Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

‘Dublin couldn’t give me the support I needed’

Canada offers me more excitement and better employment opportunities than I could have hoped for in Ireland, but the dull ache of homesickness is difficult to tune out, writes Linn Vizard.

'Booking flights was when it all became real, like a punch in the stomach'

Mon, Sep 24, 2012, 01:00


Canada offers me more excitement and better employment opportunities than I could have hoped for in Ireland, but the dull ache of homesickness is difficult to tune out, writes Linn Vizard.

Linn Vizard: 'Booking flights was when it all became real, like a punch in the stomach'

Emigration – such a loaded word. I do not think of myself as an emigrant, more as a migrant, a bird that has flown for now but with certain hopes for return.

In my Toronto apartment there hangs a vintage poster I tore out of the Metro Herald – “Dublin – Fly There With Aer Lingus”. When I moved to Dublin I fell in love. The perfect scale, its uniqueness, the distinctive atmosphere of grit and creativity. It was the place where I grew into myself, having moved from Cork to go to college. Dublin is ingrained in the fabric of me, and yet there came a point where I outgrew it, and it could no longer support the learning and development I needed as a young graduate.

Having achieved a first class honours degree in design, I wanted to pursue a career in this field. But with the recession dominating much of the agenda, it was difficult to find employment. Unpaid internship was followed by unpaid projects. After nine months of unpaid work, hard graft and few opportunities, I went to London on an EU internship scheme, working for free again but funded by the EU. There was talk of it leading to a position, but at the last minute this fell through.

My boyfriend had always wanted to live in Canada, and with it being a popular choice that seemed to afford opportunities to many Irish, a fairly easy Visa process, and no language barrier, I thought, “why not”. North America has never held any draw for me, but I knew I needed to try something different to advance my career. I knew I needed experience, mentoring, training and support, before I could be bold enough to create my own opportunity in Ireland. So emigrating seemed necessary in order to pursue my goals.

The need to earn money to facilitate the move took centre stage, and so I took the only job in Ireland that I could find, unrelated to my degree and passions, and only facilitated by the fact that I had a second language natively. I hated the job. It sucked my soul, made me feel stupid and inconsequential, rat raced and drained, depressed. I know I was one of the lucky ones to even find employment. I got through it, probably only because I knew it was not permanent, that it was a means to an end. The support of living with awesome people, a great partnership with my boyfriend, and all the pleasures of a city I love also helped. It was nice to finally have a steady income, no matter how small.

Booking flights was when it all became real, like a punch in the stomach. It really hit me, and I was scared. Moving out of my Dublin house was gut wrenching, saying goodbye to the place and people that had been my home; a place where we had partied, danced, cooked and laughed over tea and biscuits.

Saying goodbye, especially to my family, was horrendous. Almost unbearable. I took the bus to Dublin the night before my flight, and saying farewell to my mom was excruciating. Hugging her and thinking that I did not know when I would next see her in person, or that, most unthinkably, that it could possibly be never. I wanted to take it all back and stay, but I knew I couldn’t live my life based on these fears, and my Mom was excited for me to go and explore opportunities. She knew how much I wanted to be able to build a career. It was similarly awful to say goodbye to my little brother, no longer so little, but someone I am so close to.

I most of all miss having my friends over for dinner. I miss the food. I miss the streetscapes, the buildings – within me there is an odd attachment to the architectural fabric of the place. The landscape of my freedoms and discontents, that corner where I shared a first kiss with someone, the familiar bus routes, the cobbles of Trinity. Most of the time I do not let myself miss anything, and I am really getting used to it. Canada is exciting and diverse, and I have even found a design job and an awesome mentor. But there is a dull ache in the background that I am tuning out. A photo of hay bales that a friend posted brought it flooding forward, and I could almost smell the amazing Irish late summer air. Air smells different here. I miss Irish air.

Leaving never seemed like a decision, more like the seed of an idea that incrementally came to life. Even now, I regularly have vivid, agonising dreams that I am trying to decide whether to leave Ireland, or that I am saying goodbye to people. And most surreal of all, I wake up to realise that it is done and I am now living it as my daily life. And I am grateful for all of the opportunities – life is beautiful, though sometimes bittersweet.

Linn Vizard is 25, and a regular contributor to

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