Driving Lessons in Ireland

Thankfully I will never have to do my driving test again in Ireland, having failed it the first time round, it’s not exactly the nicest of experiences to go through! But now it’s my husbands turn to get his!

He already has his licence from Mexico but from what I understand I think he can only drive here for 1 year on that licence. Plus the insurance would be absolutely crazy for him, so he decided that he would get his Irish drivers licence which he would then have forever! He doesn’t mind because it’s another way of immersing himself in Ireland, becoming part of the community and just settling in.

I got my licence over 10 years ago but now it has all changed and it’s a lot more rigorous. When I was taking my lessons I didn’t have to do a set number of them. After I got my provisional licence I had to wait a certain number of months before I could apply for the test, but that was really it! Now it has all changed!

My husband now has a booklet which he has to bring with him to every lesson with an approved driving constructor. At the end of the class they fill it in on what was good/bad and they sign it with the date. My husband has to do at least 12 lessons with a constructor. This wasn’t the case for me!

Source; rsa.ie

Another thing is that my husband cannot drive by himself. He needs to be accompanied by a person who has a full licence whenever he drives. When I was learning this law didn’t exist, so of course this new law change has made it extremely difficult for provisional learners to drive to college or work or anywhere else! My husband could get insured on our car but we once got a quote of €4,000, so that was definitely out of the question! So for the moment he has been taking a 1 hour class every week. Unfortunately that is the only practice he gets because we just aren’t willing to pay thousands of euro for insurance! If you don’t know, Ireland is fantastic at ripping off it’s people, with car insurance being one of them!

Before receiving his provisional licence he also had to do a theory test. From what I have seen there are more questions relating to drink and drug driving than when I done it. I don’t think there were any relating to these when I done my theory test!

Overall I do think that these changes are good, especially having a mandatory number of lessons, but I do think it’s unfair that they also must have a full licensed driver with them wherever they go. Insurance has sky-rocketed so many just can’t afford to pay for insurance and then also needing another driver with them!

Hopefully my husband will pass without needing to get insurance for extra practice with our car. My insurance is pretty high as it is so having to pay €4,000 just for his is out of the question!

Aisling

Using iTalki to improve my Spanish

people on a video call

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

When I was in a teenager, I used to study French in school. I don’t really remember much of it except that we used to have a teacher who was constantly giving out to us.

Then in college my course offered 3 years of either studying Spanish or French. Of course I went for the French option as I had studied that before.

Again, I don’t remember much from it, except I was always the worst in the class (and there were only 7 students in total!) and being taught new grammar that I never had a clue what it was about. I remember looking at the grammar and thinking “I don’t have a clue what I’m reading or studying!”

One thing I do remember though was one day the lecturer told us to write something in french on the computers in the classroom. I remember I wasn’t able to do it so I started using Google Translate to translate what I wanted. I made sure the lecturer couldn’t see me do this.

However little did I know was that she could see what everyone was doing through her own computer! I forget what she said to me but I remember I was so embarrassed and I definitely didn’t try it again!

So in my last year of college we didn’t have to study French and I was so happy about it: I really didn’t do well in it and I just managed to scrape a pass in it.

So that was the deal with French.

Then I decided to study Chinese! One of the hardest languages in the world to learn! My experience with French must have been erased from my head or something! So you can imagine how much I…. ehm…. learned. . .

So I studied and my listening and reading did actually improve. I could understand exactly what the teachers were talking about and I was able to read children’s stories in Chinese. Speaking was a problem though and I fumbled my 5 years in China just being able to use survival Chinese.

But then…… my boyfriend/now husband arrived on the scene. This time Spanish was all the rage in my world!

While I was in China I really didn’t study much Spanish. I didn’t need to use it in my daily life so it was hard for me to get the motivation to study. At home my husband used to speak really simple sentences to me, like “I want to eat noodles.”

I remember he would say something to me in Spanish in a really romantic way and I would think “Oh I wonder what he is saying, he sounds so romantic!”

“I want to eat eggs for breakfast tomorrow”

No…. that was SO NOT romantic! I remember he used to do that to me a few times and I never knew what the hell he was saying! He always used to laugh when I found out what he was saying!

