Monday, September 15, 2014

Mallorca #MicroblogMonday

Where was I this time last week? Drinking cocktails after a day on the beach probably! The GerMann and I booked a last minute one week trip to Mallorca and it was amazing - a sunny 30 degrees by day and still warm in the evenings, delicious seafood with sangria and long sandy beaches with turquoise water.


We purposely avoided the crazy party area of Mallorca which gives the place a bad reputation. The rest of the island has so many beautiful spots. It seems to be especially loved by German and British pensioners - I'd put the average age of our resort at about 60! The last time we were in Mallorca, this time two years ago, the GerMann proposed, so it was also nice to go back as a now married couple!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Irish blog recommendations

Through the Irish blogging awards this year I have been introduced to lots of new blogs and I have been really enjoying reading all the entries in the best blog category. They cover a wide range of subjects from the more serious themes such as post natal depression and living with MS, to the more funny and light subjects such as thoughts on pregnancy and dating.

There are lots of really good ones and it's hard for me to pick just one to vote for, but the following are the ones that stuck out for me in particular, for one reason or another and are worth reading if you have a few spare hours on your hands!

There are a lot of posts from Irish Mum bloggers;


Some of the more serious topics;
Irish relevant subjects;
  • The job bridge scheme, what's wrong with it and how it can be improved: Under the Job Bridge
  • Thoughts on being an Irish emigrant these days compared on what it used to be like: The Reluctant Emigrant
  • A satirical piece on the Irish Catholic church's treatment of unmarried mothers and their children: Waterford Whispers News

On various other topics;
There's still time to Vote for your favourite blog post.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Another year here

I've recently had my four year anniversary of living in Germany. In the Summer of 2010 I packed my suitcase and flew over not knowing whether I would later regret the decision and also not sure how long I would end up staying. Looking back I would say that the first year was definitely the hardest. Not initially - the first few months I was in the "honeymoon" phase in my relationship with Germany - but once I removed my rose-tinted spectacles and took a hard look at the place, I did have a lot of low moments and at times strongly considered moving back. I've since learned this is all part of culture shock and a totally normal part to adjusting to life in a foreign country.


But I stayed and the homesickness eventually passed and things got much much better! I gradually built up a network of friends - mainly other expats - I found a new job where I didn't have a long commute, my German level improved to where I was able to get by and handle more situations, and I felt settled and even at home. Four years on, I'm not sure where the time has gone, but I'm happy living here!

Of course there are still highs and lows, things I like about living abroad and things I don't. Let's start with the positives. What I love most is meeting new and interesting people and making friends that I would probably never have met had I stayed living in Ireland. There's also a great expat community here supporting and helping each other and it's nice to be a part of that.


I also get to enjoy the benefits of living in Germany such as the lovely long Summers, lots of vacation days (it's common to have as many as 30 days off a year), great health care, good transport and it's central European location to name a few. Yesterday afternoon we cycled to a pretty nearby lake for a swim and today we hung out in one of the many beer gardens enjoying the sun.

I've also gotten more opportunities to travel which I love. It's a lot easier to go and visit other European cities at the weekend as you just need to pop on a train!

Another plus is that living abroad has gotten me out of my comfort zone and I've grown from the challenges. It feels good that I was brave enough to leave Ireland and create a life for myself in a foreign country and to work entirely through German! I've had to put myself into difficult situations such as doing job interviews and presentations auf Deutsch and I think that deserves a pat on the back!


What is also nice is I now get to experience Ireland as a tourist. Because I'm not working there any more whenever I go back I have the time to go on trips, eat out and enjoy myself... It's like a fun holiday. Since I often travel over with the GerMann I'm also more inclined to take trips to show him the beautiful country I grew up in.

So what are the things that make me homesick? The hardest thing is missing the people back home. If my family and friends were to all emigrate over here, it would be perfect! I do wish I could see everyone more often. That said, I do try to make it back about three or even four times a year which is pretty good going! I know it's a lot harder for my American friends to get back home as often.

