Who are you?
My name is Katelyn, and I’m a recent college graduate from New England. I come from a big family.
I love pizza, cheap wine, and the beach. Starting at the end of August, I will be living as an expat in Ireland for a year while I get a Masters degree and work in a local hospital.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I am moving to Galway, Ireland at the end of August (3 weeks to go!). I am moving for a whole variety of reasons, many of which are detailed in past blog posts, such as my study abroad experience there, but what it boils down to is love – love for the country of Ireland, the city of Galway, the Irish culture, and last but certainly not least, love for a rather handsome Irishman with a funny sounding name and a big heart.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Besides finding a place to live and trying to sort out school details through email correspondence only, my biggest challenge was a rather superficial one: packing. I am a notorious over-packer and I need such a detailed packing list for even the most inconsequential of weekend trips, let alone a transatlantic move. One of my biggest challenges is thus the dilemma of deciding what goes and what stays – is that one pair of sweatpants I stole from an ex-boyfriend eons ago that fit perfectly after a night of pizza and wine and Netflix a necessity? or should I save room for few dresses that will totally fit perfectly if I lose 10 lbs? and I definitely need every pair of boat shoes I own because it’s rainy in Ireland, right? Plus a bunch of picture frames so I don’t forget what my mom or dog looks like right? THESE are the questions that keep me up at night.
How did you find somewhere to live?
The best way to find accommodation in Ireland is searching first on the various reality websites such as daft.ie and rent.ie where realtors and private landlords have houses, flats, and apartments up for sale and to rent. These websites allow you to enter in what location you want to live in, your price range, how many beds you need, and other specifics in order to find properties that match what you’re looking for. I have found these websites incredibly helpful, and allow me to find places I am interested in and I can then send emails via the website’s email service, or have my boyfriend and other future housemates reach out on the phone to set up viewings.
After viewings, it is up to the realtor/landlord to decide if they want to give you an application. Almost always references from previous landlords or housing is required, and sometimes references from schools to show you are a student. If the application is accepted, a security deposit is needed and the amount varies depending on the property. The lease is signed and you’re set to move in on the day the lease starts!
Are there many other expats in your area?
There are definitely a lot of expats in Galway, mainly because it is simultaneously a up-and-coming industrial and technological hub in Europe, and also because of the city’s university, NUIG, which boast upwards of 17,000 students from all around the world so Galway is certainly a young and vibrant city.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Though I’m probably a bit biased as I am dating one, I have found the Irish to be some of the nicest people, collectively, that I’ve ever met. Moving at their own pace, never too rushed or in a hurry, confident in who they are, and with a deep pride for where they come from, I would say the Irish locals are nothing but welcoming and happy to meet people from anywhere. As an American, I will always encounter questions about “everyone owning guns” and “fat people scooters” as these are both topics the Irish find mind boggling, but I’ve never been met with hostility or rudeness from even the most intoxicated of locals. Taxi drivers in Galway, and Ireland in general, are some of the nicest people you’ll meet and will freely talk with you about everything from the weather to the latest EU economic crisis, and they’ll tell you exactly what they think with no apologies.
What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
It is a common misconception that Irish food leaves a lot to be desired, that it is bland, and plain. While perhaps this is sometimes true, it is mainly because their food is so much less processed than it is in America. I myself have very little complaints about the food in Ireland. I have never gone to the supermarket and been unable to find anything I needed. There are some things in Irish cuisine I miss terribly when I am in America: a good strong cup of Irish tea, fresh brown bread, this thick and delicious vegetable soup that is a staple on most restaurant menus, and the traditional Irish breakfast/ rolls. Oh how I miss breakfast rolls – an amazing merger of all your personal favorite parts of the tradition Irish breakfast put into a buttered baguette. For me, my breakfast roll consists of eggs, Irish sausage, hash browns, and rashers (sort of ham, sort of bacon, all sorts of yummy). I could quite literally go on all day about breakfast rolls and how they cure even the worst of hangovers, but I’ll cut myself off there. I have yet to warm up to white or black pudding (*shudders*) and I still don’t quite understand why the refrigerators are so small in Ireland, but there’s nothing I particularly dislike!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I am so new at this, so I’m not sure I’m the best person to be handing out unsolicited advice, but I will say that if you are even considering it and think that any amount of time spent living as an expat in another country would be good for your heart, mind, and soul then I say DO IT. Do it, do it, do it. Whether you’re in college and thinking of studying abroad, or fresh out of college and want to see a bit of the world before starting the next phase of the “plan” we’re all suppose to have, or a young couple, or and old couple, or a middle aged man who’s always wanted to be a farmer in the hills of Ireland or a 40 something woman who dreams of having a torrid love affair with a slightly very younger Italian man, or whoever you are, if it will make you happy then DO IT. You’ll only regret thing things you never did.
What are your plans for the future?
After this next year as an expat, I’m honestly not sure. I hope to go to medical school, but whether I do so as an expat or back home in America is yet to be determined. I should maybe submit my applications first…
For information about Katelyn's move to Galway check out her blog, Diary of an Expat.