Photo credit: IOM/C.DURKIN
"I have been living in Brussels, for the last year and a half, where I work as a consultant.
The thing I miss most about Ireland is the sense of familiarity and comfort, because when you are doing the same thing for your whole adult life, things become quite normal and you have a set comfort zone and you have an idea about what’s going to happen in your life.
I lost my support structure when I moved, I didn’t know anyone, I was starting a new job and I wasn’t used to the culture. The sense that everything was new to me was daunting. When I left my house in Brussels I literally had no idea what was going to be at the end of the street because I had a whole new map to familiarize myself with. It was a challenge breaking away from that comfort zone.
After some time in Brussels I learnt to appreciate how things were done differently; just because something is done differently in another country it doesn’t mean that it’s done worse. This realisation helped me to evaluate things in Irish culture which are good or bad by seeing how it’s done differently.
When I first arrived in Brussels my command of French was not that good, I never had the confidence to speak French openly and clearly. That was in itself one of the big trials of trying to navigate the most basic day to day things without having the means to properly express myself. For example, I would get on a bus and ask the driver which direction he was going and straight away I would stand out as someone who doesn’t know the language and doesn’t fit in. The one thing I learned in those situations was that when you make a mistake you never make it again."