I also miss Ireland itself - the friendliness, which I notice even more after living in Germany, the beautiful scenery, feeling like I belong, comfort foods and just the craic and the banter! Maybe I'm biased but I think there's just something about the Irish people - their sense of humour and positivity. Like they often expect the worst outcome - such as rain, but then when it doesn't happen they are delighted.


The next difficult thing is definitely the language - it can be frustrating sometimes not knowing the right words to adequately get your point across and I know that even though I've been here four years I still speak German with an Irish accent! So sometimes I will be ordering something in a restaurant or cafe and the waiter will answer me in English, which I find a bit disheartening (isn't my German good enough?!) but I have learnt that Germans just love to practice their English! Also I find chatting with small groups of Germans no problem but if I'm in a big group and it's a noisy environment such as a pub with loud music, it can be hard at times to keep up with the conversations! Still the longer I live here and the better my German gets the less the language issue bothers me.

Just being a foreigner itself can sometimes be hard. No matter how long I live here I will probably never really completely assimilate and feel like I totally belong. I don't mind that too much though. Germany is quite international with lots of different nationalities and people are normally excited to hear I'm from Ireland as they don't meet that many Irish people here. That's something I often wonder about actually, why don't more Irish people consider Germany as a good emigration destination?


Once you settle in the foreign country, a lot of the time it's just day to day living. It's not all super glamorous even though it might seem that way when you look at the facebook pages of people who are living abroad! People don’t tell you about the hard days.

I like my life here now and I'm happy, though the thought of staying forever scares me a little! For some reason the idea of me getting old and at some point having lived here longer than I've lived in Ireland seems so strange to me. What's difficult about being friends with other ex-pats is most of them move on at some point - normally back to their home countries and I hate having to say goodbye. It isn't definite that our future will always be in Germany, maybe at some point we might move to Ireland or somewhere else, but at the moment it just makes the most sense for us.

I also have another big anniversary coming up soon by the way, our one year wedding anniversary, which I also plan to write a little about!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Greece



We decided that this Summer we would go on a family holiday - sort of a mini reunion since we are spread out around the world (Germany, Australia and Ireland). It took some planning to settle on somewhere but we felt Greece would have something for everyone - beach, culture, activities. And we were right.

After my recent stint in hospital I really needed a holiday! Unfortunately the GerMann and I had to miss the original flight and travel over a few days later, but we made it there in the end and had a lovely time. It was also really great to see my family again.


There were no direct flights from any airports near us to Kalamata, so we had get the train to Düsseldorf airport. There had been really bad storms there the previous day and most of the trains were cancelled so we had a very stressful day trying to make it to the airport in time for our flight! But we eventually made it to the resort. We stayed in a lovely hotel beside the beach which also offered lots of activities - sailing, windsurfing, tennis, cycling, gym and fitness classes. I spent most of my time relaxing by the pool though and catching up on my reading - pure bliss!


We ate very well on the holiday! I loved the greek salad in particular, but some other Greek dishes I tried and enjoyed were Moussaka (quite similar to shepherd's pie, made with lamb mince and potatoes) and Pastitsio (reminded me of lasagne but without the tomato sauce). What seemed to happen to us a lot though was we would give our order to the waiter only to be told that they only had a few menu dishes available that day. No idea why they couldn't have told us that before we had spent several minutes perusing the menu and deciding what to order?!

We rented a car one day and went to Ancient Messene to see the ruins. It was definitely worth the trip, even though there wasn't much shade from the hot Greek midday sun! Sometimes I think it's a shame that they don't reconstruct more of the ancient ruins so you don't have to always use your imagination to picture how it used to look back in the day.


The people in Greece were friendly and the beaches were lovely. In the evenings we would get a bus or a taxi to some of the nearby towns and explore. A lot of places did seem quite run down and you could tell the recession has hit Greece hard. All in all, it was a great trip and I wouldn't hesitate to go back to again someday - maybe to the islands next time.


