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06 February 2010

FLASHBACK: The Best Laid Plans...(part 4)


Note: This is a continuing story. Part 1 can be found here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.

After Dan’s accident in 1999, we finally decided it was time to do what we’d talked about for so long. I gave my consulting firm 12 months notice, and began the process of turning over my clients and my expertise to others. I was working with a very talented team and the process went relatively smoothly.

In order to understand our moving plans, it’s probably important to understand what the big picture was for us. We had both quit our jobs, and our general plan was to spend two years somewhere in Europe, then come back to DC for a while, then pick a new place to spend two years, the come back, etc.

Before we jumped into the deep end, though, we decided to spend some time in a place that was familiar to us, but still in Europe. A place where we spoke (almost) the same language, where we had friends, and where we thought we could slip in easily: Ireland.

This was early 2000. Dan had quit his job a little earlier than I had and had gotten certified to teach English as a Second/Foreign language to adults. We had decided that this was work that we could take anywhere in Europe.

Dan had his certification, but I still needed mine. So in the spring of 2000, we went to Dublin. I spent a month getting certified to teach English, and Dan began working right away. This was our first experience in living in another country, as opposed to visiting.

Off we went. We rented an apartment in Dublin, and that process was interesting. After many many years of home ownership, we found ourselves with no landlord references. I know! Whoda thunk it?

Dublin on holiday is a fabulous place. The pace is nice an comfortable, the people are amazing, and the city itself is ancient and endlessly fascinating. Plus they drive on the ‘other’ side of the road--every day was an adventure!

Dublin as a hometown (even for several months) is very challenging and very rewarding at the same time. It was the first time we were confronted with our own American-ness. This showed itself in many ways, but primarily in our expectations about time and timeliness. As tourists in Ireland, we had found the relaxed pace easy and comforting. As workers, we found it frustrating. It took us a while to adjust our own pace and expectations.

On the other hand, one of the glorious things about Dublin is the theatres. During the time we lived there, we went to the theatre every Friday night. We saw all sorts of wonderful plays--some classics, some new, some experimental. Each and every one was amazing. We saw Gulliver’s Travels presented in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where Jonathan Swift was rector when he wrote it. We saw plays at the venerable Gate and Abbey Theatres, musical reviews at the Gaiety, and we even saw a play in the tiny Focus Theatre, which held about 40 people.

We loved buying our food at the outdoor markets. This was our first experience with that, and it’s one that we still love. In Dublin, there’s an organic food market in Temple Bar on Sunday mornings. We found some really special things there, and we still go to that market when we’re in Dublin on a Sunday. Other days, it was Henry street where we could buy potatoes with earth still clinging to them and sometimes even got our change in carrots rather than coins!

One of the things that made it easy for us was our friends. They all live in County Galway, and we could visit them on weekends. We did that several times in the months we lived in Dublin. It was wonderful to be so close to them.

The most important lesson for us was that we enjoyed living in another country and we loved teaching English. We found living in Dublin to be a perfect transition for us to the life we anticipated finding on the continent.

At the end of our stay we went to Belgium to interview for jobs teaching in The Castle, where we had studied French and which was in many ways the catalyst for what we were doing.

So we returned to Washington and began the process of closing up our house, finding tenants to rent it and someone to manage it, finding work in Europe, and getting there.

Living in Dublin was a wonderful experience for us. We learned how much we really wanted to live overseas for a while. We learned that living in another culture--even one we know very well and is similar to our own--is a challenging experience. We couldn’t wait to try it again.


To be continued.... click here for part 5.


18 comments:

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Fascinating story, Kate! I can't wait to read the next chapter :)

Kathy said...

Your livin the dream Kate...I found my heart yearning to go along.
So interesting...New place, people, culture...
Okay...next page please!
xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...

La Table De Nana said...

I am all set for the next chapter also.. we read faster than you type..Wow..how brave..

The hat's great too!

Barbara said...

Such a fascinating story, Kate. Looking forward to the next installment!

zurin said...

I love living in new places...such an experience..you are extremely lucky to be able to do that...cant wait for the next instalment!

Stella said...

Oh Kate, this is very inspiring and I must say even a bit concerning for me. This is only because I don't think you are necessarily lucky like I once did (not that you aren't generally lucky). No, after reading this, I feel that you & Dan are so brave. I hope to find this kind of bravery some day. Until then, I'll figure out some remedy to deal with the knot in my stomach that thinking about this has caused (I'm smiling)...Stella

Hungry Dog said...

Kate, I am completely enjoying your story. What a fascinating and adventurous life you have lived so far! I'm totally impressed.

Linda said...

I can not wait for the next "installment"!
Wonderful story!

The Gypsy Chef said...

I can't wait for the next installment.You are having such a wonderful adventure. Write women, write!
Pam

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Can't wait for the next chapter!

Kim said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience living in Dublin.

Kate at Serendipity said...

You know, whenever I write these, I can't imagine that anyone is really going to be interested. So I thank you for your comments.

Monique, the hat was Dan's--I put it on to keep the sun out of my eyes! Peggy wasn't so lucky, I'm afraid. But the sun like that in Ireland is really a gift, not to be shunned...

Stella, you can do it too. I don't want to scare anyone off doing this, but I think it's probably important to know that it's not really the same as a long holiday. It's worth it.

We are really lucky to have the opportunity to do this, and we are glad that we have done it.

I'm writing! Or rather, going through old journals and emails from that time, which is really harder.

Thanks again for your comments.

2 Stews said...

I love hearing the story and can't wait for the next installments!! My daughter has been living in Seoul, South Korea for a year and a half now, teaching English and art. She loves it and I think one day will reflect on what brought her there and her adventures, just as you have done!

It is even more special that you and Dan have had the adventure together!

Diane

Juliana said...

Kate, thank you so much for sharing your feelings and experience...

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Everyday I pray for courage to make the decision to live my life.....and to feel fulfilled......you're on the path and I'm inspired....truly so....

zurin said...

Hi Kate,

I'm quite sure you cld get pandan at your nearest asian store? Of course fresh is best. ..theyre very fragrant fresh. I do hope you find some! :))

WizzyTheStick said...

Looking forward to the rest of this story. This makes me remember my immersion study in Martinique wher I learned in 3 weeks what I hadn't learned in three years of french in high school. Well then came my kids and it was bye bye french but I do hope I can pick it up again some day

A Canadian Foodie said...

Kate - I can see now how you are getting to Belgium. Love the gorgeous photo. I, too, am Irish. McKinney is my maiden name. My dad is a first generation Canadian and though I have travelled Europe extensively, I have never been there. I think it is time.
:)
Valerie