Mixed emotions: Reluctant emigrants
SOCIAL MEDIA is of our generation and we’re happy to claim it. The internet allows us to believe we’re maintaining relationships with those back home, or, more often, those who have emigrated to different countries.
We “like” each other’s photos on Facebook, post videos of songs that remind us of each other, and talk on Skype if time differences permit . It doesn’t come close to sitting together for tea or a pint, but it’s the best we can manage.
It doesn’t feel like it on lonely days, but we are the lucky ones. We have more opportunity, more money, better weather. We’re developing careers and contribute to economies, just not in Ireland.
We patiently explain the difference between the Republic and Northern Ireland to new friends in host countries. They jest about Ireland’s economic situation and we laugh along with them because what else can we do?
The last 12 months have been a blur. I left a teaching job in Abu Dhabi to pursue a media career in the UK. I failed, ran out of money, gave up and started a career in recruitment. Needs must.
Six months later the call came – a journalism job back in Dubai. I’m off to the fifth city I’ve lived in in three countries since graduating from the University of Limerick in 2009. I’m excited, yet for some reason I’ve spent much of the last few days crying.
The uncertainty is overwhelming. We don’t talk about “when” we will go home any more, but “if”. We wonder whether we’ll get time off work to see our families at Christmas, and, if we do, will we be able to afford it?
Christmas is the one time of year we all make the effort to get home. The 25th is for family but St Stephen’s night is for friends. We’ll laugh about the old days, exchange details of our lives abroad, gossip about mutual friends and wonder about the future.
We’ll smile as we hug and say goodbye, but it gets harder every time and it is bittersweet.