Polish Expat In Ireland - Expat Interview With Agnieszka
|Published:||3 Nov at 11 AM|
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Here's the interview with Agnieszka...
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Bydgoszcz, Poland, but I left my hometown almost ten years ago, first to study in Warsaw and then to start my expat adventure in 3 different countries.
In which country and city are you living now?
I just moved to Galway, Ireland, after spending 2 years as an expat in Barcelona, Spain.
How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved a month ago, so I am a newbie expat in Ireland. I try not to plan anything as life has its funny way to mess with my plans. In the last 3 years, I’ve changed countries 4 times already (Poland-Romania-Spain-Ireland), but I guess being in a relationship with a foreigner gives you a thrill but not a stability. Not that I complain, I love new adventures, and living abroad can be one of the best adventures, but it’s better not to plan, as who knows what the future will bring?
Why did you move and what do you do?
Every time I moved, I did it for the same reason, to be with my boyfriend. But as we are from different countries, we had to risk a lot to start our life together. We had to move few times because of his work, but I’ve never regretted leaving Poland. And I always loved travelling and had secretly dreamt about living abroad for few years, I just needed a small push to get the courage. Every time I moved, I had to leave my job. Luckily as I speak few languages I never had any problems getting a new one in some multinational companies.
Did you bring family with you?
No. As it was my boyfriend who got a job offer in Ireland, he was the reason why I moved to Galway. It means that he kind of brought me with him.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The first weeks or months are always difficult. You miss your family, friends, your favourite bar or grocery store. You always need time to adjust, to meet new people, start calling a new place your home, deal with paperwork. And since I moved without having a job, it was quite a stressful experience as I am not really stay-at-home type. Fortunately, it only took me 2 weeks to find one, so no I can focus on exploring what Galway and Ireland have to offer.
This time, I was lucky as I already had some friends living in Galway. Talk about coincidence! My very good friend whom I met in Romania as she was another Polish girl writing a blog about her experiences as expat in Bucharest, moved to Ireland 3 weeks before me. And a friend with whom I worked for almost 2 years in Barcelona had an Irish boyfriend and decided to move back to Galway, where he is originally from. Also moving to a country when you speak a language, makes a lot of things easier.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
As I just moved to Ireland, I haven’t made a lot of new friends yet. But in Barcelona, where I lived for 2 years, my friends divided into 3 groups, local, Polish expats and expats from other countries. As expats, we leave our friends in other countries, we have to make the effort to meet new people and start new friendships. It is not always easy, it often takes time, but it is necessary. Barcelona is very attractive city for many expats who decide to come here and stay for many years. It is only natural to meet and socialize with expats (especially those from your country), who share the same experiences. But I think it is thanks to local people that you can get to know real Barcelona.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Galway is a lovely and vibrant towns with a lot of cozy pubs (you can’t talk about Irish culture and not mention the pubs) where you can sit for hours drinking Guinness and trying local food. There are a lot of places you can visit around, like Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Connemara. You visit Ireland for the nature and it is really breathtaking. And I am all for discovering a new country through its cuisine, so try some local specialties, like Irish stew, oysters, fish and chips, chowder…
What do you enjoy most about living here?
How friendly people are. I also love discovering new places, and since I didn’t travel to Ireland before moving here, I have a lot to explore.
How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is more expensive than in Poland, especially in my hometown. But after living in Barcelona, I thing that the costs of living are pretty much the same- same things are cheaper (like the rent), some more expensive (eating out). But you earn more and when living in smaller town, you don’t go out that much so you can save more.
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Well, the weather could be nicer, but as they say: you don’t go (in my case: live) to Ireland for the weather. The other thing is that the airport is a bit far from Galway, I need to take a 3 hours bus ride to the airport in Dublin.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Buy a good rain jacket! And be prepared that things will be different, so you shouldn’t compare with what you know.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Be far from my family and not able to be with them for Christmas during my first year in Barcelona. I mean, thanks to Skype, Facebook and email it is quite easy to stay in touch with your closest friends and family, but you still miss a lot when it comes to big life events.
When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
At the moment I’m not considering coming back home, if I was to return to Poland, I would move to Warsaw as we have a lot of friends there.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- do your research, being spontaneous is great, but you have to know what to expect, check some expat blogs, read the forums, see the websites with job offers so you are prepared
- learn the local language, in Spain it will really help you with all the complicated paperwork and day-to-day activities. Meeting Spaniards and getting out of your expat bubble will also only be possible when you do speak the language.
-be open to new experiences, try local food, go to local festivals, make friends with locals
- be prepared that you will have bad days when you miss your family, you fight with your flat mate or don’t understand the word of what your neighbor said
- appreciate the differences with a smile
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
At the very beginning my blog was a way for my friends and family to keep in touch with me and read about my expat adventures, travels and cultural experiences. With time more and more people started reading and commenting on my posts and asking about living in Barcelona. I always liked writing, taking photos and travelling, so starting a blog just seemed a fun thing to do. As I have 9-5 job, it is great to do something creative at home. Now I can’t imagine not writing a new post at least once a week and many times I find myself thinking: “I need to write about this on my blog”. My boyfriend Nuno laughs that we wouldn’t do half of the things we do if it wasn’t for the blog.
How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be easily contacted by email or through my facebook page and I am always happy to answer all the questions you may have.
Agnieszka has her expat blog called Aga Nuno Somewhere http://www.aganunosomewhere.com/ which is very worthy of a visit and has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here which would love a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! She can be found on Twitter @AgaNunoBlog and on her Facebook profile. If you liked this interview with Agnieszka, please also drop her a quick note below.
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Comments » There are 2 comments
Good to see that you are gaining more and more popularity! What next? Maybe some survival guidebook for future expats?!
maybe, who knows :) I do have the experience for changing countries 4 times in 3 years :)