Why I left Ireland and why I still haven’t moved back

I’ve written a blog before on emigration and the positive aspects of emigrating, but this time I want to delve into why I emigrated, why I left Ireland in the first place, and why, six years later, I still haven’t moved back.

I still feel that a lot of the time, the Irish media portray the whole idea of emigration in a very negative light. The stories are usually about the people who were forced to leave Ireland in search of work when the recession hit, or more recently, the stories focus on the people who left during the recession but now want to return, but can’t because the Irish government aren’t offering them enough support. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take away from those issues, and they are issues, I recognize that. But we are aware that thousands of people left during the recession because they lost their jobs and couldn’t find work in Ireland (although Fianna Fail still did pretty well in the elections this year, showing that the Irish electorate has a short memory). But my point is, we know that, it’s been covered, and we don’t need to constantly read about it. And again, it is an issue that the Irish government are trying to encourage emigrants to return to Ireland, but are not doing much to help those said emigrants settle back into Ireland, or even attract them back. But what about those of us who left Ireland of our own free will? What about those who were forced out by the recession, but as a result found new opportunities in greener pastures and are now happy they left? Those stories are not covered nearly enough in my opinion and as a result, emigration seems to be something to fear and hate in Ireland, becoming just another thing to hold against the Government.

I left Ireland when I was 23. I packed my suitcase and headed to South Korea by myself and I haven’t looked back since. I had a job, a good job at that and one that I enjoyed, and one within the area that I had studied – marketing. Many thought I was crazy to be leaving a job during the height of the recession and many thought I was even crazier to be going to South Korea – sure who goes there? I also had a boyfriend. We were together a year when I headed off to Korea, but I didn’t let that stop me. As hard as it was, I knew I had to leave, it was something I had to do for myself, and it’s worth noting that we are still together, 6 years after I left for Korea! I knew since I was a teenager than I wanted to travel, get out there and see the world. My sister had lived in Poland for a while, my brother had travelled, and one of my uncles had travelled a lot, so travelling was literally in my blood. When I was 23 I knew it was a case of “now or never”. I was settling into a job, settling into a nice life in Galway, settling into a relationship, and I knew if I didn’t leave then, I would grow comfortable within my life, and I’d never go. Now, I’m not saying it was easy. I had to say goodbye to all my friends, my family and of course, Phil. I was an emotional mess the week before I left – after I had said my goodbyes to Phil. I would literally burst into tears for no reason. But I still went, why? Because, even though it was hard, I knew that I would regret it forever if I didn’t at least give it a go. So off I set on May 13, 2010, with my bulging suitcase and a heart full of excitement, sadness and fear. I cried the whole time on my flight from Dublin to Heathrow!

Fast forward six years and I’m living in Toronto, and have been here almost two years and have applied for permanent residency here, I lived in Australia for 2 years, before that, South Korea, and I’ve done a lot of travelling in between. These 6 years have been amazing; I have seen so much, done so much, and learned so much and as corny as it sounds, I truly believe that travel is the best education you can get. I have made so many friends along the way, from so many different places and my eyes haven been opened so much. There is a whole world out there and you cannot let your life pass you by without seeing as much of it as you can. So anybody out there who wants to travel, or wants to emigrate, but has something holding them back, I urge you to go, just do it, do it for yourself. There will always be a reason not to go; a job, friends, family, a boyfriend or girlfriend, but you owe it to yourself to at least try. You might not like it, you might go back to Ireland after 6 months but who cares, at least you will always know you tried. On the other hand, you might love it, it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to you and it might set you on a path that will change your life forever, do you want to risk missing out on that?

New Year, New Blog!

Hi all, I’m back my first blog of 2015 and as you may have noticed, I have changed the appearance of my blog (if you didn’t notice – shame on you!), yes I decided seen as it’s a new year that it’s going to be a new blog too! So firstly my aim is to blog more in 2015, as really, lets admit it, I’ve been pretty sporadic with my blog posts (some may even call it lazy!) since I started. Now don’t worry, I won’t overdo it, I won’t be posting a blog every week or clogging up your news feed because I hate nothing more than people who blog about nothing and I know no one wants to read that, so i won’t be blogging for the sake of it, I’ll still only blog when I have something to say, or rant about 😉

The second change I’m going to make to my blog is I am going to have a dedicated section which will be a book review,

In Taaffes, where else!
In Taaffes, where else!

yes I’m really pushing the boat out here aren’t i?! (Mark I can just see your face as you’re reading this “A book review, who does she think she is, a writer for the Irish Times?”!!) Well I thought why not, I love reading and I read a lot, and if I can prevent even one person from reading an awful book I will be happy! Now if you like reading my blog but have no interest in reading about my opinion on books then feel free to skip that section, I won’t mind…I promise! I’m not going to do the book review in this blog though because I think this blog is going to be too long and a book review would just be overkill.

