As you can understand from the title — I am now celebrating my 2 year anniversary in Dublin, and soon enough so will Covid-19. The difference between 2020 and 2021 is that this year we got vaccines and looser restrictions every once in a while. Furthermore— and this is a big one — this year I finally went to visit home, and that was a meaningful experience.
Before we dive into my Instagram-beautiful experiences, let’s put things in perspective: After a certain period of time, it stops being an exotic relocation, and it becomes.. a location. Work, relationships, good days, bad days… it’s just life, with a bit of a different spice.
I’m not here to sell how everyone should relocate. It is not a journey that everyone needs to go through. Some don’t want it, and some don’t have the privilege to do it, and it’s ok! For those of you who are curious about the experience, and for those of you who are curious about my experience — here are my thoughts.
If you read my previous relocation journeys (My 6 Months Mark Celebration Speech, Things I’ve Learned in My First Year Abroad), you know this took a while, but I finally started to feel more comfortable at work, and things eventually clicked. I should’ve seen it coming because I felt the exact same way after the exact same time elapsed in my previous job as well.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a software developer who works at Amazon’s Payments Security department. This huge department’s job is to make sure your details are stored correctly and securely. To be honest, it’s pretty amazing how those multiple teams work together… Anyway, back on track:
My team’s job is networking. By networking, I mean the foundation of the various components of this big complicated system. This is a crucial part of security, and something I didn’t have any experience in.
Starting to work in networking is kind of like being an actor in Grey’s anatomy: You are not a doctor, never intended to be, but your job is to memorize all those complicated lines and look like you know what is Hemopneumothorax or Pancreaticoduodenectomy (source). So, it’s very interesting, but also requires a lot of learning.
Dublin is full of ex-pats, which means you are surrounded by people who are different from you. There is so much to learn about divergent lives and cultures! I can’t write them all down, but here is a cool example: For those of you who don’t know, there is such thing called “Irish goodbye”, which is when a person is ducking out of a party or social gathering without bidding farewell. I’ve seen it happen several times, and it looks like someone is just going to the restroom, but then never comes back. This is very different from the Israeli goodbye, which is not an official term but it means giving a warm hug to each and every person at the party before you go.
Speaking of people, I’ve discovered that building a social life, especially outside of the workplace — requires effort. You need to actively seek out friends. Sure, this is a struggle for every person in their late 20s, when there is no social structure with crazy hours like school and military service. When you’re in your home country and want company, even if you just moved to a new city — you can always go visit your friends and family, even if it’s a bit further now. It does not work like that here.
When you’re in a new country, and you don’t want to be alone on a Friday night, you need to find friends, which means you need to go on dates, and let me tell you — first dates are awkward, even when they are not romantic. When you find someone you like, it will take several embarrassing engagements in order to get to a comfortable level. To be honest, not every week do I have the tolerance for that. When having a night off, sometimes it’s just easier to go meet this one person you already feel comfortable with, rather than go sweat on leveling up a potential friendship.
This year I moved out of a shared apartment and got my own place for the first time. I do recommend sharing a flat when you just arrive in a new country — it makes the landing softer, you’ll definitely be less lonely, and make fewer mistakes. Some people love being surrounded by friends all day, but I appreciate my me-time — so it was a natural move.
A rent lease is one year long, so it’s not a big commitment. This change didn’t shake my core. Deciding to study for a driving license did — way more than you’d assume! This process costs money and takes months, and you don’t do it when you have a visible expiration date for your stay. Do you know what that means?
This is when I realized what a relocation really is. You think it will be like going on a trip and making a detour to grab a cup of coffee. It will take a bit of extra time but is totally worth it — because of the adventure! In reality, you don’t go back to the original route you planned for your trip. This detour propels in a different direction. I’ve seen it relevant even when one decides to relocate back home. This experience changes your life, and you can never know in advance what will be coming back with you.
Do you know what else suddenly happened this year? I am not the newbie anymore! There are people who seek me out and my advice! The other day, I was on the phone with someone who got an offer to relocate to Dublin. He had so many questions, most of which I couldn’t answer because our situations are different: Martial status, job description, Visa requirements… I told him: “Why not get answers only for the crucial things you need now, for the start, and then, when you arrive and meet your colleagues — ask them? I’m sure they’ll be very helpful”, and he answered: ”Because I trust only Israelis”. Obviously, there is no reason to be skeptical, but I get why he thinks that. I used to think that as well.
Before I moved here, when it was just me with my two big suitcases, I was absolutely sure that getting on this plane means I wouldn’t date for 2 whole years. This made sense to me because I trust only Israelis. Then you arrive and quickly realize people are people, and that fear is just false.
Lastly, I want to talk about Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an unpleasant topic to discuss, both here online and outside in the big world. I have had several attempts in writing here, that eventually did not make it to the final draft. This is what I did choose to put: Relocation to another country means you are going to a more heterogenic environment than you had back home. You are most likely to encounter people with different opinions than yours. Remember that you represent your origin country when you are abroad, wherever you are from, especially when there are not many others next to you.
Speaking of home, I finally went to Israel for the first time after a year and a half! Apparently, there are two parallel timelines, and coming back feels like I’ve been away only for one month. The problem is, that everyone else did spend their months in this timeline, and I need to catch up. I wasn’t here when it was a slow gradual change. Friends are living in different locations and have different priorities. And by the way, good luck trying to convince anyone in Tel Aviv to come to meet you anywhere else.
On one hand — your friendships from your new home don’t have the comfort and ease of the years-long friendships you have left behind. On the other hand — you weren’t there when those friendships shifted and tightened. Eventually, this is a bit of a lose-lose situation, a sacrifice one makes when deciding to move away.
With that said— I am really enjoying the friendships I was able to maintain. There is something about this deadline, “I’m only here for a month”, that motivates people to make the effort. Sometimes, when your parents are 2 hours drive, you’ll see them less often than when they are on another continent.
90% of the people who hear I moved away, say “I will never be able to leave my family”, which I understand and respect. But after 2 visits of month-long each, I can assure you this method has its benefits as well. Some of my friends, who are in the same country, haven’t met each other as often as they met me!
When coming home, it is inevitable to think about returning to your country: Would I want to work here? Would I want to live here? What will my evenings look like? What will my weekends look like?
The only thing that is irreplaceable is the holidays. All I have is to hope the pandemic will end soon, and I’ll have the luxury to plan vacations in advance. Another problem is that after 2 years in Dublin, every arrival at the airport means you will be missing someone for a while.
Before we go, I want to dedicate a section to your questions
How do you find a job abroad? By looking for a job abroad. Every job description has a location. You just need to be open to the idea, and work on your English 😉
What is the partner doing? I did not arrive with a partner, but I did notice there is always one side who looked for a job abroad and one side who came along. Be sure that being the partner is harder than being the initiator of the move, so they deserve extra-kindness! Some of them keep their previous job remotely (which can be very isolating), and some of them find a job as well. The lucky ones find a job in their field.
What are the logistics? How do you actually move? The logistics can be a headache. It really depends on your situation and on your destination. By situation, I mean family, visa, what you left behind, etc. By destination, I mean things are very different in each country. If Dublin is your target, I’ll be happy to help!
Is it hard? Is it lonely? It can be sometimes. It’s a fresh start. With that said, you have colleagues and communities and Facebook groups full of people who also want to make friends 🙂
Did you manage to make meaningful relationships? Yes, I have. I was surprised to discover how two different people from two completely different backgrounds can have such a strong connection and laugh at the same jokes.