Everyone seems to ask me why did I come to Ireland. What was the motivating factor? Why did I choose a country that everyone born here wants to get away from? Tough economic times, poor politics and cold and dark weather don’t equate to the ideal vacation destination, let alone a place to settle down in.
Yet I’m always shocked when asked the question. The Irish relish going on holidays, and understandably make a frequent habit of it. I love that I get to help people travel for my job, because there’s just so many god damn people here doing it. The ideal of being somewhere different than Ireland, somewhere that is somehow more appealing, more exciting or simply just warmer is dominant in the mindset here. Hence the question: why (would you) come to Ireland?
Well, travel doesn’t translate the same way for me. I feed off the culture shock, the new experiences, the unexpected mind openers. Everything that led up to choosing Dublin as a destination was almost all by chance. Having finished my degree without having any tangible career plans and yearning to live abroad to continue travelling as a life path, the destination wasn’t my main concern. It was how to make travel, and the deep transformations that it can bring, into a lifestyle. Despite it never being in my mental itinerary, Dublin fell into place. I trusted my heart and intuition, and just went with the flow.
As usual, I didn’t do any research about the country before arriving. I might as well have pointed my finger down on a spinning globe with my eyes closed and booked a flight. I landed myself here without knowing what to expect, without knowing what the living or working conditions would be like, without knowing anyone who lived in the city. I didn’t expect how cold it would be… or the lack of indoor heating. I didn’t expect a western European country to appear as if it was crumbling down upon itself, nor the lack of urban cleanliness and organization. I definitely didn’t expect all the slugs, and all the other crawly critters I’d have to share my home with.
But the beauty of Dublin, in my own experience anyways, is much more subtle than what’s on the surface. I have found a community of people who are self-aware, socially conscious, creative and critical thinkers, yet light-hearted, laid back, chatty and plain funny! I’ve encountered activists, historians, yoga teachers, yogis, gardeners, foragers, urban rooftop farmers, raw foodies, cyclists, and healers. They say what makes one enjoy a place the most is the people. It’s hard not to love the Irish, for their quick wit and ability to say things as they are, their patience and relaxed nature in the belief that ‘everything will be grand’.
I’ve explored intriguing, rough-around-the-edges spaces for fancy coffees and cozily cramped venues with low ceilings for unreal live music. The city beats with life, and feeds me with it’s intrigue, the way it lures me to delve further into it’s spaces, it’s happenings, it’s mindset. I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on Dublin’s appeal. I just haven’t been able to figure it out. Maybe that’s why I want to stay.