‘In Dublin we can walk very late at night. In Brazil that’s not possible’

New to the Parish: Heloisa Generoso arrived from Brazil in 2012

Brazilian Heloisa Generoso: “I could stay very happily here, my life is in Ireland now.” Photograph: Alan Betson

When Heloisa Generoso visited the United States in 2009 she knew it was time for a change. She was living at home with her parents in Sao Paulo and had never left Brazil before. One month staying with a friend in Los Angeles introduced her to a completely new world.

“My friend had been in LA about nine years so I went there over Christmas and new year. I had never been abroad before and it was my first trip by plane. When I saw that place I realised I wanted to go somewhere and learn English. I did all things I never dreamed possible while I was in the US. I made a plan to spend whatever I wanted because I didn’t know when I’d be able to go back. After that I decided I needed to live somewhere else.”

Generoso was working in human resources when she began investigating moving abroad. Initially, she hoped to move to the US but quickly discovered how difficult it was for Brazilians to secure a visa. She then visited an agency who suggested she take an English course in Ireland.

“I knew nothing about Dublin, I had to ask where Ireland was. The agent called me up and gave me some advice about the country and I thought okay, I’ll go and give it my best.”


Her parents, who had never travelled abroad, were shocked by their daughter’s decision to move so far away but she reassured them that she was only planning to spend one year in Ireland.

Sharing a room

Generoso arrived in Dublin in June 2012 and spent the first few weeks in a hostel near Sheriff Street. She then moved into a house in Dublin 8 where she lived with Brazilian, Korean and French students and shared a room with three other people.

“For the first time in my life I was sharing a room. It wasn’t too bad but it can be difficult when people are making noise. We learned too much about each other really sharing that room.” Generoso then moved into a friend’s home where she shared a room again. However, this time the room only had one bed. “We were three girls in that room for one month with just one double bed between us. I slept on the floor and the girls shared the bed. But I wanted to live in a house. I wanted to be responsible and was sick of sharing.”

Meanwhile, Generoso was taking English classes while working as a nail technician. "I had worked in a salon for six months before leaving Brazil and when I was at the hostel I realised I needed to make money so I posted on my Facebook about being a nail technician and doing waxing as well. So I started out by going to people's homes to do their nails and waxing."

She also worked as a childminder and a cleaner in people’s homes. She loved working with children and was happy to take over a job caring for two small children after her flatmate decided to leave the family. “She had been working there for a few months but decided she didn’t want to work with kids anymore. I loved childminding and I’ve always loved babies. I don’t want to have my own babies but I can mind a baby on my knee for a few hours and love that. But I don’t want children, that’s not my dream. My dream was getting married.”

Three years after she arrived in Ireland, Generoso’s dream came true. In February 2015 she was introduced to an Irish journalist after her English language school closed down without refunding her fees. An Argentinian friend suggested she share her negative experiences with the press – her previous English language school had also closed down a few months earlier – and told her to contact a man called Ian. Within three months the couple had moved in together and the following November they were married in a registry office in Dublin. “Everybody said oh my god that’s fast, but I said no, why do we need to wait years? Sometimes relationships take longer for people but for us, no.”


The two children Generoso looked after played an important role in the wedding and carried the rings up the aisle. “I call them my Irish kids and they come to my new house now on Saturdays for dinner. I always visit them at Christmas, Halloween and on their birthdays. It was so nice to have them in the wedding, they’re very important to me.”

With a new husband and shortly after, a new house, it was clear to Generoso’s parents that their daughter had decided to settle in Ireland. “They were shocked of course. I had said I would come over here for one year but then decided to stay another year to learn more English. After the second year my parents asked are you coming back and I said one more year. Then I met my husband and my dad asked, so now you’re not coming back anymore? And I said no, I’m not.”

“Of course my parents are important to me but sometimes we need to be selfish and think of ourselves. I keep thinking about how far away my mum and dad are but my brother is over there and I need to carry on with my life here.”

Generoso now works as the Dublin coordinator for the Brazilian Unigran online university and lives in Rathmines with her husband. After five years in the country, she feels very settled in her Irish home. "Now I even like the weather. I don't like the rain but I like the rest. We can walk everywhere in Dublin and not be afraid. Not in the city centre of course at certain times but we can walk very late at night. In Brazil that's not possible.

“Of course I miss some of the food from home and my parents but if they weren’t there I wouldn’t miss anything. I could stay very happily here, my life is in Ireland now. I keep telling my parents that and I think they finally understand.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast