So you have all heard the story of our move to Seychelles. Now, I talk about our move to Ireland.
When most people hear that we moved from the tropical island to the latter rainy one, they are not slow at expressing their utter disbelieve.
Let me tell you something about Cork. She has got one hell of a character! Although rainy, it boasts a very green landscape even in the middle of winter. The people here are ever so pleasant and take a couple of minutes out of their day to ask how you are doing. If you ask the total African to me, it is a little taste of home, only that here people are more respectful of your privacy.
I will not lie, in all the cities I have lived, I have felt most at home in Cork.
It was a cold, dark Sunday morning when my husband picked me up from the airport the day I arrived in Cork. Usually, when I get off a plane and walk into new territory, I am greeted with a sense of wonder and worry about whether or not I will like the place. When I got off the plane in Cork, although I was hit in the face by the coldest air I had ever breathed and welcomed by the dullest grey sky I have ever seen, I was also greeted at the immigration gate by the warmest smile I had ever seen. I felt at home right away.
My first year in Cork was filled with uncertainty. I was not working, and although my husband had a good job to sustain us and our fur baby, we still had such a tight budget at the end of each month.
My how life had changed. I have always been a hard worker- a trait I pulled from my dad. Even when I was in college and got all my bills paid by my parents, I hustled myself a job as an Au pair so I could be a little bit more independent.
I got my first job as a call center agent in 2017. Yes, people, I was picking up calls from nasty people who insulted, threatened and shouted at me quite often when I told them something they didn’t want to hear. Strangely enough, I didn’t actually mind that job. It was much better than the alternative of sitting home and playing ‘housewife’- a gift I have always admired but was never fortunate enough to acquire. This job was exhausting, but my salary was supplementing my husband’s salary and I could now afford to adopt this consumerism culture of the west. A culture I absolutely love and respect. (Don’t judge)
Towards the end of summer, after a few months in the call center, I got ‘dream’ job as a preschool teacher. I say ‘dream job’ because I have never wanted to be anything else, however, working in Europe puts a whole other meaning to the word ‘work’. You earn every single cent you make through tears and seat here.
You cannot be a minute late for work, so for those of us that have grown up in the tropics where life comes to a halt when it rains, this is a hard adjustment to make.
You can not go for hospital appointments without permission from your employer. You cannot dictate when you want to make your hospital appointment and the hospital only opens from 9 am to 5 pm. In short, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You either risk getting fired, or getting dead.
Most employers will only give you a legal maximum of seven minutes to go to the bathroom per day so even you bathroom breaks have to be well planned.
To say I have grown up while working in Europe is the understatement of the year. I feel like I should get a universally recognized award for the amount of growing up I have done in the short time I have done it in.
On my first day, as I walked out from the military camp I called work, I called my mother and told her I wanted to come home.
Two years down the line in Cork and I will tell you, it is the best decision we ever made.
Here are a few tips for you if you plan on moving to Cork.
1. There is a housing crisis in the whole of Ireland so it is extremely difficult to get a house, so start looking early enough.
2. Rent in Cork city is extremely expensive. If you are a family, budget about €1200-1600 depending on the area you choose. If you are a couple or individual and want save some money by sharing, you are looking at about €300-700 pet room. The closer to the city, the more expensive.
3. Look for roommates on facebook pages. Here is a good one. Please exercise caution when meeting people over the internet.
4. If you have a car, look into renting a house outside the city. You might have a 30-45 minute commute if you work in town but it will save you up to €700 er month depending on where you decide to live.
5. If your driving licence is anything other than EU, check if your country has a special treaty with Ireland. You might be able to exchange your license for an Irish one without going from scratch. Click here for more information.
6. If your driving license is not from the EU of from a country in any of the above mentioned category, you will have to go through the whole process of getting a new license.
7. Resgister yourself with a General Practioner as soon as you arrive in order. Click here for information
8. Depending on your financial state, you might be able to get a medical card or GP card (you don’t pay for public medical services in hospitals, GPs or clinics).
9. If you are working, contact the tax office to find out about what tax credits you have. Lots of people don’t realise the different tax credits they are entitled to and end up paying higher taxes.
10. If you are married or in a civil partnership, and your partner is not working, you might be able to claim their tax credits. Contact Revenue for more information about this.
If you are reading this and you moved to Cork, I’d love to hear your own views and experiences.
If you have recently moved to a new area, I’d love to here from you too.
Till next time, good people.