Ah Sure It’s Great Craic Over Here

The Decision Maker

Coming to Ireland was the best decision I’ve ever made. However, it’s not for what you might think. I haven’t done many touristy things, though I will before I leave. The initial “why” of my coming was the typical “get-out-of-your-comfort-zone-see-the-world” reason. I didn’t really know what this meant though, not really. Before coming I had done various things to get out of my comfort zone, but nothing to this degree. I had been living with my dad throughout high school in Alabama, then through college I lived in a dorm and everything was paid for by a scholarship I was blessed to receive. In the year following college, I stayed with my sister in Tennessee while saving up for here. While I had a full-time job and paid my bills, I still felt like I had a cushion. One could argue that I could have had the culture shock of truly being on my own back home just by moving into an apartment in another city by myself. However, there is something about being an ocean away. While technology makes the world smaller these days, I’ve never felt farther away from my family. I arrived here on October 22, 2017, and so much has happened that I feel I’ve been here for years already.

Before Coming Here

I had preconceived ideas about Ireland, its culture and the people based on stories I’d read, movies I’d seen and songs I’d listened to. Call it being too busy working two jobs saving up or thinking I would figure it out, but I did virtually no research on Ireland beyond tourist tips. I really wish I had, as it would have saved me time and some measure of culture shock. However, it was a good lesson I learned in terms of truly respecting another’s culture and doing my utmost to understand it before arriving. For instance, it didn’t occur to me that Ireland would have different showers than we do in the US. In the US, we just have temperature (either a turn dial or two taps) knobs, then a transfer knob you pull to transfer the water flow from the bottom faucet to the shower head. Here, they have either immersion (which is expensive to use, but it basically heats the water in the water heater and you have to wait for it to heat up before taking a shower/bath. And you must turn it off after you’re done) or electric showers, which is a box on the wall in the shower that heats the water as it comes out of the head. The first experience I had with this I was turning it to the wrong setting and taking lukewarm showers. However, in the end it was all sorted and I got over this small example of culture shock.

Staying Here

The second and perhaps most important piece of advice I have is for the housing situation you will have when you arrive. In a sharing situation where you will have housemates sharing all the same space, ensure that everything from shared cleaning duties to shared bills is made clear before you sign a lease agreement. Sometimes it takes a while to find a place where you will feel like you get along with the people, and with it being in your price range. In this case, I would advise saving up as much as possible so that you will have enough to stay in hostels/AirBnbs. It will save time and money in the long run if you wait. Don’t get to a point where you feel desperate and you must choose or settle for a certain home/apartment. Give yourself enough funds and time. Five days in a hostel cost around €115, and I stayed in an AirBnb that was €19/night for a week following my first week. As such, around €815 euro should do you for the first month, if you budget. However, it is always better to have a cushion to fall back on, so even having €1,000 for your first month is ideal.

Sorting Work and Getting Paid

My advice for getting quickly immersed in the culture is to obtain a job as soon as possible and start the process of obtaining a PPS number and bank account. I made an appointment with the GNIB office (now IRP) prior to coming. However, given the wait list, I wasn’t able to make an appointment until mid-November. This step was fairly easy, however, make sure you show up at least 30 minutes beforehand as it seems the office is always busy. I advise getting an Irish job as soon as possible because I waited three months before pursuing one. When I did get a job in Ireland, I was able to get a PPS number. Even if you have to do seasonal work to begin with, just get a job where the employer will provide an official hire letter with your address on it. The steps of the registration process is why I advise getting a job as soon as possible because you can’t get paid until you have a PPS number and you can’t get a PPS number until you have a job. For the appointment, it will be helpful if you have a letter to your address with your name on it (I got a letter from Amnesty International as I had joined shortly before). As the handbook states, you will also need a letter on official stationary from your employer with your address on it. When the PPS officer asks you the reason that you are getting your PPS number, say it is for work (I said to help get my bank account set up and she said they don’t do that). It’s a bit chaotic at the office but they don’t waste time, so be sure you have all of your documents ready to show them. I received my PPS number in the mail a few days later. Once you have this, you can register with Revenue.ie. Following this, you will receive a pin/temporary password in the mail a few days later that you’ll use to finish registering. Once this is done, you’ll have access to your account and you’ll be able to enter your employer’s information (their official name and employer tax id). This is your P45 information and will be sent to them so that you won’t get emergency taxed. With the two letters from revenue (PPS number and pin/temporary password), you can obtain a bank account. I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping all of your documents together, as they are needed at every step of the process, and it will give you peace of mind to know where they are. My bank account took about a week to be set up, and then I sent my information to the payroll department of the company I am working for. Following that, things are fairly simple. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is obtaining the P45 from them if you choose to switch jobs.

