Who are you?
My name is Beatriz but all my friends call me Bea. I’m in my mid-30s and am originally from the Bay Area, California, but my parents are from Chile. I now live in Ireland, and for 9 years previous to moving to Ireland I was living in Italy.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
The first time I “moved” abroad was only for 3 months when I was in college and I did a study abroad program in Florence, Italy. I loved it there so much I knew I would always find my way back. When I graduated college, I landed my dream job working for an adventure-travel company where I was leading hiking and biking tours in many countries, but I was mostly based in Tuscany, Italy, so I was really happy to be close to Florence again.
When I was working as a tour leader I had a very nomadic life – I’d be there for most of the year and other parts of the year I would be elsewhere – it wasn’t until 8 years ago that I fully “settled” into living in Italy when I met my Irish fiance who was also living in Italy, and I decided to stay there full time with him.
What challenges did you face during the move?
I think it’s challenging to separate yourself from the “stuff” you have accumulated in your life when you move to a new country. You can’t bring everything with you so it’s hard to feel at home when you don’t have the memories of back home with you. And of course the obvious challenge is thinking about all the friends and family you are leaving behind, especially when things happen back home and you can’t be there to support your friends and family.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Surprisingly yes, I haven’t met too many of them in person but I do know they are around.
What do you like about life where you are?
Ireland is very friendly and Dublin in particular is such a fun city. There is no shortage of things to do and places to visit – endless amounts of pubs, live music, festivals, theatre… I think it’s impossible to be bored in Dublin.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I hate that I am so far away from my family and friends, especially now with my parents getting older.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
Ireland and America are so different in so many ways, but one of the things that surprised me is the difference in people’s outlooks. Americans have a reputation for being confident, sometimes excessively so. In America we are also taught from a young age to be competetive and reach beyond our goals. I don’t think that is better or worse than anywhere else, but I am glad I was raised with that outlook. In Ireland people are much more reserved and modest, and over-confidence is seen as somewhat impolite, but I also see that changing here.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Make sure you do your research before you move to another country. Figure out what you need to do to have all the legal framework done, how you will get a job and a place to live. With social media these days, it’s easy to find support groups that could answer your questions. I don’t recommend moving anywhere illegally and trying to get a job “under the table” to anyone, especially in this day and age.
I would also advise to anyone moving to a new country is to really think about how you will handle the differences. I have met a few expats in Ireland that refuse to accept how things are here and get upset because it’s not the way it is back home. I am not sure what they were expecting, but a negative outlook will almost always result in failure here.
What are your plans for the future?
My fiance and I currently run a small business in Dublin. It’s going well and we hope to expand it this year. We are also getting married in September so we are really excited about that too. Our short-term plans are to remain in Dublin, but we do think that one day we will move back to Italy, maybe once we are closer to retirement age.
You can keep up to date with Bea's adventures on her blog, Bea In Ireland.