I moved to Cork in southern Ireland last October for a change of scenery and a chance to see the world and have fallen completely in love with everything about this insanely green country. Even the weather’s not so bad, although people are flabbergasted why I would move here when I’m from California (at which point I remind them that I lived in California until I was 10 and then spent the next 15 years in Missouri and Colorado, with a brief stay in Florida.)
Life here is fabulous. Groceries are cheap, it’s easy to befriend almost everyone you meet, KC’s has the best pitas around, employees get four weeks of holiday (vacation), and the biggest issue in the news was the Bus Eireann strike that has finally ended after 21 days of no buses.
But, even being immune to homesickness, I’ve found myself missing the basic necessities that only home can offer. Here is everything I didn’t think I’d miss about the U.S. until I moved outside of it.
1. Boxed mac ‘n cheese
Although Kraft mac ‘n cheese might’ve been a favorite since childhood (or off-brand because there’s some really good off-brand mac ‘n cheese,) you’ll never realize exactly how much you need it in your life until you learn that Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and any other shop around doesn’t carry Kevin McCallister’s favorite meal. Desperately, you’ll beg your mom to send you a couple boxes, only to learn that she isn’t willing to spend about $60 to ship mac ‘n cheese overseas.
Instead of popping into Walmart to buy a brand-new computer charger for less than $15, first stop is Harvey Norman’s, where you refuse to pay €60-some for a new charger, then Tesco, where it’s only €10 less. Ultimately, you’ll end up buying the charger from UK Amazon for about £17 (€20,) have it shipped over to Ireland and then need to buy an adapter to use the UK plug in a European outlet – or a charger sent down from Dublin for the same price. Meanwhile, back home, it probably would’ve been about a five minute drive and less than 15 minutes browsing before leaving with your new charger.
3. Electronics stores
No Best Buy, Office Depot, Radio Shack or local computer shop in Cork City. The best place to go if you need something technological is Argos, but the prices will be much steeper than the aforementioned.
4. Drive-thrus for everything
Obviously the U.S. is known for its fast food drive-thrus, but in our country of fast-paced, busy lifestyles, there is also a drive-thru for almost anything one can think of, including banks. Those drive-thru bank tellers are especially helpful when you need something done but don’t have a lot of time to spare after bank hours, as opposed to having to wait to take care of bank business when the building is actually open. And it’s a lot more convenient to drive by Mickey D’s or Burger King when in a hurry than having to walk inside to order, purchase and retrieve the meal.
5. Library book drops
If you still use the library in this day and age where they are supposedly going extinct (not from what I’ve seen,) you’ll want to be sure your schedule corresponds with the library opening hours so you can return the borrowed items. Unfortunately, the library closes early on most days, and there is no outside book drop to return your books.
6. Fast food variety
Even with a lack of greasy food, Mickey D’s can get tiring after awhile, especially when a meal costs €8. Unfortunately, the only other options for a fast food reminder from home are Burger King and KFC.
Taking a Hailo cab up and back from work every day during the Great Bus Eireann Strike of 2017 starts to add up when you’re paying about $7 more for a 5-minute car ride than you would with Uber.
8. Multiple streets that lead to the same place
There’s only one way to get somewhere, otherwise you’ll probably hit a cul-de-sac.
Don’t try to take a shortcut in Ireland. You’ll get lost.
10. Longer-lasting bread
That loaf of bread you just bought will either be eaten in a week or start molding before the week is up, so eat it quickly!
11. Cheap doughnuts
That €3 doughnut from the local doughnut shop isn’t even half as delicious as that $1 one from Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts. Or, even better, the free doughnut Krispy Kreme hands out when the red light is on, which it usually is.
12. Drying clothes with a dryer
Yes, your home does have a dryer, but as using it does increase the electricity bill dramatically, it’s better to go back in time and hang them up on an outdoor clothesline, or, if the weather is bad, an indoor drying rack. However, depending on how warm your house is, it might be three, or four, or even five days until they’re finally dry.