The 411

So, they are the official steps that I experienced and my advice for it going more smoothly. While I wish I had immersed myself in the culture sooner, I don’t regret the three months I delayed getting a job. I found my bearings quite quickly in terms of transportation etc. I’m not saying it takes that long to adapt, but it was a good time for me. I learned a lot about myself and how I respond to various situations I had never been in before. One might not consider a situation that points out your flaws a good situation, but I did. Being here has changed me, and continues to change who I am as a person, on a professional and personal level. I had initially come here as the typical tourist, but I have since learned that this process is about so much more than “seeing the sights.” I have met people who have inspired me to be a better, more informed person about the world, and about my own country. The Irish have a rich history, of which they are fiercely proud. They’re also very informed about their history and current events. There are those in my country who are like this as well. However, I was not one of them.

The Lingo

In regards to their culture, which I am still getting to know, it is so much more than I thought. There are certain phrases that took a little getting used to such as “come ‘ere” and “your man.” When I first arrived, an Irish woman was telling me a story and kept referring to one character of her story as “your man.”

I was confused and said, “What man? I don’t have a man”. This phrase and “your woman” is used in reference to a previously mentioned character.

“Your woman was talking constantly and telling story after story.”

I learned that “come ‘ere” is akin to “listen closely.”

“Ah, come ‘ere, we’re going to meet to go out on Grafton Street.”

It was phrases like these, and discovering that Irish Gaelic is one of the more beautiful languages I’ve ever heard, that was a pleasant surprise. The Irish accent, which is what I now know as one of the accents of Dublin, has always been my favorite out of all the accents I’ve heard. However, since being here I have learned that there are many accents that are variations of what I’ve been exposed to in mainstream American cinema. This makes sense though because the US has different accents in its different regions as well.. There are some accents in the more rural parts of Ireland that are more difficult to understand, but for me that makes it even more fascinating.

Ultimately, I have learned much about approaching another culture with a truly open mind, which is what you must have. When you come here, and it may sound silly, but come with a mind like a child, completely open and soaking up every bit of information. After learning some very necessary lessons and adapting to being immersed in the culture, I have fallen in love with Ireland, its people and culture. Because of this, I am trying to extend my visa so that I may stay in this lovely country longer. However, if I am unable, Ireland will always hold a special place in my heart, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

So, if you’re thinking of coming to Ireland…

Rachel Anderson, Work in Ireland Participant

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The In’s and Out’s of Moving to Ireland

Pre Planning 


Prior to moving to Ireland, I had done my fair share of research on accommodation, culture, jobs etc., to help prepare me for the move. I read a lot about how in Dublin it was tough to find accommodation and that Cork had a more options at more reasonable prices. I did all I could to ensure that I wouldn’t be screwed over once I got there (I am somewhat anal and OCD about that kinda stuff). Some of the things I had come across online such as difficulties around affordable housing and how Ireland was slowly coming back from a recession which would make it hard to find a job, were true to some extent.

The Arrival


When I first arrived in Dublin, I had completed all the paperwork/documents that USIT provided to me. They helped me a great deal with any questions that I had about bank accounts, accommodation, PPS# etc. I felt that if I were more prepared, the less scary the orientation would be and I could spend more time listening and asking appropriate questions instead of feeling anxious. My biggest take away from the welcome orientation with USIT was to be organized! Prior to leaving your home country –  make sure you have your meeting with the GARDA bureau scheduled (appointments are essential in Dublin – and they allow bookings to be made up to 6 weeks in advance. Cork allows for walk-ins and is usually less busy). The GARDA appointment took almost 2 hours (even with an appointment) and cost €300 only payable by credit card. They ask you a few questions and take your photo and then issue you the GNIB card. This card is important as it allows you to legally work in the country and you can start to look for work right away.

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However, Ireland still requires you to apply for your PPS# as well (think of it as a Social Insurance Number). This # is crucial because it puts you into their tax system, which allows them to keep track of your income, in which then they can tax you accordingly. A lot of employers prefer that you have this number already, because it is a bit of a hassle to hire someone who doesn’t have one. In order to do this properly, once you get your PPS#, you have to go to revenue.ie and fill out a tax certificate form in which you answer quite a few questions ( and then they issue your employer a tax certificate. When they get this tax certificate in the mail (they like to do everything by post), that is when they will be able to take you off of emergency tax.

