First impressions of Ireland from a new-comer

buildings with waterfront view
Photo by Steven Hylands on Pexels.com

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”, a saying we have all heard time and time again. When we meet someone new we try hard to make a good first impression but what about a country? Have you ever gone to a country expecting to hate it and love it? Or vice versa? Due to the fact that I have been unable to travel at all this year abroad this year, I have been thinking about what Ireland. What is Ireland’s first impression like? So, I decided to find out by asking some foreign nationals what they thought of Ireland when they first arrived; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Tania Daros was born Brazil and moved to Dublin in July 2016. She works as a Storehouse Assistant in the Guinness Storehouse.

What made you first come to Ireland?

Well pretty much there was nothing about Ireland in my plans. My plan was go from Brazil to America, stay in America and build a life there. But then when I was in America for personal reasons I was just like I can’t stay here anymore. But it was okay I have my European citizenship so I can go to Europe! Me my friend back in the day when I was in English school we were talking about Dublin and we were like how people were amazing and how people were super nice and welcoming so it was like well why not? They speak English and it’s perfect!

Talk us through your first week here.

I had a temporary accommodation set up and I ended up living there for four and a half years. When I got there I only had 20 days in that house because someone was on their holidays but in the end another person left the house and they were like “Will you take the room permanently?” And I was like YEAH! But before I had that it was so hard. Literally on the day after I arrived, I called my mom and I was bawling, sobbing and I was like I’m gonna go back home because when I was in America I knew people who were there. I had people around me then and now I’m in Ireland and I was all alone. I just felt really alone but then obviously afterwards I started going out. That’s what I remember from my first week is just going to the parks and going outside and enjoying the sun, because I knew that winter here is really harsh so it was just like okay let’s enjoy the time I have and then I started going out with my housemates and making friendships.

What was your first impression of Ireland?

My first impression was amazing because, I swear to God, when I landed in Dublin airport there were bunnies on the runway. I saw bunnies from the airplane, it was just like, yeah this is it. Dublin is gorgeous, you know? I mean it’s just like a big city in the countryside. It is a big city but you still have that countryside vibe where there’s a lot of community. In the Liberties, where I was living, there’s such a community. Dublin it’s amazing and I love the landscape and all of the people, well yeah the people… The first week I was still like everything is amazing here but after four years five years, you’ll know that it’s not always like that.

What are some of the things you think Ireland does well and Ireland does not do well?

You are obviously great craic, everyone here is super nice and super welcoming. When I started my job in Guinness everyone was there with open arms and were like “come here like let’s be friends”! People in Ireland are super friendly just like Brazilians and that was the connection that I had with home, which kind of makes Dublin my second home. That is amazing. You guys complain a lot about the buses and the public transport here but I think the public transport is great compared to what is back home. After you’ve lived here for a while and it is part of your life, you understand that there’s points they could be improved but, I still think it’s alright.

I think like the poverty here is hidden. You see on the streets, people are begging for money. You see someone on a street begging for money and on the next street, you’re gonna see someone, like, drunk as a skunk falling around the place. It’s just the poverty and, there’s a lot of alcoholism in Ireland. Yeah, it’s pretty mental. And it’s just like, “Oh, this is just the way it is. There’s no changing that.” But there absolutely is. There is another way. There should be programs for that.

What do you think Ireland could learn from Brazil?

Jesus? It’s a great question. Oh, the health care system! You go to a GP and you have to pay 50 quid, just to get seen to! That’s insane. In Brazil, we have free health service and private health care as well. But you have the option of having a good, decent doctor looking after you for free. I think that’s what you guys could learn from Brazil. Brazil has one of the best health care systems in the world. Like, even though it’s not the best country in the world, that’s something that I’m very proud of my country for.

And after nearly 5 years living in Ireland, do you still like it here?