So firstly before I go delving into the details of my Christmas at home, followed by a trip to Montreal and Vermont, I want to quickly talk about Canada, as I like telling people about new/funny things I come across when I’m in a different country. So let’s talk about some of the weird and wacky things I’ve been noticing here lately. Well I think I already mentioned the fact that they sell milk in bags here so I won’t get into that again, but another weird milk-related thing, we bought a carton of milk here last week, we buy homogenized milk because it’s the closest milk that we can get that tastes normal and isn’t skimmed, low fat, half fat or whatever else. Anyway we bought this carton of homogenized milk and guess what it said on the carton?? “HOMO”. Yep in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS, across the carton. I wish I took a picture to post here. What person decided that they should shorten homogenized to homo, and then decided to put it on the carton? I don’t know, but personally I think it’s weird.

The awkward moment when you make eye contact in the mirror...and you're sitting on the loo!
The awkward moment when you make eye contact in the mirror…and you’re sitting on the loo!

Next strange thing I’ve noticed here is public toilets. They are so weird. You use a public toilet here and every cubicle has this big gap in between the door and the door frame so that you can pretty much see in through the gap and get a nice eyeful of someone doing their business. A big fear is when you’re using the toilet you’ll look out through the gap and there will be a person washing their hands and your eyes will meet in the mirror – that will scar you for life! The toilets in work are even like this so I live in fear of having to use the bathroom in work, seriously, do Torontonians have weird secret toilet related fetishes?? Get it sorted people!

Okay that’s enough fun Toronto facts for today, let’s move on. So as most of you will know I went home for Christmas, once again leaving Phil by himself in a strange foreign land where the people talk funny – yes what a horrible girlfriend I am. But in my defense I had to go home as Gavin and Sviatlana were going home too and bringing the twins with them, so I of course had to meet my new niece and nephew! It was a great Christmas, very different as we had babies in the house for the first time, well ever really. But it was all good fun, the twins are so cute, and so different from each other. It was a mad house with us all there, babies included and I was a wreck going back to Toronto but I loved it all! That’s enough about the twins now or I’ll turn into one of those weird mad aunts who

Mathew in his snow suit!
Mathew in his snow suit!

won’t stop telling people how great her nieces and nephews are 😉

I managed to squeeze in a night in Galway too of course because what would a trip to Ireland be without a good old

session in Taaffes! Got to meet up with most of the college heads and we had a great night out. I have to give a special mention to Chris & Sibh here as they were very upset that they haven’t got enough mentions in my previous blogs, even though they’ve had cakes for me on two of my visits back to Ireland and met me and Phil at the airport when we came back in 2013 – thanks girls! There was no cake for me this year though, I’ve realised you have to stay away for at least a year to get a cake – I’ll remember that when I’m planning my next trip back to Ireland! We had a great night in Galway, the selfie stick was out in full force – although there wasn’t always a phone attached to it, and myself and Miriam brought some interpretative dance moves to Halo, we had a bit of a crowd watching at one stage and one fella even tried to join in! Miriam is a big fan of my blog and I know she loves to get a mention in here so “Howaya Miriam?!”. I also got to enjoy Stephens night out in Portlaoise with the girls which was great, especially because Teresa and Barry had just gotten engaged so there was great excitement! And amidst all the madness myself and Claire managed to fit in one relaxing night where we just relaxed in her house – and drank some vino of course 🙂

Sofia and her youngest, coolest Auntie ;)
Sofia and her youngest, coolest Auntie 😉

