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Making the decision to leave Ireland for the first time

Leaving Ireland to move abroad is a very personal decision. Throughout Ireland’s long history of emigration, people have left for many different reasons and not all those who left did so by choice.

It is important for you to make a well-informed decision, which starts with doing research using reputable sources. The Department of Foreign Affairs as well as government websites and Irish organisations in your chosen destination all provide in-depth information that can help you consider what is best for you. Reading through all of the available information and making a list of pros and cons can help you choose a destination that is the right fit.

In addition to any guides and official advice, there are a number of benefits and challenges to emigration that you should consider. To help you with this, we have put together a list of some of the benefits and challenges based on the various answers of 500 new Irish emigrants who told us about their emigration experiences.

* the following quotations are derived from the answers of those interviewed as part of our research Mind How You Go: Report on a survey of 500 Irish emigrants. While the experiences of other emigrants can offer useful insights when contemplating a move, please remember that your experience may differ.

Benefits

Relationships

Moving to a new country or city offers the chance to forge new friendships and connections. Whether it is connecting with fellow Irish diaspora abroad, colleagues, or people from various backgrounds, emigration allows you to expand your social circle and meet people you never would have encountered otherwise. New relationships are one of the greatest positives people say they have when they first emigrate.

Lifestyle

Emigration can provide the opportunity to explore new cultures, climates, and lifestyles. Many people who emigrate find the change in lifestyle one of the most enriching parts of the experience, with the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new way of living.

“New lifestyle, healthier focus, less stress, minimal commuting for work.”

Career Opportunities

Moving abroad can open up greater opportunities in your field of work, or explore a new field of work that might not be available in Ireland. It is also good for expanding your professional network and working in a different culture.

“I’m in a job I would never have got at home.”

Independence and Personal Growth

Living abroad can mean becoming more independent and broadening your horizons. Moving country requires stepping out of your comfort zone to create a whole new life abroad. Many Irish emigrants told us that they learned more about themselves and achieved personal growth through their experience of moving abroad.

“Growing up ten-fold, learning 20 times more about myself since I arrived than I would have at home”

Challenges

Homesickness

Homesickness can be a significant challenge for Irish people who move abroad. Whether you are a long or short flight away, important events such as birthdays, holidays, weddings, or funerals can evoke feelings of missing home or loved ones. Without family or friends around, homesickness and feelings of loneliness at times can be a common part of the emigration experience.

“Missing the things back home I took for granted and family. The fear of something happening to a loved one and the regret of not being there and missing out on their lives having been away.”

For resources on coping with homesickness, click here.

Difficulty Making Friends

While meeting new people can be a fulfilling part of moving to a new country, it is not always easy to do. Making new connections can often require a lot of effort on your part in the beginning, such as  joining clubs or attending social outings where you might not know anyone initially. On top of adjusting to a new city or culture, this can sometimes be harder than you might expect.

“Meeting friends outside the expat community has been difficult.”

Culture, Language, and Climate

Adjusting  to a new place with a different way of life, language, or even food can take time. Even in English-speaking countries, Irish emigrants can find the change in cultures and climates overwhelming at times. Consider these adjustments when choosing your destination. Researching the language, customs, and weather in your chosen destination can help you to choose the right place for you.

“Adapting to Australian culture and although we speak English, feeling very foreign.”

Employment Difficulties

Finding work that is relevant to your career, or getting a job at all, can be difficult. Different countries and cultures will have various customs when it comes to applying for jobs. Jobs in your chosen field may also take time to secure.

Racism

You might encounter racism, anti-Irish attitudes, or stereotypes while living abroad. This can be especially true for those of minority ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and may even happen within Irish communities abroad. Dealing with ignorance and prejudice whilst trying to establish yourself abroad can make settling in harder.

“Racist stereotypes, particularly in social settings.”

It is important to note that while some of the issues mentioned above cannot be avoided, these are just some things Irish emigrants have identified as things to consider when moving abroad. With proper preparation and research, you can hopefully identify a location, culture, and job that suits you best, and settle into your new home more easily.

To best prepare for moving abroad, see our complete guide on preparing before your journey.

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