Love it. Yeah, I love it. Last year, I went home for a month and I was thinking, this is definitely not my house. You know, it’s my parents house. It’s not my life whatsoever. I’ve changed so much in five years. I am a completely different Tania today than I was 5 years ago. For example the basics; saying please, and thank you and excuse me, I’m sorry. That was said back home but I was not used to doing it all the time. And then here it’s such a normal thing. Just like “Oh, I’m so sorry”. Even though sometimes you do say it too much, you guys are so polite. You know what I mean? So I think that’s something to learn from you guys as well. But I still love it. This is my home.

Shashwat Gautam was born in Nepal and moved to Ireland at the beginning of this month! He is studying a Masters in Television & Radio Journalism in Griffith College.

What was your first impression of Ireland?

When the plane landed and I got out, the weather was so nice, I could see the sun and the sky was blue. On the second day, Dublin happened, the one I had imagined it would be, chilly and overcast most of the time.  The sun is the only thing that I miss apart from my family. One of the most shocking things for me to grasp was the Irish names and their pronunciations. When I think of an Irish name “Caoimhe”… I had no idea how I was supposed to pronounce that name. So every time before class, I used to Google the pronunciation of it. Also, Bláthnaid. Also the names of places like Tallaght, or Ranelagh. I am sure I have a lot more to encounter. My “How to pronounce” tab is always open since I got here! Also, Irish slangs, you guys speak your own language and it makes me feel dumb when I don’t understand it and I have to Google every time. Also, I see a lot of people walking their dogs but I haven’t ever encountered a stray dog. Back in Nepal we used to have a lot of stray dogs, so my eyes are still on the lookout for them. Guess I am never going to see one.

What do you like and dislike about Ireland?

Ireland is a lot more clean and managed compared to Nepal but I notice a lot of people littering here. If everyone was to put their trash in the bin, it would be so easy to maintain the streets. Also the rent is so expensive here! The idea of sharing a room and a kitchen is so crazy for me. I didn’t know that existed. I even found out that people are willing to share a bed as well. That’s a strange notion for me. Beyond my understanding. 

The best thing is since everything is so small; it feels kind of intimate here. Like you can walk or cycle anywhere and that’s beautiful. And it’s so pristine. No pollution. Kathmandu, capital of Nepal just hit the AQI of above 500 and that’s life threatening.  I hope the lockdown would be lifted soon so I could get to learn and explore more and more. The most beautiful thing was, on St. Patrick’s Day, I received a can of beer from an Irish woman when I was at my friend’s and that was so sweet. I promise to reciprocate that very soon.

What do you think Ireland could learn from Nepal?

It’s not been even a month so I don’t think I have the right to say what Ireland should be learning from Nepal. Also because of the ongoing lockdown, there isn’t much happening so I really don’t know how Ireland, or Dublin actually is but I would really enjoy if people even if they are living in shared apartments like I me, come together for at least one meal a day. To sit and eat together rather than having food alone in their room and keeping everything to themselves. This is what I miss the most. And I hope, while trying to maintain social distancing, people won’t actually become emotionally distant due to COVID.

Image by Daniel DiFranco from Pixabay

Abhishek Nathani was born in India and moved to Dublin in February 2021. He is studying a masters in Journalism and Public Relations in Griffith College.

What was your first impression of Ireland?

When I landed at the airport it was small and started comparing with Paris and India and I found roads deserted and no hustle bustle so I thought it was a small country but I found it very beautiful. I loved the Irish accent and the people are very friendly here. They love to talk about their dogs! I could talk for a whole day about dogs with a stranger.

What do you like and dislike about Ireland?

It is very organised and people love driving simple cars, there’s no showing off. I like the simplicity of the people and dislike the weather!

What do you think Ireland could learn from your country?

Ireland should learn to advertise itself like other countries… People know very little about Ireland.

Turns out, Ireland does make a good impression! Well… Despite the weather but there’s not really anything we can do about that! So for you fellow paddies out there keep the craic mighty and Ireland ‘the land of a thousand welcomes’!

Image by Picography from Pixabay

For more information about visiting Ireland click here and make sure to leave your first impressions of Ireland in the comments!

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