I recently found a video online of two lads from Dublin sat in their kitchen discussing the emigration culture in Ireland at the moment. Two of their good friends had upped sticks to Canada and Australia in the time around this video was shot, so it was clearly a hot topic for them both.
Now, I myself am part of that same emigration culture, despite only popping over the puddle for what could end up being just a year. I’ve got some things to say from having watched it though. Armed with what I learned in Analysing Media classes in my second year of undergrad, I’m going in. And I’m not holding back.
You never truly go on your own – there’s always someone you know over there.
Thousands of people leave the country completely alone each year. When I worked in the airport I sat with a girl in front of my coffee stand for 20 minutes trying to console her as she made the move to Sydney completely solo. She’d just gotten off the phone to her Mam and she was in bits. A few months later I followed her lead and came to Wales on my own.
Ok, there’s a difference between Wales and New South Wales. But Cardiff can feel like Canberra when you’re there all on your lonesome. I’ve got family over in the UK, sure – my uncle lives in London, and my cousin and her family live in Cambridgeshire. Neither of these are particularly near Cardiff, and I couldn’t just pop over for tea if I got lonely. For the first few weeks, I was coming home and that was that. Luckily, I settled in quickly (maybe having lived in Dublin for the previous four years helped with that) and now I can’t imagine how I lived with one foot on the steps of the plane back.
People feel like, if they live their whole lives in Ireland, they never really took a chance.
My Dad and a friend of his have a few things in common. Both of them retired from teaching jobs within the last three years. Both are really into gardening. Both have one or both of their children living out of Ireland at the moment. Both say if they got a chance, they’d go travelling a bit before settling down.
We’re the first generation to really do this. When our parents were young, they left school/college, got a job, settled down with a family and kids. That was it. That was the “done thing”. Now, with a scarcity of jobs, and a serious nationwide case of wanderlust, travelling, J1 visas and “gap yahs” are much more common.
My Dad was offered two jobs when he left teacher training college in Limerick; one two towns away from where he grew up, one in Tramore, which is about an hour away from his childhood home. He took the former, stayed there for 35 years, and there met my Mam,, settled down, and two kids later is still living a mile from where he grew up. He’s told me, several times since I myself moved away, he often wonders how it would have turned out if he had taken the Tramore job instead.
You can always move back and sort of be in the same place you are now.
Let me paint you a picture of how my life was just 12 months ago. It was the year I was to turn 23, and the November just past I had graduated from my undergrad. The one I’d wanted since I was 16. I’d recently been on a job interview for a new website forming in the coming weeks. I’d been turned down. I was living in a two bed house share with a woman nine years older than me that I never really got along with (different outlooks on life can do that to people). I was working in a retail job I absolutely hated – the hours were killing me, and taxman and I were not the best of pals. Oh, and I failed my driving test – spectacularly.
I love Ireland. Do not misquote me on that. My home country is one of the greatest places in the world, and I will forever be proud to call myself Irish. But if I went back and everything picked up exactly where I left off when I moved away? I’d set myself on fire.
If you have the capability of upping sticks, moving away from your friends and family, that’s a lot of sacrifice.
Just taking the four months I’ve been away, I’ve already missed two births and a very sick little kitty cat back at home. Close friends I thought I’d have for the rest of my life, I don’t speak to them anymore. It’s easier to make an effort when they’re close to you geographically.
Moving away is a selfish act, so I’ve heard and read a few times now. But it’s also a difficult thing for the person moving. You’re missing out on a LOT just by booking that flight, and it can be hard to come to terms with life continuing on for some of the people you’ve essentially left behind. But sometimes, you have to do what’s best for you.