A Kiwi in Ireland
When I landed in Dublin nine months ago I’d just expended my one-way ticket from New Zealand. I had a few hundred Euro in my wallet and my first three nights of hostel accommodation booked. The decision to leave New Zealand permanently had come very naturally to me. Having grown up as an expat kid in the jungles of South-East Asia, returning home had never felt just that – like returning home.
After finishing university amidst a variety of extended holidays and exchanges I knew I wanted to be somewhere else. Coming to Ireland, however, probably happened with a level of spontaneity most people wouldn’t normally act on. The whole thing – decision making, ticket booking, visa getting, job leaving, flat abandoning and plan boarding – all happened within less than three months. But as soon as the plane was circling above Dublin in clear blue skies (unusual) and I could see miles of green and hedgerowed fields I knew I was finally coming home.
I do not have any Irish ancestry so my nearest family where now a twenty hour flight away – or more. To satisfy my need to meet people and explore the country a little I booked a six day tour of Ireland. Over the course of the week I met some Dublin based expats and some fellow Australasians dotted over Europe. More importantly I found my first job.
By the end of my first week in Ireland I had landed a position as a hostel manager in Ireland’s paradise – Killarney, County Kerry. It might sound glamorous based on that sentence, but when duties ranged from cleaning bathrooms to late nights waiting up for people to check it perhaps it’s not. In Killarney I met my first round of the ‘what on earth are you doing in Ireland?’ questions. It might seem to Ireland that everyone is heading the other way, but the truth is that everyone wants something different. To the Irish, New Zealand appears to be a land of milky and honey, a gem hidden away in sweet isolation at the bottom of the world. To a New Zealander, a Kiwi, the British Isles are a hive of people buzzing through history and living life with fingers firmly on the metaphorical play button. For many Kiwis it’s where their grandparents, great grandparents, or further back pioneered to leave. There is a sense of going off to play with the big kids in Europe.
One thing you absolutely have to come to terms with in Ireland is that every day there is a chance of rain. Rain should not stop you doing anything. Probably the best skill I have picked up is being able to ignore it. If you’re going to hide in a bus shelter and wait for it to pass – you’ll be standing there a long time! This is probably why so much time can be spent in the local pub. Speaking of pubs, now is probably a good time to mention the Irish sense of humour, which can also leave a giant question mark hanging over your head. Known as ‘messing’ it can range from slightly black to devilish, cheeky, and charming. The Irish also put a lot of emphasis on the craic, the fun, news or gossip, everyone has a story to tell. My advice, mess back and you’ll be considered good craic.
I don’t see myself going back to New Zealand for the long term. Although I miss Christmas barbeques, the tranquility of the native bush, and a good mince pie, they are delights I can enjoy on holiday. For now, Ireland is for me. I reckon I’m here for a reason.
There For A Reason is the name of my blog site where I regularly post travel tips, photos, stories and more. You can also catch me around Twitter @ThereForAReason. I’d love to hear from you.