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Working abroad- Germany Vs Ireland

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Going abroad has always been my dream. I am from a small town in Germany and during the last few years in High School I just couldn’t wait to leave and see the world. So after I finished school I chose to move abroad to Seattle in the United States. I lived there for one year and had an amazing experience. I worked as an Au Pair and I had the opportunity to travel and see what America had to offer. After this I decided to go back to Germany to start studying again.

But I still had the feeling that I hadn’t seen enough of the world. Luckily my studies include two semesters where we have to study and work abroad. So I thought I should see what living and working in Ireland is like. I found an internship here in Job Coconut and now I am living and working in Ireland for the last 3 months. So far my time here has been great. Even though there is only one-hour time difference between Germany and Ireland I found that working and living in Ireland is quite different from Germany.


1. “Hi, how are you?”

One difference that I noticed in Ireland as well as in America is that they don’t just say “Hi”. You will always hear “How are you” in connection with that. In the beginning I was a little overwhelmed by this. What am I supposed to say? I haven’t even thought about how I am today and now this stranger wants to know? (To be honest I’ve stepped in gum but I’ve got a sneaky bit of tissue that I’m going to use when this is over.) But I learned rather quickly that they are not genuinely interested in your mood. For them it’s just something that you say to be polite. You don’t even have to answer the question, you can just reply with one word and ‘’it will be grand’’.


2. They can express how they feel in so many words

The Irish have so many ways of saying something is cool or good. What you will hear a lot is “Grand”, “Brilliant”, “Lovely” ‘’Not a Bother’’ (or “amazing”). To me it always sounds so sophisticated. What I learned in America was “awesome” - everything there is just awesome. I love the variety the Irish bring to this.


3. “Sorry” - “No worries

If you bump into someone on the street, both will say “Sorry” no matter whose fault it was. Sometimes you’ll hear “No worries”. In Germany this would be unimaginable - everyone is just so focused on themselves that they wouldn’t even notice if they cut in someone’s way. The Irish are so much more friendly to strangers which still brings a smile to my face because I feel like people actually still care about what happens around them.


4. Which weather forecast?

When I am in Germany I usually check the weather forecast for the next few days to be prepared for what’s coming. I learned quickly that this is useless in Ireland. The weather will change from one minute to the next. In Ireland we can get the 4 seasons in one day. I experienced that myself - within one hour we had burning sun, rain, hail and lightning. So now I always have sunglasses and an umbrella in my bag.


5. Locals don’t mind the weather

Rain or shine - the Irish don’t care. They will wear the same clothes whether it’s nice and warm or raining. One reason is probably that the weather changes in seconds. That means one outfit will have to do for the whole day. So while I will put on multiple layers of clothes they seem to not even feel the cold and rain. Maybe they think the less clothes they wear the less clothes will get wet…


6. Where is my change?

One thing I didn’t know before I came here is that in Ireland the change in cash is rounded to the nearest 5 cent mark. That means if you buy something for €1.49 you will end up paying €1.50. As the German that I am I was really confused in the beginning and I thought “Hey, where is my change?” But to be honest, this is really not a bad idea. Who likes having a heavy wallet full of 1 and 2 cents that you never spend anyway? The only time I like seeing them is when I find them on the street - “See a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck!”


7. The thing about public transport

In big cities in Germany a lot of people won’t even have a driving licence because they can rely on public transport to get them to work. In Ireland you shouldn’t rely on it too much. Most of the time you will have to take a bus to get anywhere and those are usually not on time because the traffic here is horrible. I guess it’s also because most people know about the public transport situation and then decide to take the car to work which only means more traffic on the streets - it’s like a vicious circle.


8. Cheers doesn’t always refer to drinking

One thing the Irish are known for is drinking. It is definitely true - they do drink a lot. But one time I overheard a conversation at work and they were saying “Cheers”. I thought -no way- they are even drinking at work. But no - there were no drinks. So after hearing it a couple of times I figured out that “Cheers” also means “Thank you” over here.


9. They drive on the “wrong” side of the road

Well this is something obvious - they drive on the “wrong” side of the road over here. It took some time for me to get used to that. But the Irish are so friendly they even write on the street in which direction you have to look out for cars if you want to cross the street. So now I am used to this and I think it will probably be weird to go back to Germany because then it will feel like the “wrong” side over there.


10. Traffic lights

One thing we Germans like to do is to follow rules. What do you do when you see a red traffic light? You stop, no matter if you are driving in your car or if you are a pedestrian. Not in Ireland. If you want to cross the street here they don’t wait for the green light, otherwise you might be waiting forever. So when there are no cars coming, just go! (You will always spot out the Tourists that stop on the red traffic light even though the streets are empty.) But also look out for cars even when you have a green light, because it happened to me more than once that cars are driving over red. Trust me - almost being hit by a car definitely wakes you up on the way to work in the mornings.


by Maria Recknagel

June 1st 2016

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