One aspect of life abroad that I was unprepared for was the cultural difference in restaurants. Part of the problem with eating out is that we typically go to small, local pubs in large groups of people. 22 Americans walking into a bar (sounds like the start of a bad joke) is intimidating, especially after noticing how loud we are compared to other large groups of people.
We found an adorable place for lunch today called The Hashery. Who doesn’t love a hipster cafe with 2 for 1 mojitos and artsy guitars piled in the corner?
There were only eleven of us that attended lunch, but it’s always a difficult process to split the bill. Generally, we request to split it up and each pay for our own meal, but many times that’s simply not an option. It always seems easy back home if we want separate checks, but that is not something they do over here. On Sunday night at dinner, we spent at least ten minutes trying to count all of our money and fairly pay the bill. Luckily, the group has their trusty Accounting major to help them out with that.
The different money is difficult to get used to, especially because we’ve switched back and forth between Euros and Pounds. The bills and coins are not all uniform so it takes some effort to make sure you’re grabbing the right currency, and also the right change. Not tipping anyone is also very odd for me. I consider myself a fairly generous tipper so not adding that 20% onto every meal or cab ride is a new concept. However, the service is generally worse over here, most likely because there is now no incentive to impress your customers.
Some other small cultural differences while eating include ordering water. While we were in Ireland, I noticed that when I would order water with my meal, they’d give me a very small glass, and would never come by to refill it. In U.S. restaurants, they give you huge glasses of water for no charge and unlimited refills. At dinner tonight at Viva Brazil, where I ate my weight in steak and cinnamon pineapples, we asked for water and they gave us a jug and continued to come by and refill it, no charge. Lunch at The Hashery was pretty similar, so I’m wondering if Ireland is a country that’s stingy with their water. Hint: click here for the answer!
The Irish drink so much beer with or without their meals that it doesn’t surprise me that they don’t drink water all that often. How do they hydrate? I was momentarily without my water bottle today after leaving it at a restaurant and was complaining like I was in my fourth day in the Sahara Desert.