My Big Move to the Emerald Isle

By: Yolène Dabreteau - Also see author's expat blog listing

Hi, I am a French expat who moved to Dublin, Ireland, eight years ago (and did a little detour of three years via Australia).
A bit more than eight years ago, I decided I wanted to live abroad as I never felt really at home in my own country. My country of choice was automatically Ireland. I had already visited it and had fallen in love with how welcoming it was.

I will always remember the day I left France. I took a ferry from Roscoff in Brittany that would go to Rosslare in the South-East of Ireland (an overnight trip). I was carrying two heavy suitcases with me, I already knew I would not be back for a while. I remember my mother’s tears and me trying to be brave by not crying and telling her that she should not cry because I will be happy. It is at that moment usually that you realise that living abroad is not going to be different only for you.

I remember the bus trip to Dublin and the drive through the country that would soon be my home. I also remember knocking on the door of my first house here and being welcomed by an Irish housemate. I remember he helped me carry my suitcases in and immediately took me to the pub to have a pint with the rest of the housemates.
Having browsed the internet before my departure, I had managed to organise accommodation in a shared house. I had asked a few people about it beforehand so I knew where to look, and I was told about the nice areas where to live in Dublin (we all either have family, friends or friends of friends who live or have lived there. And they always give useful tips on the lifestyle and where to go for important things: administration, getting work social numbers sorted, etc.; I have done so myself with many young French expats who asked me questions via emails).
In a country like Ireland, I would never hesitate to ask for directions or information anywhere I go. Irish people are quite friendly in that way and will always help you (if they have not already come towards you to ask if you need any help, and personally guided you where you wanted to go).

One thing I would highly recommend to anyone moving to a new country is to get out of your comfort zone. Just do it!
It does sound a bit scary at first, but if you want to integrate well it is very important. The choice I made upon arrival was to live with Irish people, work with them and discover their country with them. It helps on many levels.
Firstly, it is a good thing for the language. I came in this country with a degree in English but quickly realised that the accent was much different from the one I studied in university. I made people repeat what they were saying a lot, but eventually within a couple of weeks, I could understand people well. When you move to a country where the language is different than yours, a few things are also useful: conversation classes, reading (books, newspapers articles) without a dictionary (I know it sounds hard but eventually you make sense of the words by yourself), watching movies (at first with the subtitles in your own language, then in English, and finally without because you understand everything!).
Secondly, it will help you feel more at home if you know what the country has been through: its history, its culture, its economy, its traditions, etc.
Finally, you will make great friends, and make settling in an easy thing for yourself. You might even meet someone very important in your life (like I did, my second falling in love with Ireland).
I am not saying you should leave your own community behind but what a better way to integrate! And when you look around, you will see that you are not alone, there are so many expats in Ireland!

Something I only did when I returned from Australia is registering with my embassy. It makes it much easier when papers such as passports or identity cards are lost or stolen. I only thought of it because I had to renew my passport but I would recommend you do it as soon as you arrive.

If you like sports, I know it is easy to find groups of people who like to casually play games together. I recently played baseball with a group of expat Americans and Irish people. You either know someone who will tell you where to go or it is easy to find information on search engines on the internet.

I know that moving abroad is a difficult thing at first because you are away from your family and friends.
I could tell you about some tearful Christmases I have spent here and in Australia. But I could also tell you about the joyous ones I had, about all the people that made me feel like family at those times (I can add here birthdays and any important celebration). I am so thankful to all those that made me part of their celebrations.

I could also tell you that having lived in Australia three years, only one member of my family visited me there (and this three-week visit is one of the best memories I brought back from Down Under). But I could also tell you about the countless times we chatted online with my family and friends thanks to all the available video chat software you can find which make you feel like you are in the same room as your loved ones for a few minutes (or hours sometimes).

And being a foodie, I could tell you about munching on a pain au chocolat or savouring a macaron with great nostalgia. But I could also tell you about opening up to an entire world of food wonders abroad. And let me tell you that Ireland has many offerings in matter of gastronomy. As a French person who really insists on fresh and beautiful food, I always find delicious things everywhere I go. I am actually in awe with the way things have changed since my return from the other side of the world. And I feel that with all the choice on offer, you could arrive here from anywhere in the world and find something that will remind you of your home country.

So don’t forget: you may be living far from your home country, you may be missing your family and friends, but you are not alone! There are many of us in this situation and it only takes a few clicks to reach out to other expats for information, advice and sometimes friendship.

