The 6 month mark

Last Sunday marked the 6 month anniversary since I moved State side and I have loved every minute of it so far. I’m not going to lie, I do occasionally get quite homesick. In fact if my parents hadn’t paid a visit this month, there is a very good chance I would have booked a ticket home.

To mark the occasion here are 6 of my biggest highlights/accomplishments over the past 6 months…

1. Moving into my own apartment… and surviving!

Growing up in Ireland’s capital, Dublin, allowed me to live at home throughout my education and the years that followed. Although I really hate being referred to as spoilt, I did however live very comfortably at home. Growing up my Mum would go to the moon and back for each of us (and still does), we would wake up to breakfast, return from school to food on the table, received  help with our homework and we always had freshly cleaned clothes.

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Moving into my own apartment was going to be accomplishment of its own, never mind the fact the apartment was located in a totally different country. I am happy to say my clothes remain clean (although rarely ironed), home cooked meals still occur, and I am still alive (always a bonus).

2. Christmas

Having moved over at the end of September going home for Christmas was not feasible. As my family pointed out, I had just said goodbye to all my friends and family, was I really going to return 3 months later for a visit. With this in mind I accepted an invitation to spend Christmas in Philadelphia with my friend Erin and her family. I was a little apprehensive about going as I see Christmas as a very family orientated time of year, this concern quickly disappeared on entering her home and saw a stocking hanging at the fireplace with my name on it.

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The whole experience was better than I ever could have imagined. After celebrating the new year together we took a trip to New York to spend the night with some friends. It was a brilliant ending to a fantastic Christmas, that being said, I don’t intend in spending next Christmas without my family.

3. Weekend Brunch

This is a weird one but there are so many nice (mostly healthy) places to eat. Having a reservation is not a thing here… however, standing in line for two hours is! I know for Irish people we do not like waiting around and certainly don’t like standing in a line for hours in order to be fed. So if you feel like you’ll be hungry at 11am, grab your place in line at least an hour before that.

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Ok, so i’ve made brunch sound like an awful thing, but trust me it’s not! There is lots of places to choose from so you never get bored of the same food or run out of places to try.

4. Spending time with my parents 

I always knew my mum would come to visit, however, I was unsure about my dad. Now don’t get me wrong I know he would want to, however, when working in a family business taking holidays is not always an option. Shortly after I arrived in SF my mum told me she was planning a visit in the new year, to which my dad replied that she was not going without him. March 11th, they both arrived!

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To say we did a lot during their visit is an understatement, we packed everything in. So much so my dad teased about why would he visit again as he has seen it all. The highlights of their visit for me where little things, Dad trying to pay cash in an Uber, Mum’s face when I brought her to Mixt Greens, Dad’s dancing on St. Patrick’s Day and then Mum threatening to stay up night cause she didn’t want to go home!

5. Discovering California

It took a while but I finally started to tick off the tourist attractions one by one. I’ve cycled the bridge, climbed up Coit Tower, Baker’s Beach, Pier 39 and the likes. I still have a lot to do such as Alcatraz at night, Japanese Tea Garden’s and much more. But what I like the most is discovering the hidden gems outside of the city. Point Bonita Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore, Muir Woods and Napa are all short drives out of the city and are all equally breathtaking. Another bonus point for most of the places out of the city is that the weather is a lot better, it’s really a win win!

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6. Passing my driving test

Although I have absolutely no need for an american driving license I thought it would be fun to do the test and get myself another card for my wallet. I sat the test on the 23rd of March without any lessons and am glad to say I passed first time round (something I haven’t been able to say before). Once passing the test I quickly realized it has its benefits, I now can rent a car at an hourly rate from ZipCar, which will make my weekly grocery shop that little bit easier

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Thinking of Home

Christmas Tree Union Square

Photo taken at Union Square, San Francisco, California

I am officially living here 2 months, although it still feels like I’m only here a wet week! In that time I have celebrated Halloween, gone to Lake Tahoe, experienced a real Thanksgiving, partied when the Giants won The World Series and so much more..! With only two weeks till Christmas I find myself missing home, with this in mind I thought I would jot down things I miss from home and others I don’t. Now I am not going to state the obvious such as friends, family and my mom’s home cooking but rather things you wouldn’t necessarily think of.

Things I miss:

Chocolate

Although my family has spoiled me, sending over some good ole Cadbury’s chocolate, it’s not the same when you know you have to ration it. I miss heading to the local shop and being able to buy it myself, instead of hiding it away.

Food

A lot of what I miss from home is food related, actually a lot of my life in general is based on food. If I was to go home for 24 hours I have a list of restaurants I would visit, such as Wagamama’s, Bay, Milano’s, a fresh bag of chippers chips (seriously lacking over here) and of course grab a white hot chocolate in Butlers.

Christmas Time

When someone says Christmas I think of dressing up my winter woolies, spending time with my family and curling up in-front of the wood burning fire. In California it’s not the same, the sun is shining, woolies are tucked away and for me the festive spirit is just not there.

Water

This one may seem crazy but the water is different over here and I don’t mean tap water. My hair never seems to be clean and needs to be washed all the time!! On that note I am also dreading the inevitable haircut.

The News & Weather Reports

In Ireland the main news station is RTE at 6pm or 9pm. In America there are so many news stations, therefore, it is a very competitive industry. As a result some of these stations air the most ridiculous news. I find it hard to find out what is actually happening in the World! I still find myself checking Independent.ie and the Irish Times.

Things I certainly do not miss:

Public Transport

On average in Dublin you could be waiting between 20 – 50 minutes for a bus. Here the maximum wait for the buses in my area (38, 38L & 1) is 8 minutes! You certainly don’t see people running for the bus and you’d be surprised how many bus drivers will wait for you if they see your attempting to cross the road to them. While I miss the convince of having my car there is definitely no need for one when you live and work in the city.

The Weather

Cold, wet, windy, hormonal weather in Ireland vs. bright, sunny, sometimes foggy weather in California. What would you choose?

Taxis/Cabs

I can count on one hand how many times I have hailed a cab since I have arrived. I always order a cab through Lyft or Uber, as I find it to be more secure and I do not have to worry if the card machine is working or if I have enough cash. Regardless whether I hail a taxi or order one through an app it is still so much cheaper than Ireland.

I’m sure there is a lot I have left out and I’m sure there is a lot I have yet to discover, but for now that is it! Don’t hesitate to send some chocolate my way if you’re really embracing the giving Christmas spirit 🙂