Thursday, 12 November 2015

Expat portrait: Marianne

Welcome to the first of my series of "Expat portraits" in which I tell the stories of foreigners who have made Ireland their home either for a few months, years or life.

Marianne is a 22 years old Canadian from Quebec, who lived in Ireland for 8 months when she was just 20. It doesn't seem like a long stay, but judging by her enthusiasm when she answered my long list of questions, it is clear that Ireland left a long lasting positive impression on the French literature student.

Marianne decided to take a break from her studies and travel. At first, she thought of going to Germany, but the language barrier was one of her worries. So instead, she chose Ireland, a country she always wanted to visit since she was a child. "There was something very poetic and appealing about it. The mythical green lands, the castles, the music, the cliffs, the history. The fact that there is a great heritage of Irish descent in Quebec also influenced my choice. A lot of our culture, our food and our heritage merged with the Irish people throughout the years, and I was curious to learn more about it".

After arriving by ferry from France, she felt a bit disorientated but thankfully, she went to the USIT office, which answered all her questions and suggested she went to a Couchsurfing meet-up, "an amazing way to make friends". This is where she made her first friends and eventually found an accommodation. Although she met many other expats, she also befriended Irish people and even had the chance to celebrate Christmas in an Irish family, something that she will never forget. Living in Dublin allowed her to meet people from all over the world, "All my life I loved to have friends from different circles, and Dublin was no different."

What she loved most about living in Dublin was being able to walk everywhere, and especially to the pub to meet up with some friends and enjoy live music. She was very surprised by the age of people going to the pub here. "In Quebec, the people going to the bars are extremely targeted and exclusive. In Ireland, you can have a nice conversation with an 80 years old Irish man and there is nothing weird about that". She was also amazed by the generosity and laid-back attitude of Irish people: " I had great conversations with taxi drivers, not very common here in Quebec. When my parents and my brother visited me, they were invited to a house party in Bray with my friend’s family, which is a great memory"

The hardest part of her Irish experience (apart from living in badly insulated houses) was learning how to become independent. It was the first time she lived away from her family, and had to adapt to different situations like living with other people and stand up for herself when it was needed: "Those were hard experiences sometimes, but life-changing decisions".

During her stay in Dublin, she worked for a Canadian translation agency, which allowed her to travel around, but despite her efforts and willingness, she didn't find a job in Dublin. The highlight of her Irish experience is the friends she made for life and she has absolutely no regrets.

"When I left, I felt that it was the right moment. I wanted to leave while my memory of Ireland was still amazing".

If you want to take part and share your experience of living in Ireland, do not hesitate to get in touch via e-mail or Facebook .