I have never been abroad, but in having lived in different places, moved home etc, I know a little bit of what you talk about and how you feel. Welcome back...http://usdkexpats.org/theory/cultural-adaptation
And...http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/opini ... .html?_r=0
So, to me we are still a bit like forty or fifty years ago, my impression.
A great part of it, it´s the culture. Just recalling that Ireland was the land of The Land of the Crisis of Potato Famine, but we see it´s long long overcome, it´s on the past.
Of course there are plenty of challenges ahead, one of them is that people are being censored without knowing, there´s the culture of bread and circus, the law of the least effort, etc etc.
Adding insult to injury, somem people say that everything is fine and dandy, never been better!
Anyway, as we know, there´s a long way to go! many people will have to learn, and many changes to be made.
Beggining with the respect and dignity (to begin with a well-deserved pay) toward the lower workers categories, first of them, teachers.
Well, now going back to my task of helping others with English...
And congrats on having learned from your experience, buddy. We always learn.