Have you been to Greece? Apparently it can also be a fun honeymoon destination.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blog Awards Ireland


blog awards ireland


I'm delighted to have made it onto the longlist for the diaspora category (Irish bloggers living abroad) in this year's Irish blog awards. Blogging is a very time-consuming but thoroughly enjoyable hobby! In fact I often get ideas for new topics and start writing them and have tons of partially written drafts but don't get around to actually finishing, editing and publishing them. But I am trying to make the effort to blog more often and give an insight into my expat life.

I also love reading and following other people's blogs (there are so many great ones out there!) in all sorts of various categories (travel, interior design, style, beauty, parent, cooking, technology and just personal everyday life ones). Feedly and bloglovin are both great ways of keeping up with blogs you like. You just find one you like the look of and add it to your account and then any new posts will show up in your news feed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Deutschlaaaaaaaaaaaaand!


Unless you live under a rock, you probably heard that Germany won the World cup on Sunday for the first time since 1990. The GerMann remembers that year well. As do I since that's the last time Ireland even qualified. I would never have thought when I watched those matches as an 8 year old that I would go on to marry a German man and emigrate to Germany!

Before I continue I obviously have to say something about the Brazil vrs Germany game! We watched it at home - ok I was half watching and also half surfing the internet on my laptop - when Germany scored their first goal at 11 minutes. Yay, go Germany! Then.. just a few minutes later, another goal. Oh my gosh, did that just happen? Then I thought I was just watching the replay of the previous goal only they had scored again. It was hilarious! After that I was glued to the screen. I was also wondering at one stage if someone had paid Brazil to lose or if it was some kind of joke since weren't they meant to be contenders to win? How on earth were they getting beaten so badly!

I think the poor Brazilians were just in shock at the first two goals and then after that were totally demotivated or something. I felt bad for their fans though- seeing them all crying and looking heartbroken! But obviously I was delighted Germany won, and enjoyed reading all the funny facebook comments and tweets about the game.


We watched the Germany - Argentina finale at home. Yep, we're getting old! We had been hoping to go to a local pub to watch it there but we phoned up a few nearby places and they were either closed on Sundays or not showing it so in the end we just got comfy on the couch with a bottle of wine. During the game there were lots of goal attempts but still nothing, it could really have gone either way. Then there was 30 minutes overtime awarded and it was looking like it would end in a draw with a penalty shoot out when finally in the last 7 minutes a goal was scored for Germany! And then a few minutes later it was all over, Germany had won the world cup!

Afterwards people were outside in singing in the streets, driving around, waving flags, playing loud music and there were even fireworks! It's a pity it was late on a Sunday night at that stage and we had to work the next day otherwise the GerMann and I would surely have been out in town partying and celebrating properly with the rest of them.

Everyone was in high spirits at work on Monday, talking about the game. Which beats the normal Monday blues, haha! So now that all the World cup fever of the previous few weeks is over... what now?! If you are having World cup withdrawal symptoms, you might enjoy reading an account of the World cup games written by an American living here with his German wife. Even though I really enjoyed the excitement of the past few weeks, I'm happy to have a break now from all the non stop football talk!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

World Cup Fever

World Cup fever is in full swing here in Germany at the moment. It's fun living in a country while they are competing- there's a great atmosphere! Lots of places offer "public viewings" as they call it where you can watch the games outside on a big screen. This is my second World Cup since I've moved here, and I was also around for the European Championship two years ago when Germany made it to the semi-final.


Germany tend to do well and get far in the World Cup. Unlike Ireland unfortunately who didn't even qualify this year! Last time around we nearly got in if it weren't for Thierry Henry's hand, which Irish people have a hard time forgetting! I enjoyed reading this: Never forget the hand of the frog written by a French woman living in Ireland.


