There are many noticeable aspects that differ significantly between the United States and Ireland. For me, one of the largest changes is that the value of every euro I have us significantly more than that of my US dollar.
When coming to Ireland, I used my local bank to exchange dollars for euros with the euro being 1.2 times more valuable than my crisp dollar bill. Although I was aware of this rate, it has continuously thrown me off as I go in and out of sandwich shops, Tesco’s and the occasional Spar.
When I walk into any of these places, I think only in terms of my euros in hand. I am amazed by the €4 sandwiches, the €1.5 salads, and in general much less expensive grocery prices. When getting my first installment of groceries, I was amazed by the €36 price. This is because I usually spend around $50 at the grocery store in the US in order to stock up with those same ingredients.
Although that seemed cheap, the extra $5 in conversion made the payment just about as expensive as all my grocery runs from earlier in the summer. What does surprise me a lot about Ireland, and many other European countries, is that people are much less likely to buy in bulk at the grocery store.
Everyone carries in their one reusable shopping bag, leaving without the bag bursting at the seams. This is the most astonishing part of grocery shopping for me, given that my family bases our cars off of how many bags of groceries we can get in the trunk.
My main guess as to why people shop lightly and often is the fact that almost all of the expiration dates are less than a week after purchase. At the beginning of my weeks abroad, I thought that I would have to trouble finishing a measly bag of carrots in a week, but I have sadly proven myself wrong.
In the US it is so easy to overbuy, and coincidentally overspend, almost every time you step foot into the grocery. Our food seems to be more processed, extending the life and chemical content of everything we eat.
Overall, I am interested to see how I will continue to feel about grocery shopping. I am not used to the everyday attendance, but it may be a better option for taste, health and flavor of the food I make. And, it might really extend the power of my euro.