South African Expat Living in Ireland - Interview with AJ aka Vossie

Published: 23 May at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Ireland
They arrived in Ireland on a very cold, blustery day in Jan 2001. The sleet froze their brains; some say his never thawed. They came for five years but remained. The roots are now too deep to return home yet he still feels like an expat.

As outdoor folk coming from the warmer South African climate it took time to adjust. Life goes on, they learned that if you wait for the weather to clear you may stay indoors for most of your life so, dress warmly and take the umbrella for a walk. Simple.

There is much to see and do in the greater Dublin area and the camera goes all over, as can be witnessed over at the blog. AJ hopes you enjoy your visit, do feel free to comment and visit again. Thank you. (Attempted to be truthful, not negative!) AJ aka Vossie's expat blog is called Ouch!! My back hurts!! (see listing here)

The famine ship replica Jeanie Johnson moored along Custom House Quay on Dublin's River Liffey
The famine ship replica Jeanie Johnson moored along Custom House Quay on Dublin's River Liffey

Here's the interview with AJ aka Vossie...


Where are you originally from?
Coastal South Africa

In which country and city are you living now?
Ireland, living in Co Kildare near Dublin

How long have you lived in Ireland and how long are you planning to stay?
More than 15 years and will most likely remain indefinitely. (I may occasionally work away from Ireland but the family will stay.)

Poolbeg Lighthouse - a stroll along the Great South Wall is a must
Poolbeg Lighthouse - a stroll along the Great South Wall is a must
Why did you move to Ireland and what do you do?
Opportunity knocked - offered work in the microprocessor industry. Mechanical engineering, project management and related FM & HVAC roles.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes, the family are mostly all here so that's caused the roots to grow.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Easy (same language, similar customs) in many ways but never quite as easy as you'd like to think. From outdoor to indoor lifestyles... from warm to cool. Sometimes that analogy can go for the people as well.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Not too easy apart from superficial meetings. I mostly socialise with family or keep to myself. It's a very pub social society and I don't do pubs that often.

Barges rafted in the Royal Canal's Kilcock Harbour - Co Kildare, Ireland
Barges rafted in the Royal Canal's Kilcock Harbour - Co Kildare, Ireland
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Explore Dublin and surrounds and the less touristy places. Phoenix Park, the Royal Canal, a few cliff walks like Howth or Bray to Greystones. Walk the streets armed with your camera. Observe. Do things... don't wait for the weather!

What do you enjoy most about living in Ireland?
FREEDOM!!

Low crime, mostly peaceful living! I still marvel at the fact that single young ladies walk along often deserted country lanes... without as much as a dog for protection!

How does the cost of living in Ireland compare to home?
Too long ago to have relevance.

The long green path! Freedom is not just another word!
The long green path! Freedom is not just another word!
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Ireland?
Weather!
High cost and lack of availability of rental property.
High costs of supposidly free education.
Health system, transport infrastructure that is still trying to catch up with first world standards.
Indoor lifestyle.
The distrust of foreigners is still something one comes across at work and in social interaction. (Because I'm blond and sound different I've been mistaken for an Eastern European non EU citizen - they're apparently not too popular here!)

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Ireland, what would it be?
Get on with your life, don't be too fussed if you meet resistance from the locals. Rightfully or wrongfully, they don't always want to share their lives with you. (Remember your children may battle with acceptance issues so cater for their needs!)

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Competing in the job market on equal terms!
I believe there are many layers of discrimination that can run deep. Often the slightest excuse can exclude you from the application process and I feel that age has definitely been a disadvantage in my case. Every single job I have had in this country has been because of me knowing someone. I believe there are times my CV lands at the bottom of the pile because I'm a "blow-in!"

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
We most likely won't return to SA but rather move to a sunnier, Southern European country for retirement.

The iconic Samuel Beckett Bridge backlit by the full moon and the Convention Centre
The iconic Samuel Beckett Bridge backlit by the full moon and the Convention Centre
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Don't worry about the weather - dress appropriately and get out of the house. After all... live life to the fullest because you can't do anything about the weather!!
  2. Don't be too disappointed if at first you feel you're not forming meaningful relationships with locals.
  3. Be prepared to forge your own path - sometimes it's better for your own peace of mind if you just simply keep going at your own pace.
  4. Go exploring - there's much to see and enjoy, even in the rain or occasional snow.
  5. Don't get caught up in the pub culture... that's not the only place you're going to make new friends or learn to adapt to the local environment.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
A personal diary of sorts. I've been blogging daily for longer than five years and enjoy bringing a smile to the faces of others, wherever they may be.

The outdoors and photography features heavily - I'm a total amateur at snapping images but I love it. My blog mostly reflects positively on life in the Greater Dublin and Leinster area.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via the blog. There is an email address available

About the author

Expat Blog ListingAJ aka Vossie is a South African expat living in Ireland. Blog description: Life according to one of life's truly gifted naturally born wafflers ...an open diary of a Saffer in a different land... life in the greater Dublin & Leinster area.
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