An Emigrants Experience: Prelude to an Adventure

Listening to the news on Newstalk on the morning I left the country, not knowing when I was to return, I had to laugh as I heard the minister for finance, Brian Lenihan, talk of how pleased he was that the numbers of people signing on the live register had decreased in the month of October. A net rate of jobs weren’t being created, people were deciding to emigrate! I am one of them.

I chose to go to Sydney. On a short term, superficial basis it was an obvious choice with Summer arriving there and the prospect of barbeques, a beach life and festivals all very appealing in the warm weather. More substantial reasons existed as I have family and friends over there, English is the spoken language and the economy has not entered recession. This does not mean that everyone will be lucky enough to get a job of course. Of the 22,000 Irish people who went to Australia last year many found it difficult and were unable to secure work having to return home. However, once you begin to look for jobs on line in Australia you will be struck by something immediately – there are jobs.  

Once you have made the difficult decision to emigrate you will have to take care of the administrative work that comes with it. Much of this is not as difficult as you would think. The standard work and travel (417) visa for Australia, for instance, can be completed on line and takes a week to process at a cost of €160. Your one way flight will then cost between €600- €800 depending on whether or not you want to stop off somewhere along the way. After that it’s a case of sorting insurance, CV (or resume as it’s known in the new world), drivers licence and many other bits of bureaucracy that I’ve probably forgotten to do. Once that is out of the way it’s time to say your good byes.

The CSO reports that from January – April of this year over 65,000 people emigrated from Ireland. Many of these were foreign nationals returning home, but around 20,000 were Irish. Much like the generation before us many Irish people are looking abroad for hope and opportunity. Deciding to emigrate is still tough though, as it is not easy leaving your family or social and professional foundations that you have established over the years and that you will have to rebuild afresh in your new home. However, once you have booked your flights and announced your plans, you enter a surreal couple of months of preparing to leave. This prelude to your adventure is full of good bye parties and lunches, farewell visits to older relatives who may not be around whenever you return and many deep and meaningful conversations about life with those closest to you. These are to be savoured as the memories of the last times you spend with your family and friends will endure throughout your time away. 

I also found myself having the same conversation repeatedly about where I was going and why. This is perfectly natural but I ended up talking so frequently about my plans that come the date of departure I was eager to get on the road, or in the air as it were. As enthusiastic as I was to get going it was excruciatingly difficult to say good bye to mum at the airport and I apprehensively started to wonder then if I was making the right decision. I imagine this is normal though and my apprehension gradually gave way to excitement as I contemplated all the adventures that lay in store. It was with these mixed emotions conflicting inside of me, as the airplane took off into the overcast autumnal sky, that I said slán to my native land. Good bye Ireland, hello new life.


Photo Credit: Luan McKenna