I remember walking down the streets and he would try to explain something in Spanish.

I remember sitting outside a restaurant waiting for our food to be ready and I would try to speak a little.

When we were on the bus going to a plaza nearby he would get me to translate really simple sentences into Spanish, like “I eat apples everyday when I am at work”.

I also remember being on the bus and he would send voice messages in Spanish to his friends and I would try and pick up what he was saying.

Those are my experiences of learning Spanish when I was in China.

In Mexico I really did improve a lot. Because classes were expensive there I studied by myself. I could understand what my husbands family were talking about and I could join in on more conversations. My speaking really wasn’t great though, but I do remember my listening got much better!

After I moved back to Ireland I was busy with my course and Spanish went out the window. I didn’t speak for months and It felt like everything that I learned in Mexico had just disappeared! So in January 2020 I joined iTalki and I had a class with a woman from Mexico.

I was really nervous because I hadn’t spoken to anyone in Spanish for a long long time, and I forgot loads! The class was good but I felt I didn’t really connect with the lady. I didn’t take another iTalki class until May when I started studying Spanish again.

I had another class with another woman from Mexico and although she was nice I felt like I was carrying the conversations. When you are learning a language it should be the teacher who leads the conversations, however with the class I had with the woman, I felt it was my responsibility to lead.

I looked again and I found a lady that seemed nice and since then I have had 8 classes in total with her. Again she is from Mexico and she is really nice and I feel comfortable talking to her! So I have classes with her but also I take classes with another woman as well. I enjoy both of their classes and I don’t feel under pressure to think of things to talk about!

Ideally I would like to have 3 classes a week, 60 minutes each, but sometimes they don’t have time because their schedule is full and sometimes I’m just lazy!

Speaking with them has definitely helped with my speaking, and I love it because it’s really flexible: Because the teachers set their own cost, I can choose how much I would like to pay, I can choose what time I would like to have class at, and I can choose how many classes I want each week. If I want I can schedule a class tomorrow at a certain time (if they are available at that time) and I can explain to them what I would like to talk about/study.

Speaking is one thing I do want to improve on a lot. I want to gain the confidence to be able to speak well and know that I can hold a conversation. My problem is when I am nervous all my Spanish goes out the window and I end up making really really silly/basic mistakes!

I’ve been thinking about searching for another teacher so that I can practice with 3 people, but I don’t know if that will confuse me! I get confused about what topics I’ve talked about with the two teachers that I have so having a 3rd would make it even more complicated for me!

But anyway, I really enjoy iTalki and even though sometimes I don’t be in the mood for a class, but once I’m done I feel happy with myself!

Aisling

Oh and this isn’t a sponsored blog by iTalki!  I definitely DO NOT have enough followers to even dream of that! I just think it’s a great site and it has helped me a lot!

 

I signed up with iTalki!

So after coming back from Austria, me and my husband have started to speak more Spanish to one another. It’s hard though because the environment we are in is only English, and I don’t feel comfortable speaking Spanish in front of my family, so we have really just been speaking it when we are alone.

I remember months ago reading about the website iTalki and how you can chat to people all over the world, so I decided to go and have another look at it. I wanted to get back into speaking Spanish so I looked at private language places where I am now and they were just too expensive. So that went out the window!

I signed up to iTalki and it seems quite good. I put around €30 on my account, and then I chose a person who I wanted to have a class with. You can have a 30 minute class with them for half the price of a normal class as a tester class. The lady I chose is from Mexico and she charges around €8 for a class, with prices varying for the duration of the class. I was able to choose the day, time and how long it would be for. Then I organised the way we could have our chat and I picked Skype.

The cool thing about it is that you can choose the price of the class. Some can be over €20 whereas others could charge €5.00, so it’s good that you can decide how much you are willing to spend.

As much as I like talking to my husband in Spanish, there really is only so much you can talk about. When we did try and have practice conversations it was difficult to find a topic to discuss when we know pretty much everything about each other! That’s one of the main reasons why I want to try out iTalki!

I know my Spanish has weakened since I started going to college again, but at least if I do this maybe once or twice a week I will feel like I’m putting the effort into it once more. Even now after coming back from Austria I’m slowly starting to remember words again. At one stage I forgot what the word for ‘dog’ was in Spanish, which I was shocked about!!

