6 days ago I hit 6 months here. In 5 days time I will be half way through my contract. Not to sound like the typical spoiled little asshole who goes to Thailand and India soul searching but I have learned a lot about myself and also have learned a lot about America. So I got this idea that I had to travel otherwise I’d regret it later in life. Ex girlfriends and friends of mine had all done the traveling thing, most did it either before college or right after it. I always felt a little bitter and resentful because so many people I know got to do it, I really got a chip on my shoulder when the people were going to America. I was born here, I felt it was kind of a birth right that I at least get to try living here but until about 2 or 3 years ago that was never possible. When college was through I owed over 2,000 in loans I took out to try and get myself through college. I was turned down for the grant for my first three years and got it for my final year but due to a clerical error I didn’t receive it until the second semester. After I cleared my own loan, I took out another more sizable loan to help my parents out of their bad financial situation. This resulted in the travel idea going away again for a while.
During that period, I unfortunately fell for a
girl whore which then made me pro-long it even further. So. By the time I moved here, I was 5 days before my 27th birthday. Now I’m not some dick that thinks that’s old or anything, I don’t feel all that old BUT I do think maybe I’m a little too old to be doing this traveling thing now. As Steve will tell you, Long ago I grew out of the nightclub scene, I also don’t go in for one night stands, I have not had a drop of alcohol since I got here and I don’t do any drugs. So I got here and have enjoyed trying all sorts of new foods, making friends at work with all sorts of different backgrounds, I’ve gone exploring around the area BUT it’s not the traveling I think I or most would have done in their early 20’s. Because I’m this age now and everyone I know traveled when they were younger it also means I’m out here alone. I like being alone but when I’m alone I don’t exactly go mad. Also I usually don’t mind eating out and doing stuff alone but now that it’s all the time it gets kind of annoying.
Before I came over here one thing I really admired about America was the idea it’s the land of opportunity. Everyone here thinks they can make it, they can make their fortune and live the high life. I read a comment that the homeless in America think of themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. When you work here you find out, this place is a pressure cooker. You don’t get many days off and your life becomes about your job, you need to stay sharp because if you don’t they’ll can you in a second. Then add into that fact that if you get fired right now you may not be able to get a new job right away, if you get social welfare at all, it runs out after a while. Then what? You can’t afford rent, you and your family live on the street. You get sick and you die. I use to admire this. I thought this is what made America a superpower. That the people here were the best at their jobs, they were the experts and innovators because they worked not only for success and riches but to keep themselves employable. They undoubtedly are very sharp but at what cost!? People are super friendly anywhere you go but you can tell most are really tightly wound at the same time. If I’ve ever been to a country where the people deserved a decent social welfare, it’s here. They are busting their asses working. But they don’t want it, they think it’s un-American. You live here and get the opportunity to make something of yourself, not to free-load. But there’s people just down on their luck with no helping hand. You see homeless guys wearing shits and suit pants who would like some change but really want to be given a chance. They hold signs “Help a guy down on his luck” or something equally depressing. It sucks.
I got fed up in Galway, like a friend of mine had said before, you drag your ass out of bed and go into work in the freezing cold and pissing rain, going past places where you see the curtains closed and you just start to think, that fucker in there probably won’t get up until 11-12 today because they don’t have to, they are probably on the dole. People out drinking in the middle of the day, the buses being their busiest when you’d think most would be working etc. etc. And Galway was really getting on my nerves but having seen the opposite end of the scale. I’d take that over seeing people being pushed to their breaking point. Now that doesn’t mean something shouldn’t change in Galway because that’s ridiculous too, it’s just not as bad as seeing hard working people who just want to earn their way having to beg, borrow or steal to stay fed. I’d fear for Ireland now though that the sense of entitlement has been so ingrained into our culture that any change will be next to impossible.
Something else I have noticed about America is the attitude towards alcohol is completely different. Firstly the guys I know are all into cars and are real guys guys types but most of them don’t drink beer. If they do drink they drink something like a Margirita or a mixed drink. And there’s not some smart arse remark from anybody about being a pussy because alcohol isn’t a matter of male bravado here. They have much more maturity when it comes to alcohol. I heard it discussed on the radio a few weeks ago, there were people phoning in, a lot of people too! Who said on the rare occasion they do drink they make sure their kids never see them. They will get a babysitter to stay over rather than get home and risk being seen by their children when drunk. I thought that was amazing. I’d guess another big difference is that in Ireland if a kid gets drunk and acts like an asshole they don’t get in trouble where as here, they sure as shit would. So there’s something Ireland could learn from America for sure. On the flip side of this however is the drug culture. Crack heads and Meth heads a plenty near where I work. Also I got prescribed Vicodin by my dentist for a fuckin’ toothache, is it any wonder there’s such an epidemic in the country.
I had said it before on here too but the amount of advertising really gets on my nerves. I was getting so annoyed with telemarketers that I had my phone disconnected! Some of the laws I feel contradict the notion that it’s meant to be land of the free. Like them banning online gambling. It’s less of a nanny state than Ireland but some of the laws would just make you wonder.
On the positive side because I do tend to be too negative. I’m out here living in a loft apartment, there’s a 24 hour gym, 2 pools and a hot tub. As well as giant BBQ pits. The weather is about to change and get really nice for the rest of the time I’ll be here. The food and amount of variety for absolutely everything e.g. food, radio stations, tv channels, bars, shops, tourist spots etc. is amazing. The people are so friendly here too, the older generation mix well with the younger people, there’s no looking down on anyone. I’m also meant to be in the most racist state in the country and I’ve never been to a more racially tolerant place in my life. It seems like anybody will help anybody else. Right Turn on Red is a wet dream too, it’s such a time saver. The road layouts here are perfect actually, probably another thing we could learn from them if only the council in Galway would stop using the same fuckin’ idiots every time there’s upgrades..oh well. Yes, you do have to have health insurance here but from my experience so far the level of care is excellent and the fact they actually listen to you and seem to want to actually help you is unlike any appointment with a physician I have ever had. They do it because if they find something wrong with you it means more money for them but after being fobbed off in Ireland for the last 10+ years, I’m loving it. The prisoners here also work the chain gang, the roadsides are spotless, the entire city look pristine. The outlying areas follow color schemes, it’s like the place is picture perfect in some areas. Every day I get to drive through a mountain. It’s class.
I don’t regret coming here even though I will likely never get a job back in Galway in IT. But I feel this is something I needed to do. I also fucked up royally with my last girlfriend while here, so being here alone has given me a lot of time to reflect and look at myself which was probably long overdue. I’ve given up on the idea of having some crazy party of time here, that’s not me anymore. I finished college nearly 6 years ago. That part of me is gone and I’m looking forward to figuring out the next steps. I’m going to enjoy the next 6 months as much as possible, go back to Galway in December for my godsons christening, my sisters 30th and The City Fathers Anniversary Bash, then I might drive across America and act like an old age pensioner and go to the sights alone. I’ll document it for this site. Driving for weeks by myself, It promises to be the most boring adventure of all time but that’s the way it is now!