Moving to Ireland (Expectations vs Reality)

As a Spanish Erasmus student, moving to Ireland or another country was what I have been waiting for, for four years. The expectations were high: improving my English (whilst learning some Irish), meeting students from all around the world, feeling part of a community, going to the craziest parties and getting professional experience. But…did they work?

Personally, I usually go with the flow but sometimes you just have a picture in your mind about how things will be. My Irish preconceptions were good if they came from people who had lived here for a year at least, and bad from the ones that lived here for a shorter time or only came for holidays. Also, times have changed and life is still too expensive when you’re a student. 

Here is a list of the times when Irish reality exceeded expectations (or not).

High prices? 

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Every person I know who has visited Ireland has said to me that “supermarket prices are very high; also, you won’t be able to find fried tomato sauce, olive oil or olives that easily, tobacco costs thirteen euros at least, public transport is very expensive…”

In fact, the reality is quite different. It’s true that, in general, Irish prices are higher than Spanish ones, but the salaries are as well. Also, I guess that tobacco and alcohol prices have to be that way so people might stop consuming them one day (although I have to say that €18.70 for a rolling cigarette pack is three times the price of the most expensive one in Spain). 

On the other hand, you will not starve. Food prices are good, especially in Lidl or Aldi where they have lots of different offers every month. They even have a ‘Spanish week’! To be honest, finding tomato sauce and other stuff wasn’t that difficult, my Spanish roomie couldn’t believe it was even cheaper here! Also, we have made it a tradition to buy some veggies and fruits from the Moore Street markets; delicious and inexpensive! 

By the way, beer sizes are way too different. The ordinary can of beer in Spain is 330ml but it’s hard to find one smaller than 500ml here. I would say that it isn’t a bad thing at all though; the more you try it, the more you’ll like it.

Another thing that surprised us was the fact that you can’t get ammonia from a supermarket. We have them everywhere in Spain, we buy ammonia bottles for cleaning the house or clothes, but every time we ask for it in Dublin workers looks scared.


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It’s actually true that catching a bus for €2.50 is not the dream. Nevertheless, the Leap Card is pretty useful and moving by bike is my favourite option: doing sport whilst moving around beautiful landscapes. What’s more, we had to catch a seven-seater taxi from the airport (too much luggage, too many winter clothes) and it was the cheapest ride ever, 24 euros for a 20-minute drive and the airport fee applied. 

It’s not that cold!

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Low expectations are always the key. After taking my last dip in the Mediterranean sea of the year during 38ºC weather, I packed my bags with jumpers, raincoats and boots. I could not believe I would be wearing a coat by September, but the mild weather really surprised me. It’s not as cold here as we thought, right? Sometimes we sit outside our apartment, reading a book and the sun rays shine on us. Feeling warm with the cold air blowing is probably my favourite morning welcome.

The perfect room?

EC7631BB CE12 4217 91E0 1CACDDF55B4F scaled 1That’s the first thing you look for when you move somewhere. In my case, I searched for months until I found ‘the perfect one’. This time, the perfect bedroom wasn’t €150 per month; instead, it was a shared bunk bedroom, with no kitchen stuff included, for €480 monthly. A big difference? Yes, of course. On the bright side, the building was just restored, the location couldn’t be better and our lovely neighbours lent us some utensils they didn’t use anymore. Okay, the price quality is not as good, but it’s worth it living here!

The lovely people!

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I’ve always felt a connection with this place even though I have never visited it. The green, the vibes, the culture. Maybe it is because some people say Irish people are the North Spaniards? Actually, I don’t feel as comfy in my own country as I do here. Irish hospitality is much better and every single person in the street and shops are lovely. 

The best of all I’ve experienced, the music lifestyle culture. Although there are not many concerts yet due to Covid-19 and live music and pubs haven’t returned, buskers make our days. The other evening, we were walking through Clarendon Street and a couple of musicians delighted us with their amazing voice and well played cello. We sat on the floor for more than an hour enjoying the good vibes, more people joined us and oh, we created something magical.

I have only spent six days here but it feels like enough time to get used to it. Living in a multicultural house is such a precious experience and I have already learnt some charming values. I’m pretty sure I’m staying in Dublin longer than expected!

How was your first time moving to a different country? Did expectations exceed reality? 

Thanks for reading, have a lovely day.

Tami Pereira
Tami Pereira

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