So I’m looking forward to the class and hopefully my Skype will work fine. I always worry because electronics aren’t always reliable and I’m afraid that it wont work, but I rang my husband on it as a tester and it seemed fine, so fingers crossed!

Aisling

I’ve Been Busy

Since I’ve started writing this blog years ago, I’ve been trying to hit a target of 4 blogs or more per month… and this month I’ve just hadn’t had the time to write anything!

I’ve been busy writing writing essays, going to class, and usually I wake up tired because my mind just doesn’t stop racing when I go to bed, so it’s been hard to write anything here. So I do need to try and start writing something on this blog of mine!

Anyway, my course is going fine. I’ve noticed how a few of my classmates have been asking me for advice for things for the assignments. They would come over with their assignment brief and I think “Oh they want to ask me something about the assignment”. I don’t mind though at all, I know for others it’s a struggle to come up with things and they might not understand something, so I’ll try and help them if I can. I suppose because I’m the oldest as well they think “oh well she’s the oldest she’ll know”. I think I was like that too. When I was doing my degree from the age of 18 I remember I kept asking the mature students to help me with my work. I remember thinking “Well they seem to know what they are doing so I’ll get them to help me!”

I think now I’ve realised that I don’t want to stress about the essays that are due and I’d rather just get them done, so I do them. When I was younger though I always left things to the last minute, but now I just couldn’t do that! Unfortunately I get stressed much more now than when I was in college, so I want to alleviate that as much as possible! But I still like the course and I don’t mind going in so that’s good!

With regards to the weather-it’s getting colder now. Especially in the morning I really dislike having to get up in the freezing cold to get dressed. As we live in a mobile home this means when we wake up we can see our breath. I even woke up once because my ears were ice cold! We’ve taken to getting dressed in front of our gas heater; huddling together to get as much warmth as possible. haha. So this will definitely be a test of our endurance with the cold! At one stage I actually tried to get dressed while I was in the bed but that was a disaster and I took about 15 minutes. So that didn’t work at all!

I’ve started to keep the electric blanket turned on at my feet during the nights because they were very cold some nights. Thankfully the blanket allows us to turn it on only at our feet so that’s great for us. So yeah… it’s quite cold here in the mobile home!

And Halloween is just around the corner! I only just realised that I’ve never had a Halloween with my youngest nephew! It just hit me when I was watching TV that this will be my first Halloween with him, and he’s 4 already! It’s actually my first Halloween in Ireland since I left for China, so about 6 years ago I think. It’s mad how time just flies.

I also realised another thing…… I have to buy Christmas presents!!! In China we didn’t buy Christmas presents. Maybe I would buy something small for my husband (boyfriend at the time). But because of the language barrier in China, we didn’t really go out and buy things for each other. Then in Mexico my husbands family don’t really celebrate Christmas ( I know, it’s shocking!) so again we didn’t really buy presents for each other.

But now…… I have to buy them for my whole family…. and my two nephews. . . So that’s something that I will have to think about once more.

And thankfully now my husband has been working since September so we finally have money coming in. I don’t have a job at the moment but I don’t mind because I’m actually busy with my college work and I know I would just be extra stressed if I took on a job. Plus many only want full timers which I can’t do at the moment. Maybe after Christmas I will find some work in something that is beneficial to me. I’d like to get a job dealing with customers so I can get more experience working with customers. Through my course I’ve realised that customer service skills is great to have on a CV.

So anyway there’s an update on my life so far. I’ve been watching ‘Bates Motel’ on Netflix with Vera Farmiga (she’s a great actress) for the past couple of weeks before I’ve gone to sleep. I’ve been watching it in Spanish and I understand pretty much all of it. (I’ll write another post on the disappearance of my Spanish). I’ve enjoyed it so far but the last season hasn’t been great unfortunately. I’ll have to take an hour out to look at another show I can watch in Spanish when I’m finished ‘Bates Motel’.

