“SOOO, what did you miss the most about Texas!?” is a question I get asked very frequently. Texas being, well, Texas means that I have a lot I long for when I’m abroad. Likewise, now that I’ve made my flight arrangements for making my way back to Dublin here in a few weeks, I’m getting really excited to get back to that life. Below, I’ve made a list of things that I miss about the other country when I’m in… the other country.
Things that Texans take for granted:
- Food. We have some of the greatest foods in Texas. From Cane’s and Chick-Fil-A, to SWEET MOTHER FREAKING TEA (which, okay, is not a food, but we’re counting it for the sake of this bullet point), to fajita tacos and queso, there’s no place that does it quite as good as Texas. And let’s not forget about what dreams are made of: Shipley’s donut holes. The British Isles will never be able to claim they’re known for their amazing cuisine, and Texas’ eats definitely blow Ireland’s eats away.
- The Sun. That bright, burning orb in the sky that frequents Texas with gorgeous painted sunsets every. single. night!? Yeah, that doesn’t happen in Ireland. Ireland gets about two sunny days a month. You get used to the constant drizzle… and the cloudy skies… and the annoying daily wind gusts… but as an expat used to something entirely different, you never quite get comfortable with it. In Texas, we call a sunny day… just another day.
- Hours. Aw, you took a nap after work and now you’re hungry for dinner and it’s 9:15 pm? TOO BAD SUCKER, you have to eat in tonight because literally every restaurant closes at 9 pm. This weird thing about short hours extends to shops in Dublin too. It’s weird. I know. Sometimes, you just want a waffle in the middle of the night. Thank God for Waffle House. Sometimes, you just want to buy a puzzle and Do Some Werk at 2 am. Thank you Jesus for Wal-Mart. God Bless America and their love of 24-hour convenience for nearly everything you can imagine.
- Diversity. My old Vera Bradley manager offered me a job working occasional shifts, and I took her up on her offer. There is one token white girl working at our store, and the rest are a very diverse bunch. I love the diversity Houston has, and its vibrancy is reflected in all of the cultural festivals constantly happening around town. One night out in Dublin, my friend from home, Alex, showed one of our Irish friends a picture of her boyfriend’s football team. The first words out of my Irish friend’s mouth were, “MOST OF THAT TEAM IS REALLY BLACK!?” You would never see 50 shades of people all speaking with an Irish accent. It just wouldn’t happen.
Things that Dubliners take for granted:
- Travels: Ryanair, one of Europe’s low-cost airlines, calls Dublin home. They fly everywhere! Paris, London, Barcelona. All for under $50 round trip. However, I’ve met some Irish people who don’t make an effort to get out there. One of my friends once said, “Why go out of the country when there’s so much beautiful Irish countryside to see?” This statement almost gave me hives. You have amazingly easy access to SO MUCH OF THIS BEAUTIFUL CONTINENT, and you want to stay on this tiny island that you can completely cross in less than two hours!? This is absolutely one of my favorite things about Ireland: you can get anywhere, anytime!
- Pub Culture: Dublin has so many pubs to choose from, and it’s not rare to spend a whole evening nursing a pint or two or seven and enjoying some good craic with your friends. There’s small pubs, and big pubs, and Victorian pubs, and pubs that are older than America. There’s new pubs, and neighborhood pubs on the next major street over from where you live. It’s great! I love the energy, and yet the chill vibes you can get from going into some of these places on a Monday. Does that make me an alcoholic? Nah, although I’ve heard denial is the first step… moving on…
- History: I went to a service once at St. Patrick’s Cathedral right there in central Dublin. There have been services on that site for over 800 years. EIGHT HUNDRED. Nuts! A Scottish docent once told me, “In America, you talk in years. In Europe, you talk in centuries.” It’s true. In Texas, we call our coastal town, “Historical Galveston,” and that’s a little over 100 years old. In Ireland, things are casually eight centuries old and still being used, and people just walk by these things every day!
- Proximity: Every Sunday in Dublin, I walk to church, and then I walk to Aldi to do my weekly grocery shopping. It’s about a two mile round-trip, and it doesn’t even seem like much because everyone else is walking around ya too. Everything is so close together! I once put a Google maps screenshot of my neighborhood subdivision and Dublin city center next to each other, and they were the same size! THE SAME SIZE. I wish I could walk everywhere in Texas. But not only is it so far, but it’s so hot I’d melt everywhere all over the concrete right outside my house property line.
So, which place do I like better? I like both for different reasons, and I’m not just saying that because I want to be cordial. I really do love Dublin, and I really love Texas as well. It’s interesting how in both countries, we speak English, yet culturally there are just slight things that make us so different. That’s what makes the human experience so wonderful, simultaneously finding new things to love about different places, and never forgetting the great things about the country that made you who you are. It’s a crazy ride y’all, and I can’t wait to discover more things to love about all the new places I’ll be going to in these next few months!