After my whirlwind trip to Ireland, I returned to Toronto for 2 days and then we were off to Montreal to stay with Sina for a few days. Montreal is a really nice city and we’ll have to make it back during the summer and actually do some things there – other than drinking! We spent New Years Eve there and we went to a really cool old style diner for dinner, then onto a great bar. The bar had a huge range of very delicious cocktails which were served in jam jars! They don’t serve food in the bar but they allow you to order takeout from  there or bring your food from another establishment but I thought was pretty awesome (yes I just said awesome, I’m in Canada I can say that now!). They did this cool thing with glasses and fire at midnight, I tried to get a picture but somebody told me to use the flash (ahem Phil) and that was a terrible idea because it did not pick up the fire at all so you’ll just have to take my word that it was cool! I also sampled the famous poutine in Montreal and I must say it was pretty tasty. I think it was poutine with meat mixed in that we had and it did not disappoint. For those of you who don’t know what poutine is – Google it, ha I joke, it’s a Canadian dish that consists of chips (or fries as the Canucks say) gravy and cheese curds.

After our few days in Montreal we all headed to Vermont for some snowboarding. The first day we got there we went to the waterpark that’s in the resort  – Jay Peak. It was small but fun. It had one of those slides where you stand up and a door closes around you, so you are effectively in a tube and then the floor opens beneath you and drops you straight down! You then do a loop, it’s a lot of fun and even though I’ve been on it a few times before, I was terrified. The scariest part is when they close the door around you and then you hear a big loud,

If only we looked this cool while we were actually snowboarding!
If only we looked this cool while we were actually snowboarding!

deep voice saying 3,2,1 and then you drop! Great craic! We stayed in a really nice condo that night and then the next morning we hit the slopes! Now I’ve been snowboarding a few times before, in Korea, so I thought I was pretty okay at snowboarding but I must have been lying to myself because that first run down the slope was awful! I fell so many times, I just could not stay standing, and the more I fell, the harder it was to get up again – falling is very tiring you know! Anyway we made it to the end eventually and we got better as the day went on, although we were both struggling to snowboard on our toes and were sticking to what Sina called “the falling leaf” method, but if it got me to the bottom of the slope without killing myself I don’t care! I got stuck in my snowboard twice – as in the buckle on one of my feet would not open so I was literally stuck to the board! So twice I had to half walk (with my free foot) half drag the board to the rental place to get them to free me. Now let me tell you, trying to walk with one foot stuck in a snowboard is no easy task and it was very uncomfortable and sore on my knee too, and it took so much energy, not to mention that everyone was giving me weird looks as if to say “doesn’t she realise she can walk much easier if she removes her foot from the board”, so yeah, that was fun!

Now as the day progressed we were feeling more confident (what absolute fools we were!). We decided to go to the top of the mountain with Sina, Raph, Iva and Anthony (who by the way are all very good snowboarders), well, that was a mistake! You had to take a cable car type thing to the top, and it took like 7 or 8 minutes to get to the top so that will tell you how high it was….. it was high, very high. As we approached the top I just thought to myself “Oh fuck”. It was horrific. The slope was narrow, winding and literally had sheer drops down at some points, and it was long, so very long. I thought we would never make it to the bottom. Conditions were also icy which made it even harder, and myself and Phil kept falling on the icy bits. I am not exaggerating when I say that I thought I would have to be air lifted off the mountain at one point, my whole body was aching, my knees were bruised, my wrists were sore from trying to get back up after falling and my entire body was exhausted, I had no energy. At one point I fell and I tried to stand up on the board 3-4 times and I just couldn’t I kept falling straight back down,and I called out to Phil “I can’t get up” as he whizzed by me. He didn’t hear me so he kept going and I thought I would die on that mountain! But I didn’t, we survived! And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that when we got to the bottom we made a beeline straight for the bar!

Sina, Raph, me, Phil, Iva & Anthony - at the top of the mountain before we made the terrifying journey down the slope!!!
Sina, Raph, me, Phil, Iva & Anthony – at the top of the mountain before we made the terrifying journey down the slope!!!

So as you can see, it was a hectic Christmas/New Years but it was great.We got back to Toronto on Sunday night, January 4th and I was back in work the next morning – boy was that a long week in work! We are planing to go to Niagara Falls next, there’s a long weekend coming up in mid February so we will probably head there for a night so I will update you on that in my next blog.

That’s all for now, until next time 🙂