I remember the Summer of 1990 really well when Ireland made it to the quarter-finals in the World cup. It was such a great atmosphere! And the song: "We're all part of Jackie's Army, We're all off to Italy, And we'll really shake them up, When we win The World Cup, 'Cos Ireland are the greatest football team!" which everyone was singing at the time!

Germany's next game is tomorrow evening against Algeria. So if they win everyone will be doing the "autokorso" thing where they drive around in their cars beeping the horn and waving the German flag.


Are you following the World Cup this year?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What to pack for a hospital stay

The reason I haven't been blogging lately is that I was in hospital recently and then afterwards on holidays. I won't go into all the details but basically my doctor found a large cyst on my ovary and since we had planned to go on holidays to Greece the following week she said I should get it removed as otherwise there would be the risk of it bursting while I was away. It's normally done with a relatively minor keyhole surgery however in my case the operation ended up being a little more complicated and I needed an incision in my abdomen. Overall I was in hospital for 6 days recovering. It was a tough week for me as you can imagine!


The GerMann and I ended up having to miss the first few days of the holiday and get a later flight as I needed to wait for my stitches to be removed and until I felt up to travelling. We were meeting my family there and I was also really looking forward to seeing them. Despite not being able to do much on the holiday apart from reading and relaxing by the pool or beach, I still had a lovely time and was able to recover. Feeling back to normal again now and so much better!

Anyway I thought I'd put together a list of things to pack if you ever end up needing to go to hospital for a few days. Firstly, you may end up having to stay longer than anticipated so it's always a good idea to bring more stuff than you think you will need and pack for extra days just in case.


1) Pyjamas
Think comfortable and loose fitting. You will feel so much better once you can take off the hospital gown and get into your own pjs. I brought a navy polka-dot nightshirt with navy bottoms which I'd bought in Primark. One of the nurses commented that polka dots are very "in" at the moment, haha!

2) Face & hand cream, lip balm, hair comb, tootbrush & toothpaste, mini shampoo & conditioner
Just some essentials to help you feel a little normal and also to not scare your visitors too much! I personally think there is no need to wear makeup in hospital but if you would feel better with some on, then of course go ahead and pack it.

3) Plenty to read
Magazines are perfect as you don't need to concentrate on them when you are feeling tired after surgery and they are nice to just flick through. But also bring a few books along too, ideally ones that are easy to read and get into.

4) Paperwork
Don't forget things like your health insurance info, your normal GP's contact details, and anything that might be relevant- such as the names of antibiotics you might have been on recently or any medication you are taking. My German health insurance was very good, everything was pretty much covered. I only received a small bill afterwards of 10€ per day.

5) Your phone and charger
This was my lifeline! Being in hospital in Germany I felt a long way away from my family and friends from home. So it was great to be able to text and Whatsapp people and I even got a phonecall from Australia! I feel lucky to have such great friends and I was reminded of it again when I was hospital. The ones here gave me a lovely care package, I got sent flowers from a friend living abroad, and a box of irish treats (Cadbury chocolate, Tayto crisps, time out bars etc!) was sent over from Ireland. The GerMann was also in visiting me every free moment he wasn't working - keeping me company and looking after me.

6) Slippers, socks, underwear
Hospital floors are cold, so slippers are a must.

7) A comfortable outfit for going home
Tracksuit bottoms, trainers and a t-shit are perfect.

8) Some cash
You might need money to buy something in the hospital shop. Where I stayed you had to pay extra for bottled water and coffee.


So those are the main things. And anything else that might help cheer you up while you are in there! Like an mp3 player so you can listen to some music. Or a portable dvd player /crossword book /knitting etc. Have I forgotten anything important?

I was so happy once I was released from hospital after my stay there since I was so sick of those four walls at that stage. Once I got home the GerMann made me a lovely cup of Barry's Tea (well known irish tea brand for those who don't know) and then we caught up with the latest Game of Thrones episodes.