You stay out of this. I'm over you and I only see you as a friend with whom I've had some good moments that have turned into memories by now. I just had one hell of a rollercoaster ride of passion, drama and a year full of really weird stuff with Québec, and I don't forget that so easily.

I miss my friends and family from Finland, but let's face it: I haven't lived there for over a year - heck, I didn't even know any of the new shops and hot spots in my old hometown anymore, and I felt like a complete stranger. I had to let my local friends guide me through a jungle of new cafes and renovated shopping centres, because I didn't know where I was. I will surely write a whole separate blog post about this traumatizing experience as an expat Finn, but there's still one place in this world where I know every corner and every stone: Québec City.

I keep comparing Dublin to Québec, and I keep repeating the exact same mistakes and following the exact same patterns of shock and adaptation as I did when I first moved to Canada. So just like I compared Finland and Québec back in the days IN THIS POST, let's see how Dublin has been able to impress, astonish and annoy me so far.

1. THE IRISH BOW TO NO ONE
This is a tough one, because Canada has turned me into one of those spoiled brats who now naively live in the false impression that everyone is as sweet as a sugar pie, gives you a seat in the bus and stops you on the street just to tell you how beautiful your hair is. Quebecers make apologising an art form. They bump into you and before you even know, you've unwillingly engaged yourself into this weird apology dance where the shocked and tearful quebecer is fondling your shoulders while chanting "pardon, excusez-moi, pardon, pardon", and you just kind of stand there and keep saying things like "Pas d'problème", "Pas d'stress" or "Ya pas de quoi" to calm them down. (This apology dance has also occurred to me in St. Petersburg, but went something like "Простите девушка, простите!")

The Irish take none of that shit.
Anne Street South, Dublin

Dublin is like a zombie apocalypse. You walk on Dame Street on a hot summer day and your only strategy of survival is to choose any spot from a distance and then keep your eyes on it while walking straight, no matter what. Just keep looking at the spot. If you make the mistake of looking passers-by in the eyes or letting your gaze wander from one side of the road to another, the zombies will spot your weaknesses and mercilessly walk straight over you. (I quote my friend in here: "It's like they're actually aiming for you. Aiming!") Dublin is a busy city with busy people, and gives me this newyorkish hunch with a European twist.

The same happens in grocery stores. Half of the time there I spend looking for garlic and broccoli, and the other half I dodge other customers. Life is a constant battle.

2. THE IRISH PLAY THE WAITING GAME
Well this is something that Ireland definitely shares with Canada, and grinds the gears of an impatient Finn who's used to things getting done when they're promised to be done. That being said, just last week I finally received a security code for my account for Canada Revenue Agency website BY MAIL. Oh, my dearest Canada. Just when I thought you couldn't be more old-fashioned with your cheques and landline phones, you truly surprise me every time.

Ireland, on the other hand, makes me look back in times when I was living in the United Kingdom, where things often happen with a short (or slightly longer) delay decorated with apologetic courtesy phrases like "We truly apologise for the delay" and "We will look into your matter already this afternoon". Only that the Irish don't do the courtesy part. They just let you wait. At this very moment, on Monday night, I'm still waiting for a phone call that was scheduled for Friday afternoon. I don't have a bank account. I don't have a social security number. I'm not even a student of my university yet. I'm just waiting for someone to push the buttons.

3. THE ACCENT IS MAGIC
Let's be honest, it's good to be back in an English-speaking country. My heart will always have a soft spot for l'accent québécois, but I also happen to truly enjoy the feeling of being able to communicate with other people without having to stop after every other word to blurt out the safety pause "euhh...". The uncomfortable feeling of being a second-class citizen is gone, and I can almost feel like a normal, fully functioning adult who's able to buy her coffees to-go without starting over the phrase "pour emporter" at least three times. Occasionally I still feel self-conscious about my English. Well, I did before last Friday, when in a job interview I was told "Your English is perfect." That smile probably got me the job.


I love the Irish accent. Sometimes I act like a complete creep and just sit in the bus listening to other people's conversations, trying to suck in whatever tiny nuances of pronunciation from their dialect. In Québec I was constantly mistaken as British (to be fair, for quebecers anyone who pronounces the letter T in "water" is British), and hopefully, maybe if I work on my R's and O's enough, next summer those lovely francophone p'tits bébés of Québec will pass me as an Irish. Sláinte, right?

The end of this post will be spared for a reminder for anyone who missed it in the previous post: I NOW HAVE AN INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT! Find me @melliais and stay tuned for weird pictures and weirder hashtags.



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2 comments:

  1. When I first arrived I definitely felt like everyone in Dublin was aiming for me! Particularly because I was based in Kerry at the time and coming from the country to the 'big smoke' really just made me want to turn around and leave again :P I didn't though...

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    1. Haha, it's good to know it wasn't only my imagination then! And coming from the countryside it surely must feel like a big shock. I was also super frustrated and thought all the Irish are just extremely rude at first. But good thing we didn't give up, right? :D

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