Finding Work


The first thing I would recommend doing after you’ve received your GNIB card is to look for a job. Send out as many CVs you can, as that’ll give you more chances to receive an email back from someone. USIT was very helpful in fine tuning my CV (CV formats differ from country to country). The USIT office also had plenty of job listings posted in their office. The faster you find a job, the quicker you will be able to apply for a PPS#; since it is required that you have a job offer letter from an employer stating that you have been offered a job and will be working with that company. 

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Most employers will not know all the information that is needed on the job offer letter, so it is important to let them know exactly what you need them to write in order to make the offer letter valid. The Intreo office is in the city centre of Cork and is open during regular office hours. You walk in, take a number and meet with someone to make sure you have all the appropriate documents. The proof of address can be given in a form of a utility bill OR a utility bill with the landlord’s name or an approved letter by USIT. You CANNOT get a PPS number without a proof of address. 

Accommodation


Accommodation sign with a beautiful day

When I first arrived in Cork, I had arranged a stay with a fellow participant who I met through the Facebook group. I chose this option instead of staying at a hostel because I wanted privacy and I didn’t want to look for a job while living out of a hostel. Also, it was much cheaper and felt more “homey” if you will. Once we were settled in, I began looking for a job right away. Luckily, I was able to find a job in just over a week. This was possible because there are plenty of jobs in the  hospitality industry. Once I started my job, I asked for a job offer letter right away. This was because I had gone to see many house showings but were quickly turned down due to the fact that my boyfriend and I both did not have jobs yet. Obviously, not many landlords would be comfortable with tenants who did not have jobs. The main websites that I used to look for accommodation was rent.ie and daft.ie. I emailed as many listings as I could and went to as many showings as I could. The market at the moment is ridiculous. Luckily, after a week and a half of searching, we found a landlord who was happy with only one of us having a job and allowed us to move in. We got a 6 bedroom house right in the city centre. However, it is a shared house with 6 other people. This may sound crazy, but the house is big enough with more than enough space and is renovated new with added bathrooms/en suites. BUT – our rent is incredibly high still (This is the reality of the housing crisis at the moment). If I could give some advice, it would be to join a group on Facebook about finding housing in Ireland and there are people who are posting about looking for flatmates regularly. Be prepared to live with other people. Be prepared to pay a lot for rent. And be prepared to look outside of the city for accommodation. Whatever you decide, just do not get discouraged and continue to look until you find a place. Cork is not that big and you can get to most places walking in 30 mins or less. Once you find a place, you might have to pay for additional fees such as refuse (garbage/recycling), electricity and wifi and cable. These expenses are not always covered by the landlord/owner. Now that I’ve been settled into my place for a month now, I can honestly say I love it and it’s really starting to feel like home. We bought some things to decorate our room and all of our housemates clean/friendly. Luckily, we had an option of signing either a 6 month or 12 month lease. Some places require a minimum of 12 months, but a lot of people find other tenants to take over their lease over if need be. Now, the reason I was so eager to find a place was because I knew I needed a proof of address for  my PPS #. Also, in order to open a bank account – you need a proof of address and that requires a letter from revenue in which you can only get once you get your PPS #. Finally, I registered my PPS # with revenue and received a letter from them with my NAME and ADDRESS (valid for the bank) and my employer received a tax certificate in which they were finally able to take me off emergency tax. So, as you can see, this step is critical. Also, when I made the appointment for the PPS #, it was made for 2 weeks later. So be prepared to have to wait a bit for the bank account. So, the quicker you get all this done, the better. I arrived in Cork on August 3rd, and started my job on August 10th. I moved into my house on August 12th and received my PPS # on August 23rd. I received my letter from from revenue and opened my bank account on September 4th (but didn’t get my card in the Post until September 12th). So, all in all, even with preparation and research – it still took me roughly a month to settle in and get all my ducks in order.

This can be stressful, but if you’re organized and prepared financially (such as having some extra money to live off of while you look for a job) will be very helpful! Once it’s all dealt with, it finally starts to feel real and you can enjoy your hard earned money!

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Blog Post By Current Work in Ireland Participant: Michelle To.

Keep up with Michelle’s Ireland Adventures on her Blog: Just Swell. 

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