Aisling

I lied!

photo of people walking on street

Photo by Lukas Kloeppel on Pexels.com

So, my last blog I wrote about our plans for Mexico and what not….. was a lie! We have actually arrived back to Ireland at the beginning of June! My last blog was really for my Mum (she is the biggest fan of my blog) and I didn’t want her to suspect anything.  You can check it out here: Looking To The Future

After my parents left Mexico after visiting us, we decided to leave in the next few months. We realised we were in Mexico too long and it just didn’t work out for neither of us. We weren’t able to get a job because we were busy with the weddings (ours and my husbands sister), then we would have had to move to Mexico city because in the city where we were there just weren’t any jobs for me.

I don’t see it as a failure though; I enjoyed my experience there, I came from literally zero Spanish to now being able to have day to day conversations, we got married and had our perfect wedding, and finally my parents came to visit. So some things didn’t work out but a lot of others did. It’s nice to be closer to my family though in Ireland. The weather is crap though, so I do miss the weather in Mexico! But I’ve been enjoying eating lots of white and brown bread.

I’d also like to think we are getting back on course to figuring out where we want to live and all that ‘life’ stuff. Maybe it will be in Ireland or maybe somewhere else in Europe, we will see!

But it’s nice being with my family for a while, with no flight to leave for for a while!

Aisling

Looking To The Future

sky earth galaxy universe

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With our wedding and my husbands sisters wedding over, we have been thinking of what to do. As I’ve mentioned before, we couldn’t really sort out jobs because we knew we had our wedding coming up, and my parents were also going to be here for 3 weeks, so we knew it would be difficult to get jobs with these on the horizon. So we made the decision to wait until all these events were over to look for jobs.

We are quite open to anything though. (country wise!) Because we are now married, it’s easier for my husband to live in Europe with me. It’s not 100% plain sailing, but it’s much easier than if we weren’t together!

We were talking and we are in agreement that if Mexico doesn’t work then both of us are open to any country really. My sister in law was very excited telling us about Paris and how she could help us get jobs. We are interested of course, but we need to think of the pro’s and con’s of moving to France. But the option is there.

Another option is Spain. My husband has an aunt that lives in Madrid and I’m sure she could help if we decided to move there. Also in Barcelona we know someone who lives there. So we have options.

I would prefer to live in Spain because I’m learning the language, but I won’t say France is off the cards though.

I think the fact that we lived in China makes us feel like we can sort of survive in any country now, because really, if you can live in China then you can pretty much live in any country! It doesn’t feel like such a daunting task, especially if you plan to move to somewhere in Europe.

But anyway, Ireland is the most viable option at the moment. For my husband it’s the easiest way to get to Europe as all he needs is a visa that shows we are together, so it’s very easy.

For Mexico, it’s on the cards but probably not in the city where we are right now. Mexico city has more opportunities, so I would just have to learn to love the city if we decided to move!

So, as always, we are still up in the air with everything….

But the good thing is my spanish is improving!

So yay for that!

Aisling

Mexico City; I think it will grow on me

I’ve only been to Mexico city a few times, so I really haven’t seen much of the city at all. From my overall impressions, I’m not too keen on it; it’s just too big to able to comfortably travel to. First it’s a pain to travel into; once you hit Mexico city the traffic is terrible and it take hours to get to where you want to go. Second the road layout isn’t good at all. Whoever built the roads didn’t organise it enough and it’s not a city that is car friendly.

So anyway my husbands uncle invited us another few family members to eat with him in one of his restaurants that he owns so we decided to travel to where the madness is! The restaurant is literally right in the heart of Mexico city, and it’s located in a lovely old looking building. When I was in the centre of Mexico city the first time I visited the area but because there was a festival going on, I couldn’t appreciate the lovely architecture that was there. So this time round I was surprised at how pretty the buildings were.

Before lunch we went to visit some ruins which are free to enter on Sundays for nationals. Thankfully I had my residency card so I was also able to enter free! We spent about an hour and a half there and then headed to eat with the family.

I think my view is slowly changing about the city though. I think I’m just used to the city of Chengdu and how much more advanced it is. It was very easy to live in it, and I miss it so much sometimes. But anyway, there are good things about Mexico city, and I suppose I need to live in it to be able to appreciate it more and see all the good things about it!

Aisling