When I landed in Dublin Airport 13 years ago, I was far from thinking I would still be here after all this time. I had planned to stay for only two or three years, which already seemed quite an ambitious plan for the recruiter who offered me my first job. “The majority of foreigners stay on average one year” he said to me. As it happened, he was right. I’m not even counting the amount of people I met and went back home in the blink of an eye.
The past 13 years have been a big adventure, and still is, but I’m not talking about an action-packed or crazy stories type of journey. After all, I didn’t go backpacking through the Australian outback or volunteer in Africa. I didn’t go on a teaching gig in China or on surf trips to Bali. The culture clash was probably less visible than if I had moved to the other side of the planet.
My adventure is mostly human. Sure I didn’t go to all those exotic places, but I have met people from all corners of the globe, and this would have NEVER happened if I stayed home. I have friends all over the world and not only did I learn about Irish culture, I discovered many other places.
My husband is from Mauritius. I have Indian and Danish neighbours. I used to work with Hungarian, Polish, Lithuanian and Slovakian people. I have friends from Moldova, Great-Britain, Croatia, Spain and the USA… I learned a lot about other cultures, especially tolerance, respect and differences. I can also manage a few words in each language. Bad words, mostly, but that’s usually what we remember, right? And I ate A LOT of good stuff cooked by those people. Traditional dishes and biscuits and cakes… Food can really make people connect, trust me!
Most importantly, I have met wonderful Irish people and discovered a fabulous country. I couldn’t thank my host family enough for feeding me (a bit too much) and really helping me out when I was stuck at the beginning. The first few months really shaped the rest of my Irish experience and that particular family is the reason I realised this country was really worth it.
The Irish are very family centred and it takes a bit more work to really have a solid friendship with them, but I think we managed to find a good balance between Irish and foreign friends.
There have been some highs and lows during those 13 years. I sometimes got bored and frustrated, but I never gave up, and I still think I have a better quality of life here than in France.
When I look back at my time in Ireland, I will think about the wonderful landscapes and the never-ending rainbows, but most importantly, I will remember THE PEOPLE.
And that’s what makes this adventure human.