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?