“I went to Ireland after visiting some old colleagues of my stepdad’s. They were all very welcoming and invited me for the future. In 1985 it happened, my English skills were so bad that I would not have passed my German A-levels. So we decided that I should come here for a year, to work on my English and see some of the world – but I never returned to Germany.
I was very naïve upon arrival. Dublin was the big city that had everything my little hometown didn’t have, cool people who spoke English, a great music scene in a small circle, and everybody knew everybody. There weren’t too many foreign Au-Pairs, therefore our group was known all over the place.
We all met at the English School and made friends with people we would otherwise never have met, from very different academic and social backgrounds. Often those were partnerships of convenience, but over time and shared experiences they grew into friendships for life.
About 15 years ago, I specialised in importing Brezels and offering German-style catering. Therefore I’m adding German food to Irish culture. I cater for some German institutions: the Goethe-Institute, the embassy, the German school, the Lutheran church – they can all offer German events with German food now. It is rather rustic, but the Irish guests seem to like it.
Ireland is my home. I’ve lived here for longer than I’ve ever lived in Krefeld. I‘ve raised my child here. But my roots are in Germany. My parents and my brother are there, same as many friends. I visit them all several times a year.
I only miss certain things about Germany, such as good craftspeople. There, they come when they said they would, and know how to do their job right. Irish people don’t have the same work ethics.
I don’t feel like a migrant at all. I’ve been here for more than 30 years. It is my home. However, unfortunately, it is easy to hear that I am a foreigner. I still sound like I’ve just hopped off a boat, because I cannot get rid of my accent.
If I want to go back? Hard to tell. I am 50 odd years old and sometimes worry about my pension provision. When you’re younger, you never think about it, but now stories about poverty among the elderly stick with me for longer and I wonder if I’ll be better off in Ireland than in Germany, or vice versa.”
This is a story by Christine Strotmann.