Editor’s note: Jennifer W., a longtime resident of Fort Worth, Texas, recently left the United States to live and work in Cork, Ireland.
Today is my one-month “anniversary” as a resident in Cork, Ireland. So far, life has been relatively easy, though the benefit of living in a hotel (a three-bedroom townhouse) and having a rental car (or, car hire, as it’s called here) might be to thank for most of my comfort.
And today I move out of these first digs into an actual apartment closer to the city center. No longer will I have a reception desk to call when the hob (stovetop) breaks, confident that my request will be seen to; no longer will I have ready access to the posh hotel lobbies, bar and restaurant for when I just want to get out and be among people but still remain anonymous. From now on, I’ll be reliant on the landlord’s agent to make agreements to repair things or improve the apartment. I’ll need to walk farther afield to obtain a pint of Franciscan Well Chieftan IPA — a local brew that has become my order of choice — or just to force myself out of my cave and into this beautiful, if rainy and overcast, city.
At the end of the month, I will also no longer have the privilege of the car hire and will find myself fully reliant on the bus system, my own two feet, and — if I muster the courage — a bicycle. (The streets here are narrow, and I’m amazed to see so few accidents — and so few cyclists wearing helmets.)
Yes, I will be living, not merely staying, in Cork. As a first-time expat and somewhat shy person, this is a double challenge. I’m fairly comfortable just holing up in my home, going to work, going home, etc. I don’t come into friendships easily, though the ones I do find are strong. (When I read expat and travel blogs I’m often in awe of how easily the authors seem to find friends and significant others.) Thankfully, though, I do have this beautiful country to coax me out of my shell, and those of the European continent just a flight or ferry ride away. It won’t be easy, but … it will all the same.
So, here’s to new adventures, whether easy or difficult, rainy or sunny, alone or with others. As a long-forgotten fortune cookie message (a miraculous and auspicious discovery as I dug out my closets and cleaned out an old handbag) told me not long after I made the decision to move: