Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Tales Of The Unexpected From A Recently Returned Expat.

'Thinking of coming home?' Photo courtesy of Irish Times article published May 12 2020, written by Danielle McLaughlin (Getty Images)

After 8 years in Canada, I made a very brave decision to uproot myself from Vancouver life and repatriate me, myself and I back to the Emerald Isle.  “Why on earth would you do that” I hear a lot of you say!  The only answer I can give you is “It’s complex!”  Without going into too much detail, I returned in late 2018 and ended up in Limerick city, a city I had never lived in before.  Rule number 1, if you are intending to come back to Ireland at any stage, please do not do as I did.  I moved to Limerick city, a city in which I had never lived and had absolutely no connection with.  I don’t mean “Don’t move to Limerick city, Ever!  Full Stop”, no, this is absolutely not what I mean.  By all accounts move to Limerick city, however you may want to be mindful of the fact that the place you decide to re-root yourself, should possibly be somewhere you already have some connection to – whether it be friends or family. Trust me, loneliness may set in and .social connections are everything.

What I’m trying to say is this.  Moving back to Ireland is not easy.  In fact, I found emigrating to Canada a lot easier than moving back to Ireland, on so many levels.  Moving to a new country feels and is like a huge adventure with so many possibilities.  And perhaps there are people out there who can and will view their move home in exactly the same way, which is wonderful.  For me however, it felt hugely anticlimactic.  For the first few weeks I felt completely out of place.  The feeling of “home” had completely evaporated.  You see when I lived in Vancouver I considered Ireland to be my “home home” and always had a sense of longing and feelings of loneliness when I thought about Ireland.  I think it’s completely normal to have this strong connection to the place we were born and raised.  The place where we made so many memories, good and bad. 

Weirdly though, when I returned to Ireland, I began to have these same feelings of loneliness for Canada and had a strange deep feeling of disconnectedness and “not belonging anywhere”.  Everything had changed in Ireland.  I had been home obviously in between but the changes hadn’t been as apparent.  I felt quite sad also because I was reminded of certain things I wanted to forget.  Things that just weren’t an issue when one is so far away and almost anonymous.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that I began to compare myself and where I was in my life to everyone else’s.  I started questioning all of my decisions.  Family dynamics began to resurface and I felt like I was returning to the person I was before I emigrated to Canada.  This is not something I wanted.  As well as that, I moved to Dublin at the beginning of 2020, a city where I had spent most of the 20s and early 30s hoping to get to know people as quickly as possible and get involved in an active social life.  Unfortunately for me, this was the year that everything would change for everybody.  And I certainly don’t have to mention why.  That’s a whole other story (and article).

I am interested in hearing stories from people who have either returned to Ireland after living abroad or are thinking about it in the future. I would love to hear how things have gone for you and what your unique experiences have been? Or what you thoughts for the future are?

Please join my Facebook Group ‘Expats Returning To Ireland‘ and let’s share stories and connect!

And one last thing. Please, by all means move to Limerick city.

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