When Maria first landed in Ireland on a six month placement to practice her English, she had no idea at the time that she would eventually find herself ‘practising’ her English everyday whilst working at Practice PR and living in County Wexford full time. Read her story here.
1. Where are you from originally?
I’m from a town called Viveiro, in Galicia, the rainy North West of the Iberian Peninsula.
The legend says that one of the Galician chieftains had a son and he was the one who discovered Ireland.
2. Where do you live now?
I live in Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland. A nice and friendly spot, close to the beach and close enough to the big smoke of Dublin. They call it the Sunny South East but it is all relative: I’ve come to realise maybe Galicia was not as rainy after all!
3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way? Did you move for work or for lifestyle?
I moved to Ireland with two friends after I finished college in 2001. I first lived in Dublin and I loved it. It was hard in the beginning – maybe arriving in November wasn’t the best idea… but I have great memories of that time. I was only meant to stay for six months so I went home for good that summer. Six months later I was back in Dublin.
When I got back, one of my college friends got a job in an archaeological site – this was the boom and roads and bypasses were being built- so she helped me get a job with her. Archaeology work took me to Kildare, Sligo, Cork, Meath, Waterford, Wicklow, Westmeath and Wexford… The reason I stayed in Gorey was definitely work, I first arrived with archaeology work but then I managed to ‘break free’ from the Archaeology life and got a job as a PR executive with Jillian Godsil, who ran a PR company locally. That was 2006.
4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?
I rent a house in town, which is handy to walk to the shops and for public transport if you want to head up to Dublin for the day and leave the car at home. Gorey is quite well communicated by train and bus.
I still have a soft spot for Cork, though. If I could choose a place to live I might choose Cork or maybe Galway…but I’m happy in Gorey also. I wouldn’t mind living in a city again.
I love Saturdays in Gorey and going to the farmers market…
5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?
The reason I came to Ireland was to practice English so I did have to speak a different language. My mother tongue is Galego but I also speak Spanish. Learning a language is a long process and it requires time, work and patience. That’s key. You have to soak as much of that language as you can, every day. After a few years living in a country and getting involved in its life, if you are in the right frame of mind… then it comes naturally.
My partner is English and we have been together for nine years so that has helped with the language, personally.
I don’t understand expats who want to live in their own bubble abroad. If your aim is to learn a language that is the worst thing you can do. I think most frustrations among expats come from not understanding their new environment, not getting involved and understanding local culture and way of life. It all comes down to ignorance, in the end.
6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?
I work as a PR consultant and journalist with Practice PR, who is run by Jillian Godsil. The office is based in Shillelagh, County Wicklow, which is an unlikely location for a PR company but there you go… the only PR company in the village! The clients are mainly Irish companies.
7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?
No online working for me! Unless it is snowing like last year and you are stuck at home for three weeks I used to write a bit for a Galician news portal but unfortunately, that’s now gone.
8. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?
All in euros
9. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move? How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are their good future career opportunities within your new country?
No kids, yet anyway
10. Did you bring any pets with you? Or leave any behind? How did this work
11. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?
It is difficult to say because I left Galicia as soon as I finished college. I never got to work there so never experienced life as a proper adult there. I only did some work experience. But I’d like to think life only gets better, what’s the point of thinking your life was better before? Only upwards and onwards it is!
12. What are the best things about living in your new country? Has the move been good for the whole family?
After 10 years I don’t feel Ireland is my ‘new country’, I suppose I feel a bit Irish by now. It might sound like a cliché but the relaxed attitude and general friendly character is one of the things I like the best about living in Ireland – more in the country than in the city I should add! I miss it when I travel abroad. In general, the Irish have been very welcoming and things are done with a smile. I like that and try to do it myself.
13. What are the most challenging things about moving to and living in your
The most challenging thing was the language and finding work in my field, especially coming from a background where language is your main tool for work. Finding a job in my field took me years but eventually, it did happen.
14. Are you here for good? If so, why? If no , why not?
It is complicated, the million dollar question.
Like a good Galician (they say we never respond with yes or no) my answer is: maybe.
At the moment, I’m working on a project with a friend, called Artcore, focused on Arts and Crafts, so I expect I’ll be sticking around for a while yet…
I do get homesick sometimes though so I would love to have a job where I can split time between Ireland and Galicia, that would be perfect!
My partner loves Galicia so I think it would be good to live there for a while at some stage.
15. Any partings word to people thinking of moving to your country?
Bring a rain coat and a smile…
About Maria Golpe
www.artcore.ie is coming soon
I like food, a lot and try to blog whenever I get a chance at thehungryrambler.blogspot.com
I’m on twitter www.twitter.com/mgolpe