Becky Mullen – Toronto

First up in the new series – Irish Abroad, we have Becky Mullen living in Toronto. I don’t know Becky but she was kind enough to participate in this series!

  1. 1. Where do you currently live?


2. How long have you lived there for?

Been here 1 year 10 months.

3. Why did you leave Ireland initially?

To try something different. I was sick of the everyday to day life back home so I wanted to try something different and see a bit more of the world and what Canada had to offer.

4. What are some major differences you’ve noticed between your new homeplace and Ireland?

Communication. It’s different here. I found and still do find it hard to communicate with people on an ‘irish’level. Don’t get me wrong I’ve met some lovely people here but I feel the craic isn’t the same. We have our sarcasm and our slang that just doesn’t come across the same way here.

Also the food. I miss Irish food stores and meals so much! It’s very burgers and wings here rather than roast dinners and veggies and I miss that so much 😭  and it costs more to food shop here. I feel the likes of Tesco, Lidl and Aldi are so much cheaper even with the change in currency than they are here.

5. How has coronavirus affected the city you currently live in? What measures have been brought in there?

I live in Toronto so everything is shut down. Cafes, retail stores, parks, malls,  bars are all shut. Only the necessities are open – grocery stores, pharmacies, post office and restaurants- that are doing  take out only. Even the off leash dog parks have been closed which is a major blow for all the doggies out there including our own 😥

Queuing up outside stores to get in is so crazy also. It’s all in the interest of safety which is great it’s just such a strange thing to have to do.

6. Did you leave Ireland alone, or with a partner/friend? And do you currently live alone or with others?

I left with my boyfriend who I’m currently living with and we have our 10 month old Husky mix who we adopted back in December.  

7. How has the coronavirus and what’s currently happening in the world affected you? Has it had a direct impact on any aspect of your life in particular?

It’s been a really big adjustment as it has for everyone else too. I’m currently out of work as I work in a bakery that is not an essential business. I’ve applied for EI benefits so hoping that will come through soon.

Mentally it is a big strain too. I suffer from anxiety which I talk a lot about openly. Ive been dealing quiet well until we went into a lockdown. I’ve felt a lot more anxious about leaving the house and going too far even with the dog. At first I thought I’d be fine just keep to a routine and focus on what makes me feel good. But it isn’t that easy. Everywhere you go all you hear about is the virus and it’s hard to block it out. Having family back home who would be high risk is also so worrying.

8. Have you thought about going back to Ireland in light of what’s happening?

Yes. And honestly if we didn’t have our pup we’d probably have flights booked to go but we have him to think about and it’s not as easy as catching the next flight out,  it takes planning. Currently we are taking it day to day before making any decisions.

9. How do you find living away from home in times like these? Are you worried about loved one’s back in Ireland?

It’s hard. Very hard. I miss everyone so much on a daily basis and now that mixed with the worry of them getting sick is a lot to handle. I have family who are high risk and all I can do is hope they are sticking to the rules and stay safe and nobody gets sick.

10. Do you think that living away has better equipped you to deal with social distancing in any way? For example, most people are now keeping in touch via virtual means like Zoom/Google Hangouts, were you already doing this with your loved one’s in Ireland?

In a way it has. I do most of my communicating back home with family and friends over video chat anyway so that’s nothing new. But then there’s the social aspect of living abroad and not having any family here. You want to keep up communications and being social to keep you sane but you can’t see anyone in person which is tough.

11. Did the coronavirus affect any upcoming trips home that you had planned?

We had planned to be moving home in May but now with flights being all over the place and non existent and Ireland being on lock down we aren’t too sure what we are going to do or when we will get home.

12. What have you been doing to cope in this stressful time? Some people focus on being productive, others binge watch Netflix, what is your coping mechanism?

So far I’ve been decluttering the apartment. Getting rid of stuff so when the time comes to moving home we wont have as much to worry about. But the apartment is only so big so next week will be a different story. It’ll be social distance walks with the dog all day to keep me sane.

13. Do you think there is any silver lining to what is currently happening in the world?

Yes! The earth is healing. Sometimes things happen for a reason and I feel it’s the earths way of saying I’ve had enough I need a break. And it’s exactly what’s happening. Air pollution has dropped and rivers are clearer. It’s pretty amazing to see the earth healing. But it’s also devastating that for this to happen the while world had to stop 😔

14. Do you have any plans to move back to Ireland at any point in the future?

Yep , think I answered this in question 12 😝 but yes, hopefully when things settle a bit. But all future plans for back in Ireland will have to be put on hold for now. Sadly.

Please feel free to share anything else that you think might help other Irish people who are living abroad at this time.

You’re not in this alone. We are all out here together not knowing our heads from our tails. It will get better. The Embassy is there to help and wont leave us stranded. And to anyone who still has time left on any temporary visas. Stay put. If you’re still working or getting some sort of income stay if you can. It will pass and you don’t want to waste you’re visa. We got this 💪🏼

Disclaimer: All of the images in this post belong to Beck Mullen