13th Anniversary: My arrival to Ireland

Good Morning All,

This morning’s post is coming to you from Manchester. We are here for a short weekend break to watch the Manchester United play West Ham on Sunday. How Exciting.

***

This day 13 years ago I boarded a plane with a one way ticket from Warsaw in Poland to the unknown. I was 14 years old, scared of what’s to come and upset with my mam for taking me away from my friends. My journey to Ireland was also my first time ever to travel by plane which added to the stress of the situation.

I had many thoughts going through my head – Will I like it? How will I cope with the language barrier? Will I make friends? Are “they” really all red haired?

The first sight that reached my eyes after walking into the Arrivals Terminal in Dublin Airport was a family of 5, all red heads, all dressed in pink head-to-toe. I am not kidding. My instant thought was “What did I get myself into?!”

On our bus ride from the Airport to Naas, Co. Kildare where my new “home” was all I could see is grass. Lots of it. Everywhere. Panic has stuck me. From living in KrakΓ³w to living in Naas, it’s like asking someone to move from New York to Dublin. There is a vast difference. I panicked because I was used to having things to do with my friends, be that council organised activities or things just happening in the city in general. Our city was alive – on the other hand there was nothing happening in Naas. The “thing to do” was sitting outside local Spar Shop “scabbing” cigarettes of people and playing music from your mobile phone out loud. Score.

I couldn’t get a place in local school until late October, so I spent my days watching soaps alone at home whilst everyone else was at work. Funnily enough that’s how I got my language basics in. Don’t get me wrong – we do learn English in Poland however it’s like you learning Irish. You never think that once you actually leave the classroom you will be needing it. How wrong was I.

Fast Forward couple of years, I got into college. For FREE! Can you believe it? I completed both my Junior & Leaving Certificates in Ireland and college seemed like the logical next step. I got accepted into all of my first 3 choices from my CAO form (yay me). I decided to study International Hospitality Management in DIT on Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin. My train of thought behind it was: I study hotel business, I get a job with Failte Ireland to rate hotels all over the world and my life will be spend on staying in luxurious hotels with best service for free! How wrong was I – again. I like staying in hotels; not working in them.

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Our Thesis deadline was just around the corner, when a man from New York flew to Ireland to recruit 6 people from the whole COUNTRY to work for him in the hotel he managed in Manhattan. I was one of them. Yes, I’ve done something right. This was the best year of my life, living the dream in the big Apple – city that never sleeps and possibilities are endless. Pity that didn’t apply to expiration date on my visa. I returned to Ireland in August 2013 and met Warren – now my husband, in November of that year. Strangely I felt more at home in New York after one year, than I do here after 13 years.

***

It’s crazy to think where I’d be if my life didn’t turn out the way it did. Would I stay in New York forever? If my visa allowed it, I’d say so. I wasn’t built to live in a small town, I believe my heart is one of a cosmopolitan gal.

Looking back on my experience in this country, I had a lot of heartache by being foreign (In 2004 there weren’t many foreign people here, so I guess it took sometime for people to adjust) by being different. When you’re growing up it’s not “cool” to be different. I have also been exposed to many possibilities such as attending college for free, which I’m not sure I’d have the opportunity to do in Poland. I’ve made many friends from different backgrounds, cultures and of course I am now married to an amazing Irish man.

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Living away from your home country brings many heartaches too, as you miss out on family time, watching your nieces/nephews growing up, people leave this world without you having a chance to say goodbye. Poland will forever be my home, and that’s the only nationality I will truly associate myself with.

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Ireland will always have a special place in my heart, but do I seen myself here forever? Definitely not, this heart ain’t done wandering….

Joanna x

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