Americans sell our little beautiful island better than we do
Jane Fahey moved to the San Francisco with flowers in her hair but fell in love with Ireland when she got there.
The ironic thing is we travel abroad to discover different cultures, customs and a different way of life. However, it is this very difference that makes adjusting so difficult. It may seem naive and obvious but it's never the same as home.
One thing I've learned quickly is we Irish have a unique language and its not the cupla focal as gaeilge.
For example if I started my conversation at home with the girls after the weekend over a cup of tea with "well any banter over the weekend, good craic had? ", I will get the juicy details. However, the same sentence in San Francisco will not only be met with puzzled looks but may result in pending narcotics charges.
In America, I find I must think out every sentence in my mind and translate it to American before I translate it. Try spending the day thinking through every single sentence before saying it. The result I talk a lot less!
However, there is an upside to this language barrier from my own experience. American people LOVE accents, especially our Irish brogue. And it still amazes me the love Americans hold for Ireland in their hearts. Every person I encounter 'Stateside' has either been to Ireland or "can't wait to visit".
Considering we are a relatively small island so far away we have made quite an impact on one of the world's superpowers. It is so nice to be received so warmly from strangers purely because of the nationality on your passport.
However, as the length of my time away from home grows, I too realise the beautiful things about our country I took for granted. There is a genuine warmth in Irish people.
And although on my quest for change, I keep searching out the familiar home comforts. For example, I frequent Irish bars like The Shannon Arms and restaurants such as The Copper Kettle. Both establishments are full of fellow Irish seeking better things but still yearning for a bit of home.
I have eaten more full Irish brekkies in The Copper Kettle than I did in my 26 years in Ireland. Why is it we always appreciate things once we can't have them as easily.
Yet, one similarity between Irish and Americans is that patriotism is a key value. Just as us Irish proudly fly the tricolor flag and support our soccer team even after every loss (for the most part!), the display of American flags and their strong belief in their country is hard to ignore. I've also found it is difficult to exactly define an American - every race and nationality has a place and role in this country and all call it home.
One such example is the heritage nights held at AT&T park in San Francisco, the home to the San Francisco giants baseball team. They host heritage nights during the season. At these events, each night honours a different heritage, all of which are now deeply settled in America and support the SF giants.
You will be pleased to hear we have our own Irish heritage night complete with green shamrock foam fingers and Irish dancing and music before the game of baseball begins. Bearing in mind the figures that attend and watch these games on television, that's a lot of people celebrating our culture outside of our country.
To have people from the land of dreams look at you with envy when you mention you are Irish is an amazing feeling. It generates a great sense of pride in me to say where I was born.
Even with all the opportunities, celebrities, holiday destinations and money in the U S of A, many see our beautiful little island as a magical place. I guess they might be right.