When you’ve been living abroad for any amount of time, there’s always a period of adjustment when you go back to your home country. As my time will be very limited however, I need to start adjusting while still in Latvia. To this end, I’ve written a little check list to mentally prepare myself before I set foot on Irish soil…
1. Get ready for the taste sensation of proper ‘chipper’ chips with salt and vinegar.
2. Refresh memory as to babies born in the last year (name and gender should suffice?) so I don’t end up referring to any little bundle of joy as ‘it’.
2b. Perfect Latvian poker face in readiness for tales of childbirth.
3. Ryanair. Be prepared for anything and DO NOT give them any more money at the airport no matter what new ‘regulations’ they come up with.
4. Pack a second check-in bag in first check-in bag for the 15 kilos of bacon, sausages, Bisto and Penneys clothing that will make Riga bearable until the next visit to Ireland.
5. Relearn bus etiquette. (Today I bag-blocked and shouldered an old
lady woman. But in my defence, she elbowed me in the ribs and pushed me first. It’s hard to pick a winner in this heart-warming tale but… I got the seat. This is not acceptable behaviour in Ireland. Tomorrow I will ride buses until I find a seat and a pregnant/old woman and then graciously give her said seat in an effort to neutralise this shameful behaviour.)
6. Stop cursing at strangers/muttering to self in the street. Muttley from the Wacky Races is not a good look.
7. Practise smiling. And keep practising until it looks less scary.
8. Try not to weep when someone smiles at you. It’s embarrassing.
9. Get out of the habit of putting money on the counter in shops. In Ireland, the money goes in the hand. The money goes in the hand. The money goes…
10. Don’t keep exclaiming ‘My God, that’s outrageous! In Latvia this would only cost…’ in every bar/restaurant/shop. This gets annoying very quickly.
10b. Likewise, do not say ‘This isn’t cold. In Latvia…’ You’re not Latvian.
11. Erase songs like ‘Meitenes Zeltenes’ and ‘Kur ir mana Lidmašīna’ from head. Replace with ‘The Fields of Athenry’ and ‘The Wild Rover’.
12. Build up willpower for when my mother tries to ‘feed me up’. I will not fall prey to ‘sure, a bird never flew on one wing…’ and other such ‘Irish Mammy-isms’.
This seems like a lot to do before tomorrow. I remember when my ‘check list’ used to be a quick pat down to make sure that my passport, money and tickets were somewhere on my person. Sometimes it’s hard to be an expat…