I was asked to answer a few questions about my move to Ireland on a site called InterNations. The site was new to me, but as it turns out, it’s a fantastic resource for ex-pats making moves all over the world. They like to interview people who have moved to a different country to learn about what their transition was like, and to give advice to those going through similar experiences.
After almost five years in Ireland, it was actually nice to revisit my first year in Dublin. That first year was tough, and I’m so glad I have come a long way! In fact, I was just saying to my mom while she was visiting that some of the things that were heart-breakingly hard that first year are almost comical to look back on now. Almost.
The most interesting question the folks at InterNations asked was about what could have prepared me better for my move to Ireland. Here’s my answer:
I absolutely wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared for what awaited me in Dublin. However, I don’t think anything could have prepared me better. The one thing I wish I could change is not being so hard on myself. I wish I had given myself a break – new country, new husband, new career all in one fell swoop is a lot to get used to.
I almost felt like I was being asked if I regretted anything in that first year. Regret isn’t really my speed, in fact, very rarely do I regret anything. I like to think of challenges past as learning experiences; what’s done is done and next time I’ll do better. In that first year, although it was hard, I’m really not sure what could have made it easier. No matter what, there was going to be a certain amount of culture shock, homesickness, loneliness, and transition into married life. And I’m not sure making that first year easier would have led to quite as many lessons or learning experiences as it did.
Perhaps if Michael and I were more financially stable moving over to Ireland, so that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t find work for so long, perhaps that would have been easier. But I think even that is an experience we needed to have together. How many of our parents and grandparents tell stories of how poor they were when they were first married? We’ll at least have our own story just like that to tell our grandkids.
Or perhaps we could have been a little more prepared for marriage in general (which is part of the reason why I love writing my Snapshots of a Marriage series on Snippet & Ink – it’s still going, by the way!). We never had any pre-marriage counseling and sometimes I think we could have really benefited from a few tips! Come to think of it, there are still some days we could probably use some tips!
Certainly nothing could have lessened how homesick I was at the start, that’s just something you have to get used to over time, as you build a tougher shell against the pain of being so far away from the place and the people you know. It’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy, but it pushed me to make a place for myself in my adopted home. I’m thankful that now I have a place (both online and offline!) that I’m proud to have built, and thankful that I have the tools to make a new place if I decide to do something different or Michael and I decide to go somewhere else for a while, although that won’t be happening for quite a while! After all, we couldn’t leave the chickens!
If that wasn’t enough for a late Thursday post, you can hop over to InterNations to check out the rest of my interview. If you’re an expat or have ever moved somewhere, what was your experience like? Would you prepare differently if you could do it over again? I’d love to hear about your experiences.