People ask me all sorts of questions in regards to living abroad in Northern Ireland. But mostly, they want to know, "Is it different than the States?"
The answer to that question is, "Yes and no."
The language is similar. We share "English" but sometimes use the words differently. Also, they tend to sing their sentences in that cool accent that all of us Americans wish we could pull off.
Food is slightly different. There a lot of potatoes. A lot.
The weather is rainy. I'd say I would see more rainbows here than I ever did in the States. That's the upside of the rain issue so I don't complain.
I would say the one thing that I find particular to living here is the amount of ironing people do. A good measure of ironing happens in this country. I know at least a dozen people who iron their pyjamas! I know folks who iron their underwear! I mean, who is going to see the wrinkles in your underpants? Ok. Don't answer that question.
I once made the mistake of casually mentioning to a group of women that I don't iron my children's uniforms. There was quiet gasp from amongst the crowd. Finally, one brave soul spoke up, "And they go to school like that?"
I often hear things said like, "Glad to get all my ironing done last night," or "I don't even want to think about the ironing that is waiting for me at home!"
I never think about ironing. Never.
Now, of course, I am generalising. Not every person here is committed to their ironing responsibilities as I am making it seem but you need to know there is a level of commitment that exists here that I never experienced in the States. Honestly, it's admirable.
Taking the time to press out the creases of clothing always seemed a bit of a time waster to me (unless were talking about linen - that's whole other issue). However, I recently have found that ironing does make a difference. One night I decided to iron my bedsheets (which I also never do) just to see what it would be like... almost a cultural experiment, if you will. I'm telling you, I felt a difference. Maybe these people are on to something...
Making time to pay attention to the details makes a difference. Sometimes it feels like a time waster but often it's the very thing that sets it apart. Like,
· Making time to write a thank note to someone who drove your kids to school for you.
· Making time to find out what your dinner guests like to eat before constructing a menu.
· Making time to hang your kids' artwork on the fridge and giving them big compliment on it.
· Making time to let your spouse know you are going to be five minutes late.
· Making time to text a friend to see how their first day at a new job was.
These are just the small little details of our relationships. They are not the big headlines but when we take time to pay attention to them, it makes a big difference.
Have I converted into being a regular 'ironer'? No, but I did iron my kids' uniforms this morning. See? There is hope for change.
Iron something today. Just for the fun of it.
To read more from Noelle, click here!