About the author:

I am a French freelance photographer and food lover. I moved to Ireland eight years ago, made a little detour of three years in Australia, but I am back for good in this beautiful country. I am currently writing a food blog and working as a photographer.
Blog address: http://www.cremedecitron.com Twitter: @CremedeCitron
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Contest Comments » There are 14 comments

Laoise wrote 8 years ago:

Bonjour Yolène! Really enjoyed reading this. You are 100 per cent right that it's so important to integrate. It can be oh to easy to stay with what you know. Great tips to for future expats :-)

Alain wrote 8 years ago:

Bravo c'est admirablement bien écrit ,je suis persuadé que cela peut aider beaucoup de jeunes qui font le choix de partir vivre à l'étranger .c'est important et cela peut être d'un grand soutien (Editors 'very rough' translation: Bravo it's beautifully well written, I am confident that this can help a lot of young people who make the choice to go live abroad . it is important and this can be a great support)

Ketty wrote 8 years ago:

Great post! I also moved to Ireland years ago and totally agree with what Yolene wrote! Very useful for anyone moving to the beautiful Eire!

Francois V wrote 8 years ago:

Very good article. This "first day in Ireland" reminds me some personal first days in other places : strange feeling that the memory of these first instants are very fresh, compared to the following days, maybe more usual days...

Sanna Griffin wrote 8 years ago:

Yolene, love your post! You enthusiasm and passion for things you do is amazing. xx

Carol wrote 8 years ago:

Beautifully written Yolene. Very moving & most importantly, honest, I'm sure there are many people who will identify with the emotions & experiences.

Andrew wrote 8 years ago:

Great piece Yolene, I get the sense that your commitment to enjoying beautiful food from a vast array of cultures is a celebration of your time abroad. You and Eoin are most definitely citizens of the world with global palettes.

Carla Gallagher wrote 8 years ago:

Bravo! Integration is the best.

Sebastien GRONDIN wrote 8 years ago:

Hey Yolene. Intéressant de lire tes quelques lignes sur ton premier voyage pour l'Irlande! Ça me fait bizarre parce que je me souviens du mien; et dans le mien, tu en fais partie! Je me souviens de prendre l'avion à nantes, l'un des premiers vols ryanair Nantes-Dublin a l'ouverture de la ligne; je partais pour quelques mois seulement et je ne savais pas à quoi m'attendre... ni a qui m'attendre! Et la en montant dans l'avion, je t'ai reconnu du lycée notre dame; on se connaissait pas vraiment en fait; on a discuté; tu m'as raconté que ça faisait déjà plusieurs années que tu y habitais etc .... Bref. C'est un souvenir très vif pour moi. C'était mon grand départ; et la coïncidence de te croiser dans cet avion m'a mis en confiance.... En fait, je partais loin .. mais c'était pas si loin puisqu'on pouvait y croiser des gens de challans!!! bref, en un mot MERCI !!!! :-) (EDITOR - Translated: Hey Yolande. Interesting to read your few lines on your first trip to Ireland. It feels odd to me because I remember mine; and on mine, you were there! I remember taking the plane in Nantes, one of the first Ryanair Nantes-Dublin flights when the route opened; I was leaving for just a few months and I didn’t know what … or whom to expect. And on boarding the plane, I recognized you from Lycée Notre Dame [name of school]; in fact we didn’t really know each other; we talked; you told me you had already been living there for several years, etc. … To cut a long story short: it’s a very vivid memory for me. It was my big departure and the coincidence of bumping into you in that plane gave me confidence. I was indeed going a long way away…but it wasn’t so far because you could bump into people from Challans!!! In a nutshell, in a word THANK YOU!!!! )

Pierre wrote 8 years ago:

Hello ! You know how too tell your story perfectly including a lot of emotion ! Great job ! Kisses from here !! ;-)

Louis wrote 8 years ago:

Hello,I love your post, it's a very nice page you have there. Good luck yolene

Marie-Christine wrote 8 years ago:

I really enjoyed reading your article Yolène!; I spent 2 years abroad myself a long, long time ago and I still think it was one of the best experiences in my life. Best wishes to you!

Niamh wrote 8 years ago:

Really moving and honest Yolene - life is all about experiences - non?! xx

Pauline Caron wrote 8 years ago:

I lived abroad a few years ago, and you've written exactly how I felt! It's change a life, but how good it is ! thank you so much to make me remember those good memories!

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