Neither Here, Nor There

I’ve never really belonged anywhere. I’ve lived in so many different cities and houses; even today I don’t have anywhere special to go “home” to when I’m mentally exhausted. It’s something I’ve always wanted, but unfortunately have never found. Because of this lack of connection with physical place, I didn’t think I’d feel the effects of being stuck in limbo. You know, that feeling that expats get when they are neither here nor there, and unsure of whether to settle down in a foreign country, or move back “home”.

Recently I’ve been feeling this more than ever before. Even up until a few months ago, I wasn’t quite ready to leave the life I built for myself here in Dublin. But now, when I think about handing in my resignation letter and booking a one-way flight back to Toronto, I feel a huge sense of relief.

It isn’t that I hate my job. In fact, my job is exactly what’s preventing me from going back to Canada. But coming to Ireland wasn’t supposed to be permanent. Two and a half years ago, I desperately needed to leave Toronto, and I came here with unfinished business. Now, I’ve come to peace with the answers I’ve been given and I don’t really see myself living here forever. I won’t get into the details of why, but there are just some cultural differences I don’t think I can accept. It’s not that they are bad necessarily, they are just too different from what I am used to, to a point where life can be unenjoyable.

At the same time though, I’m afraid that I’m not prepared for the reality of what it means to move back. What if my resume doesn’t hold up against others when finding a new job? After all, I am a financial analyst without a business/finance degree. What if I won’t be able to afford the increased living expenses, and end up having to work three jobs like I did in college? What if I’ve simply romanticised the idea of returning to my old life in the city? Friends will have gotten married and have children, paid off mortgages, and I’ll need to be starting from the ground up again. Will I have any support system? What if I regret it and can’t come back?

My heart is telling me it’s time to go, but my brain is telling me it’s not. What do I do?

Edit: I just want to clarify some misunderstanding that might have been taken away from this post. I don’t think Dublin is a bad place. It’s got the upper hand in many ways, which is why I have continued to stay here for so long. The people are friendly and I treasure those I’ve met here very dearly. But unless you have experienced living in a different country, you can’t truly understand the feelings associated with being outside your comfort zone. There are times you just want to go back to what you’re used to, because it’s a part of what made you, you. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been away, you’ll always end up comparing your current life to your old life. Please try not to take offense, and be more understanding of immigrants around you. We came to your country because we love it here, but there are times we can also feel homesick and unwelcome, just as migrants from your country might feel when they go abroad. Let’s just all try to support each other.

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8 thoughts on “Neither Here, Nor There

  1. it is a hard one. i guess if home is toronto, it will always be there for you. but you would have spent so much effort getting yourself to dublin, so it feels kinda premature to just go back despite going through so much. its a tough one :S

    1. It’s definitely a tricky one! I’d probably regret my decision either way. Unfortunately Toronto doesn’t feel like home, but neither does Dublin. I haven’t been able to find that connection, but at the same time, I’m not completely comfortable with the idea of settling down in Dublin. :/

  2. Things might be a little better for you in Dublin if you made a greater effort to talk to people.

    1. I’m rather curious as to what makes you think I don’t try. And I feel like that’s a very big simplification of homesickness… you can have loads of friends and still feel a cultural gap.

      1. People (Irish people) are quite welcoming if you make the effort. Cultural gaps? Yes some do exist, but our two nations are quite similar, where exactly do you think white people in Canada come from? England, Ireland, Scotland maybe? Didn’t Canada have the cross of St. Patrick on their flag prior to 1966? Your issues are not due to location, most are simply internal and if you dont fix that nothing will change.

  3. I think you may have interpreted my post the wrong way. I never said people weren’t welcoming or that I didn’t like the people. I simply said the culture was too different than what I am used to (i.e. there are no 24-hour shops, and there doesn’t seem to be a popularity for sitting at coffee shops at 11pm. Paying 40% in income taxes also isn’t great, even though that isn’t really a cultural thing). They are small things but you don’t realise how much you have taken something for granted until it is gone.

    And judging from your comment I assume you have never lived in North America either. The culture is VERY different, and varies greatly from place to place. For example social life in Toronto is very different from social life in St. John’s, which is indeed, very similar to Ireland.

  4. 24 hour shops isn’t cultural. Dublin did have many 24 hour stores but they just didn’t make much money. We pay 40% taxes because we had a huge recession, taxes were much lower 10 years ago. In regards to culture, even your own PM said that Canada has no culture. Toronto while it’s functions it is the most bland non-descript place I’ve ever been to, with the Eaton Centre, a generic shopping mall being the highlight of the city.

    1. Actually, it is cultural. It’s called consumer culture. Yes, there may not be a demand for it Dublin so that’s why they don’t exist… because that demand is driven by people’s way of life (i.e. culture). Economy and culture are also very interrelated and a very complex area. Culture is a very broad term, and doesn’t just cover things like traditional dress/language/etc.

      Also, just because you think the Eaton Centre is boring doesn’t mean everyone else does. Huge, albeit homogenous, shopping malls are a different culture in itself.

      In any case, I don’t know why you are getting so offended. I never dissed Dublin, I simply stated that there are different things and I am unhappy. It’s not that it’s even bad, it’s just different. And yes part of that is internal in that I need to accept those differences, but sometimes you wonder if you should just give up and go home. I’m sure there are Irish who have migrated to Canada have felt the same way. I’d like to think I’d be more understanding of someone who is trying to get used to a different way of life.

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