I was having lunch last week with a fellow American expat who also has a blog (An American In Dublin) and we talked about a blog post he did one month after moving over here listing the five things he hates about Dublin. Now, this was followed a week later with a post listing the five things he loves about Dublin but it’s that “hate list” that his readers really responded to – both positively and negatively, even to this day.
I don’t think that just because you choose to live someplace instead of being born there means that you aren’t entitled to an opinion regarding what you like and don’t like. And having a list of things you hate, doesn’t mean you hate living there. After all, no place is perfect. I’ve been here a year and a half and I thought it might be interesting to think about what I love and hate about this city in which I live now that I have been here for a while.
Now, before you post angry comments or send me cranky emails telling me to go back where I came from, read the entire post because, as can happen in real life, what I hate is followed very closely by what I love.
Hate is a strong word. I would prefer to name this list “Five Things I Strongly Dislike” but that would be a wuss move, so hate it is.
FIVE THINGS I HATE ABOUT DUBLIN:
1. The Immersion – The concept of the hot water immersion is something that stymied me my first week in Dublin and I still don’t really understand it. The technology certainly exists for hot water to be heated and remain heated for the user to use whenever she feels like it – without turning on a timer or flicking a switch. I’m told it would be prohibitively expensive to heat water all the time. But does it need to be? I can’t help but think that water is heated in this manner because it’s always been heated this way and why bother changing it.
2. The “It’s Grand” Attitude – As an American, I know that I am used to a certain level of customer service but I have found that over here instead of the notion that “the customer is always right” it’s more “if I ignore the customer for long enough perhaps they will go away and leave me alone.” I am not saying every person or company with which I’ve done business is like this, but it happens often enough that it really does annoy me. I will not apologize for the fact that when I pay for something, be it rent, broadband service or a cheeseburger, I expect to get what I pay for in a timely manner.
3. Littering – I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been walking down the street and I see a person open a pack of cigarettes or a candy wrapper or whatever and just through the wrapper on the ground without a moment’s hesitation. I don’t understand why anyone would do this – it’s lazy and disrespectful. There are rubbish bins placed all over the city – I doubt someone is ever more than a five-minute walk away from one of them. And even if there isn’t a bin nearby, put the stupid wrapper in your pocket or bag rather than throw it on the street. Dublin is such a beautiful city – and it deserves to be treated better than this.
4. Recycling – I have had the concept of recycling ingrained in me for as long as I can remember. I know that everything I am used to recycling may not be able to recycled over here but there still seems to be a general lack of caring about recycling in this city. Even when there is a recycling bin nearby, I see soda cans, recyclable packaging and the like in the rubbish bins instead and it drives me mad. I understand that recycling bins or bags are not always available, but I don’t understand when there is one and people still chose to just throw the recyclable material in the rubbish. Are the five extra steps really going to break you?
5. Drivers– I have complained about drivers in Dublin in a previous post but this one still deserves a mention on my “hate list”. Drivers in Dublin seem to only care about themselves and getting where they need to be – never mind who might, literally, be standing in their way. Even when making a turn or leaving a car park, drivers over here appear to only look forward and the concept of slowing down for pedestrians, to make a turn, or for any reason really, appears to optional at best. Like it or not, the roads are shared with pedestrians, bikers and other drivers and those who drive really need to remember that before someone gets hurts or killed.
So, yes – there are some things I “strongly dislike” about Dublin. But the list of what I hated about Los Angeles was much longer, believe me. And, as I said earlier, living someplace does not mean that you have to love absolutely everything about it. But to that end, there are quite a few things that I do love about this city and, not one to dwell on the negative, I choose to close out this blog post with my “love list”:
FIVE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT DUBLIN:
1. The Weather – Having moved here from Los Angeles, people might be surprised that I prefer the weather here in Dublin. I hate extremes of temperature and weather, both hot and cold. Dublin is perfect for me – it never gets very cold (remember, I grew up in Buffalo so when I say cold I mean COLD) and it never gets super hot. Yes, we can sometimes experience four seasons in one day but I don’t really mind that either. I found the weather in LA to be, frankly, boring. Here in Dublin, the weather is interesting without being extreme – perfect.
2. The Pubs – It may be a bit clichéd to say you love the pubs in Dublin but I can’t help it, I do. I love hanging out in them, talking to friends for hours on end. I love how comfy and cozy they are – especially the ones with a fireplace. I love how the people spill out of them onto the streets if the sun is shining or if Ireland just won some important match. The pub really does have a central role to life here in Dublin, kind of like the cafe in Paris. And I have adapted quite well to this aspect of my expat life.
3. The History – There is a castle in the middle of my city. Can anyone in America say that? I love history and, living in Dublin there is history around every corner. And being a writer, I especially love Dublin’s literary history – Oscar Wilde, Samuel Becket, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, the list goes on… It’s hard not to be inspired when surrounded by the history of such people.
4. My Neighborhood – I live in the area of Dublin known as Ranelagh and I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Ranelagh is like the neighborhood in Brooklyn that I could never afford to live in. It’s charming without being elitist. It’s cool without being hipster. It has great restaurants, pubs and parks and everything I could possibly need – grocery, pharmacy, doctor, hardware store, book store, butcher, bakery, wine shop – nearly at my doorstep. As long as I live in Dublin, I don’t think I will be able to live anywhere else.
5. The People – I felt welcome the moment I arrived in Dublin and that is because of the people – they love to talk, they love to laugh, and they even wanted to hear my story. The people in Dublin are quite possibly some of the nicest, kindest people on the planet. Not only the friends I’ve made and the people I work with but even the strangers. The default setting for people here in Dublin appears to be friendly and, when people are friendly, it just makes everything easier and more enjoyable, doesn’t it?
So, there you have it my dear readers – what I hate and what I love about this city I now call home. And, as I said earlier, just because I don’t love everything about Dublin doesn’t mean that I don’t love Dublin. Quite the opposite. I really do love this city and consider myself very lucky to be here. No, it’s not perfect and some of those imperfections annoy the hell out of me but that just makes it feel more like home.