1. Ireland is cold (for real)
Despite the mild and temperate weather, with an average of 10ºc, the Emerald Isle is a windy and rainy country, which can reduce the thermal sensation too much. It may happen that you look out the window and see a beautiful sun, but when you leave home it is very cold – I call it the “refrigerator sun”. The opposite also happens: it can be super cold inside the house, and when you go out it is delicious. Despite this craziness, Ireland is a country that has wonderful nature, but what really takes my breath away are the sunrises and sunsets. Ireland can surprise us in many ways every day, and that is what makes so many people migrate here. And if you do, even if it’s sunny outside, don’t forget your jacket!
Oh, and so you know… Irish people talk A LOT about the weather.
2. The quality of life is pretty good, but the cost of living is high
The Irish property bubble happened in the first decade of this century and it affected all political, economic, social, and financial sectors. Even with the first negative effects solved (“ghost estates” and high unemployment levels), the collapse of the banking and construction sectors contributed to a housing crisis that persists until today. What I mean is that Ireland has too many people and too few houses, which makes the rent go up, so be prepared! Nobody wants to turn a dream into a nightmare, so research about prices and come with a comfortable amount of money in case you don’t find a job immediately.
Besides that, with “costs”, I don’t just mean money, I’m talking about giving up on your privacy and having to share little apartments/bedrooms with several people; having to be tolerant of people’s different habits; and so on. This is not 100% bad, because it’s pretty nice to get to know people from countries that you’ve never been. Surprisingly, Dublin is not the only city prepared to welcome students from everywhere. Cork, Limerick, and Galway (my favourite) are cities with a much cheaper cost of living and much less immigrants. This is pretty good, because you’ll really need to learn English so you can communicate with locals. In Dublin, you can do this too, of course, it’s just easier to find someone who speaks your own native language!
On the other hand, it’s important to highlight that Ireland has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe. Last December, Ireland ranked second in the world for quality of life, followed by Sweden, Germany, and the UK.
3. You’re gonna miss home
When I started my exchange process, all I could think about was coming to Ireland, traveling, and making friends. I never thought about how tough it would be to be so far away from home. Here people come and go, everyone has their own routines and goals, so keeping in touch is difficult, when you have so many responsibilities. Also sometimes we really need a comfort that only our families know how to give us. Thankfully Eric Youan created Zoom Meetings and Jan Koum and Brian Acton created WhatsApp, it makes our lives easier!
Apart from that, I returned to Brazil once for a holiday and the thought of staying there never crossed my mind, so you can draw your own conclusions from that!
4. Fun fact: You pay to have a television
Yes, that’s exactly it! For you to have a TV set in your house, you need to pay a license of €160 per year, and if you don’t, the fine can be up to €2,000. More than that: if you live in a rented accommodation and your landlord owns a TV on the premises, you must have a TV license. Funny, huh?!
Researching for this article, I surprisingly found out that 26 other countries charge for it, while 13 have abolished the license fee. Brazil and Spain are two countries that never charged for it.
But don’t forget: the local programs are great to practice listening and to understand the culture. There are lots of nice TV shows, my favourite is the Christmas special, The Late Late Toy Show!
5. Public health is an important topic
Before we come to Ireland, we pay the school we’re about to study in and normally the price already includes insurance. What you may not know is this insurance is limited for students and it just covers emergencies. That means if you need to go to the doctor, you’ll pay around €50 to consult with a general practitioner (the famous “GP”). The public healthcare system here is not the best for students. There’s a long wait, sometimes; there aren’t enough resources, and serious diagnostic errors are some of the problems over the last number of years. The best option is always private health insurance, which will cover most of your expenses with doctors, emergencies, and routine appointments.
6. Job opportunities are not that easy
With tech giants like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, Dublin is know as the European Silicon Valley. It’s easy to think you’re gonna arrive and immediately find something in your field of work. But no, the first job for most immigrants will be something in the hospitality sector, maybe cleaning houses, or delivering food. Hires are high standard here and you’ll need to keep trying, because in the end it doesn’t matter how many “no’s” you’ve received: you just need one “yes”! The internships are unpaid, but the knowledge you acquire and the people you meet can be very valuable, so it’s 100% worth it. And when your “yes” arrives, you’re going to feel more prepared and confident. As a matter of fact, the first jobs are really nice, they’ll definitely become stories to tell and more than that: good experiences! I definitely discovered my passion for customer service working as a bartender here in Ireland – which I still do and love it.
7. Ireland is a really diverse country
According to the Central Statistics Office’s census (which happens every five years: the last was in 2016), there are over half a million people from 200 different countries living in Ireland. The ones I’ve seen the most are Brazilians, Romanians, Polish, Koreans, Indians and Chinese people.
8. There’s a reason why Ireland is famous for its potatoes
Potatoes are dense in calories, nutritious, and easy to grow in the Irish soil, so after the 18th century the population depended on it. Between the years 1845 and 1849 the Great Famine happened in Ireland, when the potato crop failed for three consecutive years, because of the harsh winters and because of a disease that destroyed both the roots and leaves of the potato. Over one million people died in that decade. After 1850, Ireland started to slowly recover and these days, there are all kinds of potatoes in every supermarket.
Knowing this may not directly impact your life, but is an important part of the history of the country